“Hakuna mungu kama wewe,” I sing with the students around me. “There’s no one, there’s no one like Him.”
On November 5th, the International Fellowship of Evangelical Students (IFES) had their annual World Student Day of Prayer. Students from every nation exchanged prayer requests, updated each other on their country’s cultural and spiritual circumstances, and spent the day in prayer for each other and for “Thy kingdom to come, on earth as it is in heaven.”
When the staff worker for InterVarsity, a Christian ministry at the University of Oklahoma, asked me to lead our chapter in the World Day of Prayer and the World Day of Prayer Celebration the preceding night, I was taken aback. I’m a white, middle-class woman from suburbia. I’m not an International Area Studies major, or even a foreign language major. What could I have to offer this event?
Nevertheless, I accepted. What better way to begin to understand cultures apart from mine than to specifically seek them out? Being a university student, I often hear about the merits of studying abroad and getting international experience. “Shared experiences,” President David Boren of OU always says. “We have to create shared experiences across countries if we want this world to have any semblance of peace in the next century.”
And so, with the college call to study abroad echoing in my mind, I got a group of students together and started planning the events. I encouraged the other InterVarsity members to talk to their international friends, get cultural items from home, and come up with presentations representing each region from the world. Over the course of a month, I watched and occasionally helped them come up with two hours’ worth of songs, games, food, and interviews from countries all over the world, and put together tables with artifacts, prayer requests, and information.
As I worked with the various groups in developing their cultural presentations, I began to structure the layout of the night of celebration and the prayer room. In doing so, my view of the entire process shifted.