Faithfulness and provision
When I arrived in Oxford to study through SCIO, I was only the second student from my university to do so. I was feeling inadequate and lonely, coming from a small school in Mississippi with no similarities to Oxford. I was studying English literature at my home school (Belhaven University) and decided to finish up my major credits at Oxford. When I first arrived, I was intimidated by the fellow SCIO students, by the faculty and staff, and by the idea of adjusting to a new culture.
At my core I am an academic, so I did not find it difficult adjusting to academic life in Oxford. The opposite was true, in fact. I was more in tune with the intellectual stimulation than anything else in the city. A natural introvert, the hardest part about the transition from America to England was finding an emotional and spiritual support system. I did not expect to experience culture shock like I did, and I needed strong believers to come beside me and remind me of God’s faithfulness and provision.
I was told about St. Ebbe’s by the student at my home university who had previously gone through the SCIO program. During orientation week, I was again reminded that this was a popular church among the visiting students. Hesitant to thrust myself into a strange situation, I almost didn’t go to services at all. My junior dean, however, again invited me on that first Sunday morning. I am so grateful I decided to go that first Sunday.
I attended the eleven o’clock services (catering to the student crowd) and always stayed for the fellowship lunch afterward. The community of St. Ebbe’s is a beautiful diverse group of people who are unabashedly in love with Jesus and have a deep desire to reach out to the lost souls of Oxford. Though I am a believer, it was evident from the moment I walked in the doors that I was welcomed. I met many wonderful students during the fellowship meal and was weekly encouraged by the talks. Without St. Ebbe’s I am not sure that my experience in Oxford would have been as fulfilling.
Every Thursday I made an effort to go to Focus groups, small groups of students who meet and encourage each other. I was able to form relationships with the girls in my group, friendships that are still present. During my time in Oxford, I wanted to understand God. Growing up in the southern portion of the United States, I was furious with cultural Christianity. God revealed to me through attending a church with a different way of worshipping and with different ways of viewing evangelism, that he is the Almighty Provider. (The prayer room at the Vines became a daily haunt for me, where I would devote my time to seeking out God.)
The end goal for my education is to be an English professor. Currently I am knee-deep in graduate school applications, but unlike the past three and a half years of undergraduate experience, I am applying the things I began to understand about God to my application process. My grades and GPA were my idol; now I am understanding that God does not love me because of what I can do for him, but because I am using what he has given me to glorify him. The importance of finding a group who loves and understands the Spirit of God is vital to a complete and perfect experience of Oxford. For current and future SCIO students: do not underestimate the power of fellowship with a body of believers.
– Katherine Humes –
Hilary Term, 2018