He was "the king of the party animals"
Transformation for a lifetime of growth
While still in high school, and with very little knowledge of God, Will Brennan prayed for a friend who was in trouble.
“You see it in the movies, where people go to church and pray,” he said. “One night, I went to my Catholic church and prayed. I had no ability to help this person, and I remember thinking, ‘I’m going to try this, and if God’s not able to help, I can’t commit to Him.’”
God did answer Will’s prayer, and his friend did get help, but, other than occasionally praying, little in Will’s life changed.
“At the time, I still wanted to live my life the way I wanted to live it. I knew I needed to get right with God someday, but that could come later. Before going out and partying, I would pray, ‘God, don’t let me get into trouble. Don’t let me get hurt, don’t give up on me,” he shared.
By the time Will entered Samford University as a freshman, he was determined to make college “the best four years of his life” by balancing school-work with parties, drugs and alcohol. But without the oversight of his parents, he quickly lost control.
“I even googled, ‘how to overcome addiction’ and ‘how to stop bad habits’ at the Samford Library, but nothing worked,” Will said.
It wasn’t until he attended a CO Bible study that Will’s life really started to change. Through that study, God became real, sin became evident and salvation through Jesus became necessary.
As Will continued to grow through Campus Outreach, one thing was clear: when you follow Jesus, you make disciples.
“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20
“I didn’t realize I was being bold as a new believer,” Will said. “When I came to Christ, all of the CO talks I heard and what I read in the Bible came together.”
And the same young man who prayed, “Lord, help me,” in high school, prayed, “Lord, let me be a light for You,” in college.
Will started a Bible study with a few friends in his fraternity, and, by modeling his discipleship leader Olan Stubbs, Will led the group through the book of Matthew.
“I’ve seen now how much we replicate the ways we’re taught, those are our guide posts. I thought, ‘Olan did it this way, so let me try to do it this way too,’” Will shared. “That’s one thing CO establishes well, ‘If I’m following Jesus, what do I do? I make disciples.’ With that first Bible study I had no idea what to do, but Olan showed me that too. He showed me that God was still going to use me for His kingdom and use me to advance His love to others. All excuses were off the table because He’s working in my weakness. I just have to make the effort.”
Since graduating college, Will has continued to lead others through God’s Word. He is currently pursuing a Masters of Divinity at Beeson Divinity School, on the very campus where he first shared his faith.
Mobilization: Preparing Students for Faith Beyond CO
For Will, a heart to make disciples for Christ went beyond Campus Outreach.
“The root of it is, Jesus is my Lord and Savior. I know that to be true. Because of my love and passion for Him, I know so clearly that to follow Him means to go and make disciples. That’s what drives me at my center,” Will shared.
As part of Discipleship Groups in college, student leaders like Will have accountability to help maintain personal time in God’s Word, private prayer-life and ministry on campus. But after graduation, those students leave the Campus Outreach structure to follow Christ in new environments.
To help prepare students for faith beyond CO, Discipleship Groups focus on “mobilization.” As part of this process, campus staff help students form individual plans for spiritual growth and ministry after college. Through mobilization:
Students identify strong churches,
Seek outlets for Christian community
Create future study plans
After college, students leave CO equipped with the next steps for their own, personal, faith development.