My Question: What is going on in our colleges?

(Elena Zwickel ) #1

Good evening. I write this with a broken heart. My daughter, who I once affectionately called “God’s little firecracker of faith,” has told me that she no longer believes in Jesus. What makes this so hard to swallow is that she is the one who introduced me to apologetics by way of Ravi Zachariah’s YouTube videos. Sadly, college has changed her in a way that she’s become unfamiliar to me. We used to go on nightly walks and talk about our faith and our love for the Lord. Now, I cannot mention God or Jesus without her looking at me as if I’m talking about imaginary things, like mentally ill persons often do. Admittedly, when she first informed me about her disbelief, I flew off the handle and did not properly address the issue, and now she will no longer entertain a conversation with me about the subject.

Now my youngest daughter has started college and has shared with me how people have already begun to challenge her faith. One student, she said, explained how he used to believe in “that stuff,” until he became educated and learned that it is all a lie. He said that it’s only a matter of time before she, too, will learn the truth, which is that Jesus will not be coming back.
Today, she was approached by female students who invited her to a bible study and who proceeded to explain how women are powerful and that God had a wife because He couldn’t have children without one. They apparently cited a verse in Matthew to back up their claim.

Can someone give me guidance on how to deal with this situation? I feel so much guilt over my oldest daughter’s departure from faith because I sent her to a college that brainwashed her. I don’t want the same thing happening to my youngest. Any input will be greatly appreciated!

(Dani) #2

This might be useful, though it’s more from a student entering college.

Perhaps writing a list of where God has blessed you/your daughters? It’s around Thanksgiving (in the US at least, if you’re in the US) and also near Christmas/winter break so it’s not out of season or out of the blue if the family is all home. (Or sign up to do charity with your family to all refocus not on self.) Blessings are often mislabeled as “coincidence” or “luck” by non-Christians, but enough of these and the God behind them hopefully is clearer to her. Continue to show your love for her, and to pray for her (I’m sure you are doing this)! I will pray for your family, too. Bookmarking this thread!

(SeanO) #3

@Elena One thing you may consider doing is finding out if your daughter’s college has a good Christian collegiate ministry. It is not a guarantee, but it really helps to have a Christian group of friends at college. You could reach out to the ministry leader at that campus and explain that your daughter would like to join a group of young ladies in a Bible study. I am sure they would be more than happy to oblige. Also, they probably can help her get plugged into a Church or faith community in that area.

Here are some ministries I know of that are generally fairly solid and have a wide presence on college campuses:

This book got fairly good reviews and the table of contents seemed reasonable, but you might read it yourself before giving it to her.

May the Lord Jesus bless your daughter with faith and wisdom to navigate life in a godless culture. May Christ fill her with His Spirit so that she would have the strength and courage needed.

Tim Keller’s Resources

If either of them are open to / interested in doing some deep thinking, Tim Keller has some great resources for reaching this generation - especially those who are educated.

(Kelly) #4

Hi Elena. I can relate to your story. My oldest daughter did the same thing. I would never have guessed or ever imaged her walking away from the faith. Like you, once she did, she was not willing to discuss faith for various reasons. But during that season, God strengthened my faith, brought insight and healing in my own life and continues to build up my faith. I encourage you to keep your focus on Jesus. Where this might take us by surprise, it certainly isn’t a surprise to Him. I hope the following is encouraging: after a couple of years of just loving on her, she is starting to crack the door for discussion. Knowing that we loved her no matter what, I believe, was extremely important. Also, I am learning that prayer and finding others to pray with you is critical. What we cannot accomplish in the natural realm, God can certainly accomplish in the super-natural realm. He is the author and finisher of our salvation.

I hope I don’t sound preachy!! It’s a heartbreaking road and I can’t even tell you how many tears I’ve shed. I pray you find a good support group. I’ve found awesome answers and some great resource material by reading through this site and I am grateful for it. There is a prayer thread if you’d like to post prayer requests there. I don’t post much there, but I do check it and I do pray for those who have posted. It’s called Prayer and Updates (you can search for it). May God’s arms of love surround and strengthen you, sister. He is an awesome God and He’s longing for our children more than we can image. I thank God that He pursues them relentlessly!

(Elena Zwickel ) #5

Thank you, Dani. Your reply has caused me to reflect on much. I LOVE your suggestion to get involved in charity. Although my oldest might not join us, it’ll surely be a witness to her. Bottom line is it’s time to put my faith to work! Thank you for the reply, and thank you for your prayers!

(Elena Zwickel ) #6

Kelly, I read your reply with tears streaming down my face. Corie Ten Boom once told a preacher: “You must learn to hold everything loosely . . everything. Even your dear family. Why? Because the Father may wish to take one of them back to Himself, and when He does, it will hurt you if He must pry your fingers loose."

He will leave the ninety-nine to go after the one that’s gone astray.

Thank you for your words, Kelly. They brought so much encouragement to my weary heart. God bless you.

(Tabitha Gallman) #7

Hi @Elena,

I will be praying for you as well. My daughter began college in the Fall, and at first she had a hard time coping because she is an athlete, so it was hard finding friends to relate to since the majority of them are international and don’t share her Christian views. She is blessed though because her coach is Christian and the school is Christian based (which doesn’t necessarily reflect the views of the students).

I agree that your daughter needs to find some Christian Bible study groups. My daughter has joined a Bible study group and she loves it. If my daughter wasn’t surrounded by her Christian influences, she would definitely make some nice friends that have views different from her Biblical background.

Even while my daughter was in high school, I learned that the culture was so different from what I remember growing up. Our talks we had were more about a few of her friends she had that were unchurched. Our conversations were sometimes about morality and certain issues that were more common place now than they were when I was in school. She began having more empathy and understanding, yet I worried that that empathy would change her Christian theology. Thank goodness she had church, Christian Fellowship of Athletes and cousins that were grounded in their faith.

I definitely understand your concern. I worry all the time and would be horrified if my daughter decided not to believe in Jesus.

It’s much harder to talk to my daughter now, much less see her on a regular basis. I just continue to pray for her. I pray that throughout all this that your daughter’s journey will bring her back to Christ with a stronger passion and love for what he has done for her.


(Elena Zwickel ) #8

Sean, thank you for the reply and suggestions. I’ve forwarded the links to my daughter and have ordered both books. I’ve also started looking into getting her plugged into a solid bible study.Thankfully, she’s been sharing her experiences with me. With much prayer and humility, I will treasure this opportunity to guide her through this journey. Thanks, again.

(Elena Zwickel ) #9

Thank you, Tabitha, for sharing about your daughter. It warmed my heart to read that she’s surrounded with people who are providing good Christian influence. The enemy is relentless in his efforts to destroy our children, so we really do need to stick together to combat his schemes.

I have so many regrets, especially in becoming so complacent with my daughter’s faith. I never, in a million lifetimes, would have expected her to walk away. It’s heartbreaking. I cover her in prayer every single day, asking the Lord to bring her back quickly and to minimize the damage that may be caused while she’s in this place.

May the Lord bless you and your family, and may He continue to surround your daughter with people who will strengthen her faith. Thanks, again, for your kind words.

(SeanO) #10

@Elena May the Lord bless you both on the journey and guide you by His Spirit :slight_smile:

(Ken Rose) #11

Aloha Dear Elana,

There is Good News! There is nothing that will separate you or your daughters from the love of God which is in Jesus Christ (Romans 8:37-39). Secondly, you are not alone! Many of are experiencing the same challenges. By reading this topic’s threads, there are many praying for you and your family (me too).

My own story - My wife and I have supported our two daughters and son (24, 22, and 19 yrs), at great expense, to study at our Christian denomination’s private schools. All three went K-12, and our daughters went to a private-Christian university. We also did a period of home-school when good Christian schools were not available. The results, our oldest daughter leaving the Faith, our middle daughter maintaining Faith, and our son wresting with Christ centered relationship.

I wish to whole-heartedly endorse what others have emphasized. The prayers of a loving mother for her kids weigh heavily with our Lord. Jesus said, 'Let the little children come to me,…(Matthew 19:14). Through pictures and sermons, I always imaged it was ‘moms’ bringing their kids to Jesus for a blessing while the disciples grumbled. Your prayers mean a lot! Also, Bible study, connecting with God’s Word is invaluable. My middle daughter found a group to study with and regularly attended worship at a nearby Pastor’s house. Iron sharpens iron (Proverbs 27:17), connecting to others and discussing His Word. I believe this was very important to our middle daughter finding her way.

I would add for your consideration that for some college kids, it’s not so much a loss of belief, as it is a loss of relationship with our Lord. Many skeptics and some atheist related they believe in the evidence that Christ existed, He died, and some believe in His resurrection. However, they turn away from relationship with Him. I found Dr. Gary Habermas’ lectures on intellectual and emotional doubt in Jesus to be very helpful in understanding lack of relationship while holding on to relationship with Him. In my oldest daughter’s case, it was less about believing in Jesus and following the Commandments, than it was about how she interpreted the Bible, other Christians, and what they said about her non-heterosexual friends. Unfortunately, I discovered this only after many heated arguments.

I conclude this post by praising God and thanking Him for a patient wife. We’ve endeavored to be consistent in our relationship with Christ, and living His standard while loving and listening. We’ve endeavored to keep open communication with our oldest. My wife gives me the look or squeezes my hand when my apologists arguments became a little to…‘heated’. Praise the Lord, through prayer and careful discussions, we’ve seen positive change in her since she’s graduated. She has even texted via Facebook to her friends, that ‘not all Christians are bad’.

I continue to the hope and hold to the promise of Romans 8:37-39, that God will never leave her. We continue to follow Jesus, study, and remain open to how the Spirit leads us in our continued discussions with our daughter. God Bless - Ken

(Elena Zwickel ) #12

Ken, thank you for sharing your story. Everything in it resonates with me. The part about how for many it’s more a loss of relationship rather than a loss in belief is so true. My daughter and I have also had many heated discussions on issues pertaining to morality, and it’s become evident that it’s an issue of the heart, more so than of the mind.

Thank you for the words of encouragement. I’m bombarding heaven with prayer and have included those in this thread who are in similar situations, and I will certainly pray for your family as well.

I miss my daughter so much, but I know she belongs to God, so I must learn to trust that He will keep her. Thanks, again.

Your sister in Christ,


(Ken Rose) #13

Aloha Elena,

I’ve bookmarked the conversation to follow and pray for your family. My prayer has been to have a heart like Jesus and listen to the Holy Spirit. I felt the Spirit remind me as arguments heat up, ‘Am I trying to win the argument, or win them for Jesus’. This has been my mantra.

Even while I type this, my oldest is returning my Bose headphones, yet again. She takes them often and the headphones are not there when I want them. Rather than be grumpy, the Spirit says to ‘smile and say thank you for returning them’. Keeping ‘comms open’ (an Army saying), is what’s important.

God bless - your brother in Christ Jesus - Ken

(Elizabeth C) #14


My name is Elizabeth, and I am now a graduate student in math, and this is a bit unusual but I feel led to share what I have gone through as a Christian in college and now graduate school. I went to a Catholic undergrad, where there were quite a few atheists, but I actually met less resistance there than I do here in graduate school. I am very open about my faith to others, which may or may not be a good thing at times, and sometimes I get pummeled with questions. These questions can be overwhelming, and not just because I don’t always know the answer but also because I am scared of answering improperly (incorrectly or in the wrong spirit). I am also sometimes scared they are going to bring up a point that is going to shake my faith, but this fear I have less often. I credit this to being raised in a family where we were taught to seek out what seems like a contradiction and ask God about it; there were times at the dinner table while Dad was reading the Bible and he gave a really ridiculous interpretation and we fought him on that. We were often reminded God loves a workman rightly dividing the word of truth. We learned to pray about things we couldn’t figure out right away that seemed to contradict our faith, and trust that God would reveal to us the truth, whether that be to change our minds or to bring us to a deeper understanding of what we already knew. When we got older I was really secure in being bold to ask God about these questions, but what helped was being able to seek God for the answers and also knowing that if I asked my parents would be willing answer or they would lovingly point me towards building my relationship with God by seeking His answer directly.

On another note that goes beyond the rational, my colleagues who ask me seriously deep questions that are hard are either trying to understand what I believe or they are trying to mock me. One time in particular really stands out to me. I was being pelted by questions from an agnostic and an atheist in my cohort, and I was really scared because mathematicians are really, really good at picking out when something is illogical. I honestly knew I couldn’t answer these questions in my own power, but I had the knowledge and asked God to speak through me. God did speak through me to carefully answer these questions, and somehow I didn’t say anything irrational or incorrect. In fact, I don’t even remember what was said. I was so excited to have been used by God in that situation, but then for the next month I was overwhelmed by so much doubt about my faith. I was wondering, why is this happening? When I could no longer hold on to the rational truth of why Jesus Christ is God (and this was only due to confusion in my brain, it had nothing to do with it being irrational; that in and of itself was hard to identify), I held on to the experiences of how God made Himself manifest in my life. I was talking to my dad about why in the world I was having so much doubt, it didn’t make any sense, and when I told him about my conversation, we realized that I had actually being doing spiritual warfare and was being attacked by a spirit of doubt. I think this is a huge spiritual force in our colleges, because in college we are taught to question everything and remain skeptical until we find the answers. If Satan can get his claws in and keep us in doubt, we can feel like we are still moving forward as scholars when we are really trapped in confusion.

In essence, I find I am being attacked on two fronts in academia: the rational front (where we truly must know our stuff otherwise we will be trampled by truly good, the ridiculous, and the mocking questions) and the spiritual front. Academia is a huge mission field, filled with well-educated yet broken people. They try to use reason to justify their actions and their reactions to the hurt in their life, and they, like any other person in any other walk of life, will try to bring you down with them so they can feel better and justify their belief system. They just have some fairly sophisticated logic tools that they wield cleverly. In order to continue to have faith in Christ, I have had to face instead of run from these awkward and difficult conversations, even when that means saying “let me pray about it and I’ll get back to you” and following up later.

I hope this serves as a lens to what we students are experiencing and as an encouragement to you to keep praying and to be a bulwark of reason for your girls. God has walked with me through each of these rational and spiritual attacks, and He has done it with a wonderful support system of amazing parents like you. Although we may not always admit it, our parents mean the world to us.

With love,

(Elena Zwickel ) #15

Elizabeth, wow, what you wrote was incredibly insightful and encouraging. Thank you for allowing me to glance into some of the challenges Christian students face. It opened my eyes to aspects in this struggle I hadn’t considered; namely, the attacks are multidimensional. Your experiences serve as a reminder to me to pray, pray, pray for our younger brothers and sisters in the Lord who are in this mission field. I rejoice in the fact that God is working through young people such as yourself. Praise God! He is so worthy!

Again, thank you for your reply. I am soaking up every ounce of advice, encouragement, and offers of prayers.

With much love and gratitude,


(Susan Baker) #16

Peoples’ responses have been so kind and helpful that I don’t believe I can add much else except, Elizabeth, have you studied John Lennox’s writings and podcasts? He’s a Christian mathematician with RZIM. Might be a great spiritual partner to prepare you for more discussions in your graduate study.

From my own personal experience which also felt like an assault from secular world views at home while growing up and in college, I kept examining how materialism/naturalism could account for basics like the origin of the universe and beginning of life, plus morality, meaning and destiny. (Ravi’s 4 basic questions for world views, I later learned.)

I wondered how could matter have “ selected” for something more intelligent than its cause? For example, the mathematical probability that non-living matter will combine into proteins for life forms is so astronomically high that one cannot be rationally confident in such a world view.

This is intellectual, of course, but we’re made in God’s image so we must think these things through more carefully, particularly when confronted by pseudo-intellectual sophistry at so many universities today. The damage this is doing to our children is unconscienable.

Prayer is our first line of defense, yes! Seeking Christian social and study groups for our children is crucial. And once in a while, Elena, having the right book lying on your coffee table which you pick up to read or discuss in the presence of your children might eventually persuade them as to the (surprise!) most coherent world view: Christianity. The Holy Spirit will finish our earnest but feeble work along with Christ’s love as our guide. I pray your daughters and all our children see God’s truth. We have so much to lose by not accepting His invitation.

(Elizabeth C) #17


I am so glad, and I thank the Lord for giving me the words to write. I know this verse is often used, but Proverbs 22:6: Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.
I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving with your family, and that God works mightily through you. :slight_smile:

With love,

(Elizabeth C) #18


Yes, I have heard of some of John Lennox’s lectures, including his debate with Dawkins (although it’s been a while). I did know he was a mathematician, although he is an algebraist and I am on the other side of mathematics haha (I work on more calculus-type math). He just did a very nice interview on artificial intelligence with Vince and Jo Vitale on their new podcast. Thanks for recommending him, I should probably look into more of his intellectual discussions. :slight_smile:

(Susan Baker) #19

I loved John’s discussion of Genesis and how a faithful mathematician might interpret the length of time for creation. So thoughtful!

It reminded me how the Biblical revelation of an ordered universe helped found science. Such intelligence has gone before us! God go with you, friends!

(Elena Zwickel ) #20

Thanks, Susan, for the reply.

I ordered “The Reason for God,” by Tim Keller, which was recommended by SeanO. I cannot wait to dive into it!

Hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday!