It was March 23, 1775 when one of the United States’ Founding Fathers, Patrick Henry delivered his speech, “On The Resolution to Put the Commonwealth into a State of Defence” at the Virginia Convention. While the title of this speech may not sound familiar to many of us Americans today, the last sentence should ring clear as a bell if we paid attention in history class. “I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!” The point Henry conveyed throughout his speech is that we as Americans should fight for our freedom; not just sit back idly and hope that we’ll be protected. Because the latter is sure to render us utterly defeated and enslaved.
Meanwhile, we as Christians have a similar call of duty. The only difference is that the liberty and freedom we’re fighting here for is eternal and literally a life-or-death matter (and I’m not talking physically).
Paul Worcester, the director of Christian Challenge at Chico State University in Chico, California, takes the last seven words of Patrick Henry’s speech and basically “embellishes” it, so to speak, to help motivate this generation of missionaries who are taking the gospel to college students. Worcester’s new and improved saying goes, “Give me freshmen or give me death!” But why freshmen specifically? Because “the friends a student makes the first two weeks [of school] determines the course of their entire life” (Worcester) and we need to make sure we “fight” our way into that friend circle. Let me explain why.
Worcester tells us that “the college campus is a recruitment culture” and in all frankness, the Greek organizations tend to put our ministry organizations to shame when it comes to recruiting students. Let’s face it, they just do a better job of packing the first two weeks on campus with fun activities in order to draw in as many students as they possibly can. However, it’s important to realize that our competition for freshmen students is not merely the other social clubs on campus, but rather Satan’s kingdom of hell. How is that so? The fact of the matter is, Satan will stop at nothing to prevent those who are seeking fulfillment from finding the true source of life in Christ Jesus. Fraternities and sororities are just one of the lethal weapons he uses to combat the kingdom of heaven so we need to do whatever necessary (even if that means going above and beyond our social limits) to combat the kingdom of hell just as hard. As Paul (the apostle in the Bible, so as not to get confused with our friend Paul Worcester) tells the church in Ephesus, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:12 NKJV, emphasis added).
Now that we know who and what we’re really up against, we need to know how to best equip ourselves for the battle. Paul (again, the apostle) continues in Ephesians 6 by telling us what to do, starting in verse 13. “Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day….” The pieces of armor then listed in verses 14-17 are (1. A belt of truth, (2. A breastplate of righteousness, (3. Shoes of the gospel of peace, (4. A shield of faith, (5. A helmet of salvation and finally, (6. The sword of the Spirit. If we wear and use each of these pieces well, Satan and his army are sure to fall back in retreat. However, the ultimate weapon that we must take care to utilize most often, in order to prevail in this fight for the lives and liberty of these students, is prayer. Lots of prayer. We on the front lines need to be praying, as well as our supporters back home. We need to be “Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints….” (Ephesians 6:18 NKJV, emphasis added). Prayer truly is the most powerful and successful weapon in any battle.
While the University of South Florida St. Petersburg doesn’t have any Greek clubs (except a business fraternity) that we in CoMission have to compete with, there are quite a few other clubs and extracurricular activities that often take priority in the students’ lives and interests. It’s amazing how Satan uses the pleasures of this world, no matter how harmless they may seem, to deceive us into thinking we don’t need God to have a good life. That trick alone is enough to make our fight for the students’ lives all the more difficult (shoot, it’s a constant battle in my own life) but as long as we wield our weapons and armor well, “wage the good warfare, having faith and a good conscience” (1 Timothy 1:18-19), and leave the rest to God, the results will be worth it. The fight and the battle will be worth it when we students come to experience true life and liberty through salvation in Christ.
"If….we mean not basely to abandon the noble struggle in which we have been so long engaged, and which we have pledged ourselves never to abandon until the glorious object of our contest shall be obtained, we must fight! I repeat it, sir, we must fight!….Besides, sir, we shall not fight our battles alone. There is a just God who presides over the destinies of nations, and who will raise up friends to fight our battles for us. The battle, sir, is not to the strong alone; it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave....Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty, or give me death!" - Patrick Henry
List of Sources:
Picture of Patrick Henry: Encyclopedia Virginia
Campus Ministry Today Podcast. "Give Me Freshmen or Give Me Death" by Paul Worcester
The Jeremiah Study Bible. New King James Version
The Constitution of the United States of America and Selected Writings of the Founding Fathers.