Broken Hearts, Fueled Passions: Focus on Students and Young Adults

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Today’s post is written by a former student of mine. I taught Berkeley in the 4th grade; and she sang in the children’s choir at my wedding! I have had the pleasure of watching her live her passion over the past few years, and I KNOW you will love her words as much as I do!!

Broken Hearts

Atheists, Agnostics, Buddhists, Muslims, New Agers…

Moral relativists, religious zealots, anti-religious critics…

Passionate, apathetic, scared, angry, curious…

These are just a few words that describe the spiritual climate that can be found on any college campus in every country around the world. After working with college students for the past six years, I have found myself growing increasingly passionate about engaging young people in addressing the tough questions that they regularly face but often ignore: “Who am I? What is my purpose? Am I made for something more? Was I even ‘created’ at all?” God’s heart breaks when he sees his beloved image-bearers struggle through these questions—and he has given me a heart that breaks for them as well.

These deep questions rock young adults’ minds on a regular basis and the answers they come up with guide their thoughts, decisions, actions, habits, and, eventually, their lifestyles. Since few college students and young adults today were raised with any kind of positive spiritual influence, their assumed purpose in life often gets boiled down to either:  1) achieving success in their career to make their self-esteem rise, their peers jealous, and their family proud or 2) living in the moment and ignoring the consequences since this is all life has to offer.


Berkeley is in the center.

I have been tempted to follow both of these paths at various points in my short life and I’ve interacted with countless others who have chosen to take off running down these paths full speed ahead. However, during my time at Clemson University, the University of Buenos Aires, the Autonomous University of Santo Domingo, and San Diego State, I have seen how God can use a built relationship or a timely conversation to turn the head of that “trail-runner” just long enough to entertain the thought, “Am I sure I’m running in the right direction?”

Young people in general are fed up with guilt-based religion, fear tactics, irrelevant rituals, and never-ending attempts to “be good enough”. They want direction. They want meaning. They want unconditional love. They want security. They want Jesus—but most just don’t know it. Many will admit that they know there is “something more” but they just haven’t found out what “it” is. God has given me a passion to engage with these young people to help them explore their doubts, questions, and longings. As I’ve talked with Southerners, Southern Californians, Argentines, and Dominicans, the questions are very similar and the longings are much the same. They are looking for something to believe in and someone to depend on that is relevant, lasting, and satisfying.

Working with Campus Crusade for Christ for the past several years has equipped me to be able to engage with young people on a deeper level and help them think through some of these questions that they are so good at suppressing. Whether it’s doing spontaneous spiritual surveys on campus, conducting evangelistic outreaches, leading small group discussions, or grabbing coffee with a spiritually-interested friend, I have grown in my ability to share my faith and help students and young adults give some serious thought to their worldviews and whether or not those beliefs hold up to scrutiny.

dominican republic

Getting to delve deeper into why the Christian faith is legitimate, relevant, and life-changing with a student or young adult gives me life and excitement like nothing else. God has given me a heart for evangelism and discipleship with young adults and I am so grateful for the various cultures in which He has allowed me to live out this passion. No matter the language, no matter the culture—God’s heart breaks for the lost and searching members of our younger generations…and so does mine.

Whether it’s a beautiful Argentine campus leader who feels used by men and forsaken by her friends…

Whether it’s a Southern church-attender whose commitment to simply “following the rules” is wearing thin against sexual temptation…

Whether it’s a SoCal young adult who feels stuck, purposeless, and directionless…

Whether it’s a Dominican student who has been burned by the church and needs to be shown Christ’s love…

These are all real people. These are all true stories. These are all hearts that are searching for Christ. Who is going to tell them? Who cares enough to share?

Romans 10:14-15

How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”


My name is Berkeley Bagwell and I’m a 24-year-old Southern bell from Greenville, South Carolina. I just moved back to the States in August of 2013 after living overseas for two years and I now reside in San Diego, California. I moved out here as part of Vision Pathways, a missional community that seeks to develop and unleash young professionals into the marketplace through a gospel-centered church for the renewal of our city through Jesus Christ. I am currently working as a recruiter at a health and wellness company and stay busy teaching ESL classes, volunteering with the local Campus Crusade for Christ ministry, serving in my church, keeping up my Spanish skills, hiking, biking, and singing country music as often as others will allow.

For more information on Vision Pathways, visit


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Broken Hearts, Fueled Passions: Focus on Students and Young Adults — 4 Comments

  1. This is so powerful and a great reminder of the way God can use us for the work of His kingdom right where we are. Praying now for Berkely and blessing on her life and ministry. Thanks so much for sharing!

    • I just love Berkely and her sold our passion for Jesus. She challenges me every time I speak to her. 🙂

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