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Observations in a Fellowship Hall

My great uncle turned 100 in early May. The year he was born, Roy and Walt Disney founded The Walt Disney Company, a gallon of gas cost 25 cents (must be nice!), and women participated in the Track and Field championships for the first time. My parents and I flew to Dallas for the party that was held at his church, where he has been a member for the past decade or so, after serving faithfully at another church for a long time prior to that. Great Uncle Richard sat in a chair at the front of the fellowship hall, and his friends lined up out the door--and into the parking lot--to greet him. Hundreds of people travelled from near and far to celebrate him, and my great uncle shared memories with each of them. I was amazed at the amount of mutual love in that room and at my uncle's ability to recognize and converse with so many people at his age. With laughter bubbling throughout the room, it was the celebration of the century.

A few days before my uncle's 100th birthday, there was a new Surgeon General Advisory issued on the Epidemic of Loneliness. Research shows that lacking social connection increases the risk of premature death by 60%, including a 29% increased risk of heart disease, a 32% increased risk of stroke, and a 50% increased risk of developing dementia for older adults. It seemed no coincidence to me that my 100 year old great uncle had such deep social connections. And it seemed fitting for him to be celebrating his 100th birthday in a space dedicated to fellowship.

The above statistics only confirm what the Bible tells us from the very beginning. In Genesis 2:18, God said that "It is not good for man to be alone." That is when God made Eve, a complement to Adam. Keep in mind, this is before the Fall, meaning that companionship is part of God's perfect design for us. The same truth is evident in the New Testament in Acts 2:42-47, a section titled "The Fellowship of the Believers." Here, Paul describes the joy ("filled," "glad," "praising God," and "enjoying") of togetherness (he uses the word 3 times in as many verses) that churches and Christian communities should strive to have. No wonder connection is good for our health--it is God's intent for man to be together!

This year at Stanford, I got to experience first-hand the joy of togetherness. I hosted FCA's women's Bible study (which we nicknamed B-stud) in my dorm each Tuesday night of the school year for a total of 30 evenings. Eventually, our one hour session turned into two which occasionally (when I relaxed on my 10:00 bedtime) turned into three. Throughout the school year, we read Galatians, Hebrews, Habakkuk, and James. We read, asked questions, prayed for each other, took notes, and hung out. I even hosted a Fruit of the Spirit party with, you guessed it, lots of dining hall fruit where we went around sharing the Fruit we saw in each other and ourselves.

Before each study, we would pray that God would bring us closer to Him and to each other. He certainly answered our prayers. By the end of the school year, not only had we each encountered God in new ways, but we had a group of forever friends. Several of us got dressed up for my dorm's formal on a boat out of San Francisco towards the end of the school year. It was the most fun I have had in college, and I know it was the people who made the night.

Including B-stud, FCA has been the biggest blessing so far at Stanford. Each Monday night, our auditorium fills with worship and laughter, and I see a glimpse of Paul's aforementioned description right on campus in the glowing faces of my friends. Surrounding myself with fellow Christian athletes has comforted me with like-mindedness that makes FCA feels like home away from home. Some highlights this year were Francis Chan (author of Crazy Love) coming to speak and worshipping in the Home of Champions, Stanford's two-story space dedicated to our trophies and hall of fame athletes (both pictured below). We had amazing senior leaders that we will miss dearly, but we are also so excited for the future of FCA with the freshman class being so integral to our community and on-fire for God already. The FCA community is so strong that I often forget the uncanniness of having this flourishing spiritual community on such a secular campus. God is so good!

Despite attending church and Christian schools my entire life before Stanford, this is my first experience with true fellowship. Every Monday night is a celebration. I leave FCA encouraged, refreshed, and full of God's joy. No wonder fellowship has a tangible effect on our health and longevity. I know that the friendships formed this year will last a lifetime--maybe even 100 years!



Hi, I'm Camille Joy!

Welcome to my blog! I am a sophomore track athlete at Stanford with a passion for writing. This blog is a place for me to highlight the experiences of a student-athlete, whether they are mine or others'. EnJOY (:

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