Finding the Little Brown House

Jacqueline Justice
Jacqueline Justice

To be completely honest, the first time I entered the Study Center was due to the rumors (which proved to be true) of free tea and coffee. My credit card statement was getting steep from daily peppermint mochas and my plus dollars were running thin. But even worse than running out of money for caffeine, I was becoming bored with doing homework alone and spending my Sundays hopping back and forth between Starbucks and Alderman Library.

On this particular Sunday, I went to an outing with my small group, and they were all talking about this magical place known as the Study Center, which I had previously never even heard of. After their descriptions of it as a warm, homey place, equipped with a fireplace, I decided to give it a shot, and showed up, books in hand ready to write some papers.

When I realized that this little brown house that I walked by almost every day was apparently the place to hang out for what seemed like everyone I knew, I started coming back. The beauty of the Study Center, I discovered, is even without knowing anyone there when you walk through the door, there are bound to be multiple warm smiles waiting to introduce themselves to you and immediately become your friend.

As a transfer student (and also a very talkative extrovert), you can imagine my delight in being able to meet new people just by happening to be stirring my coffee while they were in the kitchen, or by sitting at the same table as them in the library. The warmth present in this building (and not just literally, although it does make a good intermediary warming up point between class and my house) was so vibrant every time I came in that I have started to forget that people actually go to other libraries.

During exam snacks for finals week, I started to meet the people that run the Study Center and realize how much work these adults put into this place to give students a cheerful, receptive, and motivating work and social environment. Although the building was packed to maximum capacity, almost 24-7 during the nine-day finals week, it was the most encouraging atmosphere, as there were always friends and food available when your brain started to turn to goo from reading the same notes 15 times over again. I mean, free coffee and food—what more could you possibly want?

Although exam snacks were great, Rush Hospitality was my first spiritually enlightening experience as a direct result of the Study Center’s ministry. After going through 16 houses and feeling emotionally drained, the Study Center provided food and drinks and also people to talk to and encourage the girls going through the rush process. I personally didn’t think going through Recruitment would be a difficult experience for me, but when I was proved otherwise, the staff’s office doors were open and couches were available to sit on and vent about the chaos going on. The interns were always around and willing to pray with you and give free hugs. Ultimately, someone was always there to remind you of your identity in Christ, and God’s loving character that has a preordained plan worked out for each of our lives for our own benefit.

This encouragement spoke to me of the wonderful ministry the Study Center was performing by simply opening their doors and providing hospitality. Although the cup of coffee was the selling point that encouraged me to first come to the Study Center, the relational and spiritual benefits I have gained far outnumber anything a cup of coffee could give me. The Study Center has become a home away from home, a place for me to get work done, make new friends, and see Christ’s example being followed in the most practical of ways.

Jacqueline Justice, CLAS ’16