Transformed by Love

Jacob Dean reflects on the loving and patient community he has found through the Study Center and how instrumental that has been in his relationship with Christ. 

Jacob Dean
Photo provided by Jacob Dean

These last few years have been very transformative for me, and the Study Center has been integral in that change. It feels surreal to be graduating and even more surreal to be leaving UVA as a Christian. I did not come to UVA with any intention of finding Christ. In fact, I was rather opposed to religion. When I arrived in Charlottesville, I had already given up on God years ago. However, it seems that God had not given up on me. During my second year, I joined InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, where I met and began my relationship with Christ, and for the past two years have been seeking to know him better. I had not heard of the Study Center until that spring two years ago, but since it has played a huge role in teaching me about what it means to know Jesus.

I still remember the first time I visited the Stud in the spring of the second year. I was not a Christian at the time but had wandered up Chancellor Street and ended up at the Stud. What immediately struck me about the place was the sense of calm and welcome in the friendly people I met. After my first encounter with the Stud, it continued to be a place of refuge for me at UVA, a place where the ambient stress and demands of UVA were not as present.

As someone who was new to Christian community, I think the Stud has been invaluable in showing me the practice and importance of Christian community. It exemplifies Ephesians 4:2, “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” The Stud has served as a place for me to learn from and also teach others about the gospel in action and conversation. Members of the Study Centers staff, like Ethan and Fitz, have always been patient and present with me in conversation about God and his Word, and I have learned much from them. Students come together to be present and supportive with one another in matters of study and faith. And there has always been a great spirit of service to Grounds with the events like Exam Snacks and Move-In Day Lunch. These events have been my favorite times of the year at the Study Center, because it is a time to work together in order to serve one another and the community in the name of Jesus.

I believe with all my heart that God led me to UVA and sustained me here through struggles and challenges in order to meet Jesus and his people. I am so thankful to have received new life in Christ. The Study Center has welcomed me into the body of believers, showing me love, and helping me grow towards Christ. As I leave UVA and continue my walk with Jesus, I will carry the memory and impact of the Study Center with me.