A Place of Peace

Join Rahul Shah as he reminisces on how strange the love and peace of the community at the Study Center seemed to him at first—and how he's grown in his understanding of the gospel as a result. 

Rahul Shah
Photo by Abby Vendt. 

When I think about the Study Center, I can’t help but think about the word peace. So much about the Study Center has brought me peace, from the people, to the architectural design, to its purpose, etc. I remember when I first went to the Study Center and was incredibly confused. I didn’t understand how people studied there. The place looked like a house with a bunch of tables in it. It didn’t look like a traditional library to me. However, as friends continued to invite me to study there, and people kept introducing themselves to me, encouraging me and showing me around, I kept going back and sooner than later, I became the friend that was inviting people to the Study Center. I remember the first time I slept there, unfazed by being the only one in the building at three in the morning, but surprisingly calmed by the warm thoughts of what the Study Center stood for.

There’s so much about the Study Center that makes it like my second home, but other than the comfort and peace it provides me, it has also helped me grow in numerous ways. It has taught me more about what it means to be in community. When I first started going to the Study Center a lot, people kept coming up to me to introduce themselves and get to know me. I was so confused. This never happened at other libraries. When I went to other libraries by myself, I would rarely, if ever, see the same people twice. At the Study Center, I am always seeing a familiar face that is willing to take the second to say “hi!”. There’s something about that aspect of community that has taught me the importance of welcoming people. I have learned how important it is to make people feel like the place is a home for them to be able to be a part of.

In addition, it has been the kitchen that has helped me understand the gospel. The kitchen always reminds me of the story in Acts 4 about the believers who share their possessions. I am always humbled by the Study Center’s willingness to let students use mugs, plates, bowl, utensils, etc. I am appreciative of the free coffee and tea provided, and even an opportunity to use the fridge and microwave, or cook using the oven or stove. I am grateful for exam snacks. I remember when I was told about exam snacks for the first time and thought it was a joke. Why would the Study Center give so much free food every day to students? That made no sense to me. But I soon realized how powerful exam snacks and the love, shown by those who provided and helped prepare the food, were in understanding the gospel and how Jesus wants us to be known in the world: by how we love each other.

I am thankful for the ways in which the Study Center has helped me grow in my faith and understanding of community by providing me with a terrific example of what a Christ-centered community looks like. At the Study Center, I am reminded of what it’s like to live amongst believers and it has brought me tremendous peace during times of great stress. Thank you to everyone who works at the Study Center and everyone who has ever been there. I love you. Thanks for helping make the place a home for so many like me.