UCA Students Share Jesus With Peers
For more than four decades, UCA has conducted an annual student week of prayer during which students develop spiritual presentations of their own interest and share them in front of the students and staff. The SWOP speakers are suggested by current students, voted on and selected by the staff. The opportunity is open to all students; however, students generally do not speak in back-to-back years.
Alden Wilfley, senior class sports coordinator, says, “It’s like giving a gift. It’s more blessed to give than receive.” Hannah Knipple, senior and Associated Student Body historian added, “The process of Bible study builds a better relationship with God.”
Before SWOP, the selected speakers, Bible teachers and campus life sponsors share in a three to four day retreat, generating ideas through prayer, discussion, Bible study and contemplation. This year the group went to Camp MiVoden for their retreat. “Prayer-partners are chosen within the group, and some of those partnerships continue beyond their time at UCA,” according to Bible teacher Fred Riffle.
Tom Asaki, a senior from Moscow, Idaho, believes “you can see God working on campus as a result of SWOP. You can feel the spiritual climate.”
Junior Kate Byrd, ASB chaplain, says the process “allows you to calm down and focus on God.”
These presentations are a combination of public speaking and a spiritual journey, often very personal and revealing. The topics can range widely: understanding how God operates in one’s life, family struggles, personal issues and other challenges. The audience is very attentive, unusually reverent and naturally drawn in to support their classmates. Student presentations connect with students’ hearts in a way that adult presentations may not. The power and impact of the talks upon the audience are clear.
Zach Damm, senior class student council representative, says, “There will be a ripple effect in heaven from their SWOP efforts.”
Ian Schroetlin, senior and ASB president, values the opportunity. He is “grateful for the others who came before and shared their presentations.”
Planning and participating in SWOP is hard work and stressful — a blessing and a burden at the same time — but those who contribute consider the opportunity a privilege. When the speakers were asked if SWOP should continue, the response was a resounding “yes!” There is nothing like speaking for Jesus in front of one’s peers.