When I first arrived at college, I had a slew of beliefs that I’d acquired from a lifetime in religious America. Call it an ‘us vs. them’ mentality, or ascribe it to my natural tendency to assume the worst, but I was sure that every nonbeliever I encountered at my “dark and liberal” university would be against God. After all, such places were full of impassioned atheists and radical bigots, right? {I mean, I saw God’s Not Dead.} And I was going into the worst of it {so they said}: the sciences.

At first, I didn’t notice how wrong I’d been. Even after my science professors—all my professors, actually, even the government one—taught what they were hired to teach and left God out of it, I still assumed that my fellow students were hostile toward the gospel.


As I became more missionally focused, I began to to notice something. Very few of my fellow students showed hostility toward the gospel. In fact, most of them lived in varying levels of ignorance of who Jesus was and why He came. They knew about religion and church {church with a little ‘c’}, but when it came to the gospel…they’d never been told.

This rocked my world.

I’d grown up thinking that most Americans understood the basics of what it meant to be a Christian—the gospel. This idea had infiltrated my perception of atheists and agnostics; after all, once I assumed they’d been exposed to the gospel, I logically had to assume they’d legitimately turned it away.

The longer I am outside the walls of the church building, the more I realize that this is not the case. Paul writes the following in Romans 10:14: How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?”

It’s time to stop applying those words to missionary work only in the third-world and start realizing that a large part of our college campuses are not antagonistic—as they have so often been portrayed—but have simply never encountered the gospel.


In the past year, I have fielded the following genuine questions and comments from my unbelieving scientist friends:

  • “Why do you believe in God?”
  • “What happened?!” {In response to me saying I was going to the Campus House of Prayer to pray.} “I thought one only prayed when something goes wrong.”
  • “Something tangible changes in the room when you talk. What is that?”

One of the most impactful moments for me was when I proposed the idea of ‘someone’ taking our hellish punishment so that we didn’t have to. The response was incredulous: “Who are these people?” Friends have told me that, if Jesus was God, they honestly don’t know why He came to earth.


Every time I’ve heard these responses, my heart has hurt. I’ve also become a little bit angry. Angry with the lie that I accepted as truth—a lie that still pervades my Facebook feed and probably yours, too—the lie that nonbelievers are the enemy. For too long, this lie convinced me that that sharing my faith at all would be like throwing pearls to swine.

So not true.

In my experience {at what is known to be the most liberal university in my state}, most people just don’t know. They’ve never turned away Jesus, because they’ve never been introduced to Him.

It’s time to stop assuming that those who “have not heard” are only found in the wilds of Africa or the jungles of South America. It’s time to realize that on our college campuses resides an equally desperate hunger for truth, the gospel, and Jesus.

melodyvaladez200x200Melody Valadez is a senior at the University of Texas at Austin, where she majors in physics and co-leads the College of Natural Sciences Missional Community under the guidance of Campus Renewal Ministries. She is also the author of Those Who Trespass, a novel for young adults that blurs the line between secular and Christian fiction.