Ask Mom Now: Creative Campus Conversations

“Can I have a hug with that cookie?”

It was the day after the election. I was on the University of Central Florida campus with a group called Ask Mom Now, handing out cookies, conversation, advice to students who could use a word from a Mom. A young man took the cookie, and gladly exchanged a hug as well--and lingered for a brief conversation.

It was my first visit to the UCF campus in several years. I was amazed at the diversity. So much color, so many international students, so many religious backgrounds. It was beautiful.

But on this day, following the election, the fear was palpable. I heard the word “terrified” repeatedly.

They are afraid:

“I will be sent home.”

“I might get killed.”

“I won’t be able to finish my education here.”

“My family will be split apart.” 

The cookies are always welcome—and were gone quickly today.

Many seemed hungrier for conversation.

Seven moms in white shirts engaged, asked questions, listened, encouraged—and sometimes prayed.

Six moms are at their Ask Mom Now cookie station every Wednesday afternoon. I was with them for the first time—it was an incredible experience for me.

Why are they there? To connect with students, to be a local mom when their mother may be across the state or across the world. To show love and give encouragement.

The questions vary greatly. Connie Amon, one of the originators of Ask Mom, describes what happens: “Most people enjoy talking about themselves, especially if someone is really listening. Topics range from all ends of the cultural spectrum: sex, drugs, all religions, relationships (roommates, teachers, parents, landlords), laundry, cooking, time-management, purpose of life, illness…you name it! And now, the election.“

When I asked how they felt about the outcome of the election, most said they were afraid," Connie continued. “So I asked what they were most afraid of. Some didn’t know exactly, just a feeling. One gal mentioned homophobia and possible consequences, especially from her family. When I asked another her top concerns, she thanked me for asking because she hadn’t really stopped to think specifically like that."

One gal revealed she had just become sexually active the night before and was scared she might be pregnant. Another woman confessed she had stolen her friend’s boyfriend, was feeling guilty and stressed, and needed advice. A young man was brokenhearted because his girlfriend dumped him. We also get requests for prayer…especially for upcoming tests or papers," Connie added.

Of course conversation sometimes turns to spiritual topics. Some like to talk about their spiritual background. Others have no concept of God, or no interest. But some are intrigued that there might be a knowable personal God they could have a relationship with.

“We seek to connect their concerns to the fact that we are created for relationship…first with God, then with others,” Connie added. “Our real challenge is to find pathways into charitable conversations.

“If students aren’t asking us what we believe, we seek to keep the spotlight on what they believe and think. At the end of the day, we want them to know that we are truly interested in them. That’s what brings them back week after week, semester after semester. I think it’s what allows us to have God conversations that they want to participate in.”

I met several students who come by every Wednesday—for a cookie and to continue their conversations. Some just want to talk, appreciating the love and concern. Others have entered life-transforming relationships with Jesus.

What about you? What questions would you ask?

Find out more about Ask Mom Now here.

C2015 Judy Douglass