As news broke of criminal sexual abuse charges filed against a former Penn State assistant coach, a media maelstrom descended on the small college town of State College, Pennsylvania, also known as “Happy Valley”. Things went from bad to worse as prominent university officials—including Penn State’s revered longtime coach, Joe Paterno—were fired, and students rioted in response.
The next weekend, scores of people—players, coaches, and staff from both Nebraska and Penn State football teams— knelt together at mid-field before the game. With hats and helmets off, Nebraska assistant coach Ron Brown lead them in prayer.
It’s in dark times like these that Christ’s light shines brightest, offering both hope and healing. Campus Crusade staff at Penn State are reaching out to their shocked and grieving community and telling them about Jesus’ love and forgiveness.Our Athletes in Action staff at Penn State helped to set up the prayer at midfield before the game. (see notes)
Also, the director of our Cru student ministry at Penn State delivered a moving speech to a standing room only crowd at their regular weekly meeting. Students reported that “they never felt the presence of the Holy Spirit so powerfully.” The speech has now “gone viral” on the internet. A condensed version of the speech, titled “Love Notices Wet Hair,” has been printed into a booklet which Penn State Cru is distributing widely on campus and people are open to talking about God and morality on campus.
The university is encouraging all of its faculty and staff to take time in class to help their students process the scandal and its aftermath. Dr. Heather Holleman and her husband, Ashley, represent Cru’s Faculty Commons (a ministry to professors) at Penn State. The Hollemans are leading the response of Penn State’s Christian professors, who are mentioning the “Love Notices Wet Hair” campaign in their many classes.
When the scandal was in week two, and the students were looking forward to fleeing all the media attention for a Thanksgiving break at home, Heather remembered Psalm 23 and God’s message to us to “let yourself be led to green pastures and quiet waters when you’re in a Dark Valley.” Read her post, Permission to Take a Break, in her popular blog, Live with Flair (see notes).
Thank you for praying for Cru staff and the professors at Penn State to minister to their hurting students and colleagues. Pray for God to bring hope and healing to a community that is in great need of it right now.
- Mike is a Penn State alumni and many of our friends have fond ties to Penn State.
- You can hear the pre-game prayer in thisYouTube video.
- Heather, who is also an English professor, has worked with Sus in helping our staff with blogging and writing skills.
- Excerpted with permission from our good friends, Daryl and Ceil, on staff with Cru’s Faculty Commons. Their original letter is here.
- This image of Penn State’s mascot is available on Wikimedia Commons.