A Story of Restoration and Service

Lead

Wayne Briggs sat quiet for several full seconds, thinking carefully through what 2020 "resident director Wayne" would say to 2015 "freshman Wayne", who was just setting foot on DBU's campus after God radically redirected his ambitions and steps; as would be proven later, this would manifest in more ways than just choosing a college.

"I would tell myself," Briggs said at last, "that it's 100 percent not about you. When I first got here, I had this mindset of wanting to consume as much as possible: get involved with everything, have widespread community. Over time, I found it so draining even though I expected it to be fulfilling. I had to tell myself to see people from a mindset of 'there you are' rather than 'here I am.'"

Briggs's own story reflects the nature of intentionally seeking to serve others, after having been found, served and restored himself.

Briggs grew up in Beaumont, Texas. He was an only child in a Christian family, and attended a Christian school with church life woven in.

Then life began to change.

"My fourth-grade year, we adopted my little brother," Briggs said. "That was when I first started to encounter real insecurity in my life, going from an only child to having a brother. I felt inadequate for my parents, jealous of the ways he was treated. I started to harbor bitterness toward my parents at a young age.

Two years later, the Briggs family adopted another brother.

"It was a very quick transition in my family dynamic that shook me very much. I didn't have a solid faith to endure that. So early on, going into middle school, I was a very distant kid from my family. I was motivated to do well in school to get to a good college and move out and live my life. That was my goal from a very young age."

During Briggs's junior year of high school, he experienced the presence of God in the back bleachers of his school gym during a chapel-style worship night. For the first time, as Briggs described, he felt overwhelming comfort and forgiveness from a personal relationship with Christ. It changed the course of his faith and life.

His senior year, Briggs attended a Christian leadership institute at DBU with other seniors from home. In keeping with Briggs's childhood ambitions, attending a Texas college was nowhere on his radar. Yet he had another deeply personal, spiritual experience that again altered his course.

"We were sitting in chapel, and I remember the speaker saying that the Lord wanted to remove a root of bitterness from the heart of someone in the audience," Briggs said. "Immediately, every single feeling of bitterness that I knew I was still harboring towards my family was uncovered, and I knew this was where the Lord was going to heal me of that and restore my family dynamic."

Briggs decided right there that he would go to DBU.

"It has been so incredible to see the Lord fulfil those promises: reconciling me to me family and strengthening my relationship with my brothers," Briggs said of his time on campus up to now. "Now it's incredible to see the Lord's hand so present where he has me serving, helping other guys walk through life having gone through similar things to me."

Currently, Briggs is a resident director at Lange Hall, where he has learned to be a mentor, leader and simply a friend to the men in the dorm that Briggs is called to serve. Briggs' reflections from his past, and his renewed understanding of vulnerability as a Christian man, go a long and unique way into pouring into the men under his leadership. Briggs strives to foster a place that's safe for vulnerability, expressing struggles or victories, and facing spiritual growth without feeling alone.

"I remember being absolutely terrified to be open about my struggles and the more difficult aspects of my testimony because I didn't feel like there was a place for that in male culture," Briggs said. "I was believing a very toxic view on what it meant to have brotherhood and unity amongst guys. Guys will often pass up on that opportunity out of fear and a desire to stay comfortable. When I see those habits starting to surface, I'm able to approach these guys and say 'Hey, I know where this could lead. There are better things for you.'"

Briggs admits that being intentional and present for the students in that way has proven difficult with the unique challenges COVID-19 has presented yet it's not altogether impossible. From keeping up over social media during quarantine, to writing letters to each resident moving out after quarantine, every effort for dorm leadership to keep engaged with students after a cut-short semester has kept spirits a bit higher on both ends.

"We don't want you to think that once you leave the building, you're not important to us anymore that's definitely not the case," Briggs said. "We've taken advantage of every small opportunity we have to engage with people we've committed to invest in this year."

Written by Jordan Jarrett

Jordan Jarrett is a member of University Communications at Dallas Baptist University.

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