Name: Hannah Diggs
Major: Spanish and Marketing (Double-Major)
Hometown: Kalamazoo, originally from Phoenix
What made you want to start the “Got Jesus?” GroupMe at the start of the new school year for MSU, particularly for freshmen?
Throughout the Bible, God speaks of serving others, becoming like servants to the poor, the suppressed, and the outsiders. Specifically, 1st Peter 4:10 says “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace.” Many of my classmates and I included, lost much of our senior year. Many of us lost graduation, prom, senior trips, award ceremonies, and precious time spent with the people we have spent most of our lives growing up with. If that does not count as a suppressed population, I don’t know what does. I first started general chats for all Michigan State freshmen because that was the best way I could think of to serve my classmates. This spiraled into over sixty different group chats with thousands of members including one for Christians but also ones for different majors, ones for different sports, and different ethnicities.
What does “Got Jesus?” do?
The “Got Jesus?” group has had zooms in the past, especially during the beginning of quarantine where so many of us felt isolated. Christians are kind of known for their praying so we definitely do put prayer requests in the group when someone is going through a tough time but we also just have conversations too about life and Michigan State and anything else. As freshmen we all were kind of in the dark when it came to campus life and Christian organizations but when everyone gets to be in a group we all were able to share about the different organizations on campus and get even more connected.
How do you think “Got Jesus?” has helped spread service and community virtually through campus during this hard time?
I think “Got Jesus?” has helped foster that community so many of us have not had in so long. I think it is a way many of us, myself included, were able to maintain some sanity in all the craziness with COVID, what that meant for our personal lives, but also our senior year of high school, our freshmen year of college, and so much more. I may be biased but I think Christians do a lot of good on campus and “Got Jesus?” is a part of that. Salt Company, a Christian organization on campus, was introduced to me and many others through the group chat and one thing they did to help the incoming freshman class get invested in the world of Michigan State was host beach days over the summer and bonfires in the fall. Other organizations called “Cru” and “Intervarsity” did similarly, doing online and virtual events and actively reaching out to the freshman population so that they could get connected.
What do the H.W.L.F. bracelets mean that many people were given the opportunity to order?
So, as a Christian, love is a huge deal. It is a core value of the Christian faith. The acronym H.W.L.F. stands for He Would Love First. This “He” is talking about Jesus, who is the son of God sent to minister and save the people of this world, crazy huh? Well, that may sound strange to some but if you can get past that for a second, Jesus’ other title was “Teacher” and what he taught was love. Christians may come across differently and because we are still human we definitely aren’t perfect at this, but that is what the bracelets remind us to do. To put others above ourselves, love people before we judge them, love people before we know if they are rich or poor, good at school or not so good, hardworking or a couch potato. All of these things are inconsequential to our calling to love them.
What inspired you to create the “Got Jesus?” group chats and inspire faith in other students during quarantine at the start of the fall semester?
Well something pretty unique to me is that this is not the first time I have been in a quarantine-like situation. Years ago I battled horrible chronic pain issues where I barely could leave my bed, so this isolation was not new to me but I understood how hard it was for so many others. After dealing with this chronic pain and the isolation that came with it is how I found Jesus, how I started coming to church, and how I became so passionate about Christianity. So I knew that out of such loneliness and pain brought on by this pandemic, great things could come. I am undeniably imperfect but I tried really hard to show others this through my love for them, my willingness to listen, and my compassion for the situation that had been forced upon all of us.
Beyond just religion specifically, making the group chats in general and getting to know people, how do you think this has helped freshmen particularly have a smoother year online? Has it allowed for more friendships and a place where people can ask for help and support, among other things?
I know that this year hasn’t been easy for anyone but I think lots of people are thankful to have the group chats around. I know many people who ended up finding their roommates through the chats, finding out about how to apply for financial aid, finding out about how scheduling worked, finding out how to get an on-campus job, finding out about what dorms are the best, and so much more. In reality, online school can suck because you miss out on so much when you can’t see people’s faces everyday but the amount of friendships I have seen come out of these chats has been astounding.
Personally, how has your freshman year been considering all of this?
My freshman year has been the longest roller coaster I have ever been on. I have had deaths in the family, I have lost a job due to COVID four times (yes, you read that right, four times), my dad also lost his job, but many other amazing things have also come out of this so it certainly has been an adventure. Some of the good things were getting to vote, wearing a blowup dinosaur costume, completing the semester with a 4.0, learning how to use a swifter, and of course, making a ton of new friends.