February 17, 2005
“I’ve been thinking about this for a while,” Justin’s good friend said to him one day. “There is a difference about the way you live. I noticed it in China, and I notice it even more now. You are a good person. Tell me again about Christianity. I’m dying to know.”
Justin Cassity, ’97, was anxious to engage in the conversation, but he also knew that midnight had just signaled another day. His friend was someone he met ten years back, in China, on an OBU trip to teach English to junior high and high school students. “I’m not a good person,” he said. “I am only good because of Jesus’ work.” He explained the
Gospel and as the clock struck 1:00am, Justin’s friend accepted Christ. “God had carried the story, ten years in the making, to the start of another story,” says Justin. “That trip to China as an OBU student changed me. Another person who I met in China sent me a cryptic letter some time after I returned to the states. It read, ‘My son was lost, but now found.’ My friend reflected on the Prodigal Son story and God used it to change his life.” These are two encounters where Justin knows God’s hand worked through his life.
Justin believes individuals are dying to know that the Gospel is genuine and can be lived out in a genuine way. He now lives in New York City. He moved there shortly after graduating from OBU. “I have found that some people already interpret you in terms of state lines, either red or blue. When they find out more about who I am, that I can go to church and also share meaningful times with them despite their beliefs or behaviors, they begin to see Christianity in a different light. Because Christianity does not so quickly divide itself along those same colored lines.”
As the assistant director of admissions and student affairs for the School of Continuing Education at Columbia University, Justin sees a diversity of people, in both background and ethnicity. “I have found that a small way to keep the Gospel is simply to treat people with fairness,” Justin says. “So, when the pink-haired punk rock student comes in to apply for work study, there is an equality of person that sees beyond the exterior appearance.”
Justin credits OBU with preparing him. “I have friends who have attended the ‘great’ schools, but many of them did not receive the guidance from professors who were also mentors. Many of those schools have core curriculum programs, but with OBU’s Unified Studies program, I can contribute well to the thinking and understanding of great events in history and movements within literature. It was OBU that made me the person I am because I feel like OBU was no slouch in preparing me to think, and even more to think within the framework of faith.”