It’s 5pm at the Thompson Alumni Center at the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) on Wednesday, May 7, 2014. The temperatures have soared to the upper 90s, bringing a hot summer air to this day of spring.
Matt O’Malley arrives, carrying his drum set. Naomi Whitney, prepared to sing, arrives as well. Nathan Hotz carries his sound board, ready to mix sound for the night. Holly Williams, having been offered a teaching position at a local elementary hours before, arrives on time for set-up. It’s something they have done for years, arriving early before The Rock starts at 6:30pm. Tonight, however, is the last Rock for them.
And it was only some years ago that they first came to The Rock. Naomi was 13 years old when she first came, accompanying her father Rory Whitney when The Rock began. She always knew when her time to join came, she would. Nathan, desperate for a change during a low point in his life, wanted to find a Christian group on campus and found The Rock in February 2009. A month later in March of the same year, Matt, after many invitations by his RA who was a part of The Rock, finally decided to come. Four years ago, Holly did not know anyone on campus because she went to high school in Texas, but a simple invitation by a classmate on her way back to her dorm was enough for her to come.
They have been a part of The Rock since the days they first came. And along the years, there have been lessons. For Holly, being a part of The Rock meant living a Christ-centered life every day including reading her bible, being around fellow believers, and sharing the saving faith of Jesus. Matt also learned that reading his bible, prayer, serving, and loving others are the core principles of his faith. For Nathan, the years of being a believer have taught him that he needs God every day. And Naomi, who saw college men and women do great things for God before she joined, learned that it’s not about glorious titles, but about being on campus and serving wholeheartedly.
In a matter of days, they depart from college ministry and move to the singles ministry, the Candlewood Working Singles. Life will different for them as they join a group who work full-time, serve, and support the church.
Although a new stage of life awaits, the purpose remains the same. They will continue to live devoted lives to the God who changed their lives.