Erica & Sophia Boden

Erica gifted a Bible to her little sister Sophia as she went off to college. Read as she shares the impact and value she sees in finding Jesus in the craze of your Freshman year.

I am the lucky older sister of Sophia Boden. We are five years apart, but we grew up cheerleading and spending tons of time together as bedroom-neighbors and bathroom-mates. We became closer as we got older, but became true best friends when she was entering high school and I was entering college. I met the Lord in high school, right before my senior year. At that time, Soph was in eighth grade doing, well, eighth grade things? Her time was spent doing homework and playing sports after school. I realized I had a year left before graduation and really began praying for an older friend to enter her life and show her the gospel. The summer after my freshman year of college I served as Summer Staff at a Young Life camp in New York. During one of the weeks, Sophia's school came to camp and, as a freshman in high school, she fell hard for Jesus. It was so much fun watching her friends pursue her, just as Jesus pursues us each day. While I returned to college that fall and didn't get to be there in the daily life occurrences throughout her high school career, I got to be a far-away cheerleader and supporter. Over those years we mourned boyfriends, celebrated friends' salvation and whined about homework, whether that be over the phone or FaceTime. During Christmas breaks, we would talk about what the Lord was doing and who we were praying for, but some days we would also just lie around eating cookies and watching Law and Order.

Fast-forward four years as Sophia headed to college, the University of South Carolina, this past August. Going from high school to college is a huge transition, as many know. You go from community and fellowship to relative isolation, finding out what following the Lord looks like in a new state and new place. As I ransacked my mind from my freshman year, what I learned and how Jesus stood with me, I knew the only gift to give her would be the gift of life -- the truth, the comforter, her protector and her true home-base. As an older sister, I am such a loyal protector. I want to solve all her problems, be there for every up and hold her for every down, but I knew I couldn't do that in college. College is a bubble-world full of change and challenges, and I wanted to give her the only worthy-advice book. My greatest prayer is that Sophia spends time in scripture each day -- that is our guaranteed sweet spot with the Lord. Before the world has awakened us and whisked us into chemistry exams and student government meetings, I want Sophia to look forward to opening the beautiful Bible and reading the beautiful truth.

For Sophia and for all current and future college freshman, my biggest prayer is that you fall in love with God, not from feeling and seeing God, but from knowing God and knowing what He says about you, your worth and your identity. While my college years were some of the greatest years of my life, college easily can tell you so many lies -- how to look, what to be involved with, who to spend time with and that's just the beginning! Scripture and Jesus, though, that's where the truth sits. My advice and prayer for each of you is that before you even enter the world, each morning, you can find a chair, a patch of grass, grab a cup of coffee or a glass of milk, and spend time in the living Word of God. This is the tone-setter and the difference-maker throughout college; scripture is your truth and protector. When you feel far from what you know, it is your reminder that you are still known.