By Jared Still,
Special to the AFRO

From worries about class performance to the daily prospect of violence in a major American inner city environment, college students across the country are embracing prayer and building their own support systems.

Founded as the Centenary Biblical Institute in 1867, it’s no surprise that Morgan State University students are not shy about their faith and how it helps steady their mental and emotional health.

“My faith teaches me that everything happens for a reason,” Mohammed Yusuf Adedayo, a 24-year-old marketing and multiplatform production double major, told the AFRO

“Your life is destined the way it’s supposed to go. Anything that comes your way or any obstacle or challenge can be confronted,” the Lagos, Nigeria native said, insisting that his faith is key to his survival and stability.

“Whenever I’m in need or facing a challenge, I always go back to my faith. I always seek help from Allah. I pray, talk to him and usually he’ll come through and things get done for me,” he said. 

As president of the Muslim Student Association (MSA) at a historically Black college or university (HBCU), Adeyayo acknowledges that times can be tough for students whether they are on and off campus. Prayer helps, he said.

“I believe that if something negative happens – while other people may see it as, ‘Oh God, why are you doing this to me–’ I just see it as ‘Oh yeah, this is destiny. I’m supposed to go through this with prayer and keep a strong belief in my faith.’ I go through it like it’s another thing to go through in my life.” 

Adedayo said that MSA has worked with many on campus to build a strong community of Muslims.

“I don’t think people take faith as seriously as they should, but having other people with the same faith having friends or attending meetings with different religious organizations helps in strengthening faith.”

For other students, life’s wild ride presents an opportunity to deepen devotion and reliance on prayer.

Candyce Beazer, 21, a multiplatform production student from New York City, told a reporter she joined Connected Through Christ (CTC) and proclaimed Christ as her savior in February. 

“I’ve been going to church since the age of 14. I went to church when I was younger on and off with my grandmother, but it was nothing like now.”

“In that church I wasn’t really saved,” said Beazer, “I was still doing what I wanted to do and I wasn’t following any Christian practices,” she said.

Now, she said, “Faith has brought me up in school and helped me address my identity and be accepting of who I am through Christ, and I’ve found my community here with CTC.” 

Yet, religion remains a tough sell to some students. 

When Justin Holland, 22-year-old civil engineering major from Calvert County,  Md. reflects on events from campus shootings to threats to world peace, he remains skeptical about the role of prayer in his life. 

“The more I think about it, I’ve been agnostic my whole life. I  grew up in a Christian background, specifically Baptist, but when I really started to ditch Christianity it was around 2020 when the pandemic hit.”

“Since we were on lockdown, I wasn’t going to church like I used to and I already had my doubts about Christianity growing up. Once COVID, hit I left Christianity behind,” he said. “I was never one to pray much or talk to God when I needed things, so switching to agnostic didn’t really change much.” 

To those who try to sell him on organized religion, he says he has “already made up [his] mind.” 

“I don’t understand why Christian people have an inclination to try and convert people.” 

Still, Candyce Beazer is sold on prayer.

 “My faith has really boosted me as far as confidence, self-esteem [and] identity. [I] know who I am through Christ and what God has done for me in my life. [I’m] not living in darkness like I was before–living the same life I was living like two years ago,” she said.

“My faith helps me by trusting God more with my future,” she said. “I used to worry a lot about what I would do after school, what job I would get after I graduate [and] what path I’m going to take. Now, with me stepping into faith and really trusting God, I don’t need to worry about these things. I know He has a plan for me and I know that whatever road He chooses to put me on after school–I’m going to be great regardless.”

Beazer says that prior to deciding to lean into her faith, she went through what she describes as “an alone period.” 

“I wasn’t really going out. I wasn’t talking to the same people I usually talked to,” she said. “I was able to come out of that darkness, find my community and get put back in the church and now I attend church more often.”

“God was able to pull me out of the headspace and situation I was dealing with before I got saved.” 

Jared Still is an AFRO Intern from Morgan State University.