One event sparks the start of a spoken word club on campus

It all began with one performance.

The poetry slam event on April 6, Stories That Matter, was supposed to be a one-time event. But its impact spread so quickly that the story slam participants decided to start a spoken word club at Liberty University.

According to Rebekah Sharpe, who performed that night, the impact of Stories That Matter snowballed right away.

“On the night of spoken word, we were all just telling each other, ‘Hey you did a great job, that was amazing,’” Sharpe said. “And the more that we were talking to each other – those of us who did spoken word and poetry – the more we were like, ‘Why don’t we have a club for this?’”

Denise Thomas, forensics coach and a coordinator for the Stories That Matter event, said the response to it was overwhelming, and over 200 people attended the event.

“To have that many people come out for an event like that, and a late-night event, is really wonderful,” Thomas said. “As soon as it was over, people were asking ‘When are we going to do this again,’ and before I left that night Emmanuel (Cuffee) said, ‘Can you help us start a club?’”

The idea quickly gained momentum, and the need for a storytelling platform became evident. Before the week was out two Stories That Matter participants, Emmanuel Cuffee and Elijah Fields, decided to officially start the process of creating a spoken word club.

Fields, who will be president of the club, said there is a deep need for people to tell their stories in a nontraditional way.

“People don’t get to tell their stories,” Fields said. “And I just feel it’s important to hear their stories, and I think it would be good for Liberty, because we don’t really have a spoken word group.”

Fields hopes the club will meet weekly beginning in the fall, though they already have held several board meetings with their current group members.

At the Stories That Matter event Cuffee, who will be the vice-president of the club, said he was shocked at the depth of the stories and poems people chose to share.

“It really hit me deep, the things people go through,” Cuffee said. “You don’t know what anyone goes through, but they still hold on to their faith and hope in Christ, which is amazing. So (we’re) giving people a platform to speak and tell their stories, good or bad.”

The excitement people have for the club is palpable. Both Cuffee and Fields see a deep need for a spoken word club, and their desire is to give students a platform to speak truth and share the gospel in their own words.

“I love storytelling – you get to hear stories, and you get to hear it come alive,” Fields said. “You can go to the movies and watch the movie or watch the story, but it’s more powerful to actually hear the person that’s right in front of you.”

Cuffee and Fields hope to hold auditioned events in the fall of 2018, as well open mic nights and weekly club meetings. But overall, their deepest hope is to use their individual gifts to bring people closer to Christ.

“We just want to be able to show Christ in a different way,” Cuffee said. “And if we can accomplish that, if a lot of people can see Christ through our ups and downs, that’s a win for team Jesus.”

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