It began back in 1999, when I was a part of a campus ministry at Lawrence Technological University, where I studied Architectural Design. Campus ministry helped me understand what it means to be a disciple of Jesus, who makes disciples. The staff helped me to take risks and intentionally share the gospel. They also taught me that it is best to live the Christian life in community. Some of my best friends and partners in ministry I became acquainted with in this phase of my life. Even at that time I wondered about becoming a campus staff, but it remained in my mind as a wonder, a dream that seemed impossible. I just graduated and had debt from my Architecture degree. I also had dreams of working in Architecture - which left me in a tension between architecture and ministry. I explored options and after a year of working in architecture I began to pursue a degree in youth ministry. It seemed impossible at the time. I was still paying off my first degree and now I was adding a second degree. But I was encouraged by my church and they helped me with a couple classes. It wasn't easy for me to receive their assistance. I wanted to be self sustaining and not burden anyone. I continued to work in architecture and taking ministry classes a couple at a time. I loved learning more about the scriptures and how to practically apply what I learned into my volunteer ministry. And it was great to be in the campus culture too.
Fast forward several years, I was now married, bought a home, had my youth ministry degree and quit architecture to work in youth ministry. The economy tanked a few years into my work at the church and I was laid off. But in the last few months before this happened, college students would come in off the street and ask about campus ministry. These students kept coming in to see me during the day seeking guidance about relationships, vocation and their curiosity about the Bible and Jesus. It was a sign post from God. After I was laid off then, the only desire I had was to work with college students. I tried looking for other jobs but nothing was panning out. Then came the opportunity with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. I was already mentoring a few college students and they were attending local campuses in Michigan. I would meet them on campus and see so many students looking for direction and full of dreams and potential. Meanwhile as I was pursuing a certain campus to staff, God also was calling a Philosophy professor to start something on our campus too. Another sign post. My remaining barrier then, was this thing called Fund Development (Ministry Partner Development). I was no longer in debt from school, but it still seemed nearly impossible to gain this kind of financial support when the economy was very low. I was talking with a fellow youth worker from our little town about this new opportunity. He was the first to say, "I'll support you!" I was shocked. But really encouraged. Then one by one, our Pastor supported me, the church, family members and other friends. It was hard for me to believe that other people could support me and this vision to serve college students on campus. As I approached other churches and talked with people, I began to see that many people shared testimonies about how campus ministry impacted their lives. Some were in the party scene and hit bottom, then met up with students or staff from campus ministry and returned or came to faith in Jesus. Student witness on campus is important and makes and eternal difference.
Has campus ministry impacted your life? I'd love to hear your story. It is my hope that I can continue to serve Jesus and His kingdom by reaching college students, but I cannot do this alone. We need to do this in community, we each have resources and gifts that can "build up the body".
Please contact me if you are interested.
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