A year ago today, I was attending a meeting just outside of Louisville, KY. Twenty campus ministers from around the country - each with at least 20 years of experience in doing campus ministry - had gathered to talk about ministry to students, where it was heading, and how we could better prepare the next generation of campus ministers. One night we sat up late, talking about ministry and families and life. Then one of my friends posed the question, "What is there in your life or ministry that is requiring you to rely on God?"
The question made me think and do a lot of praying. We continue to see God do a lot of great things in our ministry and we are excited about the lives that he is changing at the UofA. But the truth is that, though we were by no means just going through the motions, we were in a place where we were pretty comfortable. Ministry was going smoothly. Finances were stable. We were operating in our comfort zone. I wrote about this question in a blog post on May 17, 2010. Here is part of what I wrote at that time:
"It has been a pretty comfortable place to be. But I don't think God calls us to just be comfortable. And I don't want to just be comfortable. I want to walk in faith. I want to trust God. I don't want to be content with visions and dreams that are small enough that I can accomplish them. I want to be moved by God's visions and dreams - things that are only accomplished when God is providing the power and wisdom and resources. I don't know what any of that means right now. But I am praying for some holy discomfort."
So here we are a year later. And what has God done? He has put us in an exciting place with some great ministry opportunities that are going to make us completely rely on Him! Our Board of Directors and staff believe that God is leading us to take a couple of important steps - not just for Christ on Campus, but for the Kingdom of God globally.
In June, we will begin a partnership with a campus ministry in the Philippines. Christ on Campus will be providing financial support, student and staff assistance, and encouragement to a ministry at Benguet State University in La Trinidad where Crisanto Salvador serves as campus minister. Why do we think God is leading us in this direction? Because of the strategic nature of this ministry. The Philippines' greatest export is people and most of those who graduate from their universities take jobs in other countries. A large percentage of those will get jobs in areas where it is often more difficult for Americans to work and minister. We believe that a ministry that reaches and equips college students from the Philippines is a strategic way to access the parts of the world that are the most unreached for Christ.
God has also led us to add another person to the Christ on Campus staff. Cory Garren graduated from the UofA in May 2010. Though he came to the UofA with a plan of going to med school, God began to change his heart during his four-year involvement with Christ on Campus. So Cory served as an intern with us during this past year. He feels that God is leading him into campus ministry and, specifically, into ministry with international students. We have seen Cory's heart for God and for students and his ability to work with students effectively. So Cory will be joining our staff on a full-time basis this summer and his primary (though not total) ministry focus will be on the over 1,300 international students from 123 countries that study at the UofA - many of whom come from those same countries in the most unreached parts of the world and most of whom will return to their countries as leaders in their fields of expertise.
We are very excited about the potential of both of these endeavors and their strategic importance for the Kingdom of God. And we are definitely in a place where we have to rely on God! First of all, we don't have the money for either of these projects in our current budget. Secondly, we have felt our nation's economic difficulties over the past few months. Giving to Christ on Campus has been down. For a logical perspective, it is not an ideal time to be adding these ministries to our monthly budget. But we believe that we are following God's lead in both of these. And we believe that he can provide the needed resources through his people.