I’m not in the habit of staying out incredibly late on Saturday nights.
5 years of being in the worship team at my church means a bright and early arrival at 7.15am on Sunday mornings to set up with the band, tune my guitar and be ready to play both services at 8.30am and 10.30am. This has meant that along with the early wake up call, and *gasp* getting older, I need sleep. At least a good 6 or 7 hours of it.
Yet this past Saturday night, I found myself sitting at 24 Diner, a local restaurant in downtown Austin, at 1.30am with my best friend Andre, and Shaun and Paul, two old buddies from college days. Now I obviously knew staying out this late was probably not in my best interest (or Dre’s for that matter), but I still did it anyway.
Why? Because sometimes, when it comes to reaching out to people, it means meeting them on their terms, not yours.
I don’t know about you, but my college years were a blast. Weekends were spent hanging out, eating, playing football, watching movies… you get the picture. What made it more unique, was that every weekend was pretty much spent with the same group of people, most of whom were connected with the Singaporean Students’ Association (SSA) at The University of Texas, where we went to school. We were more than just friends, we were a community.
At the heart of it all, were a core group of 6 of us. Dre and I, the aforementioned Shaun and Paul, and a couple of guys named Jan and Darryl. They were the people Dre and I lived life with, and interestingly enough, Dre and I were the only Christians in the group.
Now some people might think that this might have posed a problem, what with trying to maintain our faith amidst a bunch of non-Christians, but I think it strengthened it.
More than that, these people were the ones who inspired us to start a missional community a few years ago, something that has continued on today.
“I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world.” John 17:15-18
It’s Not Missional Unless You’re Outside Church Walls
Reaching the guys, and the other members of the SSA seemed like a daunting task initially. Though it was really just a small community of maybe 15 to 20 people, to Dre and I it seemed like the world. Were we supposed to preach every time we saw people? Read chapters of the Bible out loud? Nothing seemed to fit quite right.
Slowly but surely, small opportunities started to pop up. A spiritual conversation here, a sharing of a personal testimony there.
Soon, we found ourselves also being able to interact with exchange students that joined our group every semester. But the biggest change of all, surprisingly enough was in ourselves. We weren’t just praying more, we also found a greater boldness to just be open about our faith, and a deeper passion to reach those around us.
Living Missional After College
Some missional communities have the privilege of seeing people come to Christ in them. Others persevere, and have lots of great spiritual conversations, but maybe nothing as tangible as salvations. But everything counts. And this way of life doesn’t stop after college is over.
A lot of our group has scattered across the country and around the world after people graduated. But what remains is the relationships we formed during those years. These days the missional community Dre and I lead looks vastly different from how we started, and the people are a completely different mix.
But for the ones that remain in Austin, like Shaun and Paul, they haven’t been forgotten. Even if it’s losing sleep and carving out extra time to spend with them, they are people that we haven’t given up on reaching.
Now, as the conversation revolves around career plans, real estate, technology and politics instead of homework, classes and majors, the purpose remains the same. Christ loves them, we love them, and we will not stop praying or reaching out til we see them come to know the God that we love and serve.
Kimberly Chung is the National Media Director for Campus Renewal Ministries, a ministry focused on forging partnerships in prayer to build missional communities that transform college campuses with the gospel of Jesus. She is a campus minister to The University of Texas at Austin and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org