The following is an excerpt from my book Campus Renewal – A Practical Plan to Unite Campus Ministries in Prayer and Evangelism.
A Day in Ethiopia
Recently, I was able to spend a week in Ethiopia with my wife Brenda and her family. She and her three brothers grew up there, while her dad worked as a professor of agricultural engineering. It was a sentimental journey, as we remembered Brenda’s father, who loved the Ethiopian people and who went to be with the Lord about a year before the trip.
One day while I was there I was able to meet up with Courtney, a 2008 UT graduate who is doing mission work among the Somali people in eastern Ethiopia. When Courtney was a student at UT, she was the first to lead a missional community to Muslim students.
I would always see her on campus with African and Middle Eastern students that she had befriended. Now here I was halfway across the world sitting with her in a small living room having Somali tea and watching the World Cup with her new friends.
Missionary Training on Campus
I asked her how her time at UT prepared her for what she is now doing. She said her heart for missions and for Africa grew at UT in large part because of the emphasis her campus ministry placed on living on mission.
While she said she had to learn a lot more about the culture and language, she said she did not need to learn how to be a missionary. She had been living as a missionary years before she arrived in Africa.
Change the Campus and You Change the World
I once heard Bill Bright say, “Change the campus and you change the world.” He was right. What if college students learn to live as missionaries on campus where they live, work, and play? If so, they will live on mission in our cities and around the world where they live, work, and play.
International students, those who take jobs abroad, and those who take jobs in our country would not need to be equipped to be missionaries. It would be second nature to be a missionary in the marketplace or in communities overseas.
Those who have led missional communities at the nursing school will easily live on mission at their hospitals. Those who have led missional communities on the track team will do so in the running communities in their cities.
Those who have led missional communities in the apartment complexes will continue to do so in their apartment buildings and homes after college. Even those who have been called to traditional missions overseas will be equipped.
They will know how to engage and interpret culture, build relationships, love and serve people, contextualize the gospel to their communities, and disciple their friends who want to follow Jesus with them. The hope for cities and nations is our students, if only we can equip them to be missionaries while they are on our campuses.
Justin Christopher is the director of Campus Renewal Ministries at the University of Texas and author of Campus Renewal: A Practical Plan for Uniting Campus Ministries in Prayer and Mission. He gives leadership to the Campus House of Prayer and the misssonal community movement at the University of Texas.