I was an angry teenager looking for meaning in athletic success and popularity, when a man named Barry Bowling, from Student Venture (Campus Crusade’s high school ministry) came to lead a chapel service before one of our freshman football games.
A few weeks later I joined a Bible study with Barry and guys on the team and then ended up at the YMCA of the Rockies that summer for a conference. It was there in the summer of 1988 that I put my faith in Jesus Christ.
Twenty-three years later, I am here as one of the guest speakers at the same conference, where I am sure there are hurting kids, just like me, ready to be transformed by the gospel. I am speaking to these 350 kids this week about what first captured my heart so many years ago.
Living on Mission
I am convinced that the gospel reaches all of us in different ways. For me, it was through a simple illustration. The speaker told us to imagine the time line of eternity as a line from here to the sun. He said our lives are just the size of a speck of sand on that time line.
But then he said we could live our lives in a way that can make a difference in others’ lives on that time line to eternity. Silly, but that was it for me. Suddenly, I was offered meaning, and I responded to the gospel.
In the months that followed, Barry discipled me and taught me how to live and share the gospel with my teammates. For me, this was the normal Christian life: identify a people group and demonstrate and declare the gospel among them.
By God’s grace several teammates put their faith in Jesus too. Now, through the miracle of Facebook, I see that many others who rejected the gospel then are now walking with God today. It will make for wonderful twenty-year reunion this summer.
Prayer for Revival
A year after the conference where I began to follow Jesus, I went to another conference with Student Venture in Minnesota. There I heard a man named Dan Hayes speak about the history of revivals on college campuses.
I remember, as a sixteen year old, thinking I want to be a part of God doing something like that on my campus. I read Dan Hayes book called Fireseeds of Spiritual Awakening, and began to unite the Body of Christ in prayer for revival on my high school campus.
When I came to the University of Texas, I dragged several friends up to Minnesota to hear Dan Hayes speak again. We read his book together and felt God leading us to call the campus to unite in prayer.
We began praying for revival at UT at 7:00 in the morning every day and uniting students from every campus ministry in prayer every Friday afternoon. It sounds revolutionary, but it was nothing more than what I did in high school the years before. I was well trained!
All of that to say, thank God for Barry Bowling, Student Venture, and all those who live as missionaries in our high schools and colleges.
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.