So unlike most of you who have been a campus pastor for years, I just made the plunge this week. Campus ID and parking permit in hand, I am off to SMU to save the world. For the first time in years, I am off to college. I am all in. There’s no turning back now!
I say that tongue in cheek, of course, since I have been working on and off with college students the past three years with U ARISE and our campus prayer program: ARISE AND PRAY. I must say, however, going onto the campus every day is going to be very different from my previous post as President and U ARISE Board Member.
And so, as you read about my victories, defeats and challenges as a full time campus pastor — I hope you will contact me with tips you’ve learned firsthand.
My passion is two fold: prayer and health and wellness. I’ve learned through the years you can’t have one without the other. Prayer promotes health and wellness. If you are a healthy, fit Christian, you will pray. I don’t believe college students can live a healthy Christian life without the power of prayer revving their spiritual engines.
The hope is that they will find healing for their hearts at the same time. Jesus has been a wonderful Counselor to me. I want each of the students I spend time with to know Jesus as Counselor. His deep insight into our issues changes everything.
Love and Valentine’s Day
So for February, we are focusing on LOVE. The week leading up to Valentine’s Day, I will be helping a small team to create a LOVE TENT where we celebrate LOVE by creating a fun, interactive venue for the students between classes. We will be handing out a Wellness Resource Card featuring Biblically-based local resources for students who may find themselves faced with an unplanned pregnancy or post-abortion trauma — or just need a friend to talk to.
Last year, we handed out Valentine packets to the students between classes. Within six months, two of those students found themselves in unplanned pregnancies and didn’t know where to turn. One friend of a pregnant student came to U ARISE and we were able to get her help for her friend. The other student went directly to one of the resources on the Wellness Resource list with her boyfriend, where they were met with loving and compassionate options counseling and a free ultrasound.
Pray for Us!
Only God knows what this year holds for our LOVE TENT. We know it has something to do with hula-hoops, puppies (hopefully!) and lots of fun, upbeat LOVE music. And of course LOVE PRAYERS.
Please pray for us 2/10 – 2/12 as we share GOD’S LOVE with SMU through the ministry of the LOVE TENT.
In the meantime, if you need online resources for your students, please go onto uarise.org and ariseandpray.org for free resources, links and forty “issues based” prayers for students who are struggling with emotional issues.
As a busy ad agency owner and advertising professional, Vicki Garza heard the Lord call her to volunteer to serve the unborn and their parents in late 2008. She joined the Board of the Downtown Pregnancy Center in January 2009 and became the Chairperson of the Sub-Committee to start the Uptown Women’s Center, where graduate students and young professionals could come for answers concerning their physical, emotional and spiritual needs: uptownwomenscenter.com
In 2012, she co-founded U ARISE with her 23-year old niece, Kate. U ARISE is an educational non-profit created to promote spiritual health and wellness on high school and college campuses. In Fall 2013, U ARISE hosted ARISE AND PRAY, a 40-Day Prayer Initiative calling the nation to pray for the health and wellness of college students across the country: ariseandpray.org
Vicki is an avid reader and enjoys writing, presenting and public speaking. In her spare time, she looks forward to special moments with the Lord in Bible study and prayer and enjoys helping others. She has five children and 12 grandchildren and has been happily married to Paco, her high school sweetheart, for 36 years.