Last week, I was reminded of the most rewarding part of being in campus ministry. It came at a good time too, because I have been discouraged lately, wondering if my ministry is really making a difference on campus and in students’ lives.
Much of my work with Campus Renewal involves what I would call “big picture” stuff. It involves uniting the whole Body of Christ, casting a campus-wide vision, and praying for revival and awakening on our campus. I tend to think about the masses and forget that it’s really all about the individual.
Last week I heard from four former students who are all walking faithfully with the Lord and living out so much of the vision they received from Campus Renewal and other ministries and churches at The University of Texas at Austin. To see them so faithfully living lives of prayer and mission, reminded me that the ultimate joy in campus ministry is seeing graduates continue to impact the world.
“I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.” 3 John 1:4
**These students’ names have been changed to protect their identity and mission.
Scott came to one of our very first missional community training gatherings years ago. While at UT he was faithful to pray at the Campus House of Prayer and led several different missional communities to various “people groups” on campus. He led a few in his dorms and led several among international students, which developed his heart for foreign missions.
Now, he is at a different school in a PHD program, and he continues to live like a missionary by spending time with international students. I am on his weekly prayer email list (something he learned to do from me), and almost every week he writes about an opportunity he had to share the gospel with internationals. His ministry has far exceeded my own already.
Last week, I was able to see him in person and hear about his summer overseas where he went to study and teach classes in a country that is closed to missionaries. I was so amazed at the ways God was using him and the open doors his PHD was going to give him to work in closed countries. He learned to be a missionary at UT, and now he is going where few people will ever be able to go.
Cathy was on our leadership team for several years as a student. In that time, she grew in her understanding of the Body of Christ and learned to value all of the various ministries and churches and their unique differences. She longed to see the Body of Christ work together, and was an instrumental part of the behind-the-scenes planning and administration of several Rez Weeks.
After UT, she went to law school and received her degree. However, she did not pass the Bar Exam. Rather than being discouraged, she knew God had a different plan for her life and diligently sought it out. She ended up working that job with the Barna Group, where she now conducts and analyzes surveys to better understand the spiritual condition of our country. This is similar to what Campus Renewal does on some of our campuses, called Spiritual Mapping.
I was also able to see her last week. She told me, “Justin, I am basically doing spiritual mapping for a living!” She negotiates contracts and does research for dozens of different ministries and denominations, and she is the perfect person for the job. While she was at UT, she helped make all of the other ministries more successful. Now she is doing the same thing for churches all over the nation.
Dave and Cindy Barrett
I remember meeting Dave and Cindy in the Campus House of Prayer. They prayed there faithfully throughout their time at UT, and they each led missional communities too – Cindy to the Nursing School and Dave to the Handball Team and the Math Department.
I remember them coming to our first ever “Senior Dinner,” where we challenged seniors to give the next two years of their lives to the foreign mission field. Dave and Cindy responded in faith. They were married and promptly moved overseas, where they ministered to Muslims for four years.
I exchanged a series of emails with Dave last week to see what their plans were now that they are back in Austin. Not surprisingly, they have already been making choices to be missionaries here. They each found jobs (nursing and teaching math), and they purposely moved into a part of the city where international students live so that they can begin to meet people from the country they just returned from.
Justin Christopher is the Campus Director for Campus Renewal at The University of Texas at Austin and the 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 missional community movement at UT.