To the Ends of the Earth
What would college ministry be without a few ridiculous “pick-up-and-go” weeks every so often? Last year, spring break came to our team. This year with no incoming students, we decided it would be the perfect year to divide, conquer, and see the world: two bussed it to a conference in Panama City, FL for Cru’s annual outreach to the American beach partiers, a few went to Venezuela, and a handful of us headed to North Africa to experience the culture and see what ministry looks like there.
As we regrouped, the contrast was incredible. The Florida group found about what you would expect from Americans – a fair amount of spiritual interest dulled by an assumption that they’ve heard it all before. Meanwhile the Venezuela group marveled at the openness, watching 30 students express the desire to start a relationship with Jesus. As for our N. Africa trip, Jayson may have been the only one to even talk about the gospel, and only once, to correct an error in a Religion text book.
This isn’t surprising, considering the high cost of discipleship for those who profess Christ in North Africa. While foreigners have a certain degree of religious freedom, nationals only worship Jesus in the safety of homes for fear of being cut off from society by families and often left with no livelihood.
Thoughts on Reentry
It’s hard to not be shaken by the contrast in Jesus’ approach to sharing the message and that of the 21st Century American church. He remains honest and unapologetic about the difficult aspects of the faith, comfortable saying, “take it or leave it.” We hurry to assuage all objections with comfort and user-friendliness to assure even the most demanding spiritual consumers. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with eliminating barriers that would deter a seeker. But the message of Jesus is neither a product, idea or personality accessory to add to our repertoire, nor an experience to make us more well-rounded, self-actualized or nice. It is a call to respond in either marriage or rejection to the God who is romancing us, a decision about what we will leave and to whom we will cleave.
Oddly enough, this thought gives me great hope for our movement and the city of Washington, DC. Over the past months, our team has groaned and pleaded with the Lord over many students who linger unfulfilled in indecision about Jesus. But as they ask the right questions week after week, I can’t help but look forward to the energetic certainty that will follow when they take their vows, having fully counted the cost. Given the masses whose complain (rightfully) of Christian hypocrisy, I will take three slow-cooked, thorough believers who knew what they were getting into over 50 fast floaters into a comfortable faith, not expecting spiritual resurrection to require death or sacrifice of any kind.
Rubber Meets Road
Last month, we mentioned our February conference (called “neXt”). Here “M,” a new Chinese believer decided to tell her parents about her faith, thus instigating her parents to cut off all financial and emotional support. Now, a month before graduation, she finds herself sleeping on friends’ floors, trying to get a work visa in order to stay here and minister to other internationals, while I am challenged by her sturdy confidence in a God she has just met. Please pray for M and for her parents, (prominent figures in the Chinese government) to come to faith. We serve a God who specializes in the unlikely!
- Health & National leadership for movements in North Africa and Venezuela.
- Freedom of staff there (and here) from judging their worth by performance or people’s response.
- Courage for students who have much at stake in livelihood & reputation if they profess following Jesus.