Thursday, October 31, 2013

Tales of a College Ministry Ex-Pat Part 4

Welcome Back! Here's the last installment of Tales of a College Ministry Ex-pat.
If you missed my first three posts on this topic, check them out here: #1, #2, #3.

I almost quit after my first year on staff. Actually, I almost quit after every year I was on staff but that's beside the point. I kept hearing myself share the gospel with people, " Sin has separated you from God. God has made a way for you to come back to Him. He made a way by making His Son Jesus suffer the hell that you deserve. Believe and you will inherit eternal life."  All of this is true, but its only a small part of the story. As I listened to myself tell this story over and over again, I started getting almost sick to my stomach. My words seemed so disconnected and irrelevant to the lives and concerns of the students I was around.

I found myself in another full blown crisis of faith. I was really tempted to walk away from my faith because I could not understand the connection between this "gospel" I was peddling and the tangible, physical life I was living. When I boiled it all down, I was asking students to believe in an ethereal gnostic Jesus that would whisk them away to this heaven in the sky.

At the same time there was a question lurking in my mind, "Why does the resurrection matter?" I seriously thought about it all the time. I couldn't seem to shake it. Thank God for Dr. Richard Pratt.

During one of our staff training sessions Dr. Pratt came and explained God's plan for the world using the Lord's prayer. What he said blew me away. In the simplest terms possible he explained the gospel as laid out from Genesis to Revelation.

His version of the gospel was more like this: " God created the world through His Son. He created Adam and Eve. He gave them the charge to turn the whole world into an Eden. Instead they disobeyed and their disobedience disrupted the whole order of creation. The circle of life turned into the circle of death as everything that had originally been created to last was thrown into a cycle of death, misery, and decay. God promised a way out of this mess, and He began to unfold His plan in the Old Testament through the law and the prophets. The law and the prophets pointed to Jesus. God became a human in the person of Jesus Christ. Jesus came to do what God originally commissioned Adam to do but he could not do. He came to inaugurate a new kingdom and make the whole world an Eden. He took on our sin and endured the hell we deserved. He gave us His perfect record. Jesus has left His Church to be His hands and feet here on earth bringing forth His new creation --generation by generation."

Whoa! Was I the only one who read "Left Behind" in high school? I'd always been taught that God was going to throw this world into the trash bin ( the world is going to hell in a hand basket, right?). I'm now pleased to report that He's got a massive recycling project going on. If God was going to just throw this world away anyways, why should we care about taking care of it? Let the coal mines rape the land! Who cares if drilling for oil pollutes the sea?

A gospel without the hope of the resurrection is a half-gospel. It's easy for the church to get caught up in a personal salvation. It is important but if we stop there, our focus stays entirely self-centered and self-serving. We wind up communicating to our students that grace has come to merely take away our guilt.

Jesus has come to do something much bigger. He came to heal our broken world; to bring His kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. There is no denying that there is something seriously wrong with the world. How can this world that is so full of suffering, death, and sadness be healed?

Everyone is trying to answer this question: politicians, environmentalists, sociologists, psychologists, scientists. Did it ever occur to you that we have the answer? Jesus' miracles show us the kind of world He is creating. A world where the lame walk, the blind see, the wind and the waves obey His voice. He is making these things happen through His Church today generation by generation.

We don't have to work at making Christianity relevant to students. God's plan for all of creation is the most exciting and inspiring story they will ever hear. It gives deep meaning and purpose to every vocation and walk of life. We participate in bringing God's kingdom here on earth in every small act: every good deed done for the glory of God.

"Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love." - Mother Theresa

" Christianity is not a platonic religion that regards material things as mere shadows of reality, which will be sloughed off as soon as possible. Not the mere immortality of the soul, but rather the resurrection of the body and the renewal of all creation is the hope of the Christian faith." - John Piper, Future Grace

Check out what my favorite Anglical bishop has to say about the resurrection:

Here's a more in depth article you can read about the same topic.

I have enjoyed writing this series and I hope that you have enjoyed reading it. I thought I'd write one or two posts about my experience in the ministry and it turned into four posts. I'd love to hear what you have to say about campus ministry and the resurrection. What are your thoughts? What was your experience? If you missed my first three posts you can check them out here" #1, #2, #3.


  1. Hi Renee! I don't know if you remember me but I was an international student at Montevallo back in 2007. I had a hard time making friends there but I tried to hang out with the people from the Out Reach and I even remember a small group meeting with you.

    To me the most difficult part was to get past the small talk and to a deeper friendship with people on campus. I see now that that was a desert that God allow me to live in so He could sharpen me as it was the first time I was away from my comfort zone of the church I grew up in.

    I loved your blog! Thank you for sharing your thought and your faith here.

    1. I do remember you! Thank you for reading my posts and for your kind words. I wish we'd been able to connect on a deeper level while you were at Montevallo. I'm glad to hear that you've gained some perspective on your experience.