The week before finals.
While this time frame is perhaps the most dreaded for many of my college-age friends, it has become one of my very favorite. First Trinity’s outreach ministry at the University of Buffalo (called UB Common Ground) kicks into high gear during the last week of each semester to serve and care for students. This means I get the joy to be on campus every day this week to offer a bottle of water, a smile or hug, a prayer, a “you-can-do-it” to whoever wanders in! It feels almost like a mission trip, except it’s just a few miles down the road. We prep, get our team together, gather supplies. I’m out of the office more than I’m in it. I soon forget what day it is and get so lost in what is going on that I might as well be on a different continent.
But no planes are needed here. Nope, just a few hours each afternoon, some coffee, and a couple dozen homemade cookies are all that it takes. While college life truly is another culture all its own, the cross-cultural experience doesn’t stop there. Within minutes I can leave my little cubical of Tonawanda NY and be transported to India or Indiana, Nepal or New York City, China, Iraq, and the list goes on. Sometimes God calls us to jump on a plane to another place in the world; other times He brings the world to us. In any case, His call remains the same:
“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” – Matthew 28:19-20
As I sat next to a friend Barry today, this verse came into a new light. In a few weeks this friend of ours will wrap up his time in Buffalo and return to Singapore. He will be greatly missed on Wednesday afternoons, but something really cool comes out of this too.
Through campus ministries, ours and others, Barry has grown in his faith, been discipled, taught God’s commands, and reminded of God’s presence with him always. He has been challenged in his faith and we’ve witnessed him sharing that and encouraging others. I’m pray those are things that continue as he leaves us soon.
Barry is not the only one either. On any given Wednesday afternoon we may interact with students from any part of the country or even the world. When we can show the love and grace to these students we meet on campus each week, they can in turn return to their cities, states, nations, knowing Jesus more and more equipped to share the Good News of Christ in those places. As First Trinity’s Mission states, we truly can “transform our WORLD one life at a time.”
Sometimes I think we complicate God’s commission too much. I am all about domestic and international missions and truly enjoy any opportunity I have to follow God’s command to “go” when it takes me far from here. I also have to remember that the physical place I may be called to could be as close as the friend across the coffee table, the neighbor down the street, or a group of college kids struggling to make it through the final days of the semester.
Near or far.
To all the nations.
Get on a plane or walk down the street.
The world needs hope and light and love to break through the darkness and despair. We have that to offer.
And remember: God is with you, always!