College Ministry, Young Adult Ministry

A Mission Trip Without the Miles

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.

Go.

Near or far.

Go.

To all the nations.

Go.

Get on a plane or walk down the street.

Go.

The world needs hope and light and love to break through the darkness and despair. We have that to offer.

So, go.

And remember: God is with you, always!

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Advent, College Ministry, Prayer, Wonder-Full Wanderings

 {wonder-full wanderings} at UB 

This semester I have seen God do amazing things through the time I have spent at the University at Buffalo campus.

Also true: This semester not many things have gone as planned in our work at UB. 

 “Wandering” feels like a pretty applicable word in trying to figure out where God is calling us, specifically with our Lifetree Cafe ministry. God has made it very clear that our presence on campus is necessary.  I’ve talked to at least twenty students who all think that this is an amazing ministry that needs to be happening on campus, and yet some weeks not a single person shows up.  

As I kind of talked about in my first advent post, the neat thing is that even in all the “wandering”, wonder has not been absent. Every single time I’ve left the campus this semester I’ve done so in complete awe of God’s work in that place.

Tonight was no exception.  

To sit in a room with 20+ Christian leaders right smack dab in the middle of thousands and thousands of students from all across the globe praying for them, praying for our world, praying for peace in tragedy and hope in darkness, praying for salvation of souls… Yea, it’s pretty holy ground. 

To see the fields ever so “ripe for harvest” and to be in the presence of some of the workers God has sent… it does something powerful in your heart. 

To know that the thousands of students you see walking by out the window might not have even ever heard of the Christ child born in Bethlehem, evokes urgency and passion.

I still have no clue exactly what God is calling me, or First Trinity, to specifically do in that place, but He’s working and I’m so thankful for the any chance He gives me to join Him.  

Truly wonder-filled wandering at its best! 

” We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.” – 2 Chronicles 20:12

 See all of this advent’s Wonder-full Wanderings posts here.

Bekah's Heart, College Ministry, Young Adult Ministry, Youth Ministry

One More Step

Vacation was awesome.

Coming back from vacations are often difficult.  Thankfully, this one wasn’t as bad as I potentially expected it could be heading into a busy week.  Tuesday was a super busy day but I think that helped keep me focused on the tasks at hand.

Wednesday though we hit the “theres-so-much-to-do-but-can’t-figure-out-what-to-do-so-I-just-won’t-do-anything” phase full force.  I knew going into today I needed a game plan or it would be easy to let yet another day pass by with only minimal work actually being accomplished.

For some reason this morning I was reminded of a book title I heard recently: “One More Step” by Rachel Wojo. While I haven’t actually read it (though it did get put on my mile-long to-read list), the concept itself was intriguing to me.  Really, that’s what our lives really are made of, right?!? … one step… and then another… and then another.  By simply asking “What’s the one next thing I can/should/need to do?” it takes a huge task (or pile of them) and makes it manageable.

So that’s what I did. Instead of feeling the weight of my entire job of trying to help youth and young adults in this church and community know Jesus and live out their faith, how about I start by finishing the devotion for youth group tonight?  Oh yes, I need the days with big picture planning and dreaming, but the days right after being away aren’t the time for that.  Instead, it’s just one step at a time. I listed all the main areas of my job (and home life) and then just put what one step was that I could do for that area today.

And it worked.  I took one more step for our Thursday night ministry.  One more step for our Sunday morning High School Ministry preparing for the next series (actually two steps here!).  I took one more step to continue to grow the often-overwhelming Lifetree Cafe Ministry at UB.  I took one more step to keep nurturing our oh-so-new church-based college ministry.

I took one more step in a lot of different areas and whether those steps were big or small in the scheme of the bigger pictures, we are closer to our goals today than we were yesterday, and that’s good enough for now.

“Therefore, do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself.  Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”  (Matthew 6:34)

One step at a time.

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30 Days of Prayer for Our College Students, College Ministry

College Prayer Guide 30: {Trust God Above All}

“This is what the Lord says:  ‘Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who draws strength from mere flesh and whose heart turns away from the Lord. That person will be like a bush in the wastelands; they will not see prosperity when it comes. They will dwell in the parched places of the desert, in a salt land where no one lives.  But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.’ ” (Jeremiah 17:5-8 NIV)

Trust is something that is hard for all of us.  This is probably due mostly to the fact that we’ve all had our trust broken by someone throughout our lives and it makes us doubt if there is anything or anyone worth trusting, even God.  As we see in the passage above though, a life of trust is really a beautiful life!  Can you imagine resting in a life without fear or worries, a life in which we never fail to get done what God is calling us to?  THAT is a life of trust.  While many things are important, I think the main thing God desires from us, is to simply trust him.

Trust is especially difficult for young adults because the future is so unknown.  Finishing school, starting a career, getting married, having kids… all of this is swirling around in the minds of college students, sometimes all at once. Pray today that students would simply be able to trust in the midst of all of that.  Ask God to reveal His faithfulness to them and give them a heart to trust Him no matter what life brings.

30 Days of prayer - college student logo

30 Days of Prayer for Our College Students, College Ministry

College Prayer Guide 29: {Freedom from Fear}

“For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love
and self-control.” (2 Timothy 1:7 ESV)

One time when Jesus was out on a boat with His disciples, a HUGE storm came up.  It was so scary that the disciples literally thought they would die.  Meanwhile, Jesus is sleeping in the back of the boat.  In what I imagine was a nonchalant manner, Jesus simply gets up, tells the wind and the waves to be still (which they do!), and then turns to His disciples and says “Why are you so afraid?”.   I don’t know what storms have come or will come in each student’s college career, but when they do come, often fear accompanies them.  Sometimes the storms are full of good things, but having to make so many decisions paralyzes us in fear and keeps us from making ANY decision.  Other times we’re afraid of how a relationship will turn out or whether we’ll get everything done by the end of the semester.  No matter what is tempting students to be afraid, pray today that they’d be reminded that God doesn’t give a spirit of fear but rather one of POWER, LOVE, and SELF-CONTROL.  Ask God to remind them of that power and help them live lives unafraid.  Pray that they would have hearts that would be quick to turn to Jesus who is right there with them in the boat when storms threaten to destroy.  Ask God to reveal His presence and His power in the situations they face today.

30 Days of prayer - college student logo

30 Days of Prayer for Our College Students, College Ministry

College Prayer Guide 28: {Gratitude}

“O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
for his steadfast love endures forever.” (1 Chronicles 16:34 NRSV)

Our God truly is good.  His love lasts forever and ever.  He is around us each and every day and despite the struggles we face, there are always things we can be thankful for.  Today spend some time in prayer thanking God for the ways you see His goodness around you, especially in or through the life of a college student you know.  What about these students can you give God thanks and praise for?  After you spend time thanking God, ask Him to give the students a heart of gratitude.  Pray that their eyes would be opened to the countless ways God is at work around and in them every day and that He would receive the praise for all good things in their lives.  Pray the above verse inserting a college student’s name and maybe a situation you know is challenging for them right now (e.g. roommate difficulties, a difficult class, a tough professor, etc.).  Pray that even on the tough and challenging days they would be thankful to God for His great love for them.

30 Days of prayer - college student logo

30 Days of Prayer for Our College Students, College Ministry

College Prayer Guide 27: {Person of Prayer}

“Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
(1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NASB)

Sometimes I think we underestimate prayer.  We say our “Come, Lord Jesus” and our “Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep”, put a check mark next to “pray” on our to do list, and head on to the next thing.  Hopefully if you’ve been consistent in praying for college students, you’re beginning to see answers.  God has given us this wonderful gift to be able to talk to Him and listen to Him through prayer.  Today ask God to help the college students you know to be men or women of prayer—ones who seek God daily for wisdom, encouragement, comfort, forgiveness, hope, and truly all they need.  Pray that they would bring their requests before God knowing that he hears and answers.  Ask God to also give them open ears to hear what He has to say to them.  Pray that He would give them a heart that is often prompted to pray for and with other people in their colleges and universities and that they could use prayer as a way to draw people closer to Christ.

30 Days of prayer - college student logo