The Great Commission on college campus’: are we supporting it?

‘Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” – Matthew 9:37-38

College campus ministry, what is it? It means being a staff member on a college campus who shares the gospel with students, trains them in leadership,  teaches the Bible, encourages and supports them, counsels  and guides them.  I got offered a job here in the USA to do this ministry, a ministry I had been doing for a long time back in Australia. (I am excited! I wasnt looking for a job when I came, but God had other plans and I feel so blessed that God has opened this door for me here). But, this is a ministry that desperately needs more staff. In just my area (in a radius of over an hours drive anywhere around me) I am it. In the many, many campus’ around me with the many thousands of students…there are no other staff employed to do this work, the harvest is ready…the workers are absent (you can’t really count me as a ‘few’). So, having been offered the job, the next challenge is support raising. What is support raising? I hear you ask, well it means to raise the finances to fund my wages, expenses, admin etc (and I have to raise them fully if I want to keep doing the ministry) and it also means raising a team of prayers to pray for this ministry.  So, how do you overcome cultural differences to fund a ministry in a country you don’t know? And that wasn’t a rhetorical question.

I was reading an article the other day, about this. It said that many Americans don’t like people asking for financial support…even for ministries, and though this article was written about Americans, I think it is probably true of a lot of countries (now, let me just say, at this point, that though this article may be correct, I have also met wonderful, godly people who give so much to God’s work). If this article is correct, how do you go about getting  prayer and financial support for a ministry, ie campus ministry?  If you don’t ask people, because of some bad reactions, then this robs them of the opportunity to be part of a ministry, in particular this ministry to students.  These are our potential future leaders or as someone once put it…our future.  These students, after college/university, will be reaching places we won’t be travelling to and meeting people we will never meet…all opportunities for the gospel.  If the article is right and people don’t want to be asked, then they are missing out on the opportunity to be involved in a ministry they can’t do themselves…is this what God would want? Is this why there are so few people in this field of ministry here in the USA (and in fact many other places around the world) because they can’t get support that enables them to do the ministry and pay their bills? Is it too easy to say ‘my money goes overseas or to the local church…or whatever”? If people just donated the amount they pay to take their family out (for one night a week) to dinner, it would be a huge help to get people onto campus. Campus ministry is so important, so vital. Especially nowadays when you have students struggling with student life and needing support to stay strong in their faith while on campus, or others needing to be shown what true love is, I mean REAL love, not the sugar coated version that society says is love.  Real love is sharing with someone the most important thing they will ever hear in their life…the gospel.  The one thing that if they chose to accept, will save them from Hell and give them eternal life, to share the gospel is the ultimate gift of love.  At the moment, here in the North West of America, there is a real need for staff to enter this ministry, there is a real need for staff to be on campus.

But don’t get me wrong, as I said earlier, this isn’t just Americans, this mindset towards student ministry is common in other countries too. In Australia I worked with an organisation that had many people working on campus’ around the country and, yet again, many of these workers struggled to get financial support. And for the life of me I can’t understand why. This is an amazing mission field, here in America, as well as Australia, it is one that has been challenged by secular groups on campus’.  These groups try to prevent this ministry and want the ministry staff thrown off the campus. They don’t want the Bible taught to students, or students encouraged in their faith and walk with God…and they DON’T want the gospel shared. We need an army of prayers to surround this ministry and many to financially support it. The battle is on, the devil doesn’t want to see this ministry succeed.  Ultimately, God is in control, the question is…will you step up and be part of His ministry? Will you seek out the workers in your local campus and offer to support them prayerfully and/or financially? Will you support this ministry God has created? Will you partner with the staff in His mission field?

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Reflections on ministry – Behind the Curtain part 2

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Is it godly to let people walk on you when you are in ministry?

My reflections here are not to point fingers and whinge, but to open discussion and get people to start thinking about ministry families. My hope is that by opening discussion it will bring out into the light the struggles of ministry life…and by bringing it out into the open it will help people to start talking and help families to stay in ministry for the long haul.

I have just read this very interesting article:

http://www.alifeoverseas.com/im-not-supposed-to-have-needs-lies-we-believe/

Her description of life in ministry was so true of my experiences in it (though don’t get me wrong…i also had many wonderful and God honouring experiences in ministry as well). For example: many times i had people from church walk into my home (without asking) and walk around like it was their home, why? because it belonged to the church. I once found a woman in my son’s bedroom tidying it up…i was horrified (and so was he when he found out) that she was putting his underwear away. I had another criticising where i had placed furniture in the house. At another church i had a member of the parish council ask to come in to check a new oven they had put in, and then he promptly went around the rooms and in my sons room found the heater still on. He had ‘words’ with me about wasting energy…at the next parish council my husband was reprimanded for heaters being left on in a room someone wasn’t in (this was in a house which was bitterly cold in winter) and yet did i tell him or the others to get out and keep their opinions to themselves? No, because there is an expectation within churches that the ministry house is theirs and they have access whenever they want.

Another expectation is that the minister’s wives will be polite/gentle/non complaining etc and can be told how to do things in her own home aka church house, how to run their families, asked to pick up the slack when others can’t do things, expected to run ministries. Those minister’s wives who get angry over the expectations of others are looked down on by some in the church, as if they aren’t as godly as they should be. And yet there are so many expectations on the minister’s wife ie don’t want to do criche/Sunday school on Sunday? Ring the minister’s wife the night before and ask her to do it… you know she will never say no (even if it means she is up all night planning the next day’s lesson) she is expected to just do it and with a smile.

These are just a few examples, not all churches/members are like this and these aren’t always the experiences of all those in ministry but, churches need to really think about how they treat the family of the minister (as well as him) and ministry families need to think about why they allow people to treat them like this. We all need to ask ourselves…how does God want me to behave/respond? We can deal with any situation in a godly manner without ending up being a doormat or being aggressive. God doesn’t want us to be a doormat, nor does he want us to be rude and aggressive. He wants us to deal with each other in a way that is honouring to Him.