By: Sebastien Braxton
Despite the large number of Seventh-day Adventist youth that attend secular colleges, an urgency fit for such times fails to grasp many conferences, pastors and churches. This urgency falls upon deaf ears not due to unwilling hearts (at least this writer hopes not) but often unawareness. In addition, some have even asked, “Why should I do secular campus ministry?”! Mind you, this question is not raised by souls ignorant of Jesus’ commission in the book of Matthew or His last words to His disciples in Acts 1. The question emerges from the wearied hearts of youth bombarded with a cacophony of causes to invest their precious lives into. Public Campus Ministry (PCM), in the minds of some youth, competes with sex-trafficking, the green movement, present-day crises across the world and even domestic inequities near the university they attend. With so many worthy choices before students, what compelling reasons could one give to these anxious youth?
I call them the 8 P’s — here are the first three:
The first compelling reason to do PCM comes from history. A quick survey of the protestant reformation will lead one to perceive the power of ministry within an institution of learning diametrically opposed the principles of Christ. Almost every major reformer served as a professor at such an institution. John Wycliffe at Oxford, Martin Luther at the University of Wittenberg, Jan Huss at the University of Prague just to name a few. We often look to these bold and biblical leaders, who often met a martyrs death, as the catalyst for the Protestant Reformation. Indeed, we are right to list them as such, however, their students were the mechanism. These students, nameless to us, foot soldiered these gospel professors’ messages within their motherlands and beyond. This mammoth of a movement compels to take PCM seriously.
Potential is defined as having or showing the capacity to become or develop into something in the future. What does PCM have the capacity to become or develop into in the future? A movement of global proportions. It was 2 am in the morning. The Michigan winter foreshadowed by the chilly breeze. It’s foreboding did not deter the 5,000 plus crowd gathered at the steps of the Michigan Union to welcome presidential candidate, then Senator, John F. Kennedy. The senator asked the question, “How many of you who are going to be doctors, are willing to spend your days in Ghana? Technicians or engineers, how many of you are willing to work in the Foreign Service and spend your lives traveling around the world?…on your willingness to contribute part of your life to this country…will depend whether a free society can compete.” 1 From these words spawned a movement that eventually led to a government agency devoted to peace and friendship.2 The Peace Corps, since its inception, facilitated over 200,000 volunteers to over 139 countries to confront issues from AIDS education, environmental issues, and information technology3. Is not the remnant church of these last days the true Peace Corps? Devoted to bringing peace between God and man, and man and man? Our church has begun to see this phenomenon through the continuous impact of GYC and the subsequent movements inspired by its work.
When on assignment in Cambridge, MA, serving the universities there, I came across an article regarding a new university policy at Tufts. This policy stated that it was no longer allowed for a student to be physically intimate with his/her mate while their roommate was in the room! I personally had to navigate this challenge with one of our SDA students there who woke up one morning with a half-naked boyfriend coming out of the bathroom! Sexual perversion and promiscuity run rampant on secular campuses devastating the self-esteem, future, and health of freshmen to doctoral students. We have also seen a recent increase in the news of suicides on various campuses. Most of these a direct result of an oppressive depression. It is said that 44% of college students reported feeling symptoms of depression and that it is the 2nd leading cause of death in college students age 20-24. Imagining such problems just within the 300,000 students in the Boston Metropolitan area or within the state of Michigan cries for the gospel of Christ.
Sebastien Braxton is a former graduate and director of the Missionary Training Program. He is also the founder of STRIDE in Boston and has served as the General Vice President of GYC.
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