THE CASE FOR PUBLIC CAMPUS MINISTRY

THE CASE FOR PUBLIC CAMPUS MINISTRY

 

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 Past

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.

The Potential

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.

 The Problems

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.

 

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 last five:

Preaching

Upon the imminence of Jesus’ departure, the question of His return weighed heavily upon the hearts of the disciples. The mixture of truth and error within their troubled breasts led them to associate Jesus’ return with the end of the world and the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem.4 In brilliant fashion, Christ utilized this misconception to bring to light the actual final events of this age. Christ then gave an unequivocal sign that the end would come. The gospel being preached in all the world as a witness to all nations is an unconditional prophecy of Jesus. This surely includes secular campuses, which often serve as the intelligentsia of a nation and the cradle of its future leaders. Thus, within the gospel mandate, Jesus’ authority and power avail itself even within the concrete jungles of our world. This gospel must be preached and will be preached on secular campuses. This guarantee behooves us to cooperate with the commands of our King for the only way to fail in secular campus ministry is to do nothing.

Previous

It is not a secret that at least 70% of SDA youth attend secular campuses in the NAD. This number remains steady (and is probably much higher) despite the numerous Adventist colleges and universities within our borders. Yet, statistics and discussions suggest that about 70% of SDA youth are leaving the church primarily during the collegiate years. Is this a coincidence? A God in heaven makes coincidences few and far between. Especially a God who has placed us in a reality deeply rooted in the law of cause and effect. The truth of the matter is that many SDA youth not only attend these

institutions for specific areas of study but to get away from Adventism itself. In my years of PCM, many campuses boast of hundreds of SDA youth attending and even declaring themselves so, but not interested in the church nor the campus ministry. When Jesus sent out the twelve in Matthew 10 He bid them begin with the lost sheep of the house of Israel. In Luke’s gospel, Jesus builds that case for seeking that which is lost and its inestimable value. Thus, those who were previously Adventist, which are many in our time, can be reclaimed through the work of PCM. I would go so far as to say that PCM, biblical and vibrant, is the key to ebbing the enormous loss of SDA youth in our generation.

Possibilities

Without struggle, there is no progress. Frederick Douglass’s words rang true in a time of institutionalized prejudice against people of color but also in an era of institutionalized prejudice against people of faith. PCM brings its own unique difficulties to the table as any ministry does. Yet, these obstacles tend to deter many churches or students from even attempting to crack the juggernaut of a secular campus. Indeed, it is a struggle and shall always be, the devil will ensure that it is so. But humans bear struggle for possibilities. Success and failure are equally possible. Yet Solomon reflects that work should not be determined by foreseeable results.5 He argues that if we constantly study and focus on the possible challenges and pitfalls, we will never start6, and surely never reap. I remember doing ministry at Tufts University and thinking, “Vegetarian Tastefests draw people but never lead to serious Bible study interests.” In partnering with Tufts Christian Fellowship for the event (the largest Christian Organization on campus) the event drew over 100 students from 10 different faith backgrounds. There was no standing room. All stayed for the health talk and the promo for our Revelation series. For the next hour, we six Adventists tried to connect with over 100 students and the in and out visitors. We were pleasantly outnumbered. From that one event, we had a non-SDA attendance to our series and eventually a small group of 12-15 each week on the book of Daniel. We promptly forgot about the struggles and continued to seek new possibilities.

Present

Unlike most, I have found that a post-modern world lines up perfectly for our unique message as Adventists. (I can perhaps explore this further in a separate article). In brief, the current age is obsessed with the concept of a story. As Adventists, God has entrusted us with the story behind every story. The Great Controversy theme or meta-narrative immediately confronts the two great challenges of our generation: purpose and pain. It provides a rich and meaningful answer to the problem of pain and God’s work

to solve it and why His approach is what it is. These two contending powers war upon the ground of human hearts. Each soul either becomes an annexation to the kingdom of darkness or the kingdom of light. It lays upon the shoulders of sentient souls the eternal weight of every decision of life. Whether we are famous or not in the context of

the secular world, our lives have meaning and point to some transcending victory for one side or the other. More than ever, these two questions plague the pensamientos of collegiates globally, and they are asking with pathos. Thankfully, God answered before they even called through the unique message given to us as Seventh-day Adventists. So much more to say on this, but brevity beckons me onward.

Prophecy

As if the previous seven reasons were not enough, the writings of a modern prophet adds to its importance and urgency. In 1891, at an educational convention in Harbor Heights, Ellen White sought to impress upon the hearers the idea of entering worldly colleges primarily for the purpose of living out the principles of the gospel unswervingly. She reasoned that interest would generate in those around them and opportunities to share emerge. At the conclusion of her remarks she makes the startling but sensational promise, “but this work must be done and will be done by those who are led and taught of God.”7 In other words, if we sense God calling us into a work that will be done, PCM is it. The only condition is our willingness to be led and taught of God.

*****

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.  To read the first post click here.

______________
4 Matthew 24:1-3
5 Ecclesiastes 11:6
6 Ecclesiastes 11:4

1http://www.peacecorps.gov/about/history/speech/

2 http://www.peacecorps.gov/about/
3 http://www.peacecorps.gov/about/

 

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BRINGING LIGHT TO A DARK CAMPUS

BRINGING LIGHT TO A DARK CAMPUS

Mother Teresa, a nun who devoted her life to serving the poor and destitute around the world, once said: “I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.” In our day and age, there are many people who have created ripples, good or bad, across communities, the country, and even the world. Within the Seventh-Day Adventist Church, an amazing stone was cast causing many ripples throughout college campuses, and that stone was the idea of starting public campus ministries. Public Campus Ministry is a ministry that takes place on public college campuses, with a goal to reach out to students seeking God and Adventist students who need community and nurture, to bring them all into Jesus’ arms.  It is a vast mission field, full of students from all different backgrounds and countries, and through this ministry, these students will be brought into unity in Christ.

            With a great mission, it is easy to see why public campus ministry is important, and even more important is the impact students can have any work they can do as young people if they serve God. A quote from Ellen White says “[Satan] well knows that there is no other class that can do as much good as young men and young women who are consecrated to God. The youth, if right, could sway a mighty influence. Preachers or laymen advanced in years, cannot have one-half the influence upon the young, that the youth, devoted to God, can have upon their associates…You can do a work that those who minister in word and doctrine cannot do. You can reach a class whom the minister cannot affect”. (White 204,207) This inspiring message shows how much good can come out of the ministry, and that students who are starting and growing their ministries are doing a work for Jesus that no one else can do.

            The importance of this ministry starts at how it affects and impacts the students ministered to. The whole point of the ministry is to show people the love of God, and bring them closer to Him, and as that happens, lives are truly changed. As an individual learns of the love God has for them or finds it again on their own in school, the fruits of the changes they are making become obvious. There are so many people in secular settings that are lost. There are many who suffer from drugs, drinking, depression, bad relationships, emptiness, or whatever sin and life problems they are going through. These people are either consciously or unconsciously yearning for something to fill that hole in their hearts, and as a ministry, our goal is to bring them what they are deeply craving: Jesus. As we do that, and as the individuals have real and genuine interactions with Him, their lives will instead be filled with love, joy, peace, and so much more, and it will be noticeable. These life changes can lead to baptisms, and full commitments to live for God, which is the greatest change someone can make.

            Another big importance of this ministry is that it creates a community. It gives students a place to come together, to feel comfortable together, to learn and grow together, and to be friends together. On your own, many things can be hard, but having a community who can not only help you grow spiritually, but also help with the many things life and getting an education can throw at you, is truly a blessing, and is one thing that this ministry can bring to people. It brings people together and gives them people to rely on not only friendship but also fun. As students, they are all working towards the same goal, and having the same beliefs and wanting to bring more students together with them, creates such a loving and warm atmosphere to be a part of.

There should be an emphasis on building strong, spiritual connections and bonds with other Adventists and friends. This type of ministry reaches many diverse people that create this community made up of the non-Adventist students, the students who were raised Adventist but have drifted away, and the Adventist students who want to get involved. This creates such a wonderful balance of mentoring and support from everyone involved. With public campus ministry, not only is it a want to bring new Adventists into the church, but inspire the youth to become soul winners, inspire them to reach out and care about the salvation of others. Lives being changed, baptisms, and communities being formed are all wonderful fruits of the ministry, and within it, there is a structure in place that is essential to the function and effectiveness of the group. Although the only thing needed to be a student group, according to the university, is be registered and meet the requirements, there are many different things that go into starting and maintaining a successful public campus ministry. This includes the leadership of the group, connection to the local church, and the determination and passion of the group.

             The leadership of any student group, but especially this student group, is vital to how the group will run and is the first essential aspect to look at. Great spiritual leadership starts at the heart of the spiritual leaders, and their dedication and commitment to God. People who will be leading others in this group should be people who will encourage spiritual atmosphere and conversation within the group. Leading a student group is always a big task, and when you have the task of winning people to Jesus, those leaders need to be passionate and have daily experiences with God. The leaders should be students who prayerfully lead the group and their fellow students, and enjoy serving God.

            Another important aspect of the ministry is the connection between the group and the local church. A relationship between the church family and the students provides many different things for all involved. It gives students the opportunity to serve at the church they attend, and get to know the adults and young families in the church. This can lead to great mentorship, not only spiritually, but professionally as well, as church members have different jobs, skill sets, and education levels. Great bonds can form through the interactions at church, and in addition to the relationships, support and help can also come from the church. Funding, or even just more manpower can be provided by the members of the church, and the members could be eager or excited about helping the ministry on campus.

            With whatever help the student group may be receiving, or however great the leadership may be, the determination and the passion of the group is an aspect that applies throughout everything. Without passion for what the group is doing, things will get done, but the fruits from the group, if people are passionate about serving God and ministering to others, will be so much greater. If the group is determined, and get back up every time they go through trials, that is what makes the student group great. They will get these traits from God, and with them, they will keep pushing on and forward to win people to Jesus.

            Combining all the different aspects that make up the public campus ministry, everything that the group does will be dependent on the resources and people they have, but the typical things the group does include: Friday and Saturday night worships to bring in the Sabbath, Bible studies, small groups, outreach events, and in reach events. All of these things are ways the group will get people involved, nurture them, show them God’s love and truth, and continue to form a strong community.

            Unfortunately, with every group, there are challenges that will be faced. There will be ups and downs in different areas of the group, and rough patches that the group will go through that will test the group. Those challenges include finding solid leadership, getting funding, coordinating events, working together with others, unity, interest levels of the students, and finding ways to reach students.

            The first of these challenges is finding solid leadership. Finding dedicated, spiritual, responsible, and passionate leaders to guide a student group can be a hard task, and one of the most important aspects that we have to tackle. This can even sometimes lead to discouragement when trying to keep the student group active and dedicated when there aren’t enough leaders. Another issue is often not having enough people to fill all the roles and responsibilities the group has, causing the few people leading the group to have a lot more responsibility than normal. In addition, putting people where they can best serve is a hard task as well, and when putting someone somewhere they don’t do well may lead to them not wanting to be a part of the group anymore.

            Secondly, finding funding for the group can also be the source of a lot of stress within the group. When trying to plan events and ways to reach out to the students and people within the group, money is needed. Especially if the group wants to feed people for Bible studies or vespers, creating more of a home environment, it can be very expensive. Without the money to do what the group is planning, that can also cause discouragement, and cause people to stop coming up with more ideas that might not be able to happen. Money controls a lot of what the group does together, and could possibly affect the appeal of their events.

            Thirdly, coordinating events can be a challenge. There is so much planning that goes into everything the group does and determines the outcomes of the event. Planning is an important aspect of all events and takes lots of time and effort. With a smaller group of people, the planning can often end up falling on one or two people, causing them to stress about the events. This could even possibly cause conflict between people who might not be contributing to the events or the planning of them.

            Next, is working together with others. This challenge can be hard for many student groups. With the different things the group does, there may be differing opinions or methods of how things should be run or what should be done. These situations can also cause conflict between people and can divide the group if these problems escalate. As the group goes through different things together, when there is a divide, it can cause many problems for the student group and the ministry to other students.

            Going hand in hand with the previous challenge, group unity is another problem that can come up. If everyone does not have the same mindset or goals for the student group or are not all on the same page, it can make it difficult in the planning stages, and executing different plans. When people are in disagreement, it can truly affect the whole ministry.

            In addition, it can be challenging to find different ways to reach students. A lack of ideas, or effective methods, can make it hard to keep trying new things or going with the methods that work. Students are all reached in different ways, and it is hard to choose one thing to focus on when trying to plan events. Being able to gauge what events work for different people is difficult, and sometimes different methods will be successful in some cases, but not as successful in other cases, causing confusion on whether or not that method of reaching people should be used again.

Lastly, there is the challenge of a leader in the group keeping their own spirituality. As a full-time student and leader in the group, it can be hard to juggle those two things alone, but trying to keep a relationship with God during those busy times can be hard. While so busy, even with ministry, it can happen that the reason why an individual is doing something gets lost. This really affects the atmosphere of the group, the decisions made, the attitude going into everything the group does, and most importantly, it affects that person’s relationship with God. Everything that person does flows from their heart, so if it isn’t purified and consecrated to Him daily, it will affect who they are as a person and a leader.      

With all of these challenges, it may seem that having a public campus ministry might be more negatives than positives, but that definitely isn’t true! Ministering to other students and bringing them to Christ is worth all of the challenges, and with prayer and planning, these challenges will be taken care by Him who cares for us, loves us, and who is with us always. There is always a way to problem solve and not just manage, but mend the problems presented to the group. With the challenges the group is facing, there are always solutions to them, and the challenges may be heavy, but God is mightier than they are.

            The first challenge was finding leadership for the group, and although this one is a tough one, there are solutions. The first thing that should be done, is to pray to God and ask him to bring people to the group. He always sends people at the most unexpected times and from places we won’t even expect. The next board member could be a student the group ministered to and ended up getting baptized. Or, they could be an Adventist student new to the university. With the students and peers available to be on the board, inspiring commitment can be a worry, but a solution to this is to try and discern the students’ spiritual levels and leadership interests. As a leader in the group, the student should be an active member of the church, and be responsible and interested in serving as a leader. With these requirements, it will benefit the group with having the leadership it needs. As a group finds leadership, it shouldn’t find students just for numbers in the group, but find people who are passionate about doing the ministry. Once students become a part of the group, one big thing that will help a lot is putting the students into positions they will thrive in. This can come by observing what each person likes to do, or you see would be good at, and give them the opportunity to do those things. Each person has unique gifts and skills, and certain tasks will suit different people, so finding where that person thrives can really boost the desire to be a part of the group and help in the ministry.

            Next, was the challenge of funding. Although stresses about money are very real and common, there are many places to turn for help. Every group on a public campus is a student group through the school, and universities have money set aside for all of the groups to use. Having this money available, as plans are made for future events and things the group need money for, a proposal to the school should be made requesting the funds. The school may say no to some things, but start trying to find funding there. Another option is going to the local church board and writing a proposal requesting help with monetary needs. While the school might not provide all the money needed, the church is there to help support the ministry as well, so asking for help there can be a huge asset to the student group. Fundraising is also an option, and can be a fun way to bring the members of the group together as well.

            Another challenge, coordinating events, does take a lot of work and effort, but there is a solution to the issues. With the planning of the events, different tasks should be delegated to different people in the group. The planning should be a group effort, not only to prevent one or a few people from being overburdened, but also the whole group has a part in the planning, all feeling needed. There are many little and big things needed to be done in everything planned, so giving everyone those individual roles is the best planning you can do.

            The solutions to the next challenge, working well with others, will improve the whole ministry. As a group, the students will be working together frequently planning events, giving Bible studies, leading out in worship services. Although all of these things do bring people together, having relationships with others is so important to the growth within and outside of the ministry. Being friends with each other and knowing the group can minimize conflicts, and also help with resolving the issues that will come up. When those problems do come, because having a friendship with the other members is ideal, it will be easier for a friend to go to a friend and work things out that way, or just talk through the different opinions or disagreements. As friends, students can get a lot more done, especially because people will want to be there. One way this can be encouraged is putting time aside separately from meetings, events, or planning, and everyone spending time together. This will help the more personal relationships to grow, and will bring everyone together.

            Next, the unity of the group is also essential, and with this challenge, the solution is attainable. With different opinions and wants for the group, it is important to have meetings where those things are discussed and worked out, and making meetings specifically for that at the beginning of the year can really help this early on. Everyone should be on the same page to continue going forward with the mission and purpose of the group, and this way future problems will already be resolved before they start.
            Another challenge was meeting students. Finding ways to reach students is the way the group will meet people, and there are many ways they can do this. By doing outreach, the group will have the opportunity to meet those who are lost and seeking God, and one of the main ways the group can do this is by going on campus to do events. A great outreach method is doing surveys to get students who are interested in Bible studies to study with. The survey asks questions about their religious background, their beliefs, and other things to lead into asking if they are interested in learning more about the Bible, and when the person says yes, Bible studies start. Another idea to get Bible studies or more involvement in the group is to have a weekly table to set up on campus that is easily seen/accessible by students walking by or in the building. At this booth, information can be shared about the group, different materials can be passed out like glow tracts or flyers, Bible study surveys can be done, or whatever else the group chooses to do there. There should also be a booth set up at the club fair at the school, so freshman and other students looking for a club to join can learn more there as well. A prayer booth is also a way to reach people, especially other Christians, and just pray for people on the campus. In addition to these ideas, different signs can be made to meet people as well. These signs can say things like “Free Bible Studies,” “Free Intelligent Conversation,” “Do You Have Any Prayer Requests?” and whatever else you can come up with. There are many other ways a group can meet people, but one of the methods that can be the most effective is through ministering to friends. As students, there are so many people that can be reached through everyday interactions, and being intentional about them and being their friend can often lead to Bible studies or interest in the lifestyle the student has that is different from normal students. It is a person’s life that can be the biggest impression on an individual. Some people have had bad impressions of Christians or Christianity, and to them “A kind, courteous Christian is the most powerful argument that can be produced in favor of Christianity.” (White 122) This, in addition to all the other ways that can be thought of, can be used to reach others.

Lastly, was the issue of the individual members losing their spirituality from being so busy. Taking time daily to read God’s word, to communicate with Him, is vital to a healthy Christian life, and a healthy Christian student group. WIth having so much to do, especially with school, priorities must be in place so that God isn’t lost in the daily shuffle of life. Setting aside special time with God is so vital, and with that relationship with Him the days will be so much better. When in communication with God, an individual will have so much guidance that will help them everyday with every situation they are in, and will especially help the student group. Without the love for God and the dedication to Him, the motivation and want to serve Him might fade, so by spending time with Him each day and truly reflecting on how much He has done will keep that motivation and want to serve Him strong.

            In conclusion, public campus ministry makes a difference in all the lives involved, and although there are challenges that each group has to face, there are solutions that can be found through prayer and following God’s will. So many lives have been affected by the efforts made by these ministries, and without them, I myself wouldn’t be an Adventist today. I was ministered to by students and young people just like you who wanted to change a college campus and the students there. So I encourage you, whether you are starting a student group with few people, or are maintaining your student group that has been around a while, if you follow God, and persevere throughout the challenges, God will use you in mighty ways. As it is translated in the New International Version, in Hebrews 6:10, it says “God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them.” This ministry helps bring people out of darkness, and into the beautiful light of God, and as you serve Him in this way, He will never leave your side.

 

 

Works Cited 

“About Us.” Public Campus Ministries of Seventh-Day Adventists, pcm.adventist.org/about-us/.

White, Ellen Gould Harmon. Messages to Young People. Review and Herald, 2002.

White, Ellen Gould Harmon. Reflecting Christ. Review and Herald Pub. Association, 2010.

CAMPUS IMPACT

CAMPUS IMPACT

I was only 18 years old when I first heard about CAMPUS.  I was helping to lead a team of canvassers in Long Island, New York when I got an email regarding the program and made a decision to be a missionary on the concrete jungles of the University of Michigan.

That missionary year, I was able to witness the first baptism of public campus ministry — a neo-hippie that we made contact with while canvassing a coffee shop.  It was a powerful experience seeing the transformation of a girl from the time we knocked on her door to the time she gave her life to Christ through baptism.  The dreadlocks were cut off, empty piercings remained on ears, nose, and lips.  And she looked like a totally different person.  It was a total transformation.  The University of Michigan Adventist Students for Christ established themselves as an effective, soul-winning model in public campus ministries.

Since that first year in Ann Arbor, CAMPUS has experienced growth in many ways:

IT STARTED A CHURCH GROUP ON CAMPUS
Within the first year of its initiation, the vision of CAMPUS was to establish a church on the University of Michigan campus.  This would provide a place where students from a variety of cultures and backgrounds could unite under the banner of Scripture and the Christ of Scripture.  The radical idea that racism should not exist in the Adventist church service, no matter how sophisticated the reason for its existence, was a philosophy that students quickly rallied around.  When GYC was birthed through the CAMPUS movement, this was one of its original values.  A vibrant student-led church on the University of Michigan campus was started.  The congregation consisted of hispanic, white, black, asian, and other backgrounds.

IT MADE MISSIONARIES ON CAMPUS
Stephanie was part of the Missionary Training Program.  She had one goal that year: to lead her sister to baptism during her time as a missionary.  In 2004, in an outdoor hotel pool on a chilly Sacramento December, her goal became a reality.  Stephanie was a missionary that was sent to a public campus.  But James was a missionary that was sent from a campus.  The son of a Baptist minister, he had a football scholarship at his university.  James was led to Christ through the ministry of another missionary: Sebastien, who later became the Missionary Training Program Director.  Giving his life to Christ and being baptized as a Seventh-day Adventist, he quit playing football.  He also lost his scholarship.  Additionally, he had to pay back the university all the funds they invested in his college football career: tuition, housing, book fees, etc.  James enrolled in the Missionary Training Program.  When he finished he served as a Bible Worker for his local church.  Currently, he is a student leader at U of M and Eastern.

IT EXPANDED TO OTHER CAMPUSES IN MICHIGAN
In 2006 I received a call to start a campus ministry in the upper peninsula of Michigan.  Members of the Houghton Seventh-day Adventist Church had not seen college students attending their local congregation for years.  Through the grace of God, my first Sabbath there, I encountered Idaliza — a Biology student at Michigan Tech.  I asked her if she knew of other Adventists in the area and before the month was over, a critical mass had formed.  Among the people who emerged was Ed, a PhD student from Kenya.  His wife had vowed never to become an Adventist.  Idaliza was dating a young man who had made a similar commitment.  Realizing the perplexing situation they now found themselves in, they began to pray for wisdom.  Both of them asked their significant other to give Bible studies a chance and their partners agreed.  Now, Idaliza and Andy are leaders in their home church in Illinois and Ed and Mariann are members of a church near a college town in Kenya.  As a result of the campus ministry that was started in our small Houghton church, nine young leaders have emerged including four church elders, and two CAMPUS Missionaries.  That small local church has committed tens of thousands of dollars to campus ministries and leads the way among Michigan Adventist churches.

IT SENT MISSIONARIES FROM CAMPUS
Valmy was converted on a secular campus.  A victim of the Rwandan genocide, he lost nearly all of his family in the tragic event.  After giving his life to the Lord, he became a missionary.  Shortly after the completion of his missionary internship in 2006, Valmy, along with Nasi and Sikhu — other CAMPUS alumni helped to form an organization called Africans Living In View of Eternity.  Their mission was to return to Africa and to set it on fire for Christ.  They went to the toughest, unentered areas and began sharing the good news of Christ with the community.  The latest report has Valmy’s young niece Chantal preaching a series that baptized more than 80 people to the church.

IT GREW ITS TRAINING PROGRAMS
There is no such thing as stagnant success.  Some people wonder why the program has been somewhat changed.  Comfortably settling into a satisfaction with yesterday’s successes will not only lead to current failure, it is a direct contradiction to the very culture that CAMPUS has spread throughout the Adventist Church.  Excellence in all that we do calls for the constant fine-tuning and expansion of the vision that CAMPUS has.  By adding a new program and streamlining the one we created more than a decade ago, we make our evangelistic training more successful.  By training future pastors in our church, we take seriously our responsibility of empowering young people to impact the local congregation with the CAMPUS culture.

God has blessed us beyond our greatest expectations.  Like Psalm 126 says, “The Lord has done great things for us, whereof we are glad.”  Faithfulness to the mandate that God has given us; respect and appreciation for faithful supporters who sacrifice time, energy and resources for us to operate; and the times in which we live call us to consider the need to be more radical in our experience with Christ and His mission to reach the world.

Our greatest days and efforts are still to come as we realize more and more how true these words are: If it’s not radical, it’s not rational.

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Israel Ramos is the CAMPUS Director.  In 1999 he was part of the inaugural class of Missionaries at the University of Michigan.  Five years later he became the third Missionary Training Program Director and the Director of Pastoral Care.  He is an ordained minister and has served as a pastor in a University Church, a missionary, and an administrator in public campus ministry for more than 15 years.