HOW DO I STAY FAITHFUL ON A SECULAR CAMPUS?

HOW DO I STAY FAITHFUL ON A SECULAR CAMPUS?

For a young person, college is such a huge transition time in life. They pack up their bags and move to a college campus, making new friends and becoming independent from their family. For a lot of Christian students, they are leaving their churches, their youth groups, and the influences of their parents. College campuses are a whole new world to many, and it is easy to get swept away into the culture that surrounds every student. The pressures of classmates are high and are at times hard to resist, causing many students to add their faith to the list of farewells as they leave their hometowns. For a young person, college is such a huge transition time in life. They pack up their bags and move to a college campus, making new friends and becoming independent from their family. For a lot of Christian students, they are leaving their churches, their youth groups, and the influences of their parents. College campuses are a whole new world to many, and it is easy to get swept away into the culture that surrounds every student. The pressures of classmates are high and are at times hard to resist, causing many students to add their faith to the list of farewells as they leave their hometowns.

It can be quite daunting as a young person to have to defend your faith against so many different beliefs, and it feels overwhelming to think that there are no fellow believers in the sea of diversity. It is hard to hold strong beliefs that differ from peers, and even harder to be mocked or ridiculed for them. Jesus knew how we feel, and so do His disciples. They were mocked, beaten, imprisoned for their faith. However, they brought so many people to God because they were willing to serve Him no matter the cost. If the disciples were able to stay Christian during all the suffering they went through, is it possible to remain faithful on a college campus?

1. Daily Prayer and Devotions

Being mindful of the challenges that present themselves, there are things we can do as young people to stay active in our faith. The first and foremost of these is daily prayer and devotion time. The way we communicate with God is by praying to Him and reading His Word. As we build an authentic relationship with our Creator, He helps us with everything we are going through. Psalm 46 says God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. The reality is that there will be difficult times, but God promises to be our refuge. We can take shelter in Him and His word. He has so much help for us in the Bible, and we can face the world when we have God’s word written on our hearts. No matter what we are going through, God is there for us, and wants to help us!

2. Guarding The Avenues, 

Another way to stay Christian in college is to guard ourselves. Amidst all the temptations, distractions, and influences, it is easy to slip into habits that aren’t holy, but we need to be careful about what we let into our minds and our hearts. As a principle, by beholding we become changed. If we examine the Bible every day and learn more about our Creator, God will change our hearts, and we will grow closer and closer to Him. However, if we watch, listen, or even partake in things that aren’t pure or holy, those things will change us and cause us to drift away from God. Philippians 4:8 says “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy–meditate on these things.” God tells us to spend our time beholding pure, good, and true things, not the opposite, and the best way to stay faithful is by being committed in the small day to day decisions on how to spend our time. So when you catch yourself doing things that take you away from God, turn away and pray, ask God to help you change those habits.

3. Surround Yourself With Godly Christian Friends,

Along the same lines as the last way, surrounding yourself with people who will bring you closer to God and not away from Him is very important. As humans, we need community and friends to strive, and as Christians, we need fellow believers to help us along on our walk. By joining a Christian student group and becoming part of a church family, we can form bonds with people that will help us withstand the forces of the evil one. There is something extraordinary about being able to worship and praise God with your closest friends, and when you become friends with fellow Christians, you can uplift each other, pray for each other, and understand each other better than you will be able to with your other friends. By joining a church family, you will find amazing mentors and people who will become like family. They will be there to help you and encourage you as you are navigating your college years, give you advice, and care for you when you need it. Having friends and church members by our side lets us know that we aren’t alone with what we are going through as a college student, and gives us hope for our futures in Christ.

4. Share The Word With Others,

Although taking classes and studying will already keep us very busy, getting involved in service is another way that will help us stay faithful. Jesus’ mission here on earth was to seek and save the lost, and on public universities, there are many lost people. When we get involved in serving God, not only do we bring ourselves true joy, but we can show other people about the love of God that what we have found in Christ. When you serve God, it creates a love for God and His people in your heart, and there is nothing more rewarding than when someone you have been witnessing to gives their lives to Christ. Serving God makes us want to know Him more, especially when we witness the amazing things He does for people. It grows our faith in Him when we are working for Him because it isn’t always easy, but it is always worth it. So get involved with a Christian student group, with your church’s community outreaches, and personally reach out to the people around you.

5. Make God a Priority,

Lastly, but most importantly, we must keep God as the priority in our lives. We do need to focus on school and our degrees, but God has us in His hands. We can bring glory to Him with our studies and by doing well in school, but we need to put Him first. Before our exams, before our friends, before even our family. Because we have God, we don’t need to worry about these things, and when we put God first in our lives, He will honor and bless us. Mathew 6:33 tells us to “ seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all things will be given to you as well.” When we decide to choose God over all other things, He provides for us, and in college, there will be times when you have to trust God to help you in trying situations. When your professor wants you to do something against your beliefs, or when your study group wants to meet during the time you go to church. When you are overwhelmed by papers and assignments, and you want to skip church and personal time in the Bible to finish everything you need to do. These situations are tough, but when you seek God first and stand up for Him, He provides everything you need. Put Him first in your life, keep Him at the center of all that you do, and your faith will grow as you see all He does for you!

In conclusion, it is a challenge to stay faithful to God on a public university, but through God it is possible. So as you face the challenges set before you, claim God’s promises He has for us in His word, talk to Him about everything going on in your life. Fill every second of your day with things that bring you closer to God, and make your circle of friends people who will encourage your faith and not deter it. “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as though you were working for the Lord and not for people,” (Colossians 3:23) and fill your life with loving other people and God. You may feel alone on your campus at times, but know that many other people have felt the same way, and God will provide for you as you serve Him during your college years.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:1,2

Here the Scriptures inspires us as Christ followers to run the race and endure the trials, looking to Jesus. He endured all for us so we could be with our Father, and He will help us face the trials and challenges presented before us at college. So please don’t lose hope and stay faithful on your campus, because it is all so worth it!

 

 Written by: Miranda Lentz

CAMPUS Missionary 2017-2018

 

Anatomy of Excellence

Anatomy of Excellence

Josephine Loi, graduate of CAMPUS’ Missionary Program, is a Chemical Engineer working in Chicago. She recently posted a blog on the topic of excellence which resonates with CAMPUS’ philosophy of Academic Excellence combined with Spiritual Excellence. Well worth the read!

Click here to link to Josephine’s blog.

GROWING IMPACT

When CAMPUS first relocated to East Lansing, the goal was to run a more cost effective program, be more centrally located, and better connect with other conference departments.  Moving next door to the East Lansing University Church also afforded greater ministry synergy.  Although the move has introduced new challenges to ministry, we continue to thank God for His constant guidance, support, and blessing.

With Public Campus Ministry emerging as a necessary Seventh-day Adventist Ministry, CAMPUS has been placed in the spotlight on several occasions.  It has also been able to stand from a position of leadership to train others on how to do Public Campus Ministry.

Here is the growing impact that we are grateful for:

  1.  RESIDENCY
    The CAMPUS Ministerial Residency focuses on training young future ministers in Public Campus Ministry.  It was launched three years ago, accepting two residents per term.  Since the launch of the program, three young people have been hired into pastoral ministry.  We consider this to be building on our past successes.  No other program is emphasizing pastoral ministry in the public campus context.  Thus, CAMPUS has more than 10 gradates in current pastoral or administrative ministry.  Additionally, more than half of North American Division chaplains or public campus ministry practitioners have direct links to CAMPUS.
  2. WEB PRESENCE
    Although CAMPUS has not been able to publish much of its training resources, it continues to have a significant impact via the web–where most of our resources and pictures of our latest events are sometimes posted.  Over the past year, our website had more than 30,000 hits.  More than 90% of the people that visited our website browsed an average of three pages per visit.  In addition to this, our most popular Facebook picture posts have as many as 6,000 plus views.  This means that CAMPUS continues to be a strong leader in Public Campus Ministry and that it still holds the attention of those interested in this work.
  3. RETREATS & CONFERENCES
    Over the last couple of years we streamlined the purpose of our retreats and conferences to have a more intentional emphasis on evangelism and training.  The number of attendees continues to grow, being an indication of student leadership development taking place within our conference and beyond.  At our last Public Hi-C Retreat, more than 250 people attended the event held at Camp Au Sable.  Our impression is that it would not have been very difficult to attract 300 participants if we had enough room to house them all.  Public Hi-C is a Michigan brainchild and does not exist in any other conference.  In most cases, it is unthinkable to bring public college and high school students together for an event. During our latest conference 11 people made commitments for baptism and 20 to give a year of their lives to missions.  About 60-70 of our attendees were not Seventh-day Adventists.
  4. SMALL GROUPS
    The development of our small groups held at the CAMPUS House has also experienced tremendous growth.  The CAMPUS House has not only afforded office and dormitory space–it has provided a place for college ministry to take place nearly every day of the week.  Currently, our small group study fills the house with students eager to fellowship and know more about God’s Word.  Plans are being laid for our Fall Semester where we plan to hold small groups every day on a variety of topics, including: Health, Daniel & Revelation, Apologetics, and the Gospels!
  5. LOCAL MINISTRY
    The significance of establishing a local structure cannot be underestimated.  Not only is it groundbreaking in terms of Public Campus Ministry for the Seventh-day Adventist Church; but it also streamlines student ministry within the various student organizations that make up Michigan Conference PCM.  The structure allows for student leadership development and the involvement of the local church.  It also partners with local church pastors to empower them to serve as chaplains on college campuses.

CAMPUS is thankful to God for all of its supporters and ministry partners.  Thank you for believing in this ministry!

NOW IS THE TIME

NOW IS THE TIME

It has a reputation for being a thankless investment: the church pours money into a ministry with little to no return.  Many students don’t return tithe.  If they do, it isn’t much.  They consume.  They consume a lot–potluck food, church electricity, funds to attend retreats and conferences.  In the end, they graduate and leave to another city, state, or country.

This is one of the reasons Public Campus Ministry in the Seventh-day Adventist Church has been neglected by so many.

If only all would see what few are privileged to behold daily: faithful students successfully struggling to prioritize God above studies; dedicated Adventist young people sharing their faith with future leaders from around the world; Adventists sharing a timely message with the crumbling world around them.  This is what Adventist Campus Ministry should be and is on many public campuses around the world.

Students on public university campuses are not only reaching their friends, they are impacting local churches by faithfully attending services and participating in church outreach activities.  They are hosting weekly small group Bible studies: feeding their follow classmates with literal and spiritual food.  They are inviting their friends to take Christ seriously, search the Scriptures and align their lives with timeless principles from the Word of God.  They are missionaries preaching the Adventist message in concrete jungles where world mission comes to US soil.  They are yearning to fit in the Adventist church now and in the future.  Some of them will continue to go strong, but unnoticed.  Others may become presidential candidates.  Some will end up working for the church.  Most will have a huge temporal and eternal impact like Daniel, Joseph, and Esther.  The most important thing for our church to recognize is that it needs to invest in them now.

With regret, we talk about the missing young people.  What about the non-missing?  They are speaking to us.  If we are willing to listen, we will realize that they are all around, waiting for the church to see that they are packing out local churches, our few Adventist on-campus centers, and retreat centers and camps with their seeking friends.  I hope we will listen and act now.

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Public University Students and local members pack a church during a Collegiate Sabbath
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Pastor Justin Kim shares a powerful message on Ps. 139 and the God who sees and knows everything
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Student Missionary Jermaine Gayle shares his faith
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Pastor Andy Im teaches students how to conduct small group Bible studies — the CAMPUS House has been packed with dedicated students on a weekly basis
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Pastor Israel Ramos teaches missionaries the importance of meeting the needs of others – Christ’s method alone
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Student Missionary Nichole Dyjasek teaches the Bible to an international student

THE ANSWER

With some people, the struggle is detectable.  With others, like Kiana, it would have been almost impossible to perceive that she was losing her walk with God.  Slowly, little by little, like a frog in a pot set at gradual heat until it reaches a boiling point, the church would have discovered too late how severe Kiana’s case really was.

Kiana comes from a strong Adventist home.  She left Grand Blanc to gain an education at Michigan’s premier university.  She came in as a strong Adventist.  And her plan was to remain that way.  However, soon after her arrival at school, she experienced one of the worst things that could ever happen — she was sexually assaulted.  This experience spiraled into a struggle that would not allow her to escape for several years.  A battle with alcohol, the wrong company, guilt, and even doubt.

A place to worship on campus, in her case, was the only hope.  It was the thin string that kept her connected, the reminder that nagged her conscience until she found freedom in Christ, the refuge she ran to in times of despair, until it became the one thing she cares and lives for.  A church on campus was the place she heard God’s word speak to her, giving her a permanent escape from the chains she could not escape on her own.

It is no wonder that now she has become one of the biggest promoters of public campus ministry!  She has taken a year off to serve as missionary in Michigan, a summer in missions to Oklahoma, and several summers working at Michigan’s Camp Au Sable as summer staff.  It is no wonder that she still moves in fear — fear that the support she had is not available to thousands of others around our country and around the world and fear that those who follow in her steps will miss the crucial aspect of Adventist Campus Ministry: A Bible-based revival movement in which every student is a missionary.

Watch her sermon as she speaks from her heart for the opening Sabbath of the semester at Campus HOPE Fellowship.  Her sermon begins at minute 27:00.

Broadcast live streaming video on Ustream

LEADS 2014 OVERVIEW

LEADS 2014 took place at the University Seventh-day Adventist Church in East Lansing.

LEADS serves as the launch of the academic year for student leaders, university church pastors, and public campus ministries in Michigan.  The purpose of LEADS was to pray, plan, train, and fellowship.  During the weekend seminar conference, CAMPUS also introduced the theme for this year: EACH ONE REACH ONE.

The program started with a meeting for pastors and chaplains who serve public university campuses.  Drs. Ron Pickell and Jiwan Moon, North American Division and General Conference public campus ministry leaders, respectively, also made an appearance to LEADS for the first time.  The pastor’s meeting discussed ways in which local churches and pastors on/near university campuses can organize with CAMPUS for a fruitful year in soul-winning and ministry.  The Division and General Conference also provided an update on the state of public campus ministry at each level.  This marks the first time that pastors in Michigan have come together to work as a team in preparing public campuses for the imminent return of Christ.

Friday morning started with a devotional thought by Israel Ramos, CAMPUS Director introducing God’s purpose in calling His people the salt of the earth.

The first half of the day was spent introducing a systematic way of soul-winning on campuses, joining local student groups, university churches, and CAMPUS through the Cycle of Evangelism for Public Campus Ministry which integrates all three entities.

David Shin, UCHURCH pastor shared what a local church can do to effectively win souls on campus.  And Israel Ramos discussed how CAMPUS events can be used as a resource for soul-winning and integration across all campuses in Michigan.  The goal is to establish a systematic Adventist public campus ministry program across the state.

Following the two presentations by Prs. Shin and Ramos, Andy Im, CAMPUS Associate Director held a question and answer session with students and pastors. This was a time for attendees to give advice and feedback on making CAMPUS more efficient in its interaction with local student groups and churches.  When the Q&A session finished, everyone participated in a session of prayer–understanding that preparation and planning is of no effect without God’s blessing.

The second half of the day provided practical tools for making university student groups thrive.  Student groups had the opportunity to participate in a Praise & Report session where they shared exciting things and stories of what is taking place on their campuses.  They also shared challenges they encountered in the last year.  Pr. Andy Im gave a presentation on Small Group Ministry and how to implement it on public campuses.

During the last year, CAMPUS & UCHURCH have been running a pilot program for small groups with the help of Gateway Adventist Centre based in Melbourne, Australia.  This year, they are planning to expand the program from two small groups to five student led groups at the  CAMPUS House and in student homes.  Student groups throughout Michigan will have the opportunity to launch groups on their own campuses this year.

The final presentation of the day was given by Judy Ramos, former president of Adventist Students for Christ at the University of Michigan.  Her presentation was aimed at making student groups thrive.

The day concluded with a BBQ and sundown vespers at the Ramos residence at Grace Orchard.  Dr. Ron Pickell shared an insightful vespers thought on the Word of God coming in the form of salvation–through Christ and in a warning of destruction–Christ’s return.  Attendees were blessed by his challenge to share Christ with others no matter the sacrifice.

For Sabbath, Amy Sheppard, Associate District Attorney in Lansing and former student leader at the University of Michigan shared on how to use Sabbath School in the context of a public campus ministry setting.  The sermon was delivered by Israel Ramos on the call to discipleship.

After the worship service and potluck, student leaders participated in a training session on how to use the Chair Massage as a way to make contacts on the campus.  After the training, MSU student Elva Hernandez served as a tour guide for visiting students and pastors, giving them a tour of the MSU Gardens.

Andy Im led out in a mock care group program which was then followed by sundown vespers with Jiwan Moon.  Dr. Moon delivered a powerful message on the theology of discipleship and what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ.  He challenged attendees to be missionaries on our secular campuses–following Christ in making disciples.

Students concluded the day with a game night at the CAMPUS House and met together the next morning to read excerpts from Gospel Workers by Ellen White and to have a season of prayer for a fruitful year.

We look forward to God’s rich blessings this year as EACH ONE REACHES ONE with the power of the gospel!

Click here and here to experience LEADS through photographs.