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 WELCOMES AGAIN ALANNA RODRIGUEZ

CAMPUS WELCOMES AGAIN ALANNA RODRIGUEZ

CAMPUS Welcomes back to our staff Alanna Rodriguez (Knapp) as our new Assistant to the Director.  Her two primary responsibilities will be developing our student ministry in Michigan and our CAMPUS Partners program.  For student ministry she will be developing our presidents council of Adventist registered student organizations.  This group of young adult leaders provide vision for student ministry across the state.  Alanna will serve as the liaison between our student organizations, Michigan Public Campus Ministry, and CAMPUS.  CAMPUS Partners are people who dedicate at least $1,000.00 each year to advance our ministry.  These funds are used for student ministry, evangelism, and the Missionary Training Program.  Over the last couple of years, many have supported this new initiative and our goal is to grow this important program. 

 

Alanna is no stranger to CAMPUS.  She was part of our Missionary Training Program (2002-2003), a president at Michigan Tech, an Administrative Assistant, and more.  We are excited to be able to have her back on our team!  Welcome, Alanna!  

 

 

 

SPRING BREAK MISSION TRIP

SPRING BREAK MISSION TRIP

Spring break, a time when college students relax before the exam season begins. While some students decide to use this break to go on “vacation” with friends, having fun, “away from the burden of college life.” Others, take this opportunity to study for exams and/or catch up on school work. Regardless of what it is that one does during this break, most of the time it is taken to de-stress from school work.

For us, missionaries at CAMPUS spring break involves something entirely different, for us, it is a time to serve others. About a week before the break this year, we were tasked with planning and raising funds for a mission trip, to where we saw an opportunity to serve. It was quite an adventure just getting to plan the trip. At first, we all seem to have had suggestions, but we knew that wherever we ended up going could only be a place where God was leading us to travel to. Whether traveling towards the Midwest, East or West Coast, the Lord would be leading every step of the way. Thus, before we officially met to discuss what campus(es) we would be visiting and helping out, so we decided to spend some time in prayer. 

 After some time, it became clear to us that California was the place. After a lot of discussions between the four of us missionaries, we had tentatively decided on going to help the student group at Stanford; however, this was only the beginning stages for our pitch to our program director, Pr. Jermaine Gayle. There were many questions still, where were we going to stay? How would be paying for our flights? etc. Nevertheless, our prayers continued. Not long after, all the pieces began to fall into place, Alex helped to secure funding. During this time he also reached out to the leaders in NorCal, Pr. Ron Pickell, for potential housing around the area for us to stay. To our surprise, in a few short hours, we had a place to stay at the Berkeley Seventh-day Adventist Church, which was a blessing! It was clear, the Lord did want us to go to California.

It was time to designate responsibilities, this was really happening and we did not want to be taken by surprise. Again we had a meeting,  Ahmad was our liaison with the student groups in Berkeley, Hannah was in charge of transportation,  I was in charge of meal planning and meal budget. Our flights were booked, our plans to visit student groups at Stanford, UC Davis, and UC Berkeley were all underway.

Our mission was to do evangelism on other secular campuses outside of Michigan. Our week was to be divided into sections, on each campus we would spend a day, with Stanford being the exception; we decided to be there for two days. We planned to do several things for outreach including, a sign with the words “Do you believe in God” on it, we had care packages prepared, and lastly to advertise the local student group events. All this with the goal of finding an opportunity to have spiritual conversations with students, in hopes that they might be interested in Bible studies. 

We arrived in San Francisco around 6 pm with very little time to spare, we drove to Soquel, we were ready for what California had to offer. Our first stop was to attend the Adventist Christian Fellowship (ACF) Retreat. This was probably one of my favorite parts of the mission trip.

Friday night we had dinner, introduced ourselves to each other, and had an icebreaker. Compared to our retreats here in Michigan, the NorCal retreat was a lot smaller and more personal, which I really liked. Saturday we spent the whole day just getting to know each other; we took a personality test. We compared our strengths and our weaknesses. This exercise helped us to learn more about each other in a whole different way, it truly was an amazing experience because it made us, or at least made me realize that there are other people just like us, who struggle with the same things and/or process things the same way.

 Later in the day, we had a team building activity where we acted out bible scenes and other teams guessed what scene it was. Afterwards, we started another activity called “Master and Servant”, in which certain personalities would serve as Masters or Servants. The point of this activity, at first, seemed like it was just a team building activity, which it was, but also was tied with our second activity for that evening. For after about 2 hours of servants serving their masters, and doing whatever their master requested them to do, there was a shift, unbeknownst to the servants. While all the servants left the room to work on something for their masters, we were informed that now during this half of the activity, it was our,  the masters, turn to serve the servants. However, this did not mean that we were simply going to reverse the roles and now the masters were going to do whatever the servants wanted.

 Instead, we served our servants in the same way that Jesus served his disciples, by washing their feet. This led to our next activity: a communion service. Because of the community building activities that we had been doing all day, this was a bit different from other communion services that I have participated in. It was a great time for reflection not only on everything that we learned about ourselves and other people, but also to reflect on what it means to be a master and a servant.

On Sunday we had breakfast, then a quick meeting about how we thought the retreat went and the leaders gave a few announcements about upcoming activities, asked for volunteers to help clean up the camp and announced that they were working on a video and would like people to record a quick 30 second video for their video on the retreat. We ended up leaving Soquel around 1:30 pm and while we planned to just go straight to the church, unpack and settle down, that is not exactly what ended up happening. The Berkeley student group invited us to join them in Santa Cruz to visit the boardwalk with them and then we went out for lunch.

On Monday and Tuesday, we spent our day doing outreach at Stanford. To be honest, at first it was a bit intimidating thinking about doing outreach at Stanford, or any of the campuses that we were visiting for that matter, since  we were not students there and not even from California, so we thought it would be a little harder for us to try to connect with the students on the campus. However, quickly we realized how wrong we were. As soon as we set up our massage station, we already had people asking us what we were doing, why we were doing it, and if it was actually free. We answered their questions as they got free massages.

It seemed that because this was something new, we were given the opportunity to share what we were doing, and why we were doing it. We shared with students different aspects of  CAMPUS ministries. This often led to spiritual conversations, regarding God and His love for us, and what it means to serve as a missionary.

On Tuesday we had our care packages ready to hand out, we gave them to students who filled out the sign/survey about their belief, or disbelief, in God, and why/why not. During these exercises, we had some very good conversations. Many of the students liked what we were doing and started sharing with friends, classmates, and faculty. We had students and professors who came to just see if free massages were a real thing. It was great to hear that students were coming to get a massage because their friend told them about it or posted about it on social media. In all, this allowed us to share Christ with at least 70 students and give about 50 massages.

 On Wednesday, we left Berkeley while it was raining and arrived at U.C Davis. We were not sure where we would be able to do massages, because in our experience it is always easier to do massages outside, in the open, where people could see what we were doing, so they can also tell their friends about it. With the rain, however,  we had nowhere to go, and so we prayed. As soon as we were done, there was a drizzle, we headed to our location. We set up the massage chairs, brought the care packages, and set up our signs. Then all of a sudden, it stopped raining, and the sun came out. Granted, it only came out for a good 10 minutes, but it came out. The Lord cleared the skies so that we could do massages at U.C Davis. 

On  Thursday, we arrived on the campus of U.C Berkley around noon, we decided to set up our usual: massage chairs, care packages, and our survey/poster about God. What surprised me the most was the fact that when holding our poster survey about God, Not long after, people began to stop by. People were shocked to see how many Christians were on  their campus, our prayers, our signs and massages brought them together. Attending a public university is hard, especially being a Christian. Thus, having a community of like-minded people like ACF student groups not only serve as a way to reach the campus for Christ but also as a means to reach the Christians who may or may not be struggling.

In conlusion, we are forever grateful for the amazing opportunity that we had to go and help student groups on these campues. While our task was to help them, they have also helped us a lot with our ministry, too.  We did not know anyone at first, but as time progressed in seemed that we worked as a team, helped out other.  Overall, everyone was kind and welcoming. By that Sunday we had already made friends with a number of students. This has made us reflect on how welcoming  Truly this mission trip was the trip of a lifetime, and one that  we will never forget.

 

ALANNA KNAPP APPOINTED TO NAD EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE

ALANNA KNAPP APPOINTED TO NAD EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE

At the North American Division’s Year End Meetings which take place in the fall of each year, delegates made a unanimous decision to include students attending public universities as part of the division’s highest decision making body.  During a short, but very powerful report given by the Adventist Christian Fellowship President Lucien Nana-Yobo, a PhD student in geology from the University of Houston, Nana-Yobo made an appeal to the body to include public university students in this committee.  One of the delegates from the floor responded to this appeal and made a motion to add 10 new delegates representing public college campuses to the Year End Meetings.  The motion passed. This action follows a similar action which took place previously when students on Adventist college campuses were added to the NAD Executive Committee. Alanna Knapp has extensive experience in public campus ministry.  In 2002, she served CAMPUS as an intern, serving as a missionary at the University of Michigan.  Following her internship she served CAMPUS as an Administrative Assistant and Student Network Coordinator.  She founded and served as the president of a student organization at Michigan Technological University and led the student group during its strongest years of ministry and fellowship.  Now, she is completing her graduate studies at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo.  With a vast experience in campus ministry, Alanna is an excellent representative of the more than 75% of Adventist young people who do not study on Adventist college campuses. This vote by the North American Division is an enormous stepping stone in the work of public campus ministry for the Seventh-day Adventist Church in North America.
ANDY HEADS MI COMMUNICATIONS

ANDY HEADS MI COMMUNICATIONS

The Michigan Conference Executive Committee has appointed Pastor Andy Im to serve as the new Director of Communications for Michigan.  Although Andy remains an integral part of CAMPUS, he now fills the vacancy left by Justin Kim who accepted a call as the Assistant Director for Sabbath School and Personal Ministries at the General Conference.  Andy’s passion for photography and keen understanding of social media trends will take his department to the next level.  We look forward to God’s blessings in the upcoming years!