What a busy, joy-filled, tumultuous season of change these last few months have been! Though I only took three classes, my last semester of undergrad was surprisingly challenging. Of the some 130 pages I wrote from January to May, very few were products of my own volition and leisure. Most of my time and energy was poured into my senior thesis paper, which delved into the complexity of how the Church ought to react to sexuality and gender related sin (I’m still working to get that paper formally published). Thankfully, my hard work was rewarded. I graduated in seven semesters from Christopher Newport University magna cum laude with a degree in Philosophy (Pre-Seminary concentration) and a minor in Judeo-Christian studies in the honors program and with more than 250 hours of volunteer service with Young Life. All of that sounds quite impressive, and I certainly don’t want to undermine my achievements, but in all honesty I’m just happy to still be breathing. Glory be to God alone that I made it through college, and with such success.
After a month of sweet rest, I’ve hoped into another season of busyness, though my work may be sweeter than my rest. At last I’ve begun my long anticipated dream of vocational ministry. As of June 1, I am an employee of Reformed University Fellowship, the college ministry of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA). I will be one of the two first campus interns at my alma mater, along side my new friend and co-intern Madison.
Our goal as interns is to affirm the truth of the gospel to young adults in the most liminal and challenging season of their lives. We’ll be focusing our attention on freshman who are leaving home for the first time and moving into a new environment with overwhelming freedom. For many, college is a time one is forced to answer questions like “Who am I?” or “What do I want out of life?” or “Do I matter?” Each of these questions gives us an opportunity to introduce students to the God who created them, loves them, and has a plan for them. For two years, I get to enter into the complexities of their lives and continually ground them to the immovable truths of Scripture. I get to teach and model how to makes one’s faith their own. I can’t wait to get started.
In fact, I already have started my job. An integral aspect of my work is to build and maintain a support team who can sustain me financially and with prayer. This job requires me to fundraise $35,445 each year of my employment. That number was admittedly overwhelming when I first thought about it, but after several weeks of seeing the Lord’s faithfulness and my friends’ and family’s generosity, I am confident the money will come in. Whether it be reconnecting with friends I haven’t spoken to in years to talk about my passion for ministry, or receiving anonymous donations out of the blue, or simply feeling His peace when I’m feeling overwhelmed, God has been showing me that He truly is a good Father.
I’d love to share one particular story with you from this past March.
Though my job and official start to support raising began June 1, I accepted my job offer from RUF back in early March. My campus minister Jeff, who I had become good friends with over the last three years, was now my boss. Now I’d just like to say that I can’t wait to work along side Jeff at CNU. He has such a beautiful vision for the ministry and his leadership and teaching will be a pleasure to follow. I couldn’t have asked for a better boss.
Jeff and I had been meeting weekly to discuss life and relationships and theology since the beginning of this past school year. After I had accepted my job, Jeff suggested that he and I meet together to put together a support request for my church back at home. Being such a large church, Jeff knew that it could take months to determine if my church could support me financially and at what amount. Though I was in the thick of my last semester in college, I knew that the sooner I got a head start on support raising, the easier my job would be in the summer.
Though we typically met up on campus, Jeff decided he’d rather go to a local coffee shop so he could get some work done after our meeting. We sat at a small table in the back of the shop crunching numbers, writing and rewording emails, and praying. Right after I sent my request email to the head of the missions board at my church, a man in his late thirties came and sat next to us.
“I heard you were talking about college ministry and support raising. Is that right?” I nodded and gave a brief, somewhat jumbled explanation of what RUF was and how I was soon to be involved.
The man laughed and unzipped his jacket, revealing the Cru shirt he was wearing. “I work with Campus Crusaders on military bases in the area. I’ve been sitting next to you working on support raising myself.”
Jeff and I looked at each other and laughed, saying “Small world.” We all got to talking about the joys and difficulty of vocational ministry and support raising. After chatting for a bit, the man said “I’d love to pray for you as you start your new job.” I was flattered and thankful. We all bowed our heads as he placed his hand on my shoulder and asked the Lord to protect me and cover me with His peace.
After he finished praying, the man looked up and said, “The Lord is really putting it on my heart right now to share a story with y’all.” He proceeded to tell Jeff and I that about a month and a half earlier, one of his sons had fallen out of a tree and hit his head. Though he hadn’t shown any signs of injury at first, after a week or so, his son suddenly had a seizure. The child had never had a history of seizures, so the man and his wife were understandably concerned. Doctor check ups and MRI’s couldn’t find what the problem was, so the family was left without answers.
Days passed, and the seizures became more frequent and more violent. Again, more trips to doctors and specialists resulted in more questions than answers. After a few weeks, the boy had lost all strength in his legs and could barely walk. In desperation, the man reached out to his support team asking them to pray for a miracle.
Being a missionary with Cru to the military, this man had become friends with chaplains from different branches of the armed forces. He had grown particularly close to an old Navy chaplain. When this chaplain heard of what was happening to his friend’s son, he asked if he could come and pray over the child. The man allowed it, but was admittedly discouraged. Plenty of pastors and chaplains had come and prayed over his son, and yet he had only grown worse. What would be different this time?
The chaplain arrived at their house later that day. He came and sat beside the son, laying his hand on his shoulder. As he prayed for healing, the son’s demeanor changed. The chaplain finished his prayer, and the son stood up. “I think I feel better!” he exclaimed. The man, his wife, and the chaplain were all in shock. “Are you sure?” the father asked. The son walked over to him without any visible difficulty. In a matter of minutes, he was running and dancing. The parents and the chaplain laughed and cried tears of joy, praising God for healing the boy.
As the man finished his story, tears welled up in his eyes again. “God healed my son.” Jeff and I were smiling, holding back our own tears. We prayed again, worshipped the Lord for His miraculous work, and thanked Him for bringing us all together on a random Wednesday morning in a coffee shop. The man gave me his card and told me to contact him once I started my support raising in the summer.
Summer has come, and I can’t wait to reach out to this man. His testimony has been such an amazing encouragement to me as I’ve started my process of building a support team. When I reach out to my brothers and sisters in Christ, whether they be friends, family, or strangers, I am not merely asking for financial support. I won’t deny my great need for money; $35,445 is no small amount, and I’d like to be able to pay rent and eat food. However, being a part of my support team is far more important than simply writing a check.
Being a part of my support team means that I get to reach out to you in Christ when I am in desperate need of prayer. When I meet a freshman who is struggling with addiction, or an upperclassmen whose parents decide to get divorced in the middle of an impossibly hard semester, those on my support team are the ones whose prayers will result in miracles.
As Jesus’ own brother writes in James 5:16-18 “Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the earth for three years and six months. Then he prayed again, and the sky poured rain and the earth produced its fruit.”
I know that what James speaks of here is true. I can’t wait to share with you all what God will accomplish through prayers over the next two years! If you’d like to join my support team, let me know. Give me a call at 703-622-1510 or shoot me an email at email@example.com. If you feel led to give financially, reach out and I can talk you through the process, or if you’d rather do it on your own, follow this link: https://www.givetoruf.org/donate/1784
If you have any stories that show God’s incredible faithfulness, I’d love to hear them! Call me, email me, meet up with me in person at a local coffee shop! If you have any friends who’d like to be apart of the Lord’s work at CNU, please send them my way!