Five Loaves and Two Fish
Until this year, nearly all of our ministry structures have been dependent on our proximity to the university. Yet, in 3 short months, it will have been a year since we have held an on-campus event. Retooling ministry to a virtual context and experimenting with new outreach and evangelism structures has been challenging. Often I have felt as though all we have are five loaves and two fish.
As I have spent much of this week meeting with students and debriefing the fall semester, I am struck with the ways Jesus has received our five loaves and two fish and has multiplied it for the advancement of his kingdom. I see this in:
- G, who earlier this year hardly new anything about Jesus, but turned to our local fellowship for community and started reading the gospels. Though she has yet to make a decision to follow Jesus, she has become one of the most insightful contributors during our scripture study.
- M, who has grown so much this semester, both in his leadership and in his understanding of how to contextualize the wholistic message of the Bible. Inspired by the vision that Jesus is redeeming all things, M advocated for a structural change in his department and brought together people who hold different degrees of university power to work together in giving those with less power a meaningful voice. M is an example of a grad student who is growing into the kind of disciple we are hoping to form: students who are called by Jesus to be a redeeming presence among the people, ideas and structures of the university and its professions.
- Our first Veritas Forum with Columbia University faculty physician and medical ethicist, Lydia Dugdale, MD on the Lost Art of Dying. At this event, where 120 students and faculty from 51 universities across the country attended, we met J who grew up a Christian, but has since walked away from his faith. In hearing his journey away from faith, it became clear to me that his faith was not mature enough for the questions he was asking. We are now having the conversations that he needed a few years ago and I am hopeful that he will come to realize, with fresh invigoration from the Holy Spirit, that Jesus died to take away his sins, not his mind.
- E, who attended our Northeast Fall Retreat. She shared that although she was pretty skeptical about a virtual retreat (as was I, admittedly), "this was the retreat that I didn't know I need." That was the sentiment we heard from nearly all of the 140 students who attended. (click here to view a testimonial from an NYU student who attended the retreat).
These highlights and so many others are a good reminder that we are dependent on Jesus for the advancement of his mission. Although this year has been full of challenges, and despite the ways in which I have sometimes felt inadequate and spread thin, this has been the most robust year of ministry since I came on staff with InterVarsity and I am so grateful.
I am so grateful to Jesus for the new life he has seeded this year and for the fruit he has reaped.
I am so grateful for you - for your faithful and sacrificial partnership, especially in times such as this.
As this year comes to a close, I am looking to raise an additional $8K for the work of planting Upstate NY and growing a staff team. I will be in touch next week with more of what the need is here and ways you can contribute toward it.
For now, I just want to say thank you. Thank you for your partnership in planting and growing witnessing communities of graduate students and faculty in Upstate, NY.
In Grateful Partnership,
P.S. May I commend to you this artistically rich (visual art, poetry, music) Advent resource
by Biola’s Advent Project
. May your hope, peace and joyful expectancy be enlarged in the waiting of Advent.