Seeing Glory in Hindsight: The Past 7 Years at CNU

This article was originally published in a special newsletter just for CNU IV Alumni that was mailed in February 2008.  However, I (Beth) wanted all of our friends and supporters to have a chance to read it and get an up-close and personal view of what being on campus is like for both staff and students.

I’m sitting in the front row of seats at our large group meeting, singing along with worship.  The room is full, my heart is glad.  I think of how far we’ve come in the past 7 years, since I first stepped foot on campus as a freshman.

Reminiscing a little, I think about the things that characterized CNU at that time. The Ferguson High School  building.  The dining hall’s fish-Fridays.  The blinking “Jesus Is Coming” sign across Warwick Blvd.  So much has changed— and not just the campus buildings, either.  The students are almost all residential.  They come from farther away and fight harder to be accepted by the school.  We have a study abroad program now.  We are  having large group in a 400-seat ballroom.

I’m snapped back to reality when one of my students appears at my side clad in an “Adam” costume; a flesh colored suit decorated with leaves, designed to advertise our upcoming retreat on Genesis 2 & 3.  Jeff shoots me a half-embarrassed smile.  I lean over to him and say, “Just remember, its for the Kingdom.”  As he steps onstage amidst laughs and  whistles, and I’m reminded of two things that haven’t changed:  1. Students still like to have fun.  2. Students still desperately need Jesus.

My own need for God was something InterVarsity helped me discover back in 2001, and the very thing that God used to call me into full time ministry.  Though sometimes, I admit, I wonder what I am doing here.  Why does God delight to use me when it’s a struggle just to trust that he’s taking care of the details in my life?  On the days that my mustard seed faith seems too small, he uses my time on campus to show me that he is enough.

Psalm 84:5 says, “Blessed are those whose strength is in you, who have set their hearts on pilgrimage.”  This verse characterizes the heart of our ministry right now, declaring God’s care for those who are willing to dive head first into change and uncharted territory.  I see Him developing a heart for pilgrimage in me and my husband Eric, and in our students.  This year we have truly started to become a witnessing community— one that doesn’t just create fellowship for itself but goes out on the dusty road and invites others in.

Large group meeting numbers shot up like a rocket in the early 2000’s, and we have settled around a weekly attendance of 175.  We still have worship and teaching and fellowship afterwards.  But we have something in larger numbers than we’ve ever had— non Christians.  Seekers.  Visitors who’ve heard about InterVarsity, but may have never heard the Word  before.  Their curiosity is catching.  Their excitement infectious.  Their amazement at the things Jesus does and says in the Gospel helps us get a more accurate perspective of just how many people on campus are not only unopposed to hearing the Gospel, but are thirsty for it.

Part of our current vision statement is a commitment to helping students “reexamine Christianity”.  As we’ve evaluated the campus we see a  dangerous attitude that is characteristic of CNU— apathy.  While many other campuses are known for their political activism and riots around different causes, these things are absent at CNU.  Instead, the main part of the student body just doesn’t seem to care—about anything.  Our mission, as we walk the new sidewalks and eat in the new dining halls, is to bring a new attitude along with us.  God is strengthening our mustard seeds and this new “thing” is starting to spread.

I was sitting in the campus coffee shop a few weeks ago when a student that I’d been meeting with for almost a year plopped down in the chair across from me.  “I’m glad you’re here,” she said.  “I had to talk to you.  I’ve been waiting all day to tell you that I raised my hand at large group last night when the speaker gave an invitation.  I realized that I’ve never had a personal relationship with Jesus.  I’ve known stuff in my head, but I saw something that my friends had that I didn’t, and I wanted it.”

Stunned and delighted, I asked, “What is it?”  She thought for a moment.  “Passion,” she said, “and joy.  I dunno.  Really knowing God and really caring, for a change.”  Thank God for change, and thank God for traditions in our ministry.   Just like every time another student comes to Christ at CNU, we dined on fine Krispy Kreme donuts that night to celebrate our sister’s pilgrimage into the Kingdom.

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