As a College Pastor, I have the privilege and responsibility of working with the most strategic group of people on the planet. College students are transient and adventurous. If you ask most college graduates, they will tell you that they were most willing to try anything when in college whether it was for good or for evil. College students can be pioneers and movement starters. Dictatorial regimes understand this all too well; hence, Tiananmen Square and Argentina’s Dirty War were both student initiated events silenced by the governing authorities. In light of these things, when I see college students I see a world of possibilities for the advancement of the Gospel.
Bill Bright, the founder of Campus Crusade, once said, “Reach the campus today and reach the world tomorrow.” College students, believe it or not, are the leaders of tomorrow. College students will lead everything from classrooms to countries. Who better to take the Gospel to the ends of the Earth?
This unique group has the capacity to get up and go anywhere on the planet due to education and a flexible schedule. It is my job to see that we, as a church, maximize our sending capabilities for college students. A question that continually pervades my mind is: how can we increase our sending capacity? With such a tremendous sending potential, I am constantly looking for creative ways to on-ramp students to the mission of God, whether it be leveraging their summers through our summer projects (City Project, Second City and City Life) or maybe a semester abroad. It is my aim that we send out 100% of our college students locally, nationally and internationally for the advancement of the Gospel.
With that being said, I am not naïve. Such a vision calls for sacrifice and risk. John Piper once wrote:
If our single, all-embracing passion is to make much of Christ in life and death, and if the life that magnifies him most is the life of costly love, then life is risk, and risk is right. To run from it is to waste your life.
College students, more than any other group, are looking for something to which they can give their life. If they give their life to the mission of God it will come with risk, but risk is right. Risk is right because of Jesus. He is the only place where we can find lasting joy—both now and forever. Humanity was created for God and to enjoy him forever, but because of sin, trust in Jesus is the only way that is possible. Risk is right because Jesus is King. Jesus through his life, death and resurrection has defeated Satan, demons, sin, death and hell. We risk because we trust Jesus.
As college students step out to advance the mission of God, they will lose favor with professors, friends and employers. Sometimes following Jesus means students will get a B on their paper instead of an A because they brought the Gospel into things. Students will miss out on internships because they spent a summer telling others about Jesus. Students may not be accepted into a fraternity or sorority because of obedience to Jesus. Sometimes, following Jesus means students leave home. Students step on planes and go to foreign peoples around the world not knowing what awaits them, and in so doing, they expose themselves to the risk inherent in different contexts.
When I seek to send students, I realize I am asking them to risk. However, all authority in Heaven and on Earth has been given to Jesus. I am asking them to risk for the King and after experiencing the sacrificial, loving acceptance found through faith in him, they gladly risk. The Apostle Paul wrote, “to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” This is not just some adventurous battle cry. When Christ is your treasure, no ask is too great for his sake. When we prize Christ, telling someone about it is the natural outcome.
Right now, there are a handful of students from Mercy Hill sharing their faith in countries where you could walk fifty miles and not find a Christian. Sharing Jesus is frowned upon in these countries, but risk is right. There is no salvation for humanity except through faith in Jesus Christ. These peoples will not believe unless someone tells them and someone must go to them in order to tell them about Jesus. These students have given up their summer to do so. They have counted the cost and considered Jesus worthy of their lives.
College students are catching a glimpse of God’s heart for the nations and our sending capacity is growing year by year. Jesus our God came for us and now sends us to the nations to make disciples. Come join the movement, because risk is right.
-Jon Sheets (College Ministry Director)