Wednesday, May 3, 2017

May Update

ROC Intern Bobby Oakley
May the Fourth be with you! This is Bobby your ROC intern (yes, ROC had an intern) here to give you an outsider’s view on the impact ROC has made in the last academic year. I will start with a little bit about myself. I am from New Orleans, Louisiana and have lived there all my life. A part of my life is Hurricane Katrina which put my family’s life and mine on hold for a few months as we were homeless. But, God works beauty into the most numbing parts of our lives in ways we can barely comprehend. More on my story later, let’s look at how your ROC students have been impacting their campus and our world.

Beginning on our recap is the fall semester. The fall semester is a time of new beginnings and new relationships. This is the perfect time for evangelism on OU’s campus. ROC holds many different outreach events during fall which include: the free cookie outreach, the Halloween party hotdog giveaway and pizza party. I wanted to point out that these evangelistic events are uniquely done by your ROC students. We traditionally think of evangelism as spreading the Gospel by word of mouth and images of people standing on street corners with a megaphone as onlookers pass by as quickly as possible to avoid them. Your students do something quite different.

What is the difference that makes your students so unique? It’s their culture. Let’s look at what they did during Halloween. On the closest Saturday near Halloween, Athens has their annual Halloween block party where revelers on campus party. ROC does not support their actions, but they do support the safety of the students. What ROC does during this period is share Christ through the giving of a hotdog. But, what they also do is to try to make sure those students make it home safely. This Halloween 1,000 hotdogs were given out freely. Your ROC students potentially helped 1,000 of their fellow students make it home safely through the use hotdogs and showed that God cared about them. The service your ROC students performed for their fellow students is what is so unique! Their evangelism was service. How common is it that when we do things out of what God wants for us that he still tries to keep us safe whether we acknowledge it or even want it? Your students showed God’s love for their fellow students through service. Is that not Christ-like?

Your students’ evangelistic service does not end there. They impact their campus and also their surrounding area. They went to Columbus, Ohio to assist Lifeline Christian Missions where they assembled packages with supplies for missionaries all over the world. Imagine that, serving the servers. Also, your students of the grad group participated in the GoodWorks walk for the homeless where they raise awareness and money for those experiencing homelessness. Your students serve at home and also around the world. During winter break your students flew to the Dominican Republic to minister the children there. These students make impacts abroad. Following their service in the Dominican, ROC travelled to New Orleans during their spring break to work with CrossRoads Missions.

This is where I come in again. I encountered ROC for the first time when they came to New Orleans in the summer of 2015. You see, I was an intern for CrossRoads Missions. That summer was one of the best in my life, and your students had such an impact on me. Many of your students were very relational, and I immediately felt like a part of their group when I was with them. I never met a group as passionate about service as my own Church. They impacted me so much that I decided I wanted to travel across the states to intern in Ohio in the dead of winter just to be with these people. I wanted to be a part of what they were doing and serve together with them. This brings us back to our spring service trip.

Part of the ROC community during
the annual Year-End Bash
This spring break with your students was just as rewarding as the summer I met them. We were able to replace an entire floor for a family whose husband was hurt at no cost to the family. We did home repair to other houses that were being used as affordable housing for people such as those with disabilities or disadvantaged parents. On another day, we were able to minister to the homeless of New Orleans by praying over them and giving them meals. Throughout our entire time serving the New Orleans community your students built relationships and showed the people we worked with God’s love for them. Your students evangelized with love and service yet again, and their mark on these people could be seen in all the thank you’s, the smiles, the hugs, and the laughter your students received. All of this was so reminiscent of when I met everyone for the first time. At the end of our trip, it was nice to know that I didn’t have to tell them goodbye, but I would be returning back with them to Ohio.

To top off my times in Ohio and with the ROC community was the Ohio Teens For Christ (OTFC) convention. This event was lead by none other than the Dodger Vaughan, campus minister of ROC. I never had a chance to be a part of an event this large before so it was very exciting. This event attracted over 500 youth and their ministers. This is an event that helps encourage youth in their walk with God and where their ministers can come to get better equipped to help their students. There were workshops for students and youth ministers that helped them with their ministries. There was also a service objective to raise money for clean drinking water in Africa. It was all very encouraging to watch what Dodger and his students do.

At the end of my internship, I like to think and ponder about how none of this would have happened if Katrina had not occurred. If not for Katrina I would not have been able to meet CrossRoads and be offered an internship by them. I would not have been able to work alongside ROC that summer and ask for an internship that would ultimately lead me to Ohio to tell you these things today. ROC’s culture of evangelizing through service is quite infectious, and it is what led me here. Thank you for reading and thank you for your investments in your ROC students. Without it I would not have been able to meet them, and they would not have been able to make the impact on me that they did. I thank God for that.

-Robert “Bobby” Oakley III

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

April Update

Things are winding down around the ROC community and Ohio University for the academic year. April tends to be a busy time in the life of the ROC staff and students as we work to finish out another year and prepare everything for the fall. Last week our current and incoming student leaders put together the fall activities calendar. As we reflect on an amazing year of ministry, I can wholeheartedly tell you that based upon what they have planned, God has big things in store for the community this fall.

Speaking of reflecting, last Saturday evening at the ROC appreciation dinner we had a wonderful opportunity to hear and see some of the many ways God has blessed the community over the past year. The appreciation dinner has become one of my favorite events of the year because it allows us to share with the people who support ROC what the ministry in doing in the lives of students. We are so thankful for the generosity of the folks at Athens Church of Christ who allow us to use the church for the dinner. I also want to mention how much our Administrative Assistant Jean DiFilippo does for this event. She really is the unsung hero of the dinner as she does all the shopping, cooking, and prep work to make it happen.

Although we have just a few short weeks left, we have a lot going on. This weekend many of the ROC crew will be joining me in Columbus for the Ohio Teens for Christ convention. ROC students will be serving at the convention in a variety of ways including providing high school students with information about campus ministry. I’m looking forward to collaborating on a youth leader workshop with my good friend Seth Aldridge (Campus Minister at OSU) to talk to youth workers about helping their students transition to college.

Caught up with one of our
ROC alumni, Shannon Allen 
This Wednesday Tim Anderson, Associate Director of Crossroads Missions will be joining us all the way from Louisville, KY. Tim will be sharing about what Crossroads is doing on a variety of mission fields and also to share about opportunities for student internships on those fields. ROC loves the partnership that we have formed over the past several years with Crossroads. This organization has been an incredible blessing to our ministry as I hope we have been to theirs as well.

The following weekend is ROC’s Year End Bash. This is the final event of our year and is a great opportunity to fellowship before finals, say good-bye to friends before the semester, reconnect with alumni, and say farewell to our graduating seniors. Gary and Joann McKibben from Athens Church of Christ have blessed the ROC community by hosting us the past several years at their pond just outside of Athens. Once again, we are so appreciative of their hospitality.

Once finals week hits the ROC House is transformed into a Finals Survival Station. We will have snacks, caffeinated beverages, quiet spaces to study, and comfy couches to nap on to help our students make it through a stressful week. The past couple years this has been a big hit, and many of our students are very thankful to have the space and small gestures of love and support to get them through the week.

Thank you for your love and support of the ministry of ROC and our students!

In Christian Love,


Wednesday, March 22, 2017

March Update

Dear friends and partners of the ministry of Reach Out on Campus let me begin this update by telling you something that you undoubtedly already know. God is so good. This past month within the ministry has been a testament to that fact. We have seen God at work in so many ways; here are just a few.

The ROC Spring Break New Orleans
Mission Team. 
Last night our friends and ministry partners from Glouster Church of Christ who carried in a dinner for our students during Crosswalk joined us. The outpouring of love and support of our students from this congregation was so awesome to see. It was a wonderful time of fellowship as we kicked off a new series entitled “Soul Fit” which focuses on spiritual disciplines and the how / why we implement them in our lives.

Our New Orleans mission team returned from their weeklong excursion this past Sunday afternoon. Our team of 13 spent the week participating in serving, outreach, and evangelism during our time in the city. For several members of our team it was their very first mission trip, but for others it was their 3rd time returning to the Crescent City! I love that each year we return it is a lot like a family reunion. We get to reconnect with ministry partners and friends from Crossroads Missions as well as reconnect with people that we have served in the past. I believe that there is richness in these relationships that only comes from sowing into a mission field for many years. God has richly blessed me in allowing me to see these relationships develop over the course of the past 5 years.

The Reach Out on Campus crew joined our sister campus ministries from Ohio State, Bowling Green, and University of Toledo February 17th through 19th at Lake James Christian Assembly in Angola, Indiana for our annual Ohio Campus Ministries Winter Retreat. This year’s theme was “Putting our lives into P.L.A.Y.” The idea behind this theme and acronym is that God wants us to use our Passions, Learning, Abilities, and Yearnings and use them to build up his kingdom. Some incredible preaching, teaching, and worship throughout the weekend blessed the entire ROC crew and we certainly returned to campus encouraged and challenged to continue our mission to reach the campus of Ohio University with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
The ROC leadership team after their
great escape from the Room Escape
Adventure in Columbus, OH. 
I am really looking forward to the rest of the semester, and even the things that God has in store for us next year as well. Our current group of student leaders, as well as our incoming leaders are setting in motion events and ministries that will shape the face of ROC for years to come. As always I am blessed with a front row seat to witness the ways that God is actively using our students. Just one more reason I have the greatest job in the world!

Thank you for blessing us with your support and prayers! Please know that your commitment to ROC’s ministry and our students does not go unnoticed. As a matter of fact, I believe that the amazing things happening within our community are a direct result of the many people that pray for us daily and encourage us. We couldn’t do what we do without you.



Tuesday, February 14, 2017

February Update

ROC's Sibs Weekend Lock-In crew
It’s a chilly 25 degrees outside and the snow is falling. Welcome to spring semester at Ohio University. While I am not a fan of winter, I am definitely a fan spring semester and all the things that it brings with it. Our Winter Retreat is just a few short days away. We have a brand new group of leaders being trained to join the leadership team this fall. Also, our Spring Break Mission trip to New Orleans is only a few short weeks away.

We’ve had a busy month since returning to campus. We’ve been on the road visiting our friends at 5th Street Church of Christ, Bradford Church of Christ, and Caldwell Church of Christ. We are also looking forward to visiting Ripley Church of Christ this weekend.

The ROC crew also spent the weekend at Ohio Valley Christian Assembly in January teaching and leading during the Jr. / Sr. High Retreat. Our students facilitated small groups, led workshops, preached, and even participated in a panel discussion, all centering around the theme of guarding your heart (Proverbs 4:23). It was a terrific weekend, and certainly an encouragement to see our students bless the crowd there that weekend.

ROC's Winter Hike to Ash Cave
But it hasn’t been all work and no play. We kicked the semester off with a hike at Ash Cave in the Hocking Hills on the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. Most recently we held our annual SIBS Weekend lock-in at Athens Church of Christ. This event is an annual reminder of my age and how my body can no longer cope with staying up all night long. Fortunately after nearly a week I can say with relative certainty that I’ve nearly recovered. Hahaha. We were also blessed by the hospitality of Chuck and Shirley Higgins who hosted the ROC Super Bowl party once again this year.

Last night at Crosswalk we kicked off a new series on the difficult teachings of Jesus. We spent a good bit of time looking at John 6. In this chapter Jesus feeds the 5,000, and the next day many of them come searching for him again (hoping for another free meal). But instead Jesus tells them that unless they eat his flesh and drink his blood, that they have no part with him (vs. 53-59). At this point many of the disciples desert Jesus saying “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it.”

Over the course of the next few weeks we are going to be looking at many of Jesus’ more difficult teachings, and asking ourselves the question “Are we willing to trust that what Jesus says is truth even if we don’t understand or if it conflicts with something we already believe to be culturally true?” Sometimes we have a tendency to try to rationalize or minimize these difficult teachings, but I believe God actually wants us to wrestle with these teachings rather than avoid them.

ROC crew with a ton of
friends from Ripley Church
of Christ following our visit
My favorite part of the story however, comes when Jesus turns to the twelve and asks (vs. 67) “You do not want to leave too, do you?” To which Peter replies (vs. 68) “Lord to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” Although the teaching was just as difficult for the 12 as it was for Jesus’ other followers, Peter communicates their trust in Jesus and their recognition of who He was. They were willing to live with the tension that came from the teaching because they recognized that truth was not impacted by their ability to understand or comprehend it. I’m praying that as we also wrestle with some of those difficult teachings over the course of the coming weeks that we are willing to live with that same tension because, like Peter, we understand that only Jesus has “the words of eternal life.”

Thank you for the role you play in the ministry of Reach Out on Campus. Because of your prayers and support we have the amazing opportunity to reach a generation of students with the message of the Gospel. We are grateful for the opportunity to serve our students and the Ohio University community.

In Christ,