Wednesday, February 19, 2014

The narrative of seeking to hear God's lead:


Dear Friends,


     God has a way of pushing us into things we never thought we would ever do.  Have you noticed that?  When I was a sophomore in high school, I dropped out of church thinking that it wasn’t for me.  I went to the University of Minnesota intending to leave the Christian thing as far behind me as possible.  At the University of Minnesota, God graciously sought me out through a friend in marching band and I began hanging out with a community of Christians whom God used to get through to me that He loved me and wanted me as His child.  When I began to wonder whether I could serve as a campus minister, He provided an opportunity to do an internship at a church there in Minneapolis to see whether I had the capacity to do ministry at all.  Next, I transferred to Minnesota Bible College, met and married an amazing woman, finished my bachelor’s degree, returned to the Univ. of MN as an interim campus minister and then went to Emmanuel School of Religion (now Emmanuel Christian Seminary) to continue my education in order to be equipped to serve full time in campus ministry.  When I was about to graduate from seminary, Reach Out on Campus invited me to consider serving at Ohio University.  This is my 22nd year with ROC.  God has led each step of the way.  

     I have never really considered serving in any other sphere of ministry than campus ministry since the late spring of 1981.  There were a couple of times when I felt discouraged and began to wonder whether I should explore other possibilities but I didn’t feel comfortable seriously considering other options.  God called me to ROC for these years of ministry and they are precious to me.  God has pushed me and pulled me and formed me through these years of walking with students and faculty here at Ohio University.  I am delighted to have known so many quality people with whom I’ve been able to follow Jesus.  During this time I have always thought of myself as a campus minister and I didn’t see myself as ever serving in a local church congregation.  I often thought to myself or said out loud, “I could NEVER do that!”  I think God chuckled.

     A few months ago a friend asked me to consider joining him on staff at Fern Creek Christian Church in Louisville, KY.  I laughed at his suggestion thinking he was kidding but he responded that he was serious.  Typically, I say no to these sorts of conversations because I’m a campus minister.  That “no” wasn’t on my lips this time.  I said that I would be willing to enter a conversation about the possibility of considering the position in order to seek to hear God on the matter.  We have been chatting, emailing and been in face-to-face conversations for some time now.  In the process, I have sensed that God is inviting me into a new challenge, one that I never planned on considering.  The elders of Fern Creek Christian Church have asked me to come on staff with the congregation there as a discipleship minister.  Having had many conversations with God, with my wife and family as well as with the ROC board of advisers and trusted, wise Christian friends, I have accepted this invitation from God and this church.  I will continue to serve as Director of Reach Out on Campus through May 2014 and then move to Louisville in June.  One friend pointed out to me that my call to make disciples will not change, just the context.

     For the past 33 years I have sought to follow Jesus wherever He leads.  He has used the past 22 years with ROC to shape me in particular ways of His own design.  I sense He is leading in this direction and trust that He will do whatever He desires with us in this new adventure.  We are all on the quest of following Jesus and are formed by Him for His use all along the way.  Thank you for your partnership with ROC that has enabled me (and several others) to serve full-time with students and faculty at Ohio University.  You know that the ministry of Reach Out on Campus is important to this campus and to many people.  I trust that God will continue to use ROC to glorify Jesus for many years to come.  As he leads me into another context in which to make disciples, I will continue as a ROC financial ministry partner.  I trust that you will also and that together we will be able to continue to encourage the staff and students of Reach Out on Campus to make disciples of Jesus who can make more disciples of Jesus.  

     If you don’t financially support ROC’s ministry, now would be a great time to start!  The ROC board needs your partnership and encouragement as they seek a new director.  It’s an important time to provide a solid foundation for the continuation of ROC’s ministry.  Your partnership really is vitally important.  Would you please consider becoming a monthly support ministry partner?  (You knew that I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to ask this, right?)

     Finally (at least for now), thank you!  Thank you for your partnership, your friendship, your encouragement and your prayers.  Alumni, thank you for being part of the ROC (or CSF—before my time) community and for your ongoing ministry in Christ’s body.  Faculty who have been part of Faculty Fellowship, thank you for your friendship and challenging me to think more clearly and for your important mission on campus to love as Jesus loves and help students to grow in intellect and spirit.  Your example has been a huge encouragement to me.  Current ROC students & young professionals, God bless you as you continue to seek first His kingdom and righteousness and as you continue to grow in Christ and in community.  May you faithfully follow Jesus now and into your own futures continuing to serve through the local body of Christ after you graduate.  I have thanked the ROC board of advisers in person but wish to do that here also.  Serving with the men and women on the ROC board has been a high point in my service with the ROC community.  They have sought to follow God’s lead and they are humble, faithful servants who have given so much of themselves and their resources over the years.  It has been an honor and a privilege to serve with such fine men and women who earnestly yearn to see Jesus glorified on campus and for others to be drawn to Him.  Their care and leadership over these many years has buoyed me through challenges and many joys.  Thanks also to my co-workers, current and former, for your service in Christ’s kingdom and for being used by God to teach me many things (too many to list here!). 

     Thanks be to God for creating us, sustaining us, redeeming us and calling us to be His in Christ Jesus our Lord.  All praise and glory to Him now and always!
                                                                              --Rich