Saturday, July 26, 2008

Columbia University

I went to Columbia University this Monday morning to do some campus ministry "research." I was hoping to find out how the Gospel might be embodied on a campus like Columbia. The campus was busy with high school hopefuls on tours of the campus. When I first got on to campus I went to the guest services/main library building and picked up some info and a map. They had all college students working in the guest services area and the library was pretty empty. Then I went to the student center. It had a small place for people to eat: Asian, pastries, and a salad/wrap place, all squeezed into one tight little area. Not a great place for large groups, but possibly a good place to meet someone eating by themselves. (I meet lots of people that way) Outside of that room sat a girl at an info booth. So I got some info.

We talked for a while and she shared her experience with the University. She said it was hard to find her nitch at first but she has loved Columbia since she found her place. She said hardly anyone on campus has any school spirit, but everyone has New York City spirit. “There really is something for everyone here” she said as she listed off about 30 student organizations that she knew of or had at least visited. There is even a club for Ronald Regan fans.

Then I went to explore a little more. In the main area of the student center several clubs and organizations had big signs advertising themselves. There were several advertisements for spiritual groups. Among them: Falun Dafa [A powerful practice to improve body, mind and spirit based on universal principles (included a picture of several people meditating on the lawn)], Apostolos Campus Ministry, Korean Christian Students Association, Peace by Peace, Adventist Christian Fellowship, United Campus Ministries (Baptist, Buddhist, Campus Crusade, Catholic, Episcopal, Ethical Humanist, Intervarsity Christian Fellowship, Jewish, Lutheran, Methodist, Muslim, Presbyterian, Unitarian Universalist) After being in New York for 8 weeks the pluralism didnt surprise me at all, but it was still really sad to see. There are so many college students searching to fill the void in their life and not many looking to the only source that can fill it, Jesus Christ. This is one of the downfalls of the Postmodern generation I am a part of. So many believe there are many ways to find a complete life and to find Salvation. But Jesus said, "I AM the way the Truth and the Life, no one comes to the Father except through me." In the Gospel of John.

Later I went to sneak (I'm very sneaky haha) around in the student association office areas. There were a lot of students working on planning different events and things throughout the office areas. So I started some conversation with them and someone gave me a book with the real low down on Columbia. It had not been reviewed by Columbia before being published and was written completely by students. It had everything from food service, to professors; from athletics to the drug scene. The food got a D-, The academics got an A- because most of the professors could care less about their students. Athletics got an F with several students commenting “we have sports here?” The drug scene got a B with the major choice of drugs being marijuana. They got a B because apparently the campus police don’t do much to stop it at all. As long as you don’t cause a disturbance they will leave you alone.

I didn’t find anyone that was involved in any of the religious student organizations so I’m not sure how effective or present they are on campus. It sounds like they might have a good amount of watered down Christianity from the little I found out about those groups. At least with the whole United Campus Ministries thing. It seems like it would be a very interesting place to do ministry. There seems to be a lot of open-mindedness on campus and it would be relatively easy to start conversation and share your testimony with people on campus.

Afterwards I spent the rest of my time prayer-walking the campus praying for individuals as I passed them and for the incoming freshman class around the nation and then found myself praying for ACU and praying for the Lord to raise up workers for the harvest. Columbia could definitely come to know the Lord, but it needs workers, because there are very few. Pray for more workers. Pray for them to have Apostolic boldness about their faith. Pray for the spiritual battle going on throughout the campuses of America. If we don't rise up to the occasion and pray for these campuses we will have a lost generation and eventually a lost Nation. Pray.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

¡Power Hour!

Every Friday the 4 other interns and I head over to the projects at Pelham Bay in the Bronx to do a VBS type thing with the kids. They have a little playground area in the center of the apartment buildings where a lot of the kids hang out and a few parents watch. The Bronx Fellowship (the house Church network I'm working with) has been going there for about 5 summers in a row now to put on Power Hour for the kids there so they all expected us from the beginning of the summer.

When we get there we round up all the kids and start singing children's worship songs. Some of there favorites are "I am a C-H-R-I-S-T-I-A-N" "The Sea of Galilee" "If You Love Jesus" and "Who Rocks the House" (My Jesus rocks the house!)

Then we will do a short Bible lesson. So far we have taught them things like How much God loves them, the 2 Greatest Commands, The Wise and Foolish Builders, and How Jesus fills the hole in their heart.

Then we play some kind of game like, "Boom" "The Human Knot" "Jordan Says" or "Freeze Tag" And of course what would Power Hour be without snacks? Afterwards we give them a cup of juice and a snack. And then we will play ball or frisbee with the kids that are still hanging around.

It has been an incredible blessing to play with those kids. They are so great and so fun to be around and they absolutely love getting to hang out with us. There aren't a lot of older people (especially males) who will spend any time playing with them or loving on them. It breaks my heart that almost none of them know what a healthy family looks like. It has really given me a new perspective on why Jesus loves kids so much. They really have a lot to teach us about Kingdom living.

"People were bringing little children to Jesus to have him touch them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it." And he took the children in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them." ~Mark 10:14-16

As I sat down Sunday afternoon talking with some members of the house Church Isaiah hopped up into my lap to play his PSP. And at that moment I knew why Jesus was so upset when the disciples tried to get the kids off of Him, because you couldn't have pried Isaiah away from my lap with the jaws of life.

Isaiah doesn't have a father, his mother has little to nothing to do with him and so his grandmother raises him while working full time as a nurse in the Bronx. I hope that in the little time I'm here with Isaiah I can show him some of the Love that His Father in Heaven lavishes on him. I know one thing is for sure. The Father is transforming me daily and using the little ones to do his transforming work.

Pray that the Lord of the Harvest would raise up more workers. Pray that people would come to know Jesus and that the Great Healer would bring healing and restoration to families. Pray that mothers and fathers would learn from their children. Pray that the Saints in the Bronx would be stirred to pray for their city. Pray that God would bring justice, and quickly.

"For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms." ~Ephesians 6:12

We can't just try to physically fix everything. No amount of money given, homes repaired, food bought, clothes given away, or medical attention will ever help without your prayers, because this battle is not against flesh and blood. These are all good things for us to do that the Father smiles on, but without our prayers it is all in vain. Pray without ceasing. Its what Jesus did.

"One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God." ~Luke 6:12

Friday, July 11, 2008

Jesus, Life, Baseball, Church, Careers, and Books

I have been spending a lot of time on the Lehman College campus hanging out with people, making friends, playing basketball, prayer walking and planting some Gospel seeds in some hearts along the way. Its amazing how the Lord will use you if you simply ask him. Before going on campus every day I will pray for the Lord to take my body and use it. I pray that I will be emptied and that the Holy Spirit would fill me up with His awesome power. Luke 13:11 says, "If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!" So I ask and He gives.

I have had so many excellent conversations with people on this campus who are so lost. And the sad thing is, they have no clue they are lost. Through this, I've discovered one of Satan's biggest tools is making people busy. Because if you are busy, you never have time to think. And as long as he can keep you from thinking you will never find Truth. Through conversations with people on campus I have been able to share how much Jesus has taken a hold of my heart and how I've never been the same since.

In a conversation with Anthony, journalism major, sports writer, and avid Mets fan (which is rare in the Bronx) I was able to share my testimony, and express how much I really believed that Jesus loves me and loves him just as much.

I shared how I am an adventurer kind of guy and how Jesus was so cool to me because He was always doing outrageous things. He spend 30 days in the wilderness without food or water, He went sailing and then when the storm got to big made it stop, He actually walked across water, He shared meals with the "scum of the earth" kinds of people, He defied the Roman Empire by refusing to speak to its royalty when in questioning, He yelled some serious warnings against the religious gurus of the time, and did I mention He tore up the temple because he was furious at what was going on in there.

Jesus is a mans man. And thats a King, I can dig.

Anthony was pretty impressed by Jesus. It definitely wasn't the same Jesus he has heard about smiling and petting a baby lamb with his blue eyes and pristine shiny teeth. This was a guy worth getting to know. A guy worth following. Even a guy you could fall in love with. And there's not a doubt left in Anthony's mind that I am madly in love with my Lord. Anthony and I talked for a couple more hours about Jesus, life, baseball, the church, current books we were reading and possible future careers.

Will Anthony be baptized? Will he find a church home in the Bronx? Will he ever search for more answers about Jesus? Will he read the Gospels? Will he become a missionary? I'm not sure. But I know one thing. I made a new friend. And I got to tell my new friend about the one who changed everything for me.

1 Corinthians 3:6 says, "I [Paul] planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow." I planted the seed. Maybe I'll even get a chance to water it some more. But now its time to pray. Pray for Anthony. Pray that God will make Anthony grow into a tree that bears a lot of fruit. Pray that the Lord of the harvest will send out more workers. Prayer I will make some new friends here. Pray for my boldness. Pray. He wants to hear from you.