Campus Ministry in the Time of COVID-19
Campus Ministry in the Time of COVID-19
As several thousand college students currently arrive in Durham from all over the country and all over the world, we stand on the edge of a semester like none we have ever experienced. As the leader of Cru, a campus ministry at Duke University, the past few weeks have felt chaotic, unstable, and unpredictable. They have exposed a reality that has always been true - our lack of control, lack of power, lack of knowledge and understanding, and thus our NEED to trust in our God who is sovereign, omnipotent, omniscient, and wise.
My team of staff and student leaders and I certainly resonate with the Israelites as they stood on the edge of the promised land that God was calling them to enter. After sojourning in the desert for 40 years, they had reached the place they had been longing for, yet it was not what they expected - it was filled with many powerful people, living in many fortified cities. They were filled with fear at the sight of the seemingly insurmountable obstacles and fear of the unknown. They doubted God’s power to overcome and even His faithfulness to provide. They forgot how He had saved them and provided for them before. Sadly, they ultimately rebelled against God’s plan, they did not trust and obey God, and thus spent the rest of their lives as sojourners, until the next generation would receive the land promised to them.
As we stand on the edge of this semester, we feel tempted to fear the obstacles, and we feel tempted to doubt God's ability, but we see God’s command and God's promise to Joshua as he prepared to lead the next generation of Israel into the promised land, and we have hope that the same is true for us. God says, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9
We can have faith and strength and courage because God is with us, He is not afraid, and He is not uncertain. He is faithful, and He is able to carry out His good and perfect plan. We must only keep our eyes on Him. I am reminded in Romans 15, that as we trust in the Lord, we are not only given strength and courage but also hope and joy and peace! I repeat Paul’s prayer in Romans 15:13 over myself, my team, and our students: “May the God of hope fill [us] with all joy and peace as [we] trust in him, so that [we] may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
I pray for seniors, who are facing huge disappointment at crushed expectations and uncertainty about their future after graduation. I pray for juniors, many of whom are studying remotely and are anxious about living situations, loneliness, and isolation. I pray for sophomores, who are the only “upperclassmen” on campus yet still figuring out college life and community. I pray for the freshmen who have experienced an unusual and especially challenging transition from high school to college and are nervous about being alone in a new place and how to make friends under these circumstances. I pray for the international students who are entering into a new culture during a pandemic and may be feeling fearful and unsettled. God knows each and every one of their unique needs.
Would you pray with me that God would meet them where they are, that they would be filled with his strength, courage, hope, peace, and joy, and that they would experience God’s love, presence, and provision in the months to come? I am fully confident that God is able to work in any situation and through any means to draw college students to Himself!
I am thankful for technology and excited to implement virtual ministry methods. Please pray for us as we do all that we can to safely reach out to college students with the love of Christ. A few specific things you can pray for are:
Our virtual weekly meeting starting next Wednesday 8/19 and virtual bible studies starting the week of 8/24.
We are also continuing to pursue unity in diversity within our movement and will be launching virtual discussion groups on the topic of God’s heart for racial reconciliation, using Latasha Morrison’s book, Be the Bridge. Pray with us that many would join the conversation and that our ministry would be a safe space for humility, repentance, forgiveness, and reconciliation. All to the glory of God!
Finally, beginning in September, we will be facilitating an evangelistic outreach through book clubs on The Reason for God by Tim Keller. Pray with us that our students would take steps of faith to invite their friends who do not know Jesus and that many would come to Christ through the reading and discussion of this book with friends.
We step into this semester with faith and trust, remembering God Almighty is with us. He is not stumped by virtual ministry, He is not set back by social distancing, His plans have not and cannot be thwarted! I am filled with hope, by the power of the Holy Spirit, that we will see God do amazing things, things beyond what we could even imagine or ask for!