Over winter break, 23 students from the Baptist Campus Ministry at WKU took the 1,000-mile trek to Denver, CO. We spent time working with a homeless ministry called movement 5280 and Cypress Community Church which is a start-up church within the city. The rates of the unchurched, or numbers of individuals unengaged with the gospel are comparable to that of an unreached people group. The people that these students were able to talk to were not only encouraged but were able to interact with a community that had boundless compassion for them.
Jesus was active and thriving through this trip and because of that mountains were moved in the lives of the students. Coming back, these students have a new mindset on how to engage in ministry on their campus. Some students came back to openness towards serving somewhere this summer, long-term ministry after college, and most importantly intentionality wherever they are placed on a daily basis.
To most, Denver sounds to most like just a place somewhere in the US. That’s because it is just a place, a place full of hurting, broken, lost people. As is Bowling Green, KY, Cairo, Egypt, Nashville, TN, and in the mountains of West Nepal. The mission of the spread of the gospel didn’t begin the day we loaded up 4 mini-vans and drove 16 hours across the US, and it indeed didn’t end when we stepped back on WKU’s campus. The spread of the gospel and the mission of Jesus Christ is a lifelong mission. This is just the igniting of that truth.
Check out the video below!
Location: East Asia
Dates: tentatively July 9 to August 13, 2018 (5 weeks)
Deposit: $100 by Nov. 1
Ministry: One week of training, four weeks of ministry. Practice English, build relationships and share life. Help with conversational English and assist with English instruction. Utilize sports/rec games and cultures to build relationships to share your faith.
Contact Sarah Strong or BCM staff
In all my years of college experience, few things are as bright as my reflecting on my BCM experience. The people there took me in during one of the hardest times in my life. The investment they made in me shaped who I am today and how I give back to others. I will forever be thankful for those people who taught me that Jesus is most definitely better.
– Rachel, Class of 2017
God is continually revealing to me how much room for growth remains in my walk with Christ but also how faithful He is to finish the work that He has started in me. My inadequacies are many, but we serve a God who is more than sufficient to cover them. How incredible it is that He chooses to use redeemed sinners like us to make His name great among the nations and on our campus.
– Madeline, Class of 2020
I accepted Christ at a young age, but God has used college to grow me in the faith and to teach me more about living life on mission. God has used the Christ-centered friendships I’ve made through the BCM to encourage me to continue living for and leaning on Him through this season of life changes and waiting.
– Taylor, Class of 2020
College is a place where you begin to make your own decisions about your future and they can drastically change where you end up in life. This is why I strive to pursue a life that follows Christ and without the BCM I don’t know where I would be today in my walk with him. I have come to realize that no matter how hard I try to have a perfect walk with Christ I will never achieve that, but when I do fall down I will always have someone at the BCM to help pick me back up and remind me I serve a just, yet forgiving God.
– Easton, Class of 2020
Jesus is currently showing me how to trust Him through the frequent changes in my life, from living between home and Bowling Green to what major I want to pursue. I’m learning through Him and those that surround me at the BCM how to deepen my faith while also sharing the gospel. My mentors and friends at the BCM are vital sources of encouragement and accountability.
– Payton, Class of 2019
I am incapable of knowing Christ’s love for me on my own. It is far too wide. It is far too deep. I cannot see the end of it with my own eyes. God is teaching me just how much He loves me, day in and day out, and that is empowering me to live with no need other than the blood of the perfect Lamb!
– Evan, Class of 2018
Why believe? Why have faith? In a day when more and more Americans report no religious preference, why have faith anymore? As a campus minister, I watch students come to the university campus and ask these questions. Many wonder if there is good reason to believe. Recently, I listened to several students from a faith background share how they came to a point of wondering if they really believed what their faith taught.
I want to attempt to address this question only from within the framework of my Christian faith. If every religion presents an essential question, the critical question of Christianity is: who is Jesus? Christianity rises or falls on that question. To explore who Jesus is, let’s examine various facets of Jesus’ life. I invite you to put Jesus under the microscope. Can he withstand the scrutiny?
Perhaps Jesus is most widely known for his teachings, so let’s start there. When asked, “Who is my neighbor?” Jesus told the story of the Good Samaritan who showed compassion to a man in need. In doing so, he made one despised by his immediate audience, a Samaritan, the hero of the story. In the parable of the prodigal son, Jesus depicted God as a father waiting for our return to him with a willingness to forgive and restore. When opponents attempted to trap Jesus with the question of whether it was lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, Jesus requested a denarius and asked whose inscription was on the coin. When the crowd answered, “Caesar’s,” Jesus said, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s.” His unspoken point was that as the coin bore the image of Caesar, so we are made in the image of God.
If we turn to Jesus’ ethic, we find Jesus challenging the status quo of his day. Jesus stated, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I say to you love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” From Jesus, we receive the way of turning the other cheek in forgiveness rather than repaying evil for evil. Jesus insisted ethics are not only about our actions but also our motives. He stated, “You have heard it said that you shall not commit murder, but I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother is guilty.” Jesus’ ethic reaches beyond external actions to the intentions of the heart.
If we examine Jesus’ actions, we have many recorded incidents to consider. Matthew twice gives a summary statement of Jesus’ ministry. He reports, “Jesus was going throughout all Galilee, teaching in the synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness among the people.” We see Jesus bringing help and healing to those who are hurting.
What about Jesus’ interactions? How did he interact with others? It is interesting that Jesus drew much of the criticism he received from his contemporaries over his interactions, specifically, over the company he kept. Jesus habitually shared meals with the outcast, those looked down upon by the religious community. Three times in the Gospel of Luke, religious leaders grumble and complain that Jesus “receives sinners and eats with them.” His practice earned Jesus a reputation as “a friend of tax collectors and sinners.” Perhaps Jesus’ compassion was most on display in the way he once healed a leper who was considered unclean. Jesus touched this man when he healed him. Not only did Jesus restore the man’s health, he touched what was deemed untouchable.
Thus far, it is difficult to find much objectionable about Jesus. If we turn to his claims, however, things get more interesting. Some of the claims Jesus made are disturbing. Many of the claims he made are statements about himself. Let’s briefly examine three. When healing a paralyzed man, Jesus stated, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” The religious leaders cringed because forgiveness of sins was the prerogative only of God. As if to say, “Exactly,” Jesus responded, “Which is easier, to say…’Your sins are forgiven’ or to say, ‘Get up, take up your pallet and walk’? But so that you know the Son of Man (referring to himself) has authority on earth to forgive sins”—He said to the paralytic, “Get up…and walk.” Mark records that the man indeed rose and walked.
In another exchange Jesus made this audacious statement, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am.” Not only did he claim eternal existence with this statement, Jesu also laid claim to the divine name, I Am—the name first revealed by God to Moses at the burning bush. Jesus further claimed that our eternal destiny is staked on how we respond to him. Matthew records Jesus stating, “Therefore everyone who confesses me before men, I will confess before my Father who is in heaven.” Jesus’ claims push us to wrestle with the question once asked by his own disciples, “Who then is this?” His claims challenge us to dismiss Jesus as irrelevant or to make him the cornerstone of our lives.
In examining Jesus’ life, we must also consider his death. The Gospel narratives give the greatest portion of their attention to the events surrounding Jesus’ death. How did Jesus see his own death? Jesus stated, “I lay down my life, so that I may take it again, No one takes it from me, but I lay it down on my own initiative.” He also claimed, “The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve and give his life a ransom for many.” Jesus saw his death as a ransom payment for us. Why a ransom? Jesus diagnosed our spiritual condition as having a corrupt heart from sin which enslaves us and separates us from God. He lamented that we are sheep in need of shepherd, and said, “I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down his life for his sheep.” Speaking of his death, Jesus acknowledged, “For this purpose, I came to this hour.” Jesus came not only to teach us about God but to die for our sins so that we might be reconciled to God.
According to the New Testament, Jesus’ death gave way to resurrection. Jesus repeatedly sought to prepare his disciples for his coming resurrection, but they found it difficult to grasp until it occurred. Jesus even claimed, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believe in me will live even if he dies.” The historical evidence for the resurrection invites further scrutiny. Multiple eyewitnesses gave testimony to appearances of Jesus after the resurrection, the disciples went from hiding in fear to bold witnesses for the resurrected Christ, the church emerged around the central belief of the resurrection, and skeptics like Paul and James, the brother of Jesus, came to faith in Jesus as the resurrected one.
Where does this survey of Jesus’ life and death leave us? Jesus’ call to his first disciples echoes still to us: “Repent and believe in the gospel.” That call was followed by his summons: “Follow me.” Jesus’ invitation remains today: “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink.”
People from all walks of life—rich and poor, young and old, successful and desperate—are recorded to have met Jesus in the pages of the gospels. Those who encountered him did not walk away unchanged. We can encounter him today as well through faith. I invite you to search out the basis for faith by examining the life of Jesus. Put Jesus under the microscope.