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My Favorite Year Of Ministry

When this year was about to start many campus ministers wondered, how will God work? What students will be on campus for us to meet? How do we do ministry in a pandemic? And with every question there was a component of fear or doubt. I confess that I had these same thoughts, and maybe as a ministry partner passionate about college students you did as well. Well I have good news. God has been so faithful this year. Many more students than we would have ever expected joined our community for the first time and found a place to come and learn more about Jesus as they experience his love through meaningful friendships. And I can honestly say, because of God's goodness, in spite of all of the challenges we faced, this may have been my favorite year of ministry yet. I'd love to tell you why.

God was so faithful to bring up leaders. This is about half of our mens leader team. From left to right you have myself, Taylor, Caleb, Matt, Ulisses, Chewy (not a leader, but a very good boy all the same), Nathan, Bralon, and Tevon. Each one of these guys could have made the decision, with all of their classes being online, to call it in this year. But instead, each one of them responded to God's call on their lives to make disciples and love their neighbors. These few guys along with 25 other student leaders decided to lead a core this year, a weekly bible study where students can come and share life with their peers. They also each personally invited other students to study the bible one on one in a personal and intentional discipling relationship. As campus pastor, I reach out to students, I preach sermons, and I do one on one bible studies as well. But the main thing I do and one of the reasons why I am so grateful for your partnership is that I get to mentor these young christian leaders. Each one of them has decided to love God and serve him by reaching the campus that they are on. I am blown away by their impact, because for all that God may use me to do, He is able to reach so many more lives because of these young students faithfulness to and fervor for Jesus Christ. I got to visit each one of their cores this year and I am continually blown away by what I see God doing on the college campus. Men are growing to look like Christ in every area and the world will be better for it. For perspective, 7 of our graduating seniors are considering entering pastoral work for their lives, and the rest I know are going to be lights for Jesus in whatever field they go into. Thank you for your investment in these young leaders.

Another reason this may be my favorite year of ministry is that I got to meet Corey Kaler. Corey is getting his masters here at UT Arlington. When I met Corey we bonded over a love for classic cinema. I asked him to study the bible and over time I learned that he was agnostic. He was pretty closed off to Christianity as he had experienced it growing up. But he had recently gone through a difficult time in his life. And he was open, to looking back into faith and seeing what was there and if anything could help him or benefit his life. So as we read the bible using our Focus on Jesus study that covers almost the entirety of the biblical narrative, Corey began to find things about God that he appreciated, namely God's heart for Justice. And as we saw Israel and other nations turn from God again and again it was easy for Corey to see how those decisions led to chaos for humanity. Before we got to the good news about Jesus I encouraged Corey to not engage with the bible as a book of principles, but to engage with God as a person who loves him and wants a relationship with him. From there, Corey began to pray. And I also prayed for Corey often. I prayed that he would know God, not just as a character to admire, but as his savior and lord of his life. When we finally got to the story of Jesus and saw what true Justice looks like, but also what it might mean that we personally have contributed to the chaos of the world and how we need Jesus to forgive our sins and give us his spirit Corey was asking all the right questions. Corey was hesitant to accept Jesus commands of lordship over his life but he knew that he needed God's grace, and he continued to pray. A few weeks later as we were talking again how good of a king Jesus is, Corey told me that he wanted to call Jesus Lord and to be baptized later that week. Praise God! He really does answer our prayers. I'm so grateful to have Corey as a brother in Christ.

What else is there to say other than that Corey and the leaders above are only a few of the many college students that Jesus is reaching through your investment. Some of them I don't even know their full stories yet, but I catch glimpses and I hear snippets, and every time they share these things I see God's grace for all of us. I believe God is doing something incredible on the college campus. And I believe that your investment makes this all possible. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

In Christ,
Austin Gage


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