What gives Kent Annan focus as he shares on campus?

Kent Annan shares a brown bag lunch with students, faculty, and InterVarsity staff at PSU-Harrsiburg.

As Kent Annan, co-director/co-founder of Haiti Partners and author of two InterVarsity Press books, wrapped up his visit to South Central PA, I asked him to share a brief reflection of his campus tour. Below’s what he shared. Thank you, Kent!


Kent Annan speaks as part of the Spring 2012 Christian Critical Thinking Series at the Elizabethtown Public Library, Elizabethtown, PA

All week I’ve been speaking with university students (undergrad and grad), faculty, and staff on six campuses in South Central Pennsylvania. My public speaking schedule has increased a lot in the past two years, with two books coming out. At first when I went to campuses, I was unsure on what to talk about; it had been seventeen years since I graduated from college.

I told my stories, what I was experiencing and thinking about, in Haiti, with development work, and in the life of faith (and doubt). But I also loved listening to them, hearing what was on their minds. One element that I needed to integrate quickly became clear because it was almost always the first question that came up: vocation.

Of course. Should have thought of that.

So I started thinking more about what I’ve learned about vocation and what I keep learning. It weaves together with matters of the work I do, the stumbling I do, the following after Jesus I try. 

This week vocation has woven through all I’ve talked about. I’m encouraged by the serious thoughts and questions of students as they search for what is next. I’m grateful for different faculty, campus ministry offices, and InterVarsity staff who are helping their discerning. I’m excited about these young women and men, the intelligence and gifts and faith and questions they’re bringing with them.

The following quote, or at least a paraphrased version of it, has been making its way into my talks too. Frederick Buechner (if my online source is right; I don’t have the book with me) defined vocation like this in “Wishful Thinking”:

The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meets.

I love this definition. I’d only add that — and for students this can be hard to appreciate in the moment — this is also true: part of the gladness is the very search to finding out where that place is.

Kent Annan speaks at “The Well,” i.e., InterVarsity’s large group at Franklin & Marshall College.

PS. from Tom: More pictures from his visit and some of my own reflections are “in process.” I highly encourage you to consider inviting Kent to share his stories/reflections on your campus. As you may remember, during last year’s practice of Lent I posted material from his book After Shock: Searching for Honest Faith When Your World Is Shaken, click here to review the Lenten posts.

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Tom Grosh IV

Tom enjoys daily conversations regarding living out the Biblical Story with his wife Theresa and their four girls, around the block, at Elizabethtown Brethren in Christ Church (where he teaches adult electives and co-leads a small group), among healthcare professionals as the South Central PA Area Director for the Christian Medical & Dental Associations (CMDA), and in higher ed as a volunteer with the Emerging Scholars Network (ESN). The Christian Medical Society / CMDA at Penn State College of Medicine is the hub of his ministry with CMDA. Note: Tom served with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship / USA for 20+ years, including 6+ years as the Associate Director of ESN. He has written for the ESN blog from its launch in August 2008. He has studied Biology (B.S.), Higher Education (M.A.), Spiritual Direction (Certificate), Spiritual Formation (M.A.R.), Ministry to Emerging Generations (D.Min.). To God be the glory!

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