Many times in today’s self-focused culture, gatherings of people (even in shared ministry) are little more than a room full of franchises trying to sustain their own local agendas in the midst of significant internal and external hardship. But by God’s grace at our annual gathering, InterVarsity’s Graduate and Faculty Ministries (GFM) once again returned to the roots of our shared mission, i.e., the call of God discerned through worship, prayer, digging into the Word of God, mutual encouragement/conversation (in the hallway, prayer room, small groups, over meals, during walks), and intentionally using the gifts we have been given. Yes, that includes an amazing strategic plan working out our four ministry commitments of spiritual formation, community, evangelism & service, integration of faith, learning, & practice. To God be the glory!
Personally I found significant blessing in the sharing of our stories in mission (framed by Acts 11 – 15 and the larger lens of being part of God’s story/mission): from GFM’s founding 25 years ago in a conversation between Randy Bare and Cam Anderson at Urbana . . . to present day witnessing communities on campuses across the nation (Graduate Ministry, Faculty Ministry) . . . to our sense of God’s leading in the future.
Celebrating 25 years of ministry is not about the numbers, but the Word, work, Spirit, power, and Presence of God demonstrated in Students and Faculty Transformed. Campuses Renewed. World Changers Developed. A few glimpses in the mosaic of ministry with more to come in future posts . . .
- Francis was highlighted by InterVarsity’s Faculty Ministry. In particular the joy of seeing an Emerging Scholar who was blessed by InterVarsity’s campus ministry throughout the academic journey — his Graduate Ministry staff was in the room and shared his joy in Francis’ work with many — and the fruit such as his presentation The Lesson of Grace in Teaching as a response to receiving the MAA Haimo Teaching Award. What is next for Francis and other faculty connected with our labors on their campuses, in their disciplines/fields of study . . .
- Students, such as the many involved in InterVarsity’s growing Graduate Ministry, who are being mentored in and supported by communities which speak to and contextualize Jeremiah 29 for their campus. More coming . . .
- Staff, such as Carrie Bare (GFM South Central Region Assoc Regional Dir., GFM Meeting Prayer Coord), who continue to bless with their joy and enthusiasm for the work of God. . . . Not letting us lose the passion which laid the foundation for GFM.
- The joy of collecting an offering for our IFES sister movement in the Caribbean, where grad ministry is just starting. It is our prayer that this offering will be the first step in a meaningful partnership with these fellow believers. Please join us in this prayer.
Your prayers for our time together were “sensed” and continue to be a blessing. Good connections were made and relationships were deepened during a rich time of encouragement and refreshment.
On Holy Saturday I shared on the Facebook wall:
“I know. It’s all wrong. By rights we shouldn’t even be here. But we are. It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger, they were. And sometimes you didn’t want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened?
But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something, even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn’t. They kept going. Because they were holding on to something.”
— Comment: The other evening I found Sam’s words near the end of LOTR: The Two Towers film a great encouragement. May you likewise press on with the people of God, holding onto the hope of resurrection and the new day when even darkness must pass. Please let me know how the Emerging Scholars Network can continue to grow in support and encouragement of you in this journey, http://www.intervarsity.org/contact/emerging-scholars-network. Please join me in praying for one-another today.
Yes, this is only a glimpse of our GFM staff team’s gatherings, there is more to come. What a joy to have you as part of this movement of God in higher education which embraces the vision of Students and Faculty Transformed. Campuses Renewed. World Changers Developed. To God be the glory!
About the author:
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 Northeast Regional Director for the Christian Medical & Dental Associations (CMDA), and in higher ed as a volunteer with the Emerging Scholars Network (ESN). For a number of years, the Christian Medical Society / CMDA at Penn State College of Medicine was 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!