Monthly Archives: April 2013

Reflections on Undergrad- Part 11: Looking Forward

“Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more.” – Luke 12:48

It’s fun looking forward to what life has in store. I love the thought of an adventure ahead and the thrill of the unknown excites me. I don’t know where I’ll be in five years. I can speculate, but I don’t have any plans that far ahead. I do, however, know what I’ll be working towards.

I committed my life to Jesus three times. The first time, in grade 11, I committed to trusting Him to save me from my sinful nature and allow Him to define my purpose. In October of my first year, I committed to  returning to the faith, to retake my arms in the battle for holiness. I committed to allowing God’s people access into my life to help me stand strong against sin. The third time I committed my life to Jesus was at a winter conference with Power to Change in my third year. We had an opportunity to respond to the message by signing a card that said,

“Dear Jesus, I want you in the center of my life and commit through your power, to serve and obey you. Anytime. Anywhere. At any cost. To do anything.”

The first two times I made a commitment to God with my life, I committed to knowing and loving God. The third time, I committed to make His mission the center of my life. I made a decision that the end goal by which I would measure the my success  is how I have made my life a tool through which the world would know Jesus. I believe this is the kind of commitment expressed by Paul in Galatians 2:20

“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

At the time I made that commitment, I had some ideas of what that would look like. Today, I have some different ideas and I’m sure that as my life unfolds, God will be faithful to reveal exactly how He wants to use me to change the world.

This doesn’t mean I’m perfect. Far from it. I shared with you my greatest challenges as part of this series. Many of the things I learned from my mentors during university are lessons I’m still learning how to apply in my life. But God doesn’t need perfect people, He asks only for obedience, repentance and worship. As much as I possibly can, I offer these to Him.

I don’t think that living with this mindset requires that one goes into full time ministry. That’s simply how it’s worked out for me. Some of the people I look up to the most work outside of professional ministry but exemplify this commitment to God in their lives. It’s not about what you do, it’s about the heart behind your actions. Why do you study? Is it so you can graduate and get a good job to provide for your family? Or is it so that, through your excellence doors are opened for you to proclaim Christ in your words and actions in new settings?

I don’t really know exactly what I’m going to do with my life, but I know what vision will guide my life: Anytime, Anywhere, At any cost, to do anything. Imagine what the world could look like if everyone who reads this post committed to living like this.

“Do not give yourself to that which others can and will do but to that which others cannot or will not do.” – Jim Elliot

Advertisements

Reflections on Undergrad- Part 10: My Dad

Reflections on Undergrad- Part 10: My dad

Profile: There isn’t a single human on the planet who has the ability to infuriate me like my dad, and there isn’t anyone I respect more. I look at my dad as a testimony of what a life dedicated to worship, wisdom, and family can look like. He’s well respected in his field, a leader in the church and always makes time for his family and personal bible study. It’s not unusual to find him on a Saturday morning with his iPad working his way through difficult bible passages or commentaries before lunch. I remember early in my Christian walk, bringing many of my biblical questions to him and he was always able to explain truths to me in a way that I could understand. When I think of my passion for teaching the word, a lot of that can be attributed to watching my dad.

We have our differences. In some ways, we see the world differently. There are things he’s learned from life experience that he tries to teach me but I’m not ready to learn. But even when we fight, there are two things I can count on: he’s looking out for my best interests, and he’s probably right.

I never want to understate the value of a loving, God-fearing father. Many don’t and it’s tough. That’s why I want to take some time to appreciate him. He’s been an immeasurable blessing in my life, guiding correcting and teaching me as I try to make my mark on this world. Thanks Dad.

What I’ve learned from him: A lot. One thing about my dad is that he loves his work. He’s not in full time ministry, but he sees his work as his calling. He excels because he works hard, and he works hard because it’s not simply work to him. Watching him has taught me that I need to find my passion in life and pursue it and he’s affirmed that vocally as well. While finances are a valid consideration, he’s never made me feel like making money should be my primary consideration in what career I pursue. As I wrestled with my call to ministry, following my passion was a key factor that confirmed this was my calling.

I remember the day I told him I was thinking of pursuing full time ministry. I expected him to be disappointed that I wasn’t building on the science degree he paid for me to pursue. He wasn’t. He affirmed my decision and began helping me think of how to go about it. What decisions should I be making now to put myself in the best position financially and emotionally to be a fruitful minister? How should I go about pursuing theological and ministry training to be well equipped to minister? All through me life, he’s had hopes for me, but he’s been more interested in me finding my calling and doing it well.

Favorite memory: Shortly after I asked my girlfriend out on our first date, I went on a walk with my dad. We talked about dating and building a future with another person and I shared with him some of my fears about dating: I didn’t know if I was really ready to lead a relationship building towards marriage and whether I was in a good place to be a spiritual leader. He told me of the growth and maturity he’d seen in me and that he was confident in my ability to be a good boyfriend and someday soon, potentially a good husband. I’ve been encouraged many times in my life, but none have meant as much to me as hearing it from my dad.

Reflections on Undergrad- Part 9: Hobbe Smit

Profile: In August, I was told that I would be meeting up weekly with Hobbe for discipleship this year and I had no idea what expect. Hobbe has been on staff with Power to Change for a couple of years at McMaster but I didn’t really know him. But I willing to learn as much as I could from him and he seemed like a nice guy.

As we began meeting, I quickly realized that we’re really different people: He loves nature, I love the indoors; he values structure, I like to play things by ear; he’s into boardgames I’ve never heard of; and even our senses of humour are different. But he’s a really sincere guy, and for that reason I was able to connect with him. We talked about what things we wanted to go through together and what I was interested in learning and he was able to bring some resources that were relevant to my interests. His flexibility was one of the first things I appreciated about him. He was intentional about doing things to build our relationship outside of the formal discipleship context. He invited me to his house for games nights, we went out for lunch a few times and on days when I needed to just talk, he was ready to put aside the plan and listen. We became more than ministry coworkers, we became friends.

What I learned from him: Hobbe and I did a lot of evangelism together; more than I wanted to sometimes. In those conversations though, I found that he exemplified many of the values I felt were important in evangelism but wasn’t sure how to practice. He was personable with perfect strangers without being phony; he remembered names and was genuinely interested in what people were interested in; he was willing to engage on apologetic issues without letting debating; he was able to keep conversations centered on Jesus without taking usurping; he answered questions concisely without devolving into a monologue; he was willing to admit when he didn’t know and wrestle honestly with his faith. I can look back and say that I picked up a lot from him. I remember one conversation we had with a student that was particularly draining because he’d peppered us a million questions barely giving us opportunities to respond. After we got up, I was a bit discouraged because I felt like we’d talked a lot but gotten nowhere. We debriefed the conversation and he reminded me that even though we weren’t able to answer many of his questions, it wasn’t our job to save anyone and salvation is God’s work.

Favorite memory: Our campus has a spring weekend retreat and the last night the outgoing and incoming student leadership teams stay with campus staff and have a baton-passing type evening. The outgoing team decided to prank the incoming team by making them think we’d left them stranded (which ended up getting turned back on us) but Hobbe wanted to get some rest and so he didn’t drive away with us, staying in his room instead. After a while we wanted to know what was going on back at the retreat so we asked Hobbe to go out and scout for us, which he agreed to do. By a series of unfortunate events, he ended up getting locked out on the cabin roof. He had to wait there until we came back to the retreat center and let him in almost an hour later. I’ll never forget the image of Hobbe shivering as we opened the door. Not once did he complain though, he took one for the team.

Reflections on Undergrad- Part 8: Isaac Odame

Profile: Isaac’s presence on this list is proof that you don’t need to have a long relationship with someone to have an impact on them. I met Isaac a year and a half ago when I began sporadically attending services at Westside Baptist Church (shameless plug: I love my church). I met him as one of many people who greet you when you on your first Sunday at a new church. “Hi, I’m Isaac” “I’m Bim, nice to meet you.” I didn’t have any real relationship with Isaac until this year after I committed fully to the church. Being in my final year, I wanted to prepare for life after university by practicing the art of that initiative to seek mentorship. Within the campus ministry context, people would observe your faithfulness and approach you to be mentored. In the real world, I’ve heard it doesn’t really work that way and so I sought out a mentor within the church.

Isaac is an elder in the church with some teaching responsibilities and he works in an academic setting, so I figured he’d have some good stuff to teach me. I’m a science student; he’s a doctor who does some research so he’d understand where I’m coming from. I asked him out to coffee. He paid. As we started talking, I realized very quickly that Isaac is someone with a lot of wisdom and life experience to share from. We’ve met only a few times due to both of us being busy, but I know I learned a lot from our meetings about school work, ministry and life in general.

What I learned from him: Isaac quickly discovered after asking some questions that I love teaching. He encouraged me to find different avenues to develop that skill. One suggestion he mentioned was to try my hand at writing and see how I liked that. I took his suggestion and wrote my first article on the Great Commandment. I enjoyed writing and I got a lot of good feedback from it. I continued writing and theologytranslated was born shortly after.

Favorite memory: Isaac played a part in a video for our church Christmas party in which he did his best impression of a young adult. Imagine an older guy with a hat turned sideways, speaking in verbal hashtags. Yea…

Reflections on Undergrad- Part 7: Kelley Myles

Profile: Finally, a woman makes the list. Kelley, like Jamie works with Power to Change and was a project director on my second mission trip to Uganda. Kelley is fun. Our staff team landed in country a few days before the students and spent that time getting to know each other, thanks in part to games organized by Kelley. One exercise we did as a staff team to help us work well together was filling out some personality tests. I’d done tests like that before, but Kelley was really good at explaining the purpose behind the test. She encouraged us as a staff team understand how our personalities shape our ministry expectations. This, I’m sure, helped prevent some potential conflicts within the team due to differences in personality and communication styles.

Kelley was a constant source of encouragement. She made sure to let us know what she appreciated about us and when we did something well. More than general kind words, Kelley saw aspects of our unique characters and gifts that were of benefit to our team and commented on them. Even when she had to rebuke me, she encouraged the heart behind my actions and suggested different ways of expressing myself that I could get excited about. I found I learned a lot about myself from working with Kelley.

What I learned from her: I went on project last summer as an intern on the staff team, which was a new level of leadership for me. I wasn’t sure that my personality was suited for leadership and worried that I’d be too loud, too extroverted, too hyper, to be an effective leader. Kelley’s encouraged in seeing how my personality, appropriately expressed, could actually help bring people together. She equipped me to lead confidently without trying to be someone else. I had my best project experience and felt ready to continue serving in leadership on my campus this fall.

Favorite memory: Kelley is not a big touch person and so doesn’t like hugs. I was told this by another member of our staff team in the middle of a day out at a mall in Kampala. About an hour later, I saw Kelley from a distance and sprinted across the parking lot, making a beeline for her. I remember the look of confusion on her face. I got to her and enveloped her in the biggest bear hug I could and got two quick elbow shots to the midsection. For the next couple of weeks, I’d pop up randomly and give her a hug, simply to bug her.

She still doesn’t like hugs, but the few times I’ve seen her since our time in Uganda, she’s (very reluctantly) given me a friendly hug for old times’ sake.

Reflections on Undergrad- Part 6: Jamie Strickland

Profile: Jamie Strickland is a happily married Canadian man with two kids, all of whom are living in Uganda, nearing the end of a two year mission stint. My first memory of Jamie was in Panama after my first year. He came to speak to our team at the end of the mission trip, delivering a four part talk titled “Living a Life that Matters.” The next time I saw him, he showed me very practically what that looks like. It was at a fall retreat in my second year. He came up and tearfully shared his decision to take his wife and two sons under the age of three to Uganda to help coordinate the partnership between the Canadian and Ugandan branches of Campus Crusade for Christ International. He didn’t have to. He could have done his job just as well from Canada, but his vision was to inspire Canadian students like myself to sacrifice their comfortable lives here to live intentionally for God’s kingdom. He wanted to lead by example, and so he went.

I went to Uganda after my second year. I went again after my third year, and this time Jamie was there as a project director. I loved working with Jamie. He’s a lot of fun, very chill and incredibly passionate. He loves Manchester United and the New England Patriots (this I appreciated very much). He loves Jesus and is passionate about challenging younger Christian men to make sacrifices in living radically. His message on living a life that matters isn’t only preached when he’s given a mic; it’s the message you get after spending any amount of time with him. I remember one evening in his living room in Uganda, our team decided to put him on the hot seat so he had to answer any question we threw at him. “What is your biggest pet peeve?” He talked for 45 minutes on what a travesty it was that thousands of young men who loved God were wasting their summers doing nothing when there was so much work to be done in exposing people to Jesus around the world. We also got a 35 minute talk on what he appreciates most about his wife. That’s the kinda guy Jamie is.

We had an opportunity to spend some time together on a car ride between two cities one evening. On that trip, we got to talking about what it would mean for me to give up a year after I graduate to come to Uganda and teach students about living a life that matters. I’d been considering it before that trip, but after talking to him for an hour, I knew exactly where I was going to be this coming fall.

What I learned from him: Jamie is great at vision casting. He inspires others to join him in fulfilling his vision because he gives himself totally to living out his vision. Jamie helped change my perspective on what really matters in life. I want to devote my life to a cause that matters eternally, because I realize that everyone lives for something. He showed me what it looks like to be completely sold out to a vision, not in the one decision he made to go to Uganda, but in the many decisions he makes daily about what he will give his time and his heart to.

Favorite memory: Every memory I have of him playing with his kids would qualify but there’s a different memory that stands out in my mind. We were ATV-ing with a couple of guys and two of us were kinda racing even though our guide had instructed us not to. Jamie just kinda sat near the back of the group watching us almost kill people. Suddenly on a straight stretch near the end of our ride, he shot up to the front, taking us by surprise and settled firmly in first place. From there he was able to hoard the lead till the end and was the first one back at the compound where we returned our vehicles. Well played…

Reflections on Undergrad- Part 5: Andres Vera

Profile: Andres was one of Andy’s closest friends and became my discipleship group leader in second semester of first year. I was in for a culture shock upon joining the new group. Where my first group was very intimate and talked through basic elements of faith, my new group was much larger and very interested in tackling tougher theological topics, of which I knew little. So I was out of my depth.

In that, I was very inspired by Andres. No matter what topic was being discussed, he was never out of his depth. He always had some deep insight to share to make it all make sense. He was a master theologian and a very nice guy as well. He invited me to consider going on a summer mission trip with him to Panama, and since I didn’t have any other plans for the summer, I applied and got accepted. In Panama, I learned a lot from his patient tutelage and he challenged me to think more deeply about God.

After our conversations in Panama, I came back fired up to learn more about God. I began to listen to sermons online, read books and most importantly, I found motivation to read my bible regularly, which I’d struggled with in first year. But Andres taught me more than theology; I learned a lot about nurturing a love for theology in others. I really appreciated his patience as I struggled to grasp certain concepts and that he never insisted he was right when we disagreed; he always simply pointed back to the bible and let me learn straight from the source.

What I learned from him: The biggest thing I took away from observing his life is the importance of theology. For him, theology wasn’t simply an intellectual exercise, but a discipline of worship. And theology always began with the gospel. Every conversation with Andres always came back to Jesus and the implications of anything we were talking about were always explored in light of how Jesus reveals God’s nature. As I’ve grown in being able to study God’s word for myself, I see the value of this. It’s too easy to get caught up in minute details or forcing scripture to defend my opinions. But when I focus first on knowing Jesus and interpreting all of scripture in light of Jesus, my understanding of theology becomes cohesive and I’m more receptive to letting scripture correct me.

Favorite memory: I have a lot of fond memories of watching Andres and his housemates prank each other, but my favorite memory of him is from our time in Panama. There were a group of guys were up late talking about women, and he shared with us his spiritual turn-ons and how his girlfriend (now wife) fulfilled these characteristics. A spiritual turn-on is any characteristic of a person’s faith that you personally find sexy. Yea…

Reflections on Undergrad- Part 4: Andy Clutton

Today, I begin sharing a bit about some of the mentors who’ve had a huge influence in my life and ministry. I’m not introducing you to these people simply to exalt them, but to share real stories of how lives are changed by the faithful ministry of passionate Christians. My life has been changed by these people and I hope this section can encourage you to intentionally serve, teach and disciple other believers.

Profile: I met Andy a few weeks into my first year. I came out to a Power to Change (then known as Campus for Christ) weekly meeting because I had nothing else to do on a Friday evening. I actually had a nice time so I didn’t resist getting signed up for a discipleship group (bible study group). I showed up for the first meeting and met Andy, who was leading the group. I liked him right away.

Andy has these probing eyes that make you feel like he can see through you. This, combined with his very sincere personality helped me connect with him pretty quickly. So when he invited me out to a weekend retreat with Campus for Christ, I didn’t instantly say no. At that retreat I was moved to commit my life again to Jesus. Andy was the first one I came to pray with me.

Andy continued to play a key role in mentoring me into my second year. He was faithful with meeting with me regularly and taught me a lot about walking with God. I missed a number of our appointments, and I’m grateful for his graciousness. But I learned a lot from him and continue to till today. I believe he was the first one to teach me about the Spirit filled life. And as I began to experience God’s power and presence, he was the one I could go to and tell all about it.

What I learned from him: Andy was the first Christian leader I’d experienced who led through openness and vulnerability. I remember times in our meetings that he would tell me stories from his own life, very personal stories that didn’t make him look good. But I was able to relate. I was able to draw encouragement from his weaknesses as I struggled to grow early in my rediscovered relationship with God. He’s vulnerability in leadership is something I’ve tried to model my leadership around.

Favorite Memory: My favorite memory of Andy was standing together by a kayak rack at a campsite in Haliburton Ontario as I cried and told him that I wanted to live as a Christian again. I remember his calm probing eyes appraising the situation. He prayed with me and encouraged me and began teaching me, right in that moment, some of the implications of my commitment. I’m thankful for everything that happened to lead me to that point and I’m glad that Andy was there to begin the process of discipling me as a follower of Jesus.

Reflections on Undergrad- Part 3: Greatest Challenges

“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” – 2 Corinthians 12:9,10

I got to brag a bit yesterday about all a lot of the good I got to see over the last four years. I had a great run in university, but it hasn’t come without some trial, some failure. I’m hoping that this blog serves to inspire and motivate radical service to God in whatever stage of life you may find yourself in. Where yesterday’s post showed what God can do through us, today’s post is intended to encourage you in what He can do even in your weakness.

Laziness

I came to university with a poor work ethic. High school was easy for me and so I never bothered to work at it. Academics in university didn’t present too much of a challenge either and I was able to coast for the most part through four years of school. Laziness really hurt my ability to do ministry well though. I remember bible studies I was supposed to lead, but didn’t bother to prepare for, appointments I cancelled on because I didn’t feel like going.

In my third and fourth years, I was trusted with more leadership within Power to Change and this was hard for me. I desperately wanted to prove trustworthy, and I could do a good job for a period time, but inevitably I would fail. Times would come where I couldn’t motivate myself to do what needed to be done. So I turned to prayer. And God answered. I began to prepare for bible study regularly, show up for prayer meetings and appointments, when I was asked to take care of tasks, I came through in time mostly. I’m not sure exactly when the change began, and I know it’s not complete but a transformation has taken place. Amazingly, this has gone beyond doing ministry and infected my approach to school. My friends often wonder how I got through university without failing, and so do I. I’m getting better, but it is a slow process.

Work ethic is one way I see that God has used my time at Mac to prepare me for the future. My job in Uganda likely won’t have much close supervision and it would be too easy to slip into laziness. It would probably be a while before anyone really noticed and it’s very likely that I would damage the trust that many have and will choose to place in me.

Purity

A few months before I committed my life to following Jesus in grade 11, I saw my first pornographic image. I’ve struggled with pornography ever since. Every time I hear someone publicly confess their battle with pornography, it’s always in the past: “God freed me from this”. That’s not my story, not yet. I fall less frequently than I did in the past and I’m quicker to repent and seek accountability, but I still fall.

You can imagine what dealing with a recurring sinful habit has done for my heart for ministry. It caused me to walk away from my faith in the summer before university and only by God’s grace and a persistent Christian brother did I recommit my life to Jesus. I’ve nearly walked away from ministry and leadership many times. My faith that God provides lasting victory over this sin has been stretched thin, close to snapping. But God has used some great men to remind me of His grace. I don’t allow my sin the luxury of hiding in the dark where it can grow in strength and drown me in guilt, but I bring it into the light. I have a friend in whom I confide in when I struggle and I’ve made a decision that even this area of my life will be used for God’s glory.

I believe that the last time I fell can be the last, and in that will be another testimony to God’s power over sin. I continue to seek the power of His Holy Spirit as I continue to wage war. I continue to chase down every avenue of access and cut it off from my life radically, replacing it with time with God in prayer and seeing Him displayed in His Word. And I continue to go out in obedience to His command and be a witness in Canada and to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8).

Insecurity

At one of my lowest points of doubt and insecurity for me this year, I wrote this piece for facebook. I’m not always as confident as I present myself to be. Actually I find myself often more aware of my flaws that my strengths (sometimes though, I’m definitely more aware of my strengths than flaws). One way theologytranslated has blessed me is it’s allowed me to wrestle with my weaknesses and shine the light of the gospel on them. Jesus loved me and died for me knowing full well that I doubt a lot, that I struggle to love, that I’m lazy, that I jumble up my words when I get excited, that I can’t stay focused on anything for too long, that I spend hours on youtube and facebook when I have homework to do, that I judge anyone who’s different from me, that I feel jealous of anyone who’s better than me in any area, that I don’t pray enough, the list goes on…

The question I’ve asked myself many times is, “Am I really good enough to…?” Am I good enough to lead? Am I mature enough to build into students? Do I know enough to teach well? Am I wise enough with my humour to be a role model? The answer is often no. But I’ve learned and am learning to take solace in these two passages from 2 Corinthians 3

Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, who has made us sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. (Verse 4-6)

And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. (Verse 18)

And as I deal with my insecurities, I’ve learned not to compare myself to others. Everyone has their own gifts and talents which can be used to do different things in different ways than me. I want to focus on my personal development and sanctification as I walk faithfully with God.

That’s all for today. Tomorrow I’ll share a little about the first of seven mentors who shaped my experience in life and ministry at McMaster.

Reflections on Undergrad- Part 2: Greatest Joys

“For what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus at his coming? Is it not you? For you are our glory and joy.” – 1 Thessalonians 1:19,20

There are a lot of things to be proud of and to rejoice in as I think of my time at McMaster: I’ve had some pretty sweet marks, done some wonderfully stupid things, had a lot of adventures, received some nice gifts, etc. Yet all my boasting and my joy revolve around people. Everything else is secondary to the interactions I’ve had with people because souls are eternal. I want to make my life count for so much more than 80 years of breathing, and I believe that building into people is the best way to do that.

At Mac, I’ve had the opportunity to meet, love and serve other students on my campus and in different countries. Through formal ministry opportunities and informal hangouts, in sin and sanctification, I believe I’ve been able to use my time at Mac to be help people. As I’ve grown in understanding God’s grace to me through the gospel, it’s been my prayer that those in my life are blessed because of knowing me.

I’m not saying I was perfect in this, or even particularly good. All through university I met people whose love for others showed me how much I still lack in this area. Some days, I’ve strongly resisted the impulse to love, even to relate with people (I’ll go into that more tomorrow). But I’ve had an opportunity to experience the joy of serving.

Theology

In first year, I joined a bible study discipleship group that had a couple of guys who loved discussing theology. For the first time in my life, I was out of my league biblically. So I resolved to learn as much as I could about God so I could keep up. Over time, what began as a competitive desire blossomed into a genuine love of studying theology, which I think of as worshipping God with my mind. I love that God give us an avenue through which we can know Him, understand His character and see His will. Sure we don’t ever get it perfectly, but we get it.

As my third year began to draw to a close, something cool started to happen: people started asking me questions about the bible. In that time, I discovered a love of teaching God’s Word that continues till today. The more opportunities I got to teach, the more I craved knowledge. And the more I studied, the more opportunities I got to teach. In my final year, I made a decision to be as available as possible to anyone who was interested in thinking deeply about God, whether Christian or atheist or anywhere in between. While theologytranslated isn’t purely a theological blog, I look forward to sharing some of my personal studies on this space in the future.

Relational Evangelism

I’ve actually been on quite a journey as it relates to evangelism. I started out hating the idea of sharing my faith because I didn’t really have much faith to share. After a lifechanging experience at a fall retreat in my first year, I began to value evangelism as a ministry activity. That is, I go out and have a conversation and when ministry is over, I return to my regular life. Again in my third year, I began to wonder what evangelism would look like if I saw it as simply sharing my life with people. Instead of an activity, what if I built relationships with people and let my faith come out naturally in my lifestyle and in my words?

With this mindset towards evangelism, I’ve been blessed to befriend a number of great guys who are not Christian. I’m not friends with them because I need to convert them, but because they’re cool guys. I’ve enjoyed the many conversations we’ve had because it’s been natural. I’ve learned a lot from them and I’ve had my worldview challenged, leading to refinement or strengthening of my views on certain things. And what’s more, by sharing my faith by sharing my life, I’ve made some good friends.

Community

There’s a difference between being well liked and being in community. I’ve always been well liked, even had some good friends over the course of my life. After high school though, I lost touch with all my friends which kinda sucked. The friends I made at Mac filled that hole and so much more. But more than friendship, I’ve experienced community. I’ve been a part of a group that loves unconditionally and allows me to be myself, flaws and all. In community, I was free to find my unique gifts and contribute to our common mission in my own way. And as I’ve experienced community, I’ve been able to invite others into the same experience. After countless coffee dates, dinners, hours at the library “studying”, facebook pictures and videos, I leave Mac confident that I’ve played my part in helping others experience God’s love and His grace through His body, the community of believers. I leave Mac with some great friends who will continue to be a part of my spiritual growth and I a part of theirs.

Discipleship

In my second year, I was invited to take on a role known as a discipleship group leader. In essence, I helped facilitate a bible study and did whatever I could to help nurture the spiritual growth of my discipleship group. I wasn’t a good DGL in second year and I thank God that I had a partner who was more mature and skilled and he helped train me as a discipler.

Some of the guys who’ve been in my discipleship groups over the years have grown so much and taken awesome steps of faith and I’m crazy proud of them. Their growth validates my ministry. When I look back on my ministry at Mac, I thank God as much for what He did in the lives of those I mentored as for what He’s done in my life.

Dating

My greatest accomplishment in my undergrad was convincing a beautiful, godly woman to let me take her to dinner. And that went so well that she let me do it again. It’s been a joy to enter into a serious relationship, my first true relationship since becoming a Christian in high school. It’s amazing how much letting someone so close to you forces you to understand yourself better. I could wax poetic about all the joys of loving and being loved, but I think I’ll tell her all that in person. 😛