From the University Pastor
By Sarah Baldwin
I have been absorbing the colors and sunshine of autumn and taking time to see with fresh eyes this beautiful world that God has created for us. I have a grateful heart this fall for the way that the Holy Spirit is moving at George Fox. Everywhere I turn there are stories to hear of God is changing hearts and lives and growing young adults to be more like Jesus. This is good and exciting work to be a part of.
I often say that university students have been my spiritual directors. University students are willing to ask hard questions, to live in the mystery of God, to surrender to the work of the Holy Spirit, to embrace the truth of Scripture in a way that challenges me daily. I am thankful for being able to be present with them. Of course, students also carry a lot of pain and sin with them as well, and along with the beauty of this work there is also heaviness of heart and tears. All of this we offer up as sacrifice to Jesus and pray earnestly that God will make all things work for good for those who love Him.
Some of you have requested a copy of the Scripture that I read at the parents’ prayer dedication service and I am happy to share it with you. As well, here are a few updates from Spiritual Life about our ministry this year.
Prayer for Parents from Psalm 139
Our sons and daughters — these students – are an open book to you, LORD;
even from a distance, you know what they’re thinking.
You know when they leave and when they get back;
They are never out of your sight.
You know everything they are going to say
before they start the first sentence.
When these students look behind them – you’re there,
then up ahead and you're there, too —
your reassuring presence, coming and going.
This is too much, too wonderful —
None of us can take it all in!
Is there any place our children – these students – can go to avoid your Spirit?
To be out of your sight?
If they climb to the sky, you're there!
If they go underground, you're there!
If they flew on morning's wings
to the far western horizon,
You'd find them, in a minute—
you're already there waiting!
May they say to themselves, "Oh, he even sees us in the dark!
And at night “we’re immersed in the light!"
It's a fact: darkness isn't dark to you;
night and day, darkness and light, they're all the same to you.
Like an open book, you watched each child grow from conception to birth;
all the stages of their lives are spread out before you,
The days of all their lives are prepared
before they had even lived one day.
Now, guide these ones who are so precious to us on the road to eternal life.
This year our theme in Spiritual Life is “Eyewitness.” This fall our theme verse is I John 1:3: “We declare to you what we have seen and heard so that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.”
The teaching in chapel has been around invitation to community with one another and with Jesus Christ. This invitation comes from our own personal experience of what we have eye-witnessed in our life through our relationship with Christ and with the body of Christ. To coincide with the church calendar, we will begin a community-wide pilgrimage through the book of Luke beginning in Advent that will culminate the week after Easter. Our theme “Eyewitness” verse for the spring is Luke 1:1-3: “Since many have undertaken to set down an orderly account of the events that have been fulfilled among us, just as they handed on to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses, and servants of the word, I too decided, after investigating everything carefully from the very first to write an orderly account for you …”
We will be investigating the account of Jesus Christ through the eyes of Luke, looking with open hearts and ears to see what we can learn from the story of our Savior. You can learn more about our year as eyewitnesses at our website: georgefox.edu/spirituallife.
Spiritual Life is receiving applications for May Serve 2010 to Swaziland. The ministry team will be led by Andrea Crenshaw and will focus on ministry to families affected by the AIDS pandemic in Swaziland. Swaziland is one of the most HIV-ravaged countries in the world with more than a quarter of adults infected with HIV. Andrea will be leading a team of approximately 15 students to share the love of Jesus with the suffering and to see how Christ is at work already. The trip will include working in HIV-care centers, VBS-style children’s ministry, evangelism and care in the slums.
Andrea led a trip this past May with professor Cliff Rosenbohm to South Africa through the ministry Monte Christo. The stories of personal transformation the student team has shared with us have been challenging and encouraging. Certainly, God is on the move!
Rusty St. Cyr has joined Spiritual Life at Fox this year from Bethany University in Santa Cruz, Calif., where he served as campus pastor. Rusty is our director of spiritual formation and is developing the opportunities for spiritual formation in the students’ living areas. Utilizing Renovare’s six streams of traditions – Word, Charisma, Contemplation, Compassion, Holiness, and Sacramental – Rusty is developing a curriculum around the spiritual disciplines that encourages student ministers in their spiritual formation and in turn, allows spiritually formative experiences to develop in the residence halls. Rusty teaches a weekly class equipping student leaders in the practices of the spiritual disciplines and in peer pastoral care. Rusty and his wife, Stephanie, and daughter, Ella, have been a great gift to our Spiritual Life team and we are grateful to be able to minister together.
Our Spiritual Life coordinator, Kayin Griffith, organized and led a retreat for building healthy dating and marriage relationships among our students who are seriously dating, engaged or married. Through a grant, Kayin was able to bring speakers from the Center of Relationship Enrichment in Arkansas to George Fox, and the speakers and 15 couples spent a weekend on the coast taking and sharing about the importance of healthy conflict management in Christ-centered marriage. My husband and I were able to attend and I took back some really helpful content that I wished I had 17 years go! This was an incredible weekend for our students.
Thank you for your prayers for our team, our student leaders, and the students of George Fox. We are thankful to partner with you in ministry with these young adults. If you have further questions about how you can pray for us, or how your student can be connected more fully to Spiritual Life, please connect with us at 503-554-2321, or you can e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.