When you are in college, you are beginning to have real freedom. You can stay out later, you have less accountability, and you can make choices that will determine many things for the rest of your life. That stage of life also becomes the time when many young adults—who have grown up or spent time in the church—either walk away from the faith of their childhood, or strengthen it and make it their own.
I came to know Jesus Christ personally when I was 20 years of age, my sophomore year of college. God met me, first, through my intellect with the overwhelming evidence of Jesus’ resurrection. (I believe it takes more faith to believe He didn’t rise from the dead than it does to believe He did… based on history and the evidence.) And ever since that transformative time in my life, I have had a passion to share my faith with others, specifically to college students.
I have had the privilege of doing ministry in one way or another (either speaking or discipling students from the campuses) at many different colleges, including San Jose State, Santa Clara University, Stanford, Berkeley, De Anza, West Valley, UC Davis, UC San Diego, and Biola. What I have noticed more than anything is that this stage of life is hungry for the Gospel, and hungry for a perspective that connects the dots and engages the mind. I have been saying this for quite a while, but most people aren’t looking to find the truth; they are attempting to find out what works.
Many college students will spend 4 years attempting to fill a God-shaped hole in their hearts with temporal things that will never satisfy. But like a crazy person doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results, most do not even “attempt” Jesus, because the way He has been propagated makes Him out to be more of a cosmic killjoy than the Lord of Heaven and Earth.
Ultimately, Jesus is the only one who can bring rest to the weary and truth to the seeking, but the world would rather fight against Him than submit to Him. They would rather ignore Him than obey Him. Like a bird stuck inside a building flying right into a clear window over and over, we attempt to make our own way—when, in actuality, Jesus made it clear that He is THE way!
Because college students have freedom, more responsibility, less accountability, and are moldable, I see it as the perfect opportunity to come alongside these students and point them to the way, the truth, and the life. Jesus didn’t come to curb their enthusiasm; He came to provide them with the accessibility through Himself to their Creator who knows them, loves them, and will lead them—if they submit to the fact that Jesus is the only way that one can be saved.
His death on the cross paid the debt that we deserved to pay because of our disobedience to God, and His resurrection was our receipt, saying that our debt was paid in full! This is the message I share on college campuses all over this state, because I believe it is and always will be the best news one can hear. That we can be adopted into God’s family—not because of anything we have done, but because of grace. God gave us what we don’t deserve through Jesus doing for us what we could not do for ourselves: living the life we could not live, dying the death we should have died, and rising from the dead, defeating sin and death, once and for all.
This past spring, I had the honor of being the speaker for Cal Poly Cru’s Men’s retreat. A dear friend and I spent the weekend engaging with, encouraging, and being encouraged by hundreds of men from this school and ministry who “got it.” They understood what Jesus meant when He said, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, by the way that you love one another.” –John 13:35
As my friend Brad and I spent the weekend with these men, we were both blown away by their dispositions and love for Jesus and one another. We, and many new guys to the ministry, were just enveloped by this group of disciples. A faithful servant of Christ, named Jamey Pappas, who has been faithfully serving this campus for decades, led us. After speaking 3 times at the retreat, ministering and praying with many of the students and leaders, Brad and I left completely humbled by the experience and in awe of what God is doing through Cru at Cal Poly.
And now, fast forward to this past summer, when Jamey contacted me and encouraged me again for what God did at the men’s retreat. He said that he would love for me to influence more of the ministry at the fall retreat as their guest speaker this coming October. Bet you can guess what my answer was.
I am so privileged to have the great honor to speak to, encourage, challenge, and be a part of a movement of God through Cru at Cal Poly the weekend of 10/17-19 in Ventura at the Marriott (they rented out the entire hotel to accommodate, by faith, all of those who they believe will be a part of this weekend.) The theme of the weekend is “Awestruck" I cannot tell you how excited I am to open God’s Word for this upcoming weekend, while allowing God to speak for Himself through the Scriptures.
We call a lot of things “awesome,” especially in California, but after this weekend, we will know that the only One who we can truly stand in awe of is the One who gave us the power to stand.
So, would you please pray for the students and leaders of this retreat—that God would profoundly, tangibly, and experientially meet with us as we spend the weekend in His Word, in worship and in community.
Also, if you know anyone who goes to Cal Poly, would you share this blog and/or the sign up link with them, and encourage them to spend the weekend with us?
If you are a student at Cal Poly, please make every effort to join us. I believe that it will be a weekend that will hijack eternities and change lives forever! You can register for the conference at the link below.