If I told you that 5 years ago, when we didn’t have a campus presence at SPU, that it wasn’t an ideal place to begin a campus ministry, many people would have agreed. I saw many efforts made to help start a ministry there in the past and there were times when I began to doubt whether we would ever see a campus presence of disciples. It’s a small college that has deep religious traditions, which makes bringing in new ideas and approaches to Christianity difficult. Many thought it might take a full time intern on the campus to provide the students with daily leadership and direction. And most obviously, there were many complexities of starting a campus ministry in a school where many students and faculty might feel threatened or offended by the differences in our perspectives on conversion, baptism and practical Christianity.
Today there are 13 brothers and sisters at SPU (and 16 in their two bible talks), thanks to a series of little miracles that helped us see a restoration of biblical relationships and faith lived out there.
The first miracle was that we had children that grew up in our group of churches, who decide to attend school there: Ali Winje, Audrey Hoffner and Fabricio Turcious were among the first. Ali Winje was the first disciple to start attending classes at SPU. With a scholarship to play soccer, she was all alone her Freshman year and really fought hard to stay faithful, having to attend a UW Bible Talk and be a part of a ministry on the other side of Montlake. The next year, Audrey Hoffner enrolled at SPU. Fabricio enrolled the folllowing year, and brought a lot of faith and a strong desire to start a ministry. With Fabricio, Ali and Audrey together, the 3 of them formed a cohesive core group that made the Bible Talk attractive to other students. Along with Jake Tacher and Hannah Templer, who attended different schools, we finally had enough students to start an SPU Bible Talk. And if one of those pieces was missing, I doubt it would have worked.
The second miracle was the City Region purchasing the Queen Anne building. Situated less than a half mile up the hill from SPU, the Queen Anne Church building provides a very inviting and welcoming place for SPU students to worship. I think the stability and permanence of the building has made evangelism at that school a little easier because students come and see something familiar, a permanent place to worship and grow in their faith. The Queen Anne building is a place where they can have events, watch movies, hold dances, pray all night and of course, worship on Sundays. The city region of the Seattle Church sacrificed in dollars, and the SPU ministry is reaping in souls being saved.
The final miracle was the conversion of strong spiritual men: Aaron Badilla, Jens Brenestead and Brian Fisher were the first three brothers converted there, and they have all grown into faithful, spiritual leaders who have helped convert other strong men of character. They use their talents by leading Bible talks and small groups on that campus, outreach, and even singing and performing on Sundays. Those brothers have provided a sense of stability and maturity beyond their years and have opened a door that has made it safe for other students to follow.
This past week, in sub freezing temperatures, Josh Heinke was baptized into Christ at Golden Gardens. Josh was the 16th SPU baptism in the past 2 years! The whole moment was pretty overwhelming for me, so I stayed afterward and prayed. When I closed my eyes, all I could think of was Jesus’ words to his disciples, “Blessed are the eyes that see what you see.” Luke 1O. So many of us have longed to see something like this, a vibrant ministry at SPU. I believe that SPU is one of the largest campus ministries at a faith based school in our movement of churches. What an incredible blessing for us to see God working like this, and I pray that the miracles happening here can inspire faith in students on other difficult and hard to reach campuses.