Mr. Mark Vowels, CGO Director
In just a few weeks, the long-anticipated Christmas break will be upon us and students and staff will scatter to the ends of the earth. We don’t do this anymore at BJU, but in past years Christmas break officially began following a special chapel. The service was usually pretty brief because everyone was in a hurry to go. Cars would be packed, students would be on the edge of their seats, and as soon as the “Amen” was pronounced there was a race to get off campus as quickly as possible. Getting a parking space for your fully packed car right in front of the FMA was considered a big win! I am not pining for a return to that routine, but I do recall fondly the excitement that filled the auditorium during that last chapel service. I used to say, “If we could gather the electricity in the air and contain it, we could use it to power the campus for the entire second semester!”
However your Christmas break begins and whatever plans you have laid, I’m sure you are eager for those days to get here. Mom’s cooking, late mornings, Netflix binges, and holiday treats are on the horizon! But can I encourage you to also think ahead about how you can invest in eternity over the Christmas break? Here are a few suggestions.
Start with Prayer
First, start with prayer. Ask God to overwhelm you with the reality that Jesus became a man so that men could know Him and live with Him eternally. Ask Him to give you an eagerness to tell others about Emmanuel – “God with us.” There are no treasures or trinkets that compare to this hope - Jesus came into the world to save sinners. You will not be a witness to this marvelous truth until it first becomes marvelous in your own soul. Ask God to give you daily opportunities to speak with someone about the meaning of Christmas and then look for those opportunities as you go through your day.
Start Gospel Conversations
The Christmas season may be the easiest time of the year to engage in gospel conversations. Look for opportunities to start conversations about Emmanuel. As you go shopping, ask the cashiers or others in line, “What is your favorite thing about Christmas?” Listen kindly to whatever they say, then offer, “For me, the best part of Christmas is Emmanuel. God became a man so that we could know Him and have eternal life.” People’s response may not always be friendly, but most folks are not offended when you remind them that Christmas is nothing without Christ.
Speak with Your Pastor
Call or email your pastor now – today – and offer to do whatever you can to serve the church and help with outreach during your time at home. He will be delighted! In some cases, your pastor will immediately give you a list of opportunities. In other cases, he may need a few days to think about it and check with some others in the church. Every church and every pastor are different, but whatever he asks of you, do your best to serve, even if it isn’t what you most want to do. One of the greatest ways to grow a servant’s heart and to gain useful ministry experience is to get engaged in a variety of church activities. Don’t get the idea that any service is beneath you now that you are a college student. Remember, what Jesus said, “It is enough that the disciple be as his master, and the servant his lord” (Matthew 10:25).
Maybe you can offer to substitute for a nursery worker or a Sunday school teacher so that he or she can enjoy church services with family during the holidays. Maybe there is a physical work around the facility that needs to be done. Maybe there are hospital visits that you can make. When it comes to ways to serve the local church, seek and you shall find!
Speak with Your Youth Pastor
If your church has a youth pastor, connect with him as well and offer to serve the youth group while you are home. Hearing from someone in college may mean a lot to the teens in your church. Just being there and sharing in youth group activities will be a great encouragement to the youth pastor. Even better, invite him to coffee or lunch and tell him how God is working in you through your experience as a BJU student. That will make his day!
Find Ways to Serve
Some other miscellaneous ideas that you might try include making some Christmas cookies and taking them to your neighbors along with a Christmas card that includes a gospel tract. Try to start an “Emmanuel” conversation as well.
Go downtown in your city with family or some friends from church and sing Christmas carols (depending on your city you may need to get permission), then pass out gospel tracts and seek to have gospel conversations.
Go to a senior care facility in your neighborhood and use your musical talents to lead the residents in singing Christmas carols. Then just sit with them and listen to their stories about past Christmases and look for opportunities to share Jesus with them.
If you have elderly or disabled people in your church or in your neighborhood, offer to do some housework for them or offer to help them put up some Christmas decorations. While you are helping them, seek to have a conversation about Jesus.
Post a Comment
Post a comment and let me and others know what you have done in the past that has been a blessing or what you plan to do during this Christmas break to invest in eternity.
Bob Jones University Family
"I am thankful for...
"for opportunities to serve at a local church and faithful ministry partners." -Jordan Baun
"for being able to go home for Christmas (God’s providence)." -Ana Sofia
"for how God sanctifies us in specific areas by allowing a situation to recur." -Natalie Dunphy
"for God’s loving me so much that He takes the time to refine me." -Hannah Harlacher
"for people who love me enough to confront me in areas of sin that I am blind to." -Janice Driscoll
"for God’s using wretched people for His glory." -Aline Zimmer
"for IFace ministry and the real joy I have in Christ." -Jessica Huffman
"for His gracious leading in bringing the Benson family to BJU, and for the incredible work that He is doing in our student body. We are so thankful for love and kindness that has been extended to us in welcoming us to campus!" -Mr. Alan Benson
"for a good pastor." -Micah Mortensen
"for stretching that God enables through ministry." -Anna DeMott
"for the opportunity to teach, and daily sufficient grace." -Mr. Mark Vowels
"for God’s rich mercy and amazing grace extended to me in so many ways, not the least of which is a wonderful family with whom to do life and ministry." -Dr. Sam Horn
"that God reveals himself through his word. Even if I’ve read a passage 50 times before, I learn new things every time!" -Regan Smith
"for grace—not only saving us from sin but also pushes us towards Christlikeness." -Glen Calica
"for God’s humbling us and using us." -Elaina Lehner
"for God’s sovereignty that is present in my life, daily reminding who He is." -Daniel Kim
"for the way God ordained me to pursue a master’s degree while being able to work in an environment and position that I love." -Andrew Carter
"for God’s patience with my imperfections." -Tori Conover
"for God’s grace specifically in giving me opportunities to be used of Him to impact lives." -Drew Williquette
"despite a lack of trust in myself, I can be confident in God’s grace. I don’t have to fear being abandoned in sin because of His faithfulness toward me. He started a good work in me and is going to finish it." -Garrett Martin
"for comfort from God in seemingly impossible times." -Erin Knight
"for God’s direction and working in my life despite my failures, which is a huge testament to His love and sovereignty. I’m also thankful for my parent and being able to grow up in a church plant and experience ministry first hand." -Brian Jacquot
"for a long line of pastors and teachers who have faithfully transferred the Gospel to the next generation. I’m also grateful that God graciously dwells with needy people who trust in Him." -Dr. Eric Newton
"for being able to depend on him, and for the frequent opportunities he gives me to serve the Indian church with the musical talent He has blessed me with." -Darshan Pappu
"for God’s patience and grace with me. I mess up a lot, but He just continues to pour grace into my life and that’s a huge blessing." -Bethany Ferrari
"that his strength is made perfect in my weakness… because I’m really weak (2 Cor. 12:9)." -Tim Betancourt
"for friends I gained from doing outreaches, and my parents." -Thian Thang
"for life and for the faithful people in my life after my grandfather passed away on Friday. I’m also thankful for being able to start leading music this semester." -Ethan Hansen
"that Christ has the power to save men from sin." -Ben Brewer
"that I can serve an amazing student body and the next generation of ministry leaders." -Dr. Kevin Oberlin
"for God’s walking beside me so that when I fall or go astray, He is there to pick me back up and set me back on the path." -Brady Johnson
"for the Urban Evangelism outreach opportunities and how God has grown my desire to share the Gospel to those outside my comfort." -Chantel Tapp
"for my College Pastor at Palmetto, Bill Eisaman. He has not only given me lots of opportunity to minister but also ministered greatly to me." -Chris Harmony
"for God’s immense patience in teaching me some of the same lessons (patience, contentment, joy) over and over again! He’s such a steady rock in the storms of life, and I’m very thankful for his consistent faithfulness to me." -Katarina Shafer
"for opportunities God has put in my life to serve; that help me really grow in the ministry, stretch my faith, and be ready to give an answer regarding the hope within me." -Jon Allen
"for the opportunity to become a chaplain in the U.S. Army." -Caleb Davis
"that God is long-suffering, faithful, and that He died in order to give His people the amazing promise of the Gospel." -Jarod Hill
"for the consistent ways that God has shown me that He is in control. Through my devos, my church family, my hall and so many others, God has shown Himself working and directing in so many ways." -Katrina Holly
"that I’ve gotten a solid group of guys who keep me accountable to my actions and testimony!" -AJ Steenhoek
"that I do not have to live in guilt over my sin and defeat—I can live in freedom and security, because God’s love is not dependent on my actions!" -Jenna Moore
"that God keeps me patient and peaceful this semester and it was surprising how my Sunday electives were called 'Peace in Conflict.' Without His help, I definitely would not have been able to care for my roommate!" -Julian Tse
"for His great faithfulness. -Angelina Zimmer
"to see so many students who want to grow in their faith, seeking help from God’s Word. I am thankful for the opportunity to be a part of their lives!" -Dr. Pearson Johnson
"that God has stretched me in ways that were painful yet necessary. Making sacrifices that I have never made before has become a common occurrence in the last few months. The Lord has been so good and patient with me and has helped me through this semester in ways that I never thought was possible." -Jonathan Houtz
"for God’s faithfulness in taking care of us and meeting all our needs even when we forget about him sometimes. I’m also thankful for the friends God has put in my life, experiencing Christ’s love and showing it to others." -Stewart Ramakuri
"that God uses broken people to bring himself glory. He could have asked for perfection—instead, he asks for holiness. I’m thankful that God is a merciful God who comforts and aids us in our distress and gives us the greatest hope through Jesus Christ." -Natalie Larsen
"that God continues to open my eyes to the truth from His Word. He brings Scripture to my mind when I need it, and when those I counsel need it. It truly is profitable for every aspect of life." -Josh Ortiz
"for God’s patience. I’m so stubborn, yet God is there in patient love yet in complete justice." -Mike Haynes
"that we are given fulfilling purpose in life, and that God gives us something so incredible to live to for! (Titus 2:12-13)." -Mackenzie Graham
"that Jesus helps me hear His voice and know it and come back to him no matter how many times I wander (John 10:27). I’m also thankful that the struggles and sorrows of ministry are worth the triumph of seeing people drawn to Christ." -Kaylah Smith
"to live a quiet and peaceable life in a world of noise and arguing." -Judson Greene
"for God’s continual loving kindness and daily tender mercies." -Dr. Jim Berg
"that God lets me recognize my sin, so that I know what to pray for in my spiritual walk. I’m also thankful that He always gives me opportunities to pray for others." -Steve Choi
"that the Lord has not dealt with me after my sins nor rewarded me according to my iniquities, but as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward me. I’m also thankful for the men and women who are here training at BJU to go out and reach the world for Christ, and I’m thankful to get to have a part in their lives." -Andrew Minnick
"for forgiveness. Every day I realize how badly I need it. But God has already forgiven me. I don’t have to hold on to it. In turn, that changes my perspective toward those I’m serving. I forgive more easily because I’m forgiven." -Katie Albert
"for the accountability I am able to have with solid friends. We aren’t always perfect, and I’m thankful for friends who will shoot straight with me." -Philip Arcuri
"for the hope that God gives through His promises, using situations to make me more like Christ, and security for eternity." -Carlos Herrera
"that I have the eternal relationship with the Lord, and for brothers and sisters who grow together spiritually and encourage one another." -Shinhye Lee
"that God gives me the grace every day to tackle things that I don’t think I am able to. He is always there for me." -Ethan Case
"for the peace I can find in in the truth of Scripture regardless of how stressed I am." -Todd Kazlauskas
"for my salvation. I have been learning so much about Him lately. Whenever I see my sinful nature, I see more of God’s love and mercy. It is such a wonderful life that He has given to us." -Henry Wu
"for a church here that feels like actual family and builds me up and edifies me in Christ. I’m also thankful that he’s shown me I need to swallow my pride and forgive those who have wronged me." -Olivia Mulder
"for Godly Christian friends who encourage me and keep me accountable." -Ethan Alger
Elliott Martin, Cross-Cultural Service Major at BJU
“When a man is filled with the Word of God you cannot keep him still, If a man has got the Word, he must speak or die.” - Dwight L. Moody
“We can only go so deep with Jesus until we start yearning to reach out.” - David Mathis
“If he have faith, the believer cannot be restrained. He betrays himself. He breaks out. He confesses and teaches this gospel to the people at the risk of life itself.” - Martin Luther
“To call a man evangelical who is not evangelistic is an utter contradiction.” - G. Campbell Morgan
“To be a soul winner is the happiest thing in this world.” - Charles Spurgeon
"Someone asked, ʻWill the heathen who have never heard the Gospel be saved?' It is more a question with me whether we—who have the Gospel and fail to give it to those who have not—can be saved." - Charles Spurgeon
“If there be anything about which we cannot tolerate lukewarmness, it is in the matter of sending the gospel to a dying world." - Charles Spurgeon
“The earth's families will be blessed only if we go to them with the Gospel. That is God's plain purpose." - John Stott
"It's not a real love if you aren't giving people what they need the most and that's the gospel of Jesus Christ!" - Steve Pettit
"A person that is convinced that God loves them lays down their life so that the gospel can be advanced." - Will Galkin
“But for this purpose I have raised you up, to show you my power, so that my name may be proclaimed in all the earth.” - Exodus 9:16
You’ve heard quotes like these. You’ve heard sermons on why you should share the Gospel. If you’re reading your Bible, you’ve undoubtedly run into verses about why you should share the Gospel. So, the question is, why don’t we?
Let me give you one more quote:
“Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.” - Jesus (Mark 16:15)
Seems pretty straightforward, right? Jesus tells us to go, so we go. So, if we aren’t going, we aren’t obeying Jesus. The problem is, we still aren’t going. We have an excuse for every possible Gospel-sharing opportunity. If you are an excuse-giver, read the last CGO blog post by Moses Kim or ask Dr. Kevin Oberlin to explain what he means when he says, “The extent of your sin is congruent with your ability to rationalize.”
Instead of trying to debunk all the common excuses for not evangelizing, I want to present one truth that, if you let it sink in, I think will change the way we think about sharing the Gospel.
Here it is: God wants to use you. God has this crazy plan to ransom people from every tribe, language, people, and nation (Rev. 5:9) by opening their hearts to see the glory of God in the face of Jesus through the Gospel (2 Corinthians. 4:6). But what is even crazier is that God takes that perfect Gospel, the power of God unto salvation (Romans 1:16), and He gives it to us (2 Corinthians 4:7) with the promise that it will be effective (Isaiah 55:11)! We are to share the Gospel! That’s worth skipping a little studying time. That’s worth pausing the video game. That’s worth giving our lives for.
People are dying and going to Hell. They are living in rebellion to God. They need to repent and believe the Gospel for the sake of their good and God’s glory. And out of every way in which God could choose to bring people to Himself, He says, “I choose you” (John 15:16, 27).
I already don’t deserve to be saved. I definitely don’t deserve to be the means by which God saves others. It is a privilege and a joy anytime to see Christ proclaimed (Philippians 1:18), and God offers to use me to proclaim Christ. Who am I to say no to that? As I see God as worth glorifying, Christ as worth sharing, the Spirit as worth obeying, and my joy as worth pursuing, shouldn’t I want to share the Gospel more?
In case you didn’t figure it out, the answer is yes. There is nothing more joy-bringing than being used by God to bring other people into loving relationships with His amazing Son Jesus. That’s what I want to spend my life on. That’s what Jesus tells us to spend our lives on. Let’s share the Gospel. Let’s hear the voice of our Savior saying, “Go,” and arm ourselves with the promises of God, then go! For the sake of the Savior we love, for the sake of the Father we follow, for the sake of the Spirit we trust, for the sake of our great God’s glory, for the sake of the lost world’s need, for the sake of our joy, let’s go.
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The CGO Blog
Written by the CGO staff, with guest posts from students and other faculty/staff at BJU to provide thought leadership for missions in a new millennium.