Venture: Campus Ministry

For the past 13 years, Rob Seiffert has returned to his alma mater once a week to hang out with college students.

Employed by an agency primarily in film production and web design, Rob volunteers at Bowling Green State University with Cru. “Volunteering for Cru gives me the opportunity to still have an impact on the university on a regular basis by designing things such as web layout, videos, posters, T-shirts and fliers,” Rob says. “I have also helped lead worship for Cru in the past.”

Essentially, Rob shapes the firstimpression visuals of what Cru looks like when students walk through the doors.

“I do design stuff every day, and that’s something I feel like I have an expertise in,” Rob asserts. “During the seasons in my life when I have extra capacity to use it [with Cru], it is very rewarding.”

Rob lives in Bowling Green, Ohio, with his wife and two children, with a third one on the way.

“The university is a huge part of our little town,” Rob says. “I didn’t just want to be that Christian guy who did Cru in college and say, ‘Oh, those were the days,’ but instead have Cru still be a part of my life and have my kids see it too.”

The greatest impact for Rob as a volunteer hasn’t been from his graphic design skills, but from the feedback students give him about his relationship with his wife and kids.

“I remember when I was a student, I loved seeing the staff marriages and the relationships they had with one another and the way they raised their kids,” Rob
says. “Being able to have, hopefully, what students can see as a Christ-centered relationship and solid family life has been one of the biggest areas of impact as a volunteer.  

Sibling “Tripp”

Day 1: Smallville

IMG_2688Reaching the peak of the hilly two-lane road, my brother and I immediately recognized the cherry barn, silver silo and butterscotch yellow farmhouse in the distance. As if seeing Cinderella’s Castle for the first time, I squealed like a little girl.

It is here at 839 248th Street where the iconic Kent Farm from the TV series, Smallville, was filmed.

I was 10 years old when Smallville’s pilot episode first aired on the WB, which is now the CW. Ten seasons later, my brother and I have witnessed Clark Kent go from struggling as an outcasted teenager to putting on the classic crimson cape as Superman.

And here we were, standing in awe of something as simple as a barn.

This was the first of many Smallville stops for our Vancouver vacation. Next we visited the Talon in downtown Smallville, Smallville High School, Smallville Medical Center, Luthorcorp, Watch Tower, Queen Tower, Lex Luthor’s Mansion and the Daily Planet (the Newspaper where Clark and Lois Lane work as reporters. Can you say dream job?)

Day 2: Once Upon A Time

IMG_2881What’s a Vancouver vacation without visiting the place where all fairytale characters are lost in a land without magic as a result of the Dark Curse? Yes, my brother and I visited the one and only Storybrooke from the TV series Once Upon a Time.

Walking along Moncton Street, we became enchanted by this quaint little town. It was if we had been transformed into fairytale characters, writing our roles in the script, my brother as Jafar (his favorite villain), and me as Mary Poppins (I would have preferred Jasmine, but then again Rapunzel was casted as an African-American, so a girl can dream.)

Spiritual Bruises

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Gasps filled the third floor of Clark Hall. All eyes on me, the choreographer.

And yet, Michael Bublé’s “Can’t Buy Me Love” continued to play through the sound system.

It was the evening of my department’s annual dance auditions. Halfway through demonstrating the jazz routine I somehow slipped, my skin smacking against the floor. I could feel bruises forming around my outer thigh.

Pushing past the pain, I immediately returned to my feet and finished the dance.

Over time, I recognized that my courage to physically stand up after a fall is not the same when I fall down spiritually. When I find myself stuck in familiar patterns of sin, it often seems easier to just stay down.

Yet Philippians 1:6 says, “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”

I need to be reminded that walking spiritually is not about relying on my own physical strength to pick me up; it’s relying on God’s strength to help me up during difficult times.

God’s never going to lose His grip on me.

My “13 Going on 30″ Moment

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thriller_trousers_redIt’s close to miiiiiidnight and something happened right there on the floor

Under the mooOOOooonlight the dance came on that almost no one knew

Except for meeeeee so the dance floor was cleared so I could shake it.

All eyes on meeeeeeeee as people looked to me for the dance moves.

I’m in the groove.

‘Cause this is thriller, thriller night!

Last Saturday night, I had my very own “13 Going on 30″ moment on the dance floor at Logan and Shannon’s wedding reception. “Thriller” came on and I instantly channeled my inner Michael Jackson. There I was, with my imaginary moonwalking shoes, white socks and red leather jacket. I had found my happy place, dancing in my own little bubble.

But then I noticed a few people behind me started joining in on the iconic Thriller moves. Next thing I knew, the entire dance floor was following my lead in perfect unison. Say what? “Keep going,” they said. So then I thought to myself, “What would Michael do?”

Keep dancing!

Here’s the clip from 13 Going on 30:

Here’s the Thriller Dance by the King of Pop:

Why students lose their faith in college

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A growing trend reveals that college freshmen aren’t just preparing a goodbye speech to their families, but to their faith as well.

Conor Friedersdorf writes in The Atlantic, “[Freshmen] leave their church, the community incentives to attend it, and the watchful eye of parents who get angry or make them feel guilty when they don’t go to services or stray in their faith. Suddenly they’re surrounded by dorm mates of different faiths or no faith at all.”

However, because I attended a university in the heart of the Bible Belt, it came as no surprise to see many college students dressed in their Sunday best for church. But what did come as a shock to me was how these church attenders behaved the remaining six days of the week.

Attending church doesn’t make one a Christian, and yet, this is a lie many college students believe.

Even as someone who grew up in a Christian family, I struggled too with living out my faith instead of saving it for Sundays. Certain barriers pushed me away from experiencing the fullness of my relationship with Jesus. The majority of my first semester revolved around sorority life, school, dance and Alabama football. I didn’t get plugged in a campus ministry because I would make up excuses. I was becoming a part of the growing trend of saying goodbye to my faith.

Who knew I would need a spiritual survival kit in addition to my freshman survival kit?

It wasn’t until the spring of my sophomore year that I settled down and became invested with Bama Cru, Cru’s campus ministry at Alabama.

At Bama Cru, staff member Jeff Norris is “convinced that the greatest need that incoming college freshmen have is to explore and develop the spiritual area of their life.”

“One of the best ways to do this is in the context of community,” Jeff said. “Often times, freshmen are curious about faith and want to develop their spiritual life, but they don’t know where to start or who to start with.”

How not to lose your faith in college

Pursuing a relationship with Jesus and living out one’s faith seemed to be a thing of the past as I looked around at the brokenness on campus. Most students don’t come into college thinking they’ll lose their faith. But then to-do lists pile up, and it becomes a backburner. However, I found that my faith actually strengthened during college once I became more intentional about my activities.

These are a couple of things I found helpful:

1. Get Plugged Into a Ministry
Whatever your theological background, get plugged in with a group of solid believers who love God and love people. I chose to become involved with Bama Cru, Campus Crusade for Christ’s chapter at Alabama. Surrounding myself with a community of believers, I created relationships and gained a deeper understanding of the Christian faith. It wasn’t until college when I realized Christianity was not just a certain religion, but also a relationship with Jesus.

2. Take On a Leadership Role
Are you passionate about your faith? Seek after a leadership role on campus. I became my sorority’s chaplain and spread the love of Jesus Christ among my Gamma Phi Beta sisters. Some of my friends from Bama Cru led a six-week video series from Matt Chandler on dating, relationships and sex based off of the book of Song of Songs in the Bible. Open to anyone, the series was held at different sorority houses each week. In addition, my sorority collaborated with another sorority for a Bible study on Marian Jordan’s book, “Radiance.”

3. Attend a Summer Project
The summer before my senior year in college, I went on Greek Summit, a summer project led by Cru staff in Destin, Fla. There, I met over 100 college students from across the nation. The purpose of the mission trip was to learn how live out one’s faith and how to become an influence in your sorority or fraternity. It was probably the best two weeks of my college career. I learned a great deal about the Gospel and what it looks like to share one’s faith with your sorority sisters.

4. Make it a Priority
Reading the Bible and attending church is what “Culture Christianity” tells society is the right way to practice Christianity. I’ve discovered it’s a daily walk and a personal relationship. When I wake up, I do my best to make it a priority to spend time with God, not in a routine manner or because it’s my duty as a Christian, but because God is my reason for living. It’s almost like brushing your teeth. Do you brush your teeth because it’s a part of your routine, or do you do it so that your teeth won’t rot away?

With enough passion and perseverance, it is possible to live out your faith into your college experience.

  • Do you know someone in college with this similar experience?
  • Are you in college struggling or thriving?
  • What tips would you add?

Original Publication on cru.org

A new Christian from Sweden bravely shares her faith

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Growing up in Sweden, Malin Sjöbäck had never heard a single Bible verse or gone to church. It wasn’t until she attended Athletes in Action’s annual winter conference where she learned about having a personal relationship with Jesus.

“I went home from the trip, and that week, I prayed and received Christ,” Malin says. “It was the best thing I’ve ever done in my life.”

Just a year later, Malin graduated from Lindsey Wilson College in Kentucky. Her summer plans consisted of traveling to southeast Africa for a soccer tour with Athletes in Action, Cru’s ministry to athletes.

Part sports camp and part mission trip, Malin had the opportunity to blend her passion for soccer and her faith while experiencing another culture, and telling others about Jesus Christ.

Scared stiff, Malin began to publicly unfold her story for the first time in front of the youthful crowd in Swaziland, tightly tucking away her nerves.

It was there that she found her purpose in life: to tell her story so that others may be encouraged by what God has done and is still doing in her life.

“It didn’t matter how nervous I was sharing my story that night for the first time in front of a large group, because it was for God’s kingdom,” Malin says. “I feel like God has called me to show others what God has done with me and my life.”

Original Publication: cru.org

Crossing the Divide

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Staring at his smartphone, Joshua clicks the Kolo Africa app and waits in anticipation for the video to fully load.

From an outsider’s perspective, it could appear Joshua is showing a mere YouTube video to a group of Fulani herdsmen. But as a missionary, Joshua has another precious opportunity to introduce Christ from the palm of his hand.

Joshua presents the Kolo Africa app to reached and unreached people, like the Fulani, across the African continent so they may see and hear theJESUS film in their own language. The Fulani, nomadic cattle and goat herders, make up 10.4 percent of Nigeria’s population and are one of that country’s 520 ethnic groups. While the majority of the Fulani in Nigeria are Muslim, an increasing number are being introduced to the gospel.

Yet, a dividing line remains between the country’s mainly Christian south and Muslim north, most recently causing slaughter of innocents in the name of religion. The violence targets the very areas where Joshua shares the app, including Jos, Nigeria, where he works as the field operation coordinator for Rural Frontier Missions, a local mission organization.

“Even in the city when the fighting . . . breaks out, it’s neighbor against neighbor,” says Steve, executive director of the Kolo Group. “You can’t be on the fence about your religion. Both religious groups are very passionate, and Joshua has been on both sides of the fence.”

Before Joshua became a Christian, he was trained to be an imam by his father. As an adult, Joshua came in contact with a Christian named Daniel, who helped introduce Joshua and his family to Jesus.

Because Joshua has been on both sides of the fence, he realizes the importance of helping fulfill Christ’s Great Commission.

As soon as the video finishes, one of the Fulani herdsmen says to Joshua, “Here is Yesu speaking Fulfulde. Does this mean He was a Fulani?”

Excited, Joshua responds that Jesus speaks for everyone and comes for all people.  

Original Publication: Worldwide Challenge Magazine