Thirteen years ago...
Thirteen years ago Ken and Keira responded to the call into ministry once again. This time they would give up their jobs and jump in with both feet. Their hearts beat for the same thing - seeing university campuses produce leaders that would take the Presence of God into their spheres of influence and lead others to do the same, seeing cultures radically changed for the glory of God...Welcome to their heartbeat...
My experience on Doulos blew my mind. 300 missionaries from 35 nations living and working together to impact the world one port at a time. Brilliant. My initial stint on the ship took us from Freemantle to Albany, Western Australia, but living in close quarters with so many cultures gave me a new love for the nations. My desire for making a difference had suddenly exploded from Frankston to… the world!
A year later I went back on the ship for 13 months but those stories are for a later date. For now, I want to put this challenge out there to all our university students. In 15 years time when you look back on this holiday break period what will you remember? My advice is - do something you’ll never forget.
Last year I discovered that I was hated by someone we’ll call Helga. At first I thought it was a communication break down. I broke a rule that was important to her. I didn’t know the rule existed so my naivete could have sparked frustration. But hatred?
I realised that something dear to Helga’s heart must have been prodded for such an intense display of hatred to come out. I wondered if other people have broken the rule as well. I wondered if other people have bent the rule, have distorted the rule, have ridiculed the rule. I wondered if those same people have realised how important that rule is to Helga, so important to her that she would snap like that.
It led me to wonder how Helga’s rule came about in the first place. “No pastors allowed at university without certification”. I can understand why Helga might not like pastors, and why she would not like them to be involved in her community. But what have they done that could possibly insite so much anger from Helga?
Here’s my suspicion: Helga was angered more by what she believes is the motive of the pastors than their actual actions. Helga sees pastors as wolves preying on students. She sees that pastors have a job to do in building their churches and they have chosen to use her students to do the building.
I can see why she would believe this. I can see how pastors can get focused on building their own church or on building their own image as an evangelist. I can see how this would anger Helga. I wish she could see our hearts though and I wish that as pastors come under the microscope their motives would be represented correctly.
As a pastor I enjoy caring for people. I became a pastor because I was already caring for people. As I walk onto campus I can’t help but feel my heart break for students and reach out a helping hand to them. I believe university campuses need people with a pastoral heart on them. University students are surrounded by people wanting to direct their intelligence, their youthfulness, their attractiveness, their energy, their future finances and influence.
If Helga believes a student’s biggest threat is a couple of pastors then someone must have seriously broken her trust and I want to apologise for that Helga. I wish I could make it up to you somehow. I wish I could introduce you to pastors who genuinely care about you and your students. Someday I hope you will hear my heart Helga.
Reading the passage below reminded me of Helga. You see, King Balak hated the Israelites and he had enlisted a prophet to speak curses over the nation. But when the prophet Balaam came to fulfill this task, all that came out was a blessing! I remembered the place I was in a year ago, giving my all to sow into students and then being asked to leave campus. I was devastated - I carried around a sense of anxiety towards the university for a while.
Negative words had cut deep but if God is genuinely calling us to something, His Words have more power. A year on, I don’t feel any bitterness towards Helga. Just sadness. Her words were meant to hurt but God’s Words have healed and in fact propelled me with a greater motivation to pastor and care for university students. Campuses of Melbourne, be blessed, rather than cursed!
For I brought you up from the land of Egypt,
I redeemed you from the house of bondage;
And I sent before you Moses, Aaron, and Miriam.
O My people, remember now
What Balak king of Moab counseled,
And what Balaam the son of Beor answered him,
From Acacia Grove to Gilgal,
That you may know the righteousness of theLord.” Micah 6:4,5 NKJV
Now, who knows what the full details really were in this story but it sure got me contemplating my own life. When a conviction burns deeply inside of you and it impacts every part of your being, how can you tell if you are crossing that line? How do you define when are you “pushing” an idea on another person, or when you are just being yourself and letting it ooze out of you?
Reading through Hebrews 11 I was reminded of the legacy that was left behind by people like Moses, Joseph and Abraham. They are recorded as having a good reputation or in other versions, commended as having a good witness.
Perhaps due to bad experiences they'd had in the past, I have encountered people who were extremely angry that I even walk onto university campuses, let alone open my mouth and say anything remotely related to my thoughts on faith. Without us even having a conversation, my reputation in their eyes is far from good right now but as my heart and motives are tried, tested, shaped and refined by my faith, I hope one day to be added to the list of people who were found to have a good reputation.
Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see. Through their faith, the people in days of old earned a good reputation. Hebrews 11:1,2 NLT