Yesterday, I had the chance to visit my alma mater once again.
Texas A&M for me is a place of striking emotion. I think being a college minister adds to those emotions as I reflect on my school, as does the fact that I left A&M early, when God called me to graduate long before I hoped to.
I walked through the Bonfire Memorial for the first time this week. The Bonfire Tragedy was one of the most memorable nights/days of my whole life and always will be. Sloshing around the simple but profound memorial on a very rainy day was powerful, and the names of the 12 who died bring back all of that heartache and memories of God doing amazing things through awful pain.
I entered Texas A&M one decade ago, and those would be 2 1/2 years that would radically change my life. After visiting 178 other campuses this year, plus the several I’ve known at other times, I still have not found spiritual life or an advanced disciplemaking culture like we experienced then. Something akin may be out there, but the wonder we lived was rare indeed, if not one-of-a-kind.
We were afforded opportunities to be discipled and to disciple in so many ways – from the crowd 5,000 students strong attending the weekly basketball arena Bible study, down through ministries of dozens or hundreds, all the way down to one-on-one and small group discipleship meetings, saturating campus buildings and dorm rooms and Freebirds and coffee shops.
The fact that discipleship wasn’t just big or just small has always hinted to me that something healthy and real and powerful was going on. So does the fact that former Aggies have packed international mission fields and U.S. seminaries at a shocking rate.
Nowadays, there are still reasons to believe that our giant public university is “the cheapest Christian education in the state of Texas.” And there are likewise rumors that some of the glories have faded since that time. I honestly do not know the state of things today, but I hope and pray that God’s most abundant blessings for our school lie ahead.
In any case, someone needs to research and write A History of Christian Life at Texas A&M University, 1985-2010. The case study with its highs and lows and testimonies and warnings could do the field of Collegiate Ministry some great good.
I know that God spoiled me – in a good way – by sending me to Texas A&M. Because of that experience, I can never doubt that amazing spiritual growth can take place in the 4 years of college (or even 2 1/2!), nor that a true campus-wide “disciplemaking culture” can be built, nor that students can be entrusted with real ownership of important ministries and can be called to demanding levels of commitment.
I recognize you might be skeptical because Texas A&M is my alma mater, but let’s all still read that History if anybody ever writes it.
In fact, let’s keep learning from what God has done on all college campus mission fields, because it will only help us reach these people groups – from Aggies to Longhorns – even better.
Written mostly at Wal-Mart in Ennis, TX, while I got my final oil change of the trip