One more important way in which college ministry is like missions is its difficulty.
Whether we like it or not, reaching these campus tribes effectively can be a very difficult undertaking. There are plenty of obstacles in college ministry: difficult school administrations, uncommitted students, moral failure among students, lack of resources, lack of help, lack of support, a short time frame in which to impact students, weariness among ministers, slow growth, unhealthy ministries and cults, difficulty raising awareness of the ministry, and so on.
Many of the college ministers I meet show signs of fatigue and discouragement – and who can blame us? Yet somehow the reminder that we’re doing missions, while it doesn’t solve the problems, can still be incredibly encouraging.
I think that’s because in the context of missions, all these struggles seem, to put it bluntly, normal.
In international missions, difficulty with local leaders, uncommitted tribe members, moral failure, lack of resources and help and support, personal weariness, slow growth, unhealthy ministries and cults, difficulty raising awareness, and other struggles are common. This is the stuff of missions. This is what missions books and biographies are written about, what makes missions the adventure that it is. And for thousands of years, God has been getting glory by overcoming these troubles on mission fields throughout the world – brilliantly, powerfully, and through His people.
The difficulties simply set the stage for God to show His amazing strength, whether in Zimbabwe or at Xavier. It’s what we signed up for, whether we realized it or not. Our work in college ministry has always required God’s miraculous intervention; realizing that we are missionaries simply underscores that fact.
On to Big Idea #2 tomorrow.