On Campus at PSU Berks – Relearning at the Start of the Year

The first week of campus ministry is history!  As I mentioned in a post last week, I have already had some adventures with students!  Following that, last Tuesday night we had our annual care package handout.  Each year I invite local churches to donate care packages which we will then hand out to students.  I think it is a great way to show love and grace to the students on campus.  Besides the fact that students get a free gift, the students in CSF have the opportunity to talk for a few brief moments with their peers who may never even consider coming to a Bible study.

This is the fifth year we did this.  Last year we had 301 packages.  I failed to count the grand total this year but I know we had more than 301 (I had three groups give 115, 140 and 40 which totals 295.  I know we had at least four other churches contribute about 10.  I went to Penn State so I am good at math and know that is greater than 301!).

My prayer is that seeds of grace were planted in this ministry.

Our second big activity for the first week was a cookout on Thursday evening.  Or it was supposed to be…

I woke up on Thursday morning to pouring down rain.  It was raining at 6 AM and it was still raining at 9:30.  The weather report said 85-100% chance of rain throughout the day, until 8 PM.  I wanted to make a decision early whether to have the cookout or not.  That way, if we canceled there would be plenty of time to let people know what we were doing instead.

So after consulting with the student leaders, we postponed the cookout.  Then we hit Facebook, e-mail and text message to let every possible person who may have been coming know the cookout was delayed.

Naturally, as the day progressed, the weather report changed.  The chance of rain went from 100% to 85 to 65 to 35 to 15%.  I sat glumly on campus at 5 PM, the time the cookout would have started, looking out the window of the cafe at a beautiful sunny afternoon.

The funny thing is, I recall the same thing happening about five years ago.  It was my second year of ministry and we were having a cookout, though then we waited till late September.  The rain came down so after consulting with a few student leaders we postponed.  A few hours later it was beautiful.

The difference was that five years ago we did not check the weather.  It was pouring at 2 PM so we figured it would be pouring at 5.  This time it was pouring much earlier in the day, but we checked both The Weather Channel and Accuweather.

What’s the lesson?  Meteorologists know a lot.  But sometimes they are wrong.

Not very profound, I know.

Perhaps we could just say God is in control.  Of course, what does that mean?  Interpreting the weather to figure out what God is trying to tell us seems unwise, since we can push any issue we want (as was seen recently with at least one politician trying to interpret hurricane Irene).  Also, if God is “trying” to tell us something through the weather, God just looks weak.  To me, it brings up more problems then it solves (like why doesn’t God do something clearer to get our attention?).

Maybe the lesson is just to have patience.  After a long summer of preparing for ministry I want everything to be perfect.  My nightmare is a bunch of people standing in the rain trying to cook hamburgers (actually, that might be fun).  Another nightmare is a new freshman going to a cookout on a sunny Thursday afternoon and no one being there because she did not get the notice it was canceled.  What if she never comes to CSF?  What if she falls away from her faith!  It could be the turning point in someone’s life!

Yes, I think the lesson is to just relax.  This ministry is not about me.  It does not ultimately rely on my talents or planning or really anything I can do.  I tend to forget that over the summer, but as I start working with college students, flying by the seat of my pants, I remember.  I remember that I have a job to do, that I should do it the best I can, but I should not freak out over it.  The reason not to freak out over it is that there is still a Holy Spirit at work in the world.  I am glad I relearned that lesson in the first week.

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