25 Sep Engaging the Campuses: Role of Students and Graduates
UESI will celebrate 60 years of God’s faithfulness in ministering to the students in 2014. We are thankful for the very many students and graduates whom God has raised as His witnesses in Indian campuses and society over the last 60 years through the UESI ministry.
However, we have a long way to go in terms of impacting the campuses across the length and breadth of India. Let us take stock of our ministry and rededicate ourselves to this great task of impacting campuses. Students, Graduates and Staff are our major resources. Each of us needs to rethink and evaluate as to whether we are fulfilling our God given responsibility in this great task.
1. Role of Students Student Initiative:
Right from the beginning student initiative has been one of the major core-values of UESI. The responsibility for ministering and impacting the campuses lie primarily with the students. This is one of the major areas other Christian organizations ministering to students and youth differ from us. Unless our EU students develop a vision for their campuses and own the responsibility for the ministry in their colleges we would not go very far. Very often it appears that the ministry in campuses is driven by staff and graduates – students are just errand boys, doing what they are asked to do. This situation must change. It is likely that most of the students are intimidated by the challenges and feel incapable or unworthy. Students should always realize that . . it is not by sword or spear that the LORD saves; for the battle is the LORD’s . . .” 1 Sam 17:47b. It is very important to realize the above truth and depend on God for all the challenges. In the recently concluded National AGM in Ahmedabad there was a sharing from one of the EUs where they did not have the help of any graduate or staff for a long time in organizing, finance or running the ministry on a regular basis. However the very few students depended on God and prayed and witnessed and conducted retreats and camps on their own. God honoured their faith as He did in the case of David, and as a result many friends came to Christ. Students should learn this vital lesson that they are co-workers with God. It is God who is taking the initiative and the job of convicting people of sin. Our job is to be faithful witnesses of Him.
2. Role of Graduates and Staff – Coach, Mentor, Trainer:
UESI places a lot of importance on graduates and staff. They are essentially coaches, mentors and trainers to the students who are the key players. Coaches are always people who were once players themselves. They understand and appreciate the challenges and demands of the game and accordingly coach the players. Staff have specialized skills which are very valuable to students and graduates in equipping them for the tasks. Paul was an excellent mentor to Timothy. 1st and 2nd Timothy illustrate Paul’s passion and concern for the ministry and how he wanted Timothy to take charge. Timothy was a timid person and needed encouragement. In a similar way
graduates should be primarily equippers and encouragers. There are times when they need to play the role of fathers to correct and
put students on the right track. At other times they need to be mothers providing a shoulder to the students to pour out, cry, and unburden themselves of the struggles and problems. Read 1 Thess. 2:6b – 12 to learn from Apostle Paul how he played the role of both a father and a mother to the Thessalonian Church. The calling we as staff and graduates have is stated clearly by Apostle Paul in Eph. 3:12, 13 “. . . to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the Body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity and faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” What a calling! As Staff and Graduates let us live up to the call of preparing God’s people until they become mature. Let us never give up but do our part in building the body of Christ.
3. Understanding the times:
If we do not understand the times (the trends, thinking patterns, behaviour and expectations of present day students) we might soon become irrelevant. It takes a lot of hard work to study and appreciate the times and accordingly cater to the new challenges. Our message is the same, but we may need to change our communication strategies to make our ministry more effective to the new generation.
4. Fervent Prayer:
The theme of UESI for 2013-2014 is Prayer. Let us bring all the campuses in our country to the throne of grace and pray fervently.
5. Getting involved in Campus:
We as students and graduates must get involved in the issues facing the campuses and society. It is easy to limit our involvement
to Bible studies and turn a blind eye to the needs in the campuses. Today many colleges and Universities in the country are open to hear our views on a variety of issues – education, coping with stress, dealing with corruption, addictions, etc. It takes a lot of effort to equip ourselves to address many such crying issues around us, but doing so would enable us to be faithful to our role as light and salt of the world.
6. Living examples:
More than ever our campuses are looking for living examples. Remember Daniel’s life – how the pagan kings under whom he worked were convinced that Daniel’s God is the true God. Eventhough Daniel served King Darius, the king preferred to address him as
‘servant of the living God’ (Dan 6:20). Let us examine ourselves and aspire to be like Daniel and Nehemiah to be living examples, attracting many to our God.
About the Author:
Dr Joseph John is a Professor in the Dept of Electrical Engineering at IIT Bombay. He has been a teaching faculty for nearly 20 years. He is an active member of the Bombay EGF and at present serving as the President of UESI.