Confessions of a Kingdom Kid At Harvard

Written by  Joseph Porter - Cambridge, Massachusetts Friday, 07 January 2011 06:48

In the past three years, campus ministries associated with the International Churches of Christ have doubled in number. Many thriving campus ministries did not even exist just a few years ago, and attendance at the yearly International Campus Ministry Conferences has also steadily increased during that time.

What happened? I don't fully know. I had a revival handed to me when I entered campus ministry; I didn't start it, and I certainly didn't do a lot to help it during my first two years as a college student!

But God is slow to anger and abounding in love (Psalm 103.8b), and He has seen me through a lot since I moved to Boston to go to college in August 2008.

I grew up as a Kingdom Kid, blessed with faithful parents and friends from birth. I knew that campus ministry was the heart and soul of the ICOC, and I wanted to turn my campus upside down when I arrived there.

There was one significant problem, however: I was a prideful coward. I was terrified of inviting strangers to Bible discussion groups or other events, and I did everything I could to avoid actually talking to strangers: I started a Christian club at my campus, helped bring guest speakers to our campus ministry (including Drs. Douglas Jacoby and John Oakes), sent out emails, and put flyers on hundreds of doors. The problem wasn't that I started a club or helped bring out guest speakers; those were good things, and several students were baptized as a result. The problem was that I was trying to do things my own way because I thought I knew better. And I was dead wrong.

Eventually - about two years in to my career as a college disciple - I learned my lesson. I learned that it was laughably foolish for me to think that I knew how to evangelize my campus better than my campus ministers (not to mention my parents, both of whom served in Boston's campus ministry back in the day). I learned that I needed to "imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised" (Hebrews 6.12b) - to trust the judgment of those who had come before me and who loved me. Most of all, I learned that pride was spiritual suicide, and that I would never survive as a disciple without wholeheartedly seeking humility.

As much as I regret my past sin, I am eternally grateful for the lessons God has taught me and the change He has wrought in me. This semester, I have been given the opportunity to serve as an intern in Boston's campus ministry under one of my heroes, Kevin Miller. When I was a freshman, I saw meetings of the Body as burdens on my schedule; now, I anticipate nothing more than seeing my brothers and sisters at meetings of the Body. When I was a freshman, I was mortified of reaching out to strangers; this past semester, I was able to reach out to hundreds of strangers and study the Bible with about a dozen different students.

Of course, being a disciple on campus is a full-time job. I have to use my time wisely; meals are often combined with Bible studies, and many evenings are devoted to midweek services, Bible talks, Friday devotionals, d-groups, and the like. I've learned to limit the time I spend on Facebook and playing video games. I don't always get as much sleep as I'd like; I wake up at around seven on Saturday mornings for Saturday Academy, and not much later for church on Sunday. But I love what I'm doing nevertheless.

Like my namesake Joseph, I know that I have accomplished nothing on my own (Genesis 41.16); on the contrary, God has worked in me and through me and for me. My repentance is a gift from God, and it is one of His greatest and most beautiful gifts to me - "[n]ot that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me" (Philippians 3.12).

Just a couple weeks ago, the Boston campus ministry saw its hundredth baptism in four years, and we are hoping and praying for many more in the years to come. Worldwide, disciples are repenting, maturing, and overcoming. There is still much to do, of course - we have not yet won the prize - but God is moving! And that is all we need: "If God is for us, who can be against us?" (Romans 8.31b).

Your brother in Christ,

Joseph Porter

Harvard University

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Click here for another message from a campus disciple:  Why God Beats Postmodernism

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