I was informed today that one of the ESL students studying at the University of Louisville has been told by several of her friends to avoid the International Baptist Campus Ministry (BCM), where I serve as the director.
It seems that her friends told her that we talk about Jesus too much, that we will try to convert her, and that we should not be trusted.
I would ask that you join me in praying for this student. Pray that her friends would not persuade her to avoid us or our activities. Pray that the gospel that she has heard here would become clear in her mind. Pray that the Lord would give her a new heart, and put a new spirit in her. Pray that he would remove the heart of stone from her flesh and giver her a heart of flesh (Ezekiel 36:26). Pray that God would shine in her heart to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 4:6). While you are at it, go ahead and pray these same things for the dozens of international students and scholars to whom the International BCM and local churches are ministering each week.
My heart was saddened for this student when I heard that her friends were discouraging her from being a part of our weekly free lunch/Bible studies. At the same time however, a small part of me felt proud. Let me explain.
I am thankful that the International BCM has a reputation for being bold with the gospel. Our goal is NOT to have the largest number of international friends, or for international students to primarily view us as their home away from home, or their “family.” Our goal is to make disciples of all the nations that God is bringing to the University of Louisville, teaching them to obey all that Jesus has commanded us. We are bold with the gospel because the gospel is the only message by which all people everywhere must believe and obey in order to be reconciled to God.
Make no mistake, we also want to be warm, inviting, helpful, friendly and loving. However, we are not willing to sacrifice faithfulness for the sake of unity by leaving out uncomfortable and divisive parts of the good news.
For example, in sharing the gospel a necessary component is to demand a response. Telling others about Jesus without saying that they are responsible for responding to his command to repent and believe is not really sharing the gospel at all.
Calling for a response to the gospel is key to our evangelism with the International BCM. Everything is fun, games, and good times for example until a Christian tells a Muslim that he has a responsibility to deny Islam and embrace Jesus Christ as the Son of God and the only one who can save him from his sin. The “family” is great until a believer tells a PhD student from China that unless she loves Jesus Christ more than mother or father (or a degree, reputation or success) she is unworthy of Jesus and will be condemned to hell.
The gospel never promises to make a Christian or a particular ministry popular. In fact, the Bible is quite clear that when a Christian is faithful to proclaim the gospel, the result will be persecution, hatred, and difficulty. A clear presentation of the gospel often moves ministries from “All in the Family” to “Family Feud” and Christians must not be surprised or offended by this fact.
My prayer is NOT that the International BCM would be the most popular ministry on campus. Instead, my desire is that we would be faithful, and that we would trust God to be at work through the preaching of the gospel even if it means we develop a reputation.
Please remember to pray for our international friend and others like her who are told to stay away.
Note: My position as the director of the International BCM is not connected to our ministry through Global Service Network where I am an associate in ministry and raise part-time financial support for international student ministry.