Friday, April 28, 2006

If I Was Back on Campus...

It's hard to believe, but it is now almost four years since I was last on campus on a daily basis as a campus minister. Since that time, I've served in regional and national roles with Campus Crusade/Impact. Giving leadership on a broader scale has helped me to gain a greater perspective on the realities of ministry to college students and to recognize trends across the country. Thinking back on my 14 years of experience with college students (four years as a student; ten years on staff), I think there are several things that I would do differently if I were to go back on campus tomorrow. Here they are:

1. I would spend more time pioneering. The natural tendency in campus ministry is to hunker down with a core group of students once a movement is launched or a small group is formed. In the initial stages of forming a movement, we do a ton of evangelism in order to surface students, but then once we find the key leaders, we taper off our evangelism as we focus on discipleship. The problem is that these two areas, evangelism and discipleship, are not mutually exclusive. They actually go together!

Once forming a core leadership team, I would take a more apostolic (pioneering) approach in leading. I would still seek to equip and coach these leaders, but I wouldn't do all the ministry. I would do a better job of training them to lead. I would move on to other people groups on the campus and move on to other campuses. This could be a great part of the discipleship process as I would take my disciples with me to trust God to launch movements in new ethnic communities and to seek to launch movements on nearby campuses. I did this some with a few of my disciples, but I would do it a lot more. Instead of sitting in a cafeteria or a coffeeshop talking about our lives, we could do that while we're doing ministry together.

2. I would give students more freedom to lead. It's funny because as a student, I was on a non-staffed campus. We had a CCC staff member visit our campus once a week, but we as students were really leading things. I was actively sharing my faith on a regular basis (i.e. multiple times each week) and gathering for prayer several times each week with other students. And it wasn't because I was super spiritual. It was because that was modeled to me and was expected. As a student-led ministry, it also meant that we reserved the rooms, bought the food for socials, organized and led prayer times, followed up evangelistic contacts, spoke at weekly meetings frequently, led Bible studies, put up publicity flyers, interacted with administration, etc. But once I came on staff with Crusade, I began to think that I was the "expert" and that the students needed me to do stuff for them.

We can't allow students to become dependent upon the "professional missionaries." It cripples them. And let's be honest here. Who understands students better -- college students themselves or middle-aged missionaries that are still jammin' to Keith Green? Just as a parent prepares their children to go out on their own, we need to prepare our students to do the same. I've asked a number of our staff, "What would happen if your whole team left your campus/city tomorrow? What would happen to the movements you lead?" The typical response is that "the students wouldn't be ready for that."

I'm sorry, but the reason that the students wouldn't be ready is because we haven't prepared them for it. 18-23 year olds are very capable of leading and leading well. Go to Iraq, spend some time with our soldiers there and then tell me 18-23 year olds can't lead. Most campus organizations are led by students and we're actually quite an anomaly in that we have whole teams of outsiders giving leadership to our ministries. Even among campus ministries, there is usually only 1 or 2 staff giving leadership to the ministry. Not 15-20 like we have in some locations. In order to fully "own" their movement, students need to feel the burden of responsibility. That's why they should be the ones leading Bible studies, leading outreaches, initiating campus prayer, recruiting for conferences, and planning socials.

3. I would focus more on foundational truths. Though I first got involved with Crusade in the early nineties during a major change process in the Campus Ministry, I was brought up "Old School." I went through NLTC training times, was sharing my faith within a few months of making a profession of faith, and went through the old Discovery Group, Discipleship Group and Action Group Bible studies. In fact the first Bible study I was ever in covered the five follow-ups that we go through with new believers -- Assurance of Salvation, Relationship with God, The Holy Spirit, Ways to Grow (Prayer, Word, Fellowship, Witnessing) and Purity. Just after a few months of being involved in Crusade, I was challenged to be discipleship and become a leader.

I think we've gotten too "cute" in recent years. We think the Four Laws is outdated, few people know how to share the ministry of the Holy Spirit, evangelism is occasional rather than a normal part of life, our Bible studies lack direction and I'm guessing that most of our student leaders have never heard of the Transferable Concepts. I certainly wouldn't disagree that our materials and resources need to be continually updated, but the message needs to stay the same. I fear that in an effort to stay trendy, we've gotten away from what our leadership is now referring to our "core DNA."

As a parachurch ministry focused on evangelism and discipleship, our primary calling is pretty clear. We should not do everything that a local church does, now should we attempt to. Campus Crusade has always been a help to local congregations as we take the gospel to students that our churches have a difficult time reaching, build new and immature believers in their faith, train them for ministry, and send them forth to do likewise.

Bill Bright, founder of Campus Crusade, was often accused of being too simplistic and naive because of his simple gospel presentation and insistence on focusing on the basics of the faith. But Dr. Bright was anything but stupid. The man spent five years in seminary and could walk theological circles around most Christians. But he knew that complicated explanations were not easily and simply passed onto others. That is why he developed tools that the average Christian could quickly learn and be able to pass onto others rapidly. Dr. Bright sincerely believed that a follower of Christ (no matter how old they were in their faith), if empowered by the Holy Spirit, could see God do great things through them.

I'm encouraged by how we are moving forward in these areas as a ministry as we wrestle with a changing student culture. Pioneering new movements, student ownership and a focus on the fundamentals are all current emphases that we have in the Campus Ministry. While we do have a lot of great things happening , I look forward with anticipation as many more students are compelled by the love of Christ. And not just so that they can be a better person, but so that they can be engaged in mission of expanding God's kingdom "on earth as it is in heaven."

Thursday, April 13, 2006

What Do We Do With This Jesus?

The following words were penned by Douglas Kaine McKelvey for the liner notes of the 2000 Jesus miniseries soundtrack. I love the picture that McKelvey paints of the Jesus that I know and love -- the Savior who stood up for the mistreated and loved all those that crossed His path. I think it's especially appropriate as we remember Christ's death, burial and resurrection. Read on...
"What do we do with this Jesus? This was the question on everyone's mind at the swing-point of history 2000 years ago. The Jews, the Romans, Herod, Pilate, the High Priests, even Jesus' own disciples - they all found themselves wrestling with the same perplexing question: "What do we do with this man?" For some reason he didn't seem to fit very conveniently into anyone's agenda - personal, national, religious or otherwise. The Jews wanted a warrior king to drive the occupying Roman army out of the promised land. The Roman's wanted to maintain and expand their empire over the known world. Everyone else just wanted what people everywhere have always wanted: pleasure and prosperity and to be left alone.
Jesus came along and upset all of that. He refused power. He didn't seek fame. He treated the pleasures of this life as inconsequential. He humbled himself as a servant and his selflessness alone became a walking indictment of all human agendas - base and noble alike. It's no wonder he made people nervous. He was like a splinter in the soul. Even those who despised him couldn't ignore him. They buzzed around him constantly, angry and perplexed.
In their defense, his presence must have been a bit overwhelming. The story of his life on earth are more than we seem eager to contend with today, but people then had no choice but to physically rub shoulders with him. They walked the same dusty roads and breathed the same air. There wasn't any getting away from it. He kept popping up at odd moments, infuriating people with his compassion, perplexing them with his gentle wisdom, and frightening them with his unbearable love. And then there was the whole business about claiming to be the Son of God.
Truth is, Jesus was an absolute scandal. He taught that the least were the greatest, the rejected were the blessed, the wise were the foolish, the weak were the strong, and the secure were the lost. He taught that people should selflessly love, not just their friends and families - which would have been difficult enough - but strangers and enemies as well. He called on those possessed by their possessions to leave their wealth behind to follow him into a life of uncertain suffering for the one promised consolation of his love.
His words grew so appalling one afternoon that many of his followers gave it up for good and returned home, muttering that his teaching was too hard. They had had enough. Those who stayed were apparently in too deep already. Most scandalous of all was the way Jesus publicly and persistently rejected the proud, self-righteous religious leaders of the day and instead drew prostitutes, half-breeds, political revolutionaries, smelly fisherman, and turncoat tax-collectors into his circle of friends - all of whom soon and somehow found themselves, by his very acceptance, transformed from what they had always thought they were into a new existence as children of God.
It's one of the eternal ironies surrounding Jesus that those who allowed the exposure of their own weakness, shame, and guilt were the very ones who were afterward able to drink with joy from the fountains of eternal forgiveness and love, while those who fought desperately to prop up their own crumbling facades of self-righteousness were in the end reduced to a ridiculous position, raging blindly against love and their own liberation. Jesus was always hard to take that way - an insult, even - because beneath it all, it seemed that everyone needed him whether they wanted to or not, prostitutes and Pharisees alike.
And that really was the crux of the problem. His very nature exposed the heart and forced the hand of everyone around him so that in the end, after the haze and baggage burned away, it was all laid out pretty simply. You were left with only two possible ways of answering the question "What do we do with this Jesus?" You could either follow him or you could crucify him.
2000 years of science, progress and religion don't seem to have changed things for us all that much. The human heart is still the human heart. Nuclear power, psychotherapy, and satellite television notwithstanding, most of us still find ourselves - in our more honest moments - faced with the same troubling question and the same simple options that perplexed Christ's contemporaries...
"What do we do with this Jesus?" It is something to think about...

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Don't Make 911 Tragedy Indictment of Race, City

From Detroit Free Press columnist Desiree Cooper:

"They're the calls heard around the world. On Feb. 20, Robert Turner, then 5, called 911 to get help for his mother, who he thought was dying on the floor in their Detroit apartment. By now everyone has heard about his desperate attempts to get help from a dispatcher who thought he was playing a prank. Frustrated at one point, he groaned "Ugh," and hung up the phone. His mother died before help arrived.

The story has stirred up sympathy, outrage and even litigation. But there's one reaction that has been totally unwelcome: the feeling of collective shame on the part of black people. Whenever news of a heinous crime or outrageous behavior hits the airwaves, black people in America -- and especially in Detroit -- share a
singular prayer: "God, I hope they weren't black." This is a rare experience for white Americans, who generally skip through life without feeling that people like the Unabomber, Howard Stern and Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush reflect upon them personally, or on their whole race.

But when an African-American person becomes the subject of controversy, all of us blacks carry the shame of it, breathing a sigh of relief when the perpetrator is not one of us. Double ditto when the wrongdoing happens in Detroit, where a bad act brings down not only a whole race, but a whole city as well.

When responding to Saturday's Free Press story about the tragic 911 incident, bloggers weighed in, revealing what many are thinking. Readers posted messages like:

"What else do you expect when your hiring pool is from the wonderful city of Detroit. Did you hear the 911 operator?? Talk about a ghetto hood rat."

Another blogger said,

"Fire her. She has no right to decide who's pranking or not. Dumba** n****r."

People regularly hurl personal, racial invectives at me as if I had something to do with management of the Detroit Zoo, the ending of bulk trash pickup and the political foibles in the city. I'm not sure my white colleagues suffered as personally when Patrick Selepak was charged in a killing rampage in Macomb and Genesee counties, when a Rochester High student threatened a Columbine-like massacre in an effort to get out of school, or when an Oakland County judge was caught spending more time at the mall than on the bench.

In 1988, Peggy McIntosh at Wellesley College's Centers for Women wrote the essay "White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack." "I can talk with my mouth full and not have people put this down to my color," she wrote. "I can swear, or dress in secondhand clothes, or not answer letters, without having people attribute these choices to the bad morals, the poverty or the illiteracy of my race."

The dispatcher on Feb. 20 may have been a jerk. Or maybe she has a stellar record of discerning which calls are bogus; about one out of every four is a prank. But no matter which employee she turns out to be, she's not a reflection on all black people or on the entire city. If you insist on coloring us with one broad brush, then the shame isn't mine, it's all yours."

Contact DESIREE COOPER at 313-222-6625 or

Thursday, April 06, 2006

U.S. Urged to Apologize for 1930's Deportations

It has been said that those that neglect to learn their own history are doomed to repeat it. As the U.S. enters into national discussions regarding immigration issues, I think it is wise to remember our history regarding this issue so that we don't repeat it. Please read the following article by Wendy Koch, writer for the USA Today:
"His father and oldest sister were farming sugar beets in the fields of Hamilton, Mont., and his mother was cooking tortillas when 6-year-old Ignacio Piña saw plainclothes authorities burst into his home. "They came in with guns and told us to get out," recalls Piña, 81, a retired railroad worker in Bakersfield, Calif., of the 1931 raid. "They didn't let us take anything," not even a trunk that held birth certificates proving that he and his five siblings were U.S.-born citizens. The family was thrown into a jail for 10 days before being sent by train to Mexico. Piña says he spent 16 years of "pure hell" there before acquiring papers of his Utah birth and returning to the USA.
The deportation of Piña's family tells an almost-forgotten story of a 1930s anti-immigrant campaign. Tens of thousands, and possibly more than 400,000, Mexicans and Mexican-Americans were pressured — through raids and job denials — to leave the USA during the Depression, according to a USA TODAY review of documents and interviews with historians and deportees. Many, mostly children, were U.S. citizens.

If their tales seem incredible, a newspaper analysis of the history textbooks usedmost in U.S. middle and high schools may explain why: Little has been written about the exodus, often called "the repatriation." That may soon change. As the U.S. Senate prepares to vote on bills that would either help illegal workers become legal residents or boost enforcement of U.S. immigration laws, an effort to address deportations that happened 70 years ago has gained traction:
• On Thursday, Rep. Hilda Solis, D-Calif., plans to introduce a bill in the U.S. House that calls for a commission to study the "deportation and coerced emigration" of U.S. citizens and legal residents. The panel would also recommend remedies that could include reparations. "An apology should be made," she says. Co-sponsor Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., says history may repeat itself. He says a new House bill that makes being an illegal immigrant a felony could prompt a "massive deportation of U.S. citizens," many of them U.S.-born children leaving with their parents. "We have safeguards to ensure people aren't deported who shouldn't be," says Jeff Lungren, GOP spokesman for the House Judiciary Committee, adding the new House bill retains those safeguards.
• In January, California became the first state to enact a bill that apologizes to Latino families for the 1930s civil rights violations. It declined to approve the sort of reparations the U.S. Congress provided in 1988 for Japanese-Americans interned during World War II. Democratic state Sen. Joe Dunn, a self-described "Irish white guy from Minnesota" who sponsored the state bill, is now pushing a measure to require students be taught about the 1930s emigration. He says as many as 2 million people of Mexican ancestry were coerced into leaving, 60% of them U.S. citizens.
• In October, a group of deportees and their relatives, known as los repatriados, will host a conference in Detroit on the topic. Organizer Helen Herrada, whose father was deported, has conducted 100 oral histories and produced a documentary. She says many sent to Mexico felt "humiliated" and didn't want to talk about it. "They just don't want it to happen again."

No precise figures exist on how many of those deported in the 1930s were illegal immigrants. Since many of those harassed left on their own, and their journeys were not officially recorded, there are also no exact figures on the total number who departed. At least 345,839 people went to Mexico from 1930 to 1935, with 1931 as the peak year, says a 1936 dispatch from the U.S. Consulate General in Mexico City. "It was a racial removal program," says Mae Ngai, an immigration history expert at the University of Chicago, adding people of Mexican ancestry were targeted. However, Americans in the 1930s were "really hurting," says Otis Graham, history professor emeritus at the University of California, Santa Barbara. One in four workers were unemployed and many families hungry. Deporting illegal residents was not an "outrageous idea," Graham says. "Don't lose the context."

In the early 1900s, Mexicans poured into the USA, welcomed by U.S. factory and farm owners who needed their labor. Until entry rules tightened in 1924, they simply paid a nickel to cross the border and get visas for legal residency. "The vast
majority were here legally, because it was so easy to enter legally," says Kevin Johnson, a law professor at the University of California, Davis. They spread out across the nation. They sharecropped in California, Texas and Louisiana, harvested sugar beets in Montana and Minnesota, laid railroad tracks in Kansas, mined coal in Utah and Oklahoma, packed meat in Chicago and assembled cars in Detroit.
By 1930, the U.S. Census counted 1.42 million people of Mexican ancestry, and 805,535 of them were U.S. born, up from 700,541 in 1920. Change came in 1929, as the stock market and U.S. economy crashed. That year, U.S. officials tightened visa rules, reducing legal immigration from Mexico to a trickle. They also discussed what to do with those already in the USA. "The government undertook a program that coerced people to leave," says Layla Razavi, policy analyst for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF). "It was really a hostile environment." She says federal officials in the Hoover administration, like local-level officials, made no distinction between people of Mexican ancestry who were in the USA legally and those who weren't. "The document trail is shocking," says Dunn, whose staff spent two years researching the topic after he read the 1995 book Decade of Betrayal: Mexican Repatriation in the 1930s, by Francisco Balderrama and Raymond Rodriguez.
USA TODAY reviewed hundreds of pages of documents, some provided by Dunn and MALDEF and others found at the National Archives. They cite officials saying the deportations lawfully focused on illegal immigrants while the exodus of legal residents was voluntary. Yet they suggest people of Mexican ancestry faced varying forms of harassment and intimidation:
Raids. Officials staged well-publicized raids in public places. On Feb. 26, 1931, immigration officials suddenly closed off La Placita, a square in Los Angeles, and questioned the roughly 400 people there about their legal status. The raids "created a climate of fear and anxiety" and prompted many Mexicans to leave voluntarily, says Balderrama, professor of Chicano studies and history at California State University, Los Angeles. In a June 1931 memo to superiors, Walter Carr, Los Angeles district director of immigration, said "thousands upon thousands of Mexican aliens" have been "literally scared out of Southern California." Some of them came from hospitals and needed medical care en route to Mexico, immigrant inspector Harry Yeager wrote in a November 1932 letter.
The Wickersham Commission, an 11-member panel created by President Hoover, said in a May 1931 report that immigration inspectors made "checkups" of boarding houses, restaurants and pool rooms without "warrants of any kind." Labor Secretary William Doak responded that the "checkups" occurred very rarely.
Jobs withheld. Prodded by labor unions, states and private companies barred non-citizens from some jobs, Balderrama says. "We need their jobs for needy citizens," C.P. Visel of the Los Angeles Citizens Committee for Coordination of Unemployment Relief wrote in a 1931 telegram. In a March 1931 letter to Doak, Visel applauded U.S. officials for the "exodus of aliens deportable and otherwise who have been scared out of the community."

Emilia Castenada, 79, recalls coming home from school in 1935 in Los Angeles and hearing her father say he was being deported because "there was no work for Mexicans." She says her father, a stonemason, was a legal resident who owned property. A U.S. citizen who spoke little Spanish, she left the USA with her brother and father, who was never allowed back. "The jobs were given to the white Americans, not the Mexicans," says Carlos DeAnda Guerra, 77, a retired furniture upholsterer in Carpinteria, Calif. He says his parents entered the USA legally in 1917 but were denied jobs. He, his mother and five U.S.-born siblings were deported in 1931, while his father, who then went into hiding, stayed to pick oranges.
"The slogan has gone out over the city (Los Angeles) and is being adhered to — 'Employ no Mexican while a white man is unemployed,' " wrote George Clements, manager of the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce's agriculture department, in a memo to his boss Arthur Arnoll. He said the Mexicans' legal status was not a factor: "It is a question of pigment, not a question of citizenship or right."
Public aid threatened. County welfare offices threatened to withhold the public aid of many Mexican-Americans, Ngai says. Memos show they also offered to pay for trips to Mexico but sometimes failed to provide adequate food. An immigration inspector reported in a November 1932 memo that no provisions were made for 78 children on a train. Their only sustenance: a few ounces of milk daily. Most of those leaving were told they could return to the USA whenever they wanted, wrote Clements in an August 1931 letter. "This is a grave mistake, because it is not the truth." He reported each was given a card that made their return impossible, because it showed they were "county charities." Even those born in the USA, he wrote, wouldn't be able to return unless they had a birth certificate or similar proof.
Forced departures. Some of the deportees who were moved by train or car had guards to ensure they left the USA and others were sent south on a "closed-body school bus" or "Mexican gun boat," memos show. "Those who tried to say 'no' ended up in the physical deportation category," Dunn says, adding they were taken in squad cars to train stations. Mexican-Americans recall other pressure tactics. Arthur Herrada, 81, a retired Ford engineer in Huron, Ohio, says his father, who was a legal U.S. resident, was threatened with deportation if he didn't join the U.S. Army. His father enlisted.
"It was an injustice that shouldn't have happened," says Jose Lopez, 79, a retired Ford worker in Detroit. He says his father came to the USA legally but couldn't find his papers in 1931 and was deported. To keep the family together, his mother took her six U.S.-born children to Mexico, where they often survived on one meal a day. Lopez welcomes a U.S. apology. So does Guerra, the retired upholsterer, whose voice still cracks with emotion when he talks about how deportation tore his family apart. "I'm very resentful. I don't trust the government at all," says Guerra, who later served in the U.S. military.
Piña says his entire family got typhoid fever in Mexico and his father, who had worked in Utah coal mines, died of black lung disease in 1935. "My mother was left destitute, with six of us, in a country we knew nothing about," he says. They lived in the slums of Mexico City, where his formal education ended in sixth grade. "We were misfits there. We weren't welcome." "The Depression was very bad here. You can imagine how hard it was in Mexico," says Piña, who proudly notes the advanced college degrees of each of his four U.S.-raised sons. "You can't put 16 years of pure hell out of your mind."
Let's not forget that for most Americans, our ancestors came to this country as immigrants as well. We should seek to afford the same privileges, opportunities and rights that were given to our families decades or centuries ago. As the Lord God said to the Israelites thousands of years ago,
"The foreigner living with you must be treated as one of your native-born. Love him as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the LORD your God." ~Leviticus 19:34

Sunday, April 02, 2006

The Final Four

In honor of the Final Four being held in Indianapolis this weekend, the Indianapolis Star is featuring some stories on Hoosier basketball great. One of the greatest coaches of the college game, John Wooden of UCLA fame, grew up in Indiana and attended Purdue. Not only is he a legendary coach, but a very humble man that is a strong follower of Christ. The Indy Star did a great interview with Coach Wooden which was posted online today and it can be found here.

On another note (pun intended), all real college basketball fans are familiar with the song, "One Shining Moment." This song marks the end of CBS' telecast of the NCAA tourney each year with a great montage of all 64 teams in the tourney and highlights of some of the greatest plays and moments. It gives me chills everytime I hear it. You can find out some background and learn the history of "One Shining Moment" here.

I'm not really sure who will win the championship game tomorrow night, although there is quite a buzz here in Florida about the Gators making it to the championship game. But this should tell you what's the biggest sport here... The other night I was watching the evening news and they were doing a short story on the Florida team making into to the Final Four, but the footage they were showing was of the Florida football team! Guess football is still king in Gainesville.

My tourney picks did okay this year. Ended up in third place in the bracket I was in. The second place finisher was my wife, Lori. Yeah, I'm man enough to admit it. :) But I did beat my sister, Kelly, by a point. Which I don't think I'd enjoy beating her as much if it didn't bother her so much that she failed to beat me again. :) You can read her early thoughts on the tournament here.