Posts Tagged With: graduate students

A New Ministry Journey – Seeking the Shalom of the University

This summer I’m beginning in a new ministry focus.  Here’s a brief view into the journey on which God is leading me.

“Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.  -Jeremiah 29:4-7

IMG_3384God is doing a tremendous work on the universities in Greater Cincinnati, a work similar of that to which he calls the exiles in Babylon. While campuses are not places of exile, at least for most people, the call to seek the peace of the place where we are situated is universal.

InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, through its Graduate and Faculty Ministries, is helping to “build homes and plant gardens” on these campuses by walking alongside graduate students and faculty in their callings to these places, helping them along their journeys as they seek to live out the life of God’s kingdom on campus and to draw others into His peace. These are the people God is using to transform the universities.  Starting July of this year, I will be joining InterVarsity in this mission.

During the past years serving at UC, I’ve seen how God is working on campus, particularly in the lives of graduate students and faculty. As these individuals delve deeply into research across disciplines and teach undergraduates, they are having a significant impact on the university and beyond. Yet, there is also great need for them to see God’s mercy in their lives and seek opportunities to reach out with this same mercy to others. That is, to continue to seek God’s welfare in this place.

In the context of the campus, we are seeking the welfare of places where people are learning about God’s amazing creation, cultivating and sharing a love for beauty, and speaking mercy into the hurts of the world. It’s also a place where God’s shalom – true peace and welfare – is often absent. This lack of peace is seen through the isolation and alienation that many students and faculty experience, the extreme workloads that can result in stress and broken lives, or the divisive interactions among individuals and departments. Over the past months God’s words to Jeremiah have been an encouragement and model for the lives of graduate students and faculty as they yearn see God’s peace on campus.

  • Students have been remembering the ways God has been faithful over the past months and want desire to share this faithfulness with others;
  • Faculty have been praying for the campus and starting to meet for Bible study and prayer.
  • Both students and faculty have been asking what it looks like to be Christ on campus.

As I begin to work full-time with IVCF this summer, my focus is on planting and building communities of graduate students and faculties at UC and NKU – bringing together people who love God, learning, and the campus  To be able to do so, I’m also building a support team to surround this ministry in prayer and ongoing financial support in monthly increments of $25 to $200. There are also opportunities to partners by supplying meals, mentoring, and hosting events. If you would like to learn more about this work, and partnership in it, please contact me at  You can also check out or Cincinnati Case Brochure PDF. Though I’ve been on campus for several years, this change is a new journey in trusting God and serving him on campus.  I’m excited to see where He takes this work.

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Many Shelves

How many shelves do you have?  This is not a question heard at most dinner parties. But at a table of graduate students, it was not out of place in the least.  While many people may compare their fantasy sports teams, closet contents, or cars, grad students, especially in the humanities, see their books as a point of pride.  How they are organized, the number, the variety.  And many people don’t spend their evenings, especially their precious free evenings, looking at old books, but this group had gathered for just that reason.

After dinner, ten students made their way to Hebrew Union College’s Rare Book Room, just a short walk down the street from the campus ministry house where I work.  A student had planned the evening and it turned out to be one of the more popular activities of the quarter.  One of the first thing to catch everyone’s eyes when we walked into the Klau Library was the card catalog – yes, a real, live card catalog.  It wasn’t recommissioned for another purpose, but actually used to order and find books in the stacks.  Most of us don’t have this tactile experience of locating books anymore.

Savoring Books

Downstairs we entered the outer courtyard and showroom of the rare book sanctuary.  We waited outside until the director unlocked the main door.  Immediately everyone went to the glass cases along the walls.  Sixteenth century torah, calendars, a rabbinic Bible, miniature books.  Just a taste of the entire collection.  A history of scholarship.  Only a glass pane separated us from touching the books, the pages that others have turned so many years before.

After a few moments, the director rolled in a cart laden with manuscripts unprotected by glass.  An early Josephus printing, a book of martyrs in German, a 13th century partial pentateuch, a desk book bound with the pentateuch, comments, prayers, and other writings.  People stepped up to the table first to see and then carefully turn pages – some yellowed and singed, others covered with oils of the hands of people from centuries before.  The original readers were the ancestors of the community of scholars sitting in the room today.  During the next hour we talked about the progress of book publishing, the development of commentaries, the difference between holding a manuscript held by others and looking at a copy – just the words, not the very presence of the work.

Who knows where the books on our shelves will end up years from now?  Some in the trash, some in auctions or attics, but hopefully, some in the hands of future scholars wondering about this continuing conversation.

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