Stories of Grace | God’s Heart in College Ministry
“The Stories of Grace series is intended to capture snapshots of God’s grace and glory amidst our every day lives. They are real stories of real people who have seen the fingerprints of God amidst the ordinary—God’s favorite canvas. Each story is personal, unique and, often, unfinished. Through it all we get glimpses of God’s steadfast love, sufficient grace, and ongoing presence with his people.”
“So… would you like to know more about Jesus?” Jeff asked somewhat uneasily as we sat across from each other in the dining hall. It was the start of my first year at University of Washington in the fall of 2009. One week prior I had stopped by a table outside my dorm, where a Christian organization was reaching out to students. I wasn’t quite interested, yet I gladly took a free laundry bag and other dorm essentials, and—mostly out of a felt need to reciprocate—I had filled out a survey card indicating I was “maybe interested in knowing more about Jesus.” Jeff had contacted me to follow up on my response to the survey.
Sitting together with Jeff, however, I responded to his question with, “Well… thanks, but no…I’m not really religious and not exactly interested, to be honest.” Yet, I asked him how he came to be involved in that work. Jeff explained to me how he came into a personal relationship with God as a college student, and how the Lord then brought him to Seattle with a calling to reach college students with the gospel.
I nodded along to his story with increasingly piqued interest, while taking note of both his timid demeanor and the sincerity that pervaded his speech. Though he seemed a bit uneasy, he was present and available with me. I engaged him with questions/reservations I had about Christianity and faith. “Isn’t the Bible irrelevant to follow today since it was written thousands of years ago? How is there a hell if God is loving and fair? And why do we have so much evil and tragedies going on if this good, all-powerful God is real?” For over an hour, I pummeled poor Jeff, who struggled to answer, and eventually we parted ways.
Once home, Jeff, discouraged from meeting yet another hard-hearted UW student, was but a moment away from throwing away my contact card. Yet, he held onto my “maybe.” Something in his heart gripped him to pray for my salvation.
A couple months later, while home in Los Angeles for Thanksgiving break, I decided to join my high school friends to their church. By God’s grace, I started to understand my emptiness and utter brokenness and need for a Savior, a loving and merciful Jesus. Furthermore, the mental hang-ups and barriers I once held to following the Lord exchanged themselves for opportunities and ways to further know Him, all out of my growing, new-found love/surrender for Jesus Christ. And my personal relationship with the Lord started to change everything.
“For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”- 2 Corinthians 4:6
Much of my growth in Christ happened on the college campus. By God’s rather divine arrangement, the very first friend that I made during orientation week invited me to a Bible study. As I committed my life to the Lord my freshman year and became involved in the community. The leader of this ministry, who regularly meets up with Jeff, exclaims that there is an Asian American guy from LA who just received Christ and has been attending their Bible studies. A light bulb goes on in Jeff. This is the same difficult freshman he spoke with earlier in the school year and prayed for! He rejoices in the Lord for my new relationship with God and the small, yet profound role he got to play in my spiritual journey.
By God’s grace, I learned that my role as a student and child of God is not to be a passive consumer, but an active participant and witness for His glory. I was also discipled by a campus ministry staff who cared for my soul, spurred me on towards surrendered commitment to Jesus. I learned the importance of humility in leadership through serving and gained a passion for God’s work through mission trips and student conferences/retreats. As I served the Lord via campus ministry, I was captivated to answer His call to work in college ministry upon graduation (one year part-time and two full-time internship years). These years were pivotal in getting to be a witness of God’s work in students’ lives and receiving His grace for my own journey and growth.
Recently, my wife Rose and I also joined full-time staff with Cru (the U.S. ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ), the same ministry Jeff was with when I first met him. May the Lord raise up more students like me, distant and separated from God, to a vital relationship with Himself within Christ-centered community and the local church, with a life-long passion for spreading His beauty, truth, and goodness.
College students today are coming from a plethora of backgrounds with real questions and in need of a true, everlasting Savior and Lord. The enemy in their midst is rampant to steal, kill, and destroy present realities, lives, and future hopes. With this great need and darkness, however, comes even greater opportunity for the Kingdom of Light to be the living reality in hearts and places. Imagine how students who grasp the gospel in this pivotal stage will go on to make significant decisions to impact the world for Christ, now and in the future, through their work, families, churches, community engagement, and more. In the words of a former student/disciple, Tyler, “If we could reach even one person, that would multiply and God could use that mightily. Whether it is planting a seed, watering, or reaping a harvest, it is all worth it if we trust God and rely on Him.”
May we be a people that live by faith and pray, believing in the Lord’s work. We never know how God can use even one conversation or prayer, no matter how awkward, daunting, or discouraging. He is surely doing His work. May we share the good news of Jesus Christ and engage in discipleship in the power of the Holy Spirit, leaving all the results to Him. Knowing that He is the good, sovereign Orchestrator in His story of amazing grace, may we know our labor in the Lord eternally matters.
“Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”- Ephesians 3:20–21
– Mike Fujimoto, DCC Member
If you are a member with DCC and have a story of grace to share please email firstname.lastname@example.org.