Today has been a emotional rollercoaster. I (April) stepped on campus for my first time this fall. We traveled down to University of the Cumberlands to meet with our students leaders, hear about their plans for this semester, equip them to follow up with contacts, cast a little more vision for discipleship groups, and share with them some changes that have come about in our lives and on our team here in Kentucky.
It was so fun to see the plans our leaders have laid out for the first few weeks and just a great reminder of how the Lord is working, even if we aren’t physically on campus with them. I think back to 3 years ago when the Lord was leading us to launch a ministry at UC. The students had no idea what they were doing, and quite frankly, neither did we. Fast-forward three years and not only do we have 7 leaders (and the potential of a few more) and 15-20 students involved, but the Lord is using them to impact their campus in crazy ways!! It was also fun to hear about their summers serving the Lord all across the country and the world. I feel so humbled and honored that the Lord has used us to lead these students and that he has graciously blessed our efforts on this campus.
However, being a part of launching a ministry and building into the same students year after year means that you become very attached to them. It reminds me of Paul, when he planted churches throughout the world, and then left them to do the deed while he moved on to plant a church elsewhere. Here is what he wrote to the Thessalonian church after leaving them: “We always thank God for all of you, mentioning you in our prayers. We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. For we know brothers, loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not simply with words, but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction.” (I Thess. 1:2-4)
As I read this, I empathize with Paul, and know that although he has moved (is moving) on, his heart is still with them. Today, we shared with our leaders that we will be moving to Raleigh, NC for Ed to help lead a missional team reaching out to campuses in Eastern NC. My heart broke seeing them tear up because, honestly, I was feeling the same thing. I know that ministry at UC will continue because the Lord is one who is causing all the growth and good things to happen. I know that they will continue to grow personally, graduate, and serve the Lord for a lifetime. I know that there will be a staff person coming down regularly to coach and disciple them. But knowing these things doesn’t keep your heart from hurting over the change. I can honestly say these students are like family and leaving family is never a fun thing. I can also honestly say that telling them about our decision is one of the hardest things I have done. Just another reminder of how ministry is the most rewarding yet the most challenging thing all rolled up into one. Please pray for them and us as we make this transition.
If this is hard, how will I ever be able to send Kinsley off to college or send her out to live life not under our roof? Whoa, good thing I have many more years to figure that out!!