What story do you want to write? What difference do you want to make? This is the question that many college students are asking themselves; and one that begs our attention as well.
In the Fall of 2016, five young people stepped out to do something to empower their generation to live with purpose and have an authentic faith-filled life. God opened the door to restart an Adventist presence at the University of Wisconsin in Stevens Point, as a North American Division chapter of Adventist Christian Fellowship (ACF). From the very beginning, their focus has been to provide a space and community where students can feel safe and wrestle with hard questions about life, experience what a relationship with Christ feels and looks like, as well as live that out by being His hands and feet in the areas around them. During the college years, there exists a four-year window where students can build a strong foundation to have an ultimate impact for Christ and be launched with practical principles to change the world for Christ and be prepared for His soon return!
Today’s college campuses are an opportunity to join God in His work of truly taking the gospel to the entire world. It is a unique mission field where we find different kinds of nations, backgrounds, and belief systems. It is on college campuses where students often explore who they are and what they believe. This is a crucial opportunity to expose students to who Jesus really is, build a solid faith in Him, and be sent and equipped to practically impact the world around them for Christ. When else in our lives do we have the time and resources to explore faith in Christ and build a deep foundation in Him? A lot of times, students struggle with and often lose their faith on public university campuses. Statistics from Campus Renewal are saying that as many as 70% of young people decide to walk away from Christianity by the time they reach college. A recent Barna study shows that less than 1% of today’s young adults are being found to have a Biblical worldview. In addition, the General Conference and North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists have found that up to 80% of college age Adventist Christians attend public universities. The question is how can this crucial generation be encouraged and raised up to be laborers for Jesus Christ?
It can be tempting to be overwhelmed by this situation and do nothing or rely on advertising and entertainment. Jesus shares a simple, loving, and powerful strategy in His word. In 2 Timothy chapter two, Paul encourages Timothy to take what he’s heard and entrust it to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also. It is through practicing this method of life-on-life impact, that ACF has been discovering the gospel goes forward and is attractive! As Matthew 28:18-20 says, “Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’”
The heart of the gospel commission is making disciples. Over the recent year, the COVID -19 pandemic caused the ACF team to stop and reevaluate things on campus at the University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point; especially the way they did ministry on campus. They wondered “How do we still make an impact?” As a result of the pandemic, they have increasingly become passionate about the focus and mission of making disciples. ACF Advisor/Coordinator, Joshua Guerrero says, “I believe God used this as an opportunity to open our eyes and to turn what seemed like an evil situation into good, to reveal to us how to truly start a gospel multiplying movement on campus; impacting people personally.”
Charles Malik, former secretary – general of the United Nations once said: “The university is the clear-cut fulcrum with which to move the world. More potently than by any other means, change the university and you will change the world.” ACF – Stevens Point has come to believe this to be true. As a result, over the last year, especially towards the end of the fall semester and into this last spring semester, their mission has been to impact the university and college in Stevens Point, WI, with the intention of making personally committed disciples for Jesus Christ. One young man that the ACF team met was an agnostic, who had some deep hesitations about Jesus. They invited him to share Thanksgiving and as he shared his struggles, he was able to fellowship and see what living for Christ looks like. A couple weeks later, after another young adult shared his testimony with him of how he used to be against God, but how Jesus met him in his struggle, this student was deeply convicted. He later messaged Guerrero and shared how he had started reading the gospels and was inspired by what he was reading. This is just one example of what ACF has seen Jesus do on campus this year.
ACF – Stevens Point also seeks to encourage, motivate and inspire Adventist students that attend these schools to remain faithful to Jesus while attending a secular university/college campus. Here’s what that looks like on a weekly basis:
Each week the students on campus are invited to a Monday night discussion in the Word in the student cafeteria, a Wednesday night social activity, and Friday Night Fellowship at the Campus House, with packaged snacks, singing, and digging into the book of Revelation. Throughout the week, student leaders receive training and pray together for the campus and then go out to do surveys to discover where God is working and what hearts are open to Him. They then follow up with students over lunch to hear their story, share their story of how Jesus changed them, and invite these students to know Jesus too. Students that want to go deeper meet for one-on-one discipleship meetings over supper or go outside when it’s warm. The student leaders also meet and hangout with students after class through things such as spike ball or supper to build relationships and be present on campus.
Over time the group has grown, and by the end of this past spring semester up to 20-25 students were connected to the ACF movement. During the summer, the students are staying in touch via video call where they are learning and growing in discipleship and small group leadership, as well as practicing skills to connect and share with students in the fall. Being empowered to grow as Christians and become defenders of Bible truth is key to living successfully in a secular world and on campus. This is what these gatherings and training sessions are focused on.
Doing intentional outreach was something rather new for the student leaders. Although they were a little nervous for one of the first outings doing surveys on campus, they started meeting and connecting with students. As some ACF team members and students were talking, they started seeing notifications come to their phone screens of people connecting to their social media page. When they met up with others who were doing surveys, they excitedly said, “That was so cool! We did it!” The students started to see God show up personally in their experience and it gave them confidence and boldness to keep moving forward!
Another story is of one young man who accepted Christ as his personal Savior as a result of connecting with ACF and started reaching out to his roommate and friends. He later told Guerrero that it changed his life. He said, “I wish I had connected earlier with you all. Since coming to the small group Bible studies and hanging out, I’ve experienced a lot more peace in my life than I’ve had.” He started meeting with ACF for weekly discipleship and at one of the Wednesday socials he ended up inviting some friends as well as different students that were just walking by. One of them was a young lady, who after playing ultimate frisbee with us, got connected with some of the other young ladies in the ministry. They were able to reach out to her and befriend her.
In May of 2021, two new students made the decision to be a part of the Seventh-day Adventist movement: one by baptism and the other by profession of faith. Several others became connected to ACF through fellowship and community and recently two more are starting their journey in faith by giving their lives over to Christ. Guerrero says, “It was a joy to connect them with the local church and see them become a part of the body of Christ.” The Stevens Point Seventh-day Adventist Church is a major supporter of campus ministries, with the Wisconsin Conference and Lake Union Conference contributing a grant to have a house on campus. All heaven must have been rejoicing to see the fruit of the united efforts resulting in these young adults making their commitment to be disciples of Jesus!
University and college ministry are at the heart of the Gospel Commission. It is here that world changers are made. If college and university students can leave their respective schools having had a transforming relationship with Jesus Christ, not only has the campus been impacted but the world now has a follower of Jesus who is ready to take the everlasting gospel into all the world. Adventist Christian Fellowship is part of that mission and is making a big difference in the lives of so many students on public campuses as well as the world!
“One fourth of the world’s college students are in North America, and they represent the most reachable, recruitable, trainable, and sendable category of persons on the planet. You see college students are different. They will go where others won’t. They will believe it can be done when others doubt. They are waiting for someone like you to love them, serve them, look deep into their eyes and say “Would you join me in reaching the entire world for Jesus Christ?” – Steve Shadrach
For more information on this mission and ministry of ACF at the University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point, or for questions on resources and how you can start impacting your public campus in your area, contact Joshua Guerrero at firstname.lastname@example.org or via phone at (715) 498-4763.
Joshua Guerrero, Advisor/Coordinator of ACF on the UW Stevens Point Campus
1. Shadrach, S., & Worcester, P. (2020). The Fuel and The Flame, Ignite Your Life and Your Campus for Jesus Christ (2nd ed., p. 11). CMM Press.
2. Shadrach, S., & Worcester, P. (2020). The Fuel and The Flame, Ignite Your Life and Your Campus for Jesus Christ (2nd ed., p. 12). CMM Press.
5. Ramos (2017). Light Glows in Darkness. http://luc.adventist.org/Herald%20Site%20PDFs/Vol109-07_web.pdf