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  • July 11, 2014 - Reflections

    By Jean S. Horner
    The other day while walking down a corridor in a public building, I saw what appeared to be someone walking toward me. On coming closer, I found it was my own reflection in a huge mirror. For a moment it frightened me. Somehow a full-length reflection of one’s self is a startling thing. ...



Connections: Steve Pulis

The Church and Campus Missions

Twenty years after the first See You at the Pole event, more than 3 million students now participate each year nationwide. The 2010 See You at the Pole is Wednesday, Sept. 22. Thus, today is designated as Campus Awareness Day in Assemblies of God churches. To explain the significance of these two days and the church’s role in campus missions, Steve Pulis, director of national Student Outreach and Youth Alive for the Assemblies of God, recently spoke with Technical Editor Jennifer McClure.

evangel: Why is See You at the Pole important?
PULIS:
It gives Christian students the chance at the beginning of the school year to say, “I’m a Christian, and I want everyone to know about it.” Identification as a follower of Christ I think is just as important as prayer. But both are critical.

Too many times in the church world we do a back-to-school push in August and September, but then October hits and we never talk about the school again. We’ve got to keep their mission field in front of students throughout the school year. See You at the Pole is not the end of what God wants to do at your school; it’s the beginning.

evangel: How can churches be involved with See You at the Pole?
PULIS:
Since it’s a cross-denominational event, it shouldn’t be one church running it. Encourage the student leaders at your church to connect with the other Christians at their schools, and pull them together so that they’re planning it. Student-led, student-initiated is the key — not only legally, but also to help us be more effective. Students know how to pray for their school better than we do. More students are going to come out when students are the ones behind it.

So, first, get your Christian students to connect with other Christian students, but second, give them some ideas in helping them plan what they’re going to do. Third, let them pray by themselves. You may gather at your church or the courthouse for prayer, and I think we should be praying, but let the kids lead it at the school. Let them step out in faith.

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evangel: How can churches continue a focus on the campus as a mission field throughout the school year?
PULIS:
The focus is how do we, as a church, pray. Are we praying for schools? Are we praying for students? Are we praying for our community? How do we, as a church, do that? We need to pray for our schools and our students. One of the simplest ways is to get a list of every elementary, middle school, high school and college in the area, and pray for a school every week. Once you set up that rotation, you’re praying for one of those every week throughout the school year. Maybe put a little spot in the bulletin that lists the school of the week. The key is keeping it in front of the congregation. Secondly, challenge adults to pray. We have a ministry called Prayer Zone Partners. It’s simply a prayer force, a movement of men and women around the nation who commit to pray regularly for schools and students. Go to PrayerZonePartners.com to sign up.

evangel: What is Campus Awareness Day?
PULIS:
Campus Awareness Day is a day where we can focus on students being missionaries to their school, having people pray and informing the church the most strategic mission field in your community is your schools. We chose the Sunday before See You at the Pole because it is a great time to commission campus missionaries, do a back-to-school emphasis or recruit moms, dads, kids and grandparents to pray with Prayer Zone Partners. We don’t care when churches do it, but the fact it’s on the calendar means they need to pick a time to do it.

evangel: What does it mean to be a campus missionary?
PULIS:
Five days out of every week, nine months out of every year, I think God strategically places Christian students in desks next to non-Christian students and gives them a semester to build that friendship, and God opens up opportunities for them to share Jesus. Pray, live, tell, serve and give — those are the five commitments campus missionaries make. “Prayer” is the foundation. “Live” such a life that they’re going to see Jesus. “Tell” comes after “live” because if you’re not living the right kind of life, people won’t care what you have to say about Jesus. “Serve” is the fourth commitment. We’ve got to be servants. Start or help a Christian club at your school. And finally “give,” giving of ourselves. Give to Speed the Light. Every student should be giving to help missionaries around the world especially if they’re going to be a missionary to their school.

If they come to our website, YAUSA.com, and sign up for free, we’ll send them tools to help them be missionaries to their schools. They can come on and report or journal about how they’re doing. If they list their coaches — they can be a youth pastor, a best friend, mom and dad, whoever — for every coach’s e-mail address they list, we will e-mail a copy of that report to that coach. The coaches then encourage them. We want every student who becomes a campus missionary to have an adult who puts an arm around their shoulders and says, “I’ll walk through this school year with you.” Kind of a weekly, “Hey, I’m praying for ya. How’s it going? What happened this week?”

evangel: What role do churches play for campus missionaries?
PULIS:
They facilitate it. They make it happen. They’re the ones who help with the coaching, who help encourage that student through the entire year. Really, it’s discipleship — an adult in the church passing on to the next generation what God is doing in their life, helping that next generation grow and become more like Jesus.

Campus missions takes students out of the four walls of the church and lets them flesh out their faith on a public school campus while they’re still under our protective covering. So when they fall down or don’t do it exactly right or struggle with questions, they’ve got that biblical guidance of someone in the church. Then when they move off into a job or a college or into the military or whatever, they’re not for the first time trying to stand on their own Christian legs. If we don’t focus in that direction, the obstacles are a whole lot more difficult to overcome. We’ve got to give students the opportunity to flesh out their faith at school while we still have the opportunity to help them through that process.

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