This is my last official blog post as a Focus intern. It's a bittersweet moment as I look back on the past year of my life. This internship has opened my eyes to new aspects of God's character that I had never considered before, and it has revealed aspects of my character that I am only just beginning to understand.
I think the most meaningful part of my internship has been my growing understanding of Jesus. Intern class with Ronnie and a close reading of the New Testament have really helped me get to know the Jesus I call Lord. He is loving, gentle, fierce, demanding, meek and bold all at the same time. Jesus is not the baby-faced, jolly-looking guy in a white robe that I see on the cover of children's Bibles. The Lord I worship healed the blind and the lame. He fed multitudes. He condemned hypocrisy and sent pious people away angry. He ate at the same table with prostitutes, in the homes of sinners. When the barrel ran dry, he made wine to keep the party going. When the chosen people of God had rejected and forsaken their longed-for Messiah, he died for those who cursed him. He died for us who hadn't even been born yet. The Lord I worship is beyond comprehension, but I know this: He loves his people.
I have never cried before as much as I have this past year. I have cried in staff meetings, one-on-ones, sermons, and even just conversations about ministry. I don't know exactly why the tears come, but I am beginning to accept them. I get emotional when I think about our God. He is the almighty creator of the universe. He placed the stars in the heavens, he created the oceans, the trees, and every squirrel, bunny, and bird. He created his people in his image and breathed life into them. He sustains life by his majestic power; without him there is no life. That same God, eternal and all-powerful, chooses us. He delights in us. He knows his people intimately and he loves us deeply. He chooses us to join with him on his mission of bringing life and light to the world. The same God who commands armies of angels, who tells the waves and the storms what to do, chooses us as his co-workers in his mission. Of all the ways God could make himself known, he has decided to accomplish his purpose through us. And to equip us, God gives us the most powerful tool of all: himself. The Spirit of God lives in us and empowers us. God chooses not only to use us, but to live inside of us. We are his temple and his priests.
As people chosen by God, redeemed by Christ, and filled with the Spirit, we have a big responsibility. But we are not alone in this work. The Spirit works through us as much as we will let him. Obeying God and fulfilling his mission are not goals we must achieve. They are realities to which we must surrender.
That is the God I worship. Now, at the end of the internship, I have to figure out what life looks like without assignments and checklists of ministry tasks. Now, I surrender to God and ask him for the assignment.
My first assignment is shaping a strategy for ministering to international students at UTD. They come in droves from India and China to earn Master's degrees in Accounting, Computer Science, and other majors that sound fairly boring to me. These countries send their brightest students overseas to study in American universities, hoping that they will return with new skills and a competitive edge to strengthen the national economy. I want those students to return to their home countries with something more powerful than an American degree. I want them to take God back with them.
I will probably never be a missionary to China. I know two phrases in Chinese (Where is the bathroom? and Bottoms up!). I don't understand the culture. I am white with curly brown hair, which makes me an oddity in China. Even if I conquer the language barrier, earning the trust of people so different from me would be nearly insurmountable. Instead, just by going to UTD, I can engage with hundreds of people from China. Those students at UTD aren't just your average citizens, either. They must study for government administered exams to get visas for foreign study. Their families must be able to afford the tuition at an American university. The students who come to UTD from China are smart, wealthy, young, and the most likely demographic to change their culture. And they are coming to our doorstep hungry to hear about Jesus!
My task is just to introduce them to the true God and watch as he changes their lives.