What’s Your Why? Refresh Your Vision For Impacting Students

Aug 18, 2016 | Sean Cullen

Looking me directly in the eye, he said, “I want my life to have purpose.”

He leaned into the table at our club’s booth and it was very obvious he was ready to evaluate my response. I reached out my hand and said,

“Hi! My name is Sean, and I want to change the world. Let’s do it together.” Falk and I would soon become good friends.

Falk had very recently started a relationship with Jesus. He was an engineering student on exchange from Germany, and I was a student involved with Power to Change on our campus at the time. Over the next year we spent hours together studying the Bible, praying, and engaging others in conversation about Jesus.

When I challenged him to give a copy of The Jesus Film to every international student in their own language, he didn’t blink. At the end of the year, Falk handed me a list of over 900 people who he had personally given a copy of the film to. There was no question that he wanted to change the world. After graduation, Falk went on to become a pastor in Freiburg, Germany.

Photo by Benjamin Ng

A life-long labourer will produce a harvest 100-fold

Last academic year, while in Europe, I met a colleague who gives national leadership to our sister student ministry in Germany. What a delight to discover that this colleague had been baptized by Falk! He went on to share with me that Falk and his family are in the midst of taking on a new challenge, serving with a ministry that lovingly and respectfully invites people from different religious backgrounds to follow Jesus.

Falk lives everyday with purpose and is changing the world for Jesus. Falk is a living example of what it means to see a graduate empowered for life-long ministry. He is such an encouragement to me.

Longing for the day when no student graduates without engaging with the life-changing message of Jesus is our vision, because it is Jesus’ vision. Jesus instructs his followers to go into all the world with his life-changing message.

This vision is his vision, and it’s what we are meant to spend our lives on.

“[It’s] our vision, because it is Jesus’ vision.” – Sean Cullen

An 8 year old’s take on my job description

When I asked my eight-year old son, Sam, what he wanted to do when he grew up, he responded,“I guess I want to be like you… telling people about God ‘n stuff.”

My heart melted for two reasons. First, because he wanted to be like me and second, because he nailed my job description so accurately.

“Why, Sam?” I queried. Here he struggled to answer, so I went on to explain that we have all been created for a purpose: a relationship with God.

I continued to explain the problem.

All of us have run from God, rejected him and disobeyed him. As a result we carry with us guilt and shame that disconnect us from God and keep us from knowing him. But Jesus lived a faultless life, and proved it by dying and then coming back to life. He showed his power to give life to all who would surrender to him. I told Sam that God has put something inside each of us that confirms this truth, but we need to hear this message in order to understand it.

Sam turned to me and said, ”I agree, but right now my insides are telling me I’m hungry.”

So, we went for lunch.

But the point is this: Jesus changes everything. And that is news everyone needs to know.

Why do you do what you do?

I have the same question for you: Why do you want people to know Jesus? Why do you long for the day when no student graduates without engaging in the life-changing message of Jesus?

We long for this vision because Jesus changes lives. And changed people change the world.

I often think of my friend, Falk, and the hundreds of students I’ve had the opportunity to know and walk with since.  They are now changing the world, and most of them are seeking to do so in the name of Jesus, committing their lives to him. They are making the world look a bit more like heaven.

Imagine with me the day when our vision becomes reality, when every student is invited to engage in conversation about Jesus. What does that day actually look like? What impact would it have on Canadian campuses and our culture?

Imagine that day with me…

When I asked our Power to Change – Students’ staff this question in July during our bi-annual staff conference their responses were inspiring.

Here’s a glimpse at what they said:

  • As more students hear the gospel, more students would respond in faith, and so there would be significant growth in the number of people living for Jesus.
  • There would be greater polarization in the opposition and the reception of the gospel, meaning that we recognize that many students would oppose it with greater anger while others would receive Jesus’ message more fervently.
  • The local church would experience revitalization as young leaders enter their communities with fresh zeal to share their faith.
  • Culture would begin to change as students living for Jesus express their creativity in the arts, in business, and as professionals.
  • Many Christian organizations would band together in unprecedented unity because of the great need for ministry and the need for the gospel to be preached.

Really what we are describing here is a movement.

Photo by ExploCity

Movement: a big word we often misuse

It’s a group that shares a common vision for the future. A groundswell of people who are experiencing a life-changing relationship with Jesus and are actively sharing the gospel with every other person around them.

A movement that transcends organizational boundaries and can never be simply confined to one institution, or location. This is a movement.

I have come to realize with increasing clarity that the vision we long for is not ours alone. The Holy Spirit has put the same vision into the hearts of many others.

As I meet and pray with the leaders of other Canadian student ministries, I can see God is doing something very exciting. I believe we’re seeing God do something new here in Canada. God has placed this same vision that we long for into the hearts of many others as well.

It’s time to embrace 3 essential perspectives

In light of this surge of collaboration and unified vision I want to remind us of a few important perspectives.

First, we must remember that we are not simply trying to build an organization, but rather the body of Christ. We must have a kingdom perspective.

Second, we must pray. We must be asking God to give us his plans and the courage to do what he directs us to do. We must be people of prayer.

Third, we must work together with other student ministries and churches as part of the body of Christ. To partner means to seek, not a uniform methodology, but rather a unity of common purpose: engaging every student with the gospel.

In order to see that day, the day when our vision becomes a reality, I am absolutely convinced that we must seek to build God’s kingdom, we must pray, and we must partner. Are you ready to embrace these realities? Are you ready to join me during this fresh and exciting time as God’s Spirit leads us towards engaging every student in gospel conversation?

Know the why behind the do

Why do these things?

You probably can guess my answer: because Jesus.

Because Jesus changes lives.
Because Jesus changes lives that change the world.

Will you join me? I know Jesus changes everything and I want him to change us, and to change students, and to change the world.

Watch this space for my next post where I’ll elaborate on kingdom building, prayer and partnership.

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About the Author

Sean Cullen

Sean serves as the National Director of Power to Change – Students, leading P2C on its mission to help students discover Jesus and mobilizing the organization to focus and increase capacity for the task at hand: to be able to see the day when not one of the 2.5 millions students in Canada graduates without engaging in the life-changing message of Jesus Christ.

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