Tuesday, 06 November 2012 01:04

Alabama State University’s Campus Ministry Thrives…

Written by  Rachel Fisher
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Impacts Future Leaders for Christ

Alabama State University is made up of 5,600 racially and culturally diverse students from over 42 states and 7 countries. Eddie Chambers and the students he ministers alongside at ASU would tell you this campus is an important one, not only because it is one of the largest historically black colleges, but because it is a college campus ripe for the gospel. They also hope to ignite a passion in the heart of the local church in Montgomery. That passion is fixated on a desire to see people not only in right relationship with God, but in right relationship with one another, and to see the gospel as it truly is-one that transcends race and culture, especially in a city like Montgomery.

 

Saying Yes

Seven years ago, Eddie Chambers began a local real estate company.  Business was going well. He was buying and flipping homes and as he says, “ hoping to become a millionaire.”

Three years in, the housing market hit rock bottom. So did Eddie’s business.

Anxious to find a job to support his wife and growing family, he began the search for work. Six months later, a woman at his church told him about the need for a campus minister at Alabama State University. She asked him if he would be interested.

Eddie said no. 

“By this time I had fallen in love with the American Dream,” says Eddie.  “And I knew being a campus pastor was not on the track to fulfilling it.”

As time passed, and still no job, Eddie felt the Lord doing a work in his heart. As he spent time reading the Bible, he felt a comradiere with Jonah, the chosen messenger of God who ran from God’s voice.  “I began to ask myself, am I running from God? Have I fallen in love with money?”

The answer was yes.

In December of 2009, after tremendous soul searching, Eddie agreed to go on staff with Baptist Campus Ministries (BCM) at ASU. 

“When someone asked me why I felt equipped to take this position I simply told them, brokenness,” says Eddie. “By that time I was completely broken. God used a business failure to not only humble me, but show me what his kingdom is really made of.”

Nearly three years later, Eddie and his family have seen God use this brokenness to lead students on ASU’s campus spiritually. Several students lives are different because Eddie said yes to God’s call to lead and encourage students on ASU’s campus.

 

What the Ministry is Made Of

As a whole, BCM is a wider network that works to partner with the local church and build up leaders on college campuses.

“We take the same mission statement as our local church partner, Gateway Baptist, which is ‘loving God, loving people to the ends of the earth’ and seek to carry that out with the students.”

Eddie believes college is one of the most important times in these students’ lives. There is perhaps no greater mission field than where the future leaders are living and learning.

Eddie explains there are four main components to the ministry at ASU: Leadership, Discipleship, Evangelism and Mission.

The BCM at ASU is overseen by Eddie and a faculty advisor, but really, it’s led by students. He explains that these leaders follow-up with students, organize trips, plan events, teach Bible studies on campus and off campus, and disciple students through “life on life” relationships. 

One of those students is Cody Pace, a senior majoring in broadcast journalism. Cody, who has been following the Lord for two years, has a passion for discipleship and evangelism that manifests itself through what Eddie says is dynamic teaching along with building significant friendships with students on campus.

“The biggest thing about discipleship and evangelism on campus is giving students an alternate perspective of life,” says Cody. “During my first two years at school, I was pretty wild, so I understand the temptations that living on campus carries with it. What I seek to do is create an off campus atmosphere that allows people an opportunity to do life differently.” Cody’s house, which is off campus, is always open for guys to come hang out. “Sometimes, there are nights when girls want to get off campus and instead of going to the clubs, they come over and we have movie nights and cook dinner.”

As far as a teaching perspective, Cody says it’s “life on life”.  The ministry provides several opportunities to allow this part of discipleship and evangelism to flourish on campus.

On Monday nights 60-100 students meet at Culture Shock, a time for students to gather together for worship and teaching. There are also Bible studies for the women and men that are led by the students.

“Being a part of the leadership of the ministry has challenged me to be more open and transparent with my life,” says Cody. “Young men at ASU come from all different backgrounds and building a trust bond is huge.” According to Cody, that bond starts with him being willing to be open and honest about his life, while also being a friend. “We can play basketball one day and talk real life stuff the next. That’s important. I want to build true relationships with the young men.”

Eddie has also connected the students with opportunities to travel abroad for short-term mission trips. Last year, he took several students to Uganda and this year he will be taking students to Hong Kong. These trips serve as a way to broaden the students’ perspective on the global church, serve outside their normal context and also encourage them in their own faith.

Cody says that last year’s trip to Uganda, which was spent sharing the gospel with students on a college campus in Kampala, not only helped them defeat their fears of evangelism, but also set the tone for the ministry when they returned. “We had nothing to lose,” says Cody. “No one knew us and we were just sharing the gospel…that opportunity helped us be bolder when we returned to campus.”

The life transformations Eddie has witnessed over the past three years have been numerous. “I have watched students who didn’t have a clue about spiritual things become leaders who are on fire for the Lord and devoted to the things of the kingdom,” says Eddie.

As a student, Cody says he has seen the power of Christian community and the role it plays in life transformation. “Walking with other brothers and being able to encourage each other no matter what is going on has been huge for me,” he says.

The lives of students aren’t the only ones who have changed. Eddie says his has, too.

“Being here has answered questions in my mind about what and who I will give my life to,” says Eddie. “As I look at people like Cody and others I say, ‘Lord it’s worth it, I have given my life to the Kingdom.’

“Before I started at ASU, I thought the Kingdom was about the same things the disciples thought it was: power, prestige and position, and I wanted it all. Now, I see the Kingdom is sharing the gospel in the power of the Holy Spirit with people at home, away from home and those different than me both culturally and racially.”

 That is the kind of Kingdom Eddie hopes to see the students at ASU give their lives to as well as those who minister, or will minister, alongside of them.

Most importantly, leadership, discipleship, evangelism, mission and even transformation are not complete without connecting these students to the local church, Eddie explains. They hope to see more churches in the area take an interest in putting time and resources into being a part of the change they believe God wants to bring to the lives of students at ASU. 

“We never want people to see our BCM apart from the local church,” says Eddie. “The time, resources and protection you gain from being an extension of the local church is huge.” Currently, Gateway Baptist in Montgomery has members, mostly men, meeting with a few students each week as well as speaking at Culture Shock or various Bible studies.

Eddie hopes the local church as a whole will begin to see ASU as a mission field. And don’t let the “Baptist” denomination fool you. Any Bible-believing church here in the River Region can be a part of what God is already doing on campus.  Eddie and the students can’t even begin to scratch the surface of the needs for evangelism and discipleship that exist on campus. They need the Church and people with a passion for God and a heart for the next generation.

 If your church or group would like to find out how they can get involved with the ministry at ASU or help support Eddie financially, contact Eddie Chambers at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

 

Rachel Fisher loves learning about what God is doing and writing about it. She and her husband, Chase are members at Strong Tower at Washington Park, a church plant of Common Ground Montgomery.

 

**Photography by Savannah Bowden Photography.  Headline photo (l to r):  Franka Schauss, Eddie Chambers, Helma Von Zadow and Cody Pace.

Last modified on Tuesday, 06 November 2012 01:07
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