Christians on Campus: How I Met Them and Through Them Met Christ

UT Tower from Architecture Building

There’s a student group on the University of Texas at Austin called Christians on Campus. They meet and minister to UT students by opening the Bible with them, hosting them for dinners and outings, and prayerfully helping them navigate life’s many twists and turns.

I’ve been meeting with Christians on Campus since my freshman year and have enjoyed it so much that after graduation I joined the full-time staff.

How I met Christians on Campus:

I grew up in a Christian home and was raised with the belief in God and in Jesus Christ who came to die for my sins so I could be forgiven. Furthermore, from my upbringing I had heard that God’s purpose involved the building of the church as His bride so He could return for her (Matt 16:18, Eph 5:25, Rev 19:7).

My faith was instilled into me by parents who themselves had met Christians on Campus while they were still single students at UT. As it turned out, my family stuck around Austin and lived an easy drive from campus. Because of our proximity to campus and their practicing what they believed in – shepherding younger believers so they would grow to build up the Body of Christ – we stayed involved throughout my adolescence. We hosted a weekly gathering for dinner and fellowship every Thursday night while I was in highschool, and pretty soon swarms of college students came over to our home every Thursday, and other nights as well. To a young high-schooler, the students who came were much cooler than high-schoolers, and I would do anything I could to hang out with them. It was an eclectic crowd, but I loved it. By my senior year my society included the sons of Texas businessmen, the self-made musicians who had wandered to Austin, and the prodigies of Tiger Mothers near and far. As I neared the end of high school and prepared to enter college, I chose UT so that I could hang out with these college guys full-time. It helped, of course, that UT was the best public school in Texas, and being local, I wouldn’t have to move too far away from home.

These guys became my patterns to pursue Jesus Christ.

Since they were mostly older than I by a few years, I had the chance to learn from their experience. They studied abroad; they succeeded in their programs. Yet what indelibly affected me was their testimony of and leading me toward Christ Himself. Of all we did together what I remember most was the Christ they ministered to me.

One place in particular they opened to me was the homes of many of the families in the Austin community that helped with Christians on Campus. We would do much the same as they had done with my family’s home: come over every week for dinner and fellowship. Then, gradually, I could see how the “Christian off campus” life was supposed to look, which made Christians on Campus that much more holistic. As one brother put it, It was as though by visiting one home after another one shining star after another would appear in the night sky of my unknown future. By their pattern I could see my future. By their living I could chart my course.

Seek first His Kingdom!

As a side note, I’d like to mention a lesson I learned while a student. I was the kind of person that loved to draw, devoured literature, and also liked mathematics. The best fit I could find to major in was architecture – and it’s true that architecture programs are quite demanding. Due to all the work it required, I quickly learned to balance Christ with school (or ark with architecture, if you will).

I learned that balance from Christians on Campus. At that time it was common at our meetings for a word to be shared on Matthew 6:33 concerning seeking first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things being added to you. I remember first hearing this during my freshmqn year, and that word became my MO for dealing with the pressures of academics. I can testify the Lord is true to His word.

Since then I’ve come to realize that not only will the Lord add material things to us, but also the things we seek will be ours: His kingdom and His righteousness. Thank the Lord for this promise!

Nearly a decade after my freshman year, I’m thankful to still be involved with Christians on Campus. Of course, the Christian guys I followed as a student have all but graduated and moved on. However, I don’t doubt that because of the amazing patterns we saw they are doing much the same as was done for them: opening their homes to young people, opening the Bible to seeking believers, and opening their hearts to bear them through thick and thin. I’d like to be the same, and I pray others might find Christ a little more through my living.

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28 thoughts on “Christians on Campus: How I Met Them and Through Them Met Christ

    1. Indeed! I don’t know where I would be without the care of so many before me. Reminds me of the Inn that the Samaritan brought the injured man to in Luke 10.

  1. Patterns…

    “…in order that we might give ourselves to you as a pattern that you might imitate us.” -2 Thes. 3:9

    I am so thankful for the patterns I had in Christians on Campus at UT as well. I got saved in college as a freshman and soon realized that I was in desperate need for Christian friends! I prayed to the Lord and found Him so faithful. Spring semester of my freshman year I met CoC and found the friends and patterns my Christian life needed. I’ve never been around another Christian group that so cares for and carries out discipleship in every sense of the word. Where would I be without them?

    Have you visited sister Christian on Campus groups at other universities?

    1. Great question. Yes, I’ve visited groups at MIT, UMBoston, San Jose State, UCLA, UTA, UTSA, and ASU to name a few. Each time I’ve enjoyed the fact that there is a testimony of brothers and sisters in Christ shepherding those younger than they and following those older. How about you? What has been your experience with visiting sister Christians on Campus groups?

  2. Thanks for sharing. It’s 1 Tim 4:10, “Let no one despise your youth, but be a pattern to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.” By pursuing the Lord with companions our physical age is not important. When we enjoy Christ, He becomes a pattern in us for others. Lord, do this more!

    1. Awesome verse, thanks for posting. May our enjoyment of the Lord be more and more a pattern for others. I like that you mentioned our age is not as important as our enjoyment of Christ! What a thought and so true!

  3. Praise the Lord for these patterns! What a mercy to be cared for and shepherded by these dear ones. I myself pray that the Lord would use my home and marriage for his purpose here with Christian Students on Campus at UConn. Thank you for this encouraging testimony!

    1. I’m encouraged by these patterns to this day. 1 Cor. 15:58: “…Your labor is not in vain in the Lord.” the young people you minister to will never forget the Christ you minister. Great to hear from you!

  4. Hi Merrill. That is such a great lesson to learn while you are young–that if we seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, all our needs are taken care of by Him! This was surely also my experience.

    P.S.–What is a Tiger Mother?

    1. Thanks Paul! Tiger Mother is a phrase coined recently to describe (somewhat mercilessly) the stereotypical Asian mother who drives her children to succeed in all areas of development.

  5. Thank the Lord we have others that provide us with a life pattern. This just keeps us seeking the Lord even more.

  6. “Of all we did together what I remember most was the Christ they ministered to me.” I really enjoyed this post! The Lord is so faithful. It’s just so awesome how He contacts us through other believers and we just gain more of Hi. Too sweet.

  7. I’m highly encouraged to hear about the balance between school and the church you achieved through the body. I’m an Interior Design major and the projects are constantly being hammered into our schedule. I missed several meetings towards the beginning of the semester because of the workload, but eventually, through His body and my church family, I attained a balance. School surprisingly became easier because I relied in Him for my schedule and my time! Praise the Lord for the healthy patters we can see and follow in His church!

  8. I enjoy this discussion that’s come up about patterns. I think a lot of Christians hit a wall in high school and college– how do you go on AFTER you’re saved? It can be a real struggle, but what pulls you through is to see other believers, just like you, pursuing to gain more God and love the Lord. Knowing other people have made it or are making it in the Christian life is a great encouragement.

  9. I had the opportunity to spend a semester at UT Austin and my time spent with Christians on Campus was definitley the highlight of my time there. I was encouraged throught the club that the most important appointment I would have everyday is an appointment with Lord and His word. I was so encouraged I read the bible consistently until I finished and the result was that I really fell in love with the Lord Jesus like never before. I thank God for an organization like Christians on Campus at UT!

  10. I think my mom could be considered a tiger mom, as she was asian and wanted me to be the best at everything. I feel like i came into college caring more about being successful and less about seeking the Lord’s kingdom. it’s def an encouragement to see others pursuing the Lord, not just individually, but also with a group.

    how does pursuing the Lord get when you get out of the college bubble and into the real world?

    1. Pursuing the Lord continues after graduation. I was with the precursor of UCLA Christian Students (a sister club of UT’s CoC) decades ago. I met with them as grad student. After school, our schedules & locations are different but the principle is the same – daily time with the Lord and His word + daily (if possible) time with Christian companions. Face-to-face time with companions is important and we supplement with email, text, phone calls. 2 Tim. 2:22 – “pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.”

    2. Pursuing the Lord for all of us is a lifelong matter, like NJ12 said in his comment (check it out below). We just need to keep on running, day by day, “looking away unto Jesus” with our companions, many of whom we form while in college. Enjoy these years!

    3. That is a great question! I’m still learning the answer, but one area where I recently enjoyed learning this was in the matter of marriage. Actually, my husband and I put Matt. 6:33 on our wedding program when we got married last December. We felt that on one hand we really wanted and needed to get married, but we realized that first we needed to seek His kingdom. And the Lord really added! The Lord matched us with the best for His purpose.

  11. Taking the lead!!! Being an imitator of Christ just as Paul was. Praaaaaaaise the Lord and may He bless you and keep you strong!!! 😛

  12. I really appreciate this article and the op taking the time to share his testimony. This has also been my experience. This also reminds me of that verse, I think in Mathew, where the Lord says that He will give us many mothers and fathers and brothers and sisters if we are those who leave all for Him and His kingdom. Being a Christian on my campus would have been all but impossible, except for the Lord’s mercy on me, giving me so many brothers to read His word and purse Him with and family’s (spiritual mothers and fathers) to shepherd me and care for me. Because there have been so many to care for me through my years in college, I have learned how to begin to care for others who are younger in their Christian life and walk. From so many patterns the Lord has given me, I am now striving to be a pattern of one who pursues the Lord above all for the sake that others would be able to go on with the Lord. I can’t wait for the day when I have a home that I can open for College students to fill with their studies, their games, and their singing, praying, and praising the Lord. Thanks for sharing Merrill.

    1. Jason, I was really touched by your word about becoming a pattern after seeing others:
      “From so many patterns the Lord has given me…I am now striving to be a pattern…”

      Keep running the race both for those in front of you and for those behind!

  13. Speaking as a young person, I know that my pursuit of the Lord would be severely limited if it weren’t for some more experienced Christians teaching me about the truth and caring for my needs both as a young person and a Christian. So I encourage all of you who care for college students that your labor is not only appreciated but necessary. Thank the Lord for His believers!

  14. My wife and I have really enjoyed having some young Christians in our home for meals and times of sharing our experiences in the Lord. I have been helped a great deal by seeing their excitement in learning to know and love the Lord Jesus. When we share the Lord, we all grow in Him.

  15. Merrill, my experience was very similar to yours. I enjoyed reading about how you found Christ and other patterns during college, so encouraging!

  16. I like, like, the story of your high school years and the happy ending Christians on Campus at UT had on your choices about your future. My daughters had a very similar time here in Atlanta, when we opened our home to students through Christian Students at GSU. Once or twice a week while Glori & Emily were in High School we invited small groups of college girls we met through Christian Students at GSU to our home for dinner and singing or bible study. We thought we were caring for those college girls but actually they were caring much more for our highschoolers. When it came time to decide which college to attend, both girls made sure the school they chose had a Christians on Campus. Glori graduated from GSU in 2011, and Emily from UGA just last month. Both not only kept their faith in the Lord Jesus, but have grown into mature young ladies in Christ through their fellowship with the Christian Students at these campuses.

  17. Merrill, I have to agree that my pursuit of Christ would not be the same without the patterns I had around me at a young age. I too attended weekly college Bible studies in my neighborhood during high school. When I saw ones who were only a few year older than me gathering in this way I was immediately captivated by this kind of living. I knew this was how I wanted to spend my college years.

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