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Craving God on Campus with Adventist Christian Fellowship


by Colleen Kelly

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The CRAVE event was held on student union grounds in the center of campus. Photo by Colleen Kelly

Indiana – A joint effort among NAD’s Adventist Christian Fellowship (ACF), Lake Union, Indiana Conference and the Bloomington Church resulted in 100 new student relationships with one baptism, new Bible studies and four Life Groups which form a continuing spiritual community. CRAVE was held Sept. 14-18 on Bloomington’s campus, right on the student union grounds.
Lay leader John Leis from Bloomington Church said the idea came as an answer to prayer as the local church board searched for their new mission for the year. The church resides next to Indiana University campus, and one-third of church members are Indiana University students. The church board decided to research what programs could help them reach out to their campus neighbors.
The ACF program called CRAVE and the North American Division Evangelism Institute (NADEI) for campus ministries were the vehicles for them to reach their mission goals. ACF Volunteer Coordinator Ron Pickell jumped on the bandwagon, sending two campus ministry leaders, Javier Melendez and Jermaine Gayle, to be stationed in Bloomington for six months after the week-long CRAVE event to conduct one-on-one Bible studies and organize Life Group activities. Campus evangelists and musician Alison Brooks gave presentations all week and a final concert. Evangelist Jeff Tatarchuk said, "The week was epic in my opinion."
John Leis exclaimed, "These kids want to change the world. They have a lot of energy."
"There were some international students from China there, and they will take God back with them."

  Campus evangelist Jeff Tatarchuk captivated audiences with his casual yet enduring appeal to get to know God. Photo by Colleen Kelly

The event would not have been a success without the help of seven Michigan campus missionaries from the Michigan Conference Public Campus Ministries Department who were there the week prior to and of the CRAVE event. They were on campus connecting with IU students and helping get the word out. Prior to the CRAVE meetings, flyers and posters were distributed on campus along with "sidewalk chalk signs." Free hugs and chair massages were offered to students; as they signed up with text messages, they received T-shirts and free food along with spiritual food.
"We at ACF have conducted three prior CRAVE events from 2012 to 2014 at University of Florida at Gainesville, Cal State at San Marcos, and at the Church of the Wild," said Pickell. "But no follow-up was organized to continue the work. We hope that the Bloomington model will serve as a pilot for conducting a similar campus ministry next year at University of California-Berkeley."
A Reaping Series is planned in November in Bloomington, targeting the September CRAVE attendees to continue their CRAVE for Jesus! "We want to work with the rhythm and flow on campus and need to work with that," Pickell said.
Today ACF serves more than 100 student groups in Canada, the U.S., Bermuda and Guam, with some 1,500 to 2,000 students participating. According to our most current estimates, there are between 80 to 100,00 SDA students attending some 15,000 degree-granting organizations of higher education among a larger 22 million student population in Canada and the U.S. ACF has grown to include large campus ministry departments such as the Georgia Cumberland Conference with a student center at University of Tennessee Knoxville, full departmental director at the conference level, and nine other campuses in participation. The Boston area has ministries all around Boston including Harvard and MIT. Boston also has a student center in close proximity to the Harvard and MIT campus. Michigan Conference also has a strong campus ministry program through CAMPUS that offers training and student missionary leadership and additional 10 college groups in their program. Other campus groups are being added every year.


CRAVE campus leaders gather for a prayer prior to their evening meeting with Indiana University students. Photo by Colleen Kelly

This is an auspicious beginning. Over the years, Adventist ministry on non-Adventist college and university campuses have come very far with mostly volunteer support. Look what God has accomplished! As Jesus once commented on the important missionary work ahead of the disciples among the Samaritans, Open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest (John 4:35 NIV). With the Adventist whole life approach to the Christian message and our worldwide presence, public campus ministry is a rich mission field for Seventh-day Adventists. It is a mission field in which we have been very successful over the years and one we hope and expect will broaden the mission of the church and help prepare thousands of students for service to Christ. All for Christ and Campus!

‣ 2000 – Berkeley Resolution requesting church leadership give official recognition for Adventist ministry on non-Adventist college and university campuses.
‣ 2002 – Campus Spiritual Leadership Certificate Program, Andrews University Religious Education Department. Specialized training for campus ministry leaders and chaplains.
‣ 2005 – Adventist Christian Fellowship (ACF) organized as an official ministry of the NAD Youth/Young Adult Ministries Department. Ron Pickell asked to serve as Volunteer Public Campus Ministry Coordinator.
‣ 2007 – Word On Campus: A Guide To Public College Ministry, handbook for Adventist public campus ministry by Kirk King with Ron Pickell.
‣ 2008 – Center For College Faith (CFCF) organized through the Berkeley SDA Church as a campus ministry resource center by Ron Pickell and Kirk King to develop resources, provide training and mentoring for Adventist campus ministries. Most recently CFCF is a separate 501(c)3 under the name of Affiliated Resources for Campus Ministries (ARC).
‣ 2008 – Pacific Union Conference Campus Ministry Initiative: CFCF conducted a study of Adventist campus ministry initiatives for the conferences in the Pacific Union, developing training materials and identifying ten existing ministries and launching 12 new ministries throughout the seven Pacific Union conferences.
‣ 2009 – Word In Action workbooks (3) and Campus Catalyst weekend seminars were developed to help train local churches on how to launch and support ACF chapters on nearby college and university campuses.
‣ 2010 – Spiritual LIFE For College and Beyond workbook for high school/SDA academy seniors headed off to college was developed as a resource to encourage the spiritual life of students when they leave home.
‣ 2011 – Campus Ministry Quick Start Guide as a shortened version of The Word On Campus, laying out specific steps for launching a ministry on campus.
‣ 2011 – Master of Arts degree in Campus Chaplaincy, Andrews University
‣ 2012 – Ad hoc committee for Public Campus Ministry met in Florida, giving recommendations for a broader and stronger support for Adventist ministry on public college campuses.
‣ 2012 – ACF/NAD Conference: First NAD-wide campus ministry conference, Columbia University, N.Y.
‣ 2012 – ACF INSTITUTE: First NAD-wide, two-week, on-campus evangelism/ministry training program, July 22-August 3, La Sierra University/UC Riverside campus.
‣ 2013 – Second edition of the Word on Campus Guide to Campus Ministry.

Colleen Kelly is Communication and Marketing Specialist at the Indiana Conference of Seventh-day Adventists

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