Think of a time when someone saw you. No, not someone passing by on their way to class, who glanced at you and gave a quick “hello,” but a time when someone truly and deeply saw you. I have one memory clear as day.
It was the summer after my freshman year at Biola and I got a phone call from a friend. He was serving as Missions Conference Director for the upcoming year and asking me for speaker suggestions. I threw out some names, told him I would be praying, and then he said, “Hey! You should think about applying to be a coordinator for a conference. I see a leader in you.”
Although I was flattered, I immediately said “no.” I’d never been in a significant leadership position before. And though it meant a lot to be thought of, deep down I just didn’t think I could do it because I couldn’t see a leader in me. However, this friend faithfully pursued me, encouraging me and building me up all summer. By the time fall rolled around and applications opened, I was confident enough to apply. And I got the position. That job ended up changing my life because it was the first time I had done life with a group of people who all had the same desire as me - to make Jesus known. It was the sweetest community I had ever experienced.
I’ve been in SMU ever since. I’ve spent a lot of hours in this office. And I’ve watched students walk in. I’ve seen some students walk in and immediately ask how to get get involved. Their boldness is electric. But, that wouldn’t have been me. And I don’t think that’s most people. Time after time, I watch people peer into the office from the hallway and freeze a little. They are waiting to be invited inside. They need someone to be a door holder, to see them, and to see a leader in them - just like me.
As I began praying last spring and asking the LORD how he wanted to guide SMU for this upcoming year, I kept coming back to the simplicity of our mission statement: to motivate and mobilize students to align their lives towards the completion of the Great Commission. But I fear that students often with a passion for gospel proclamation on our campus never come in through the front door of the office because of fear of rejection.
I want Biola students to be filled with a passion for gospel proclamation, from their neighbors in La Mirada, to the unreached across the nations. For if we believe the gospel saves, how much do we have to hate someone to not tell them the good news? That’s what we do at SMU - welcome the lost home and invite Biola students to join us in this task, which I believe will in turn transform them. I am convinced - people come alive when they do kingdom work, because it is what God made us for.
Our initiative for this year in SMU is “Building a Longer Table.” We are inviting those that don’t know the love of the Father to experience this Jesus we speak about. They are welcomed and wanted by Christ; there is a seat at the table for them. And for the Biola student who feels lost and like they don’t belong anywhere, we extend a seat to them as well. But how are we to welcome people to the table if we don’t see them?
Good news is meant to be shared. And that’s why SMU exists: to be a voice to the Biola community, to urge students to align their lives towards the completion of the Great Commission. And then give them a place to do so. The Student Missionary Union is a resource, not a club, one of many voices of gospel proclamation in the Biola community. I pray that we create a passion in Biola students for the work of God, and that this passion transforms them and stays with them long after they leave this campus.
Until All Hear,