Tuesday, August 5, 2014

What we're up to: RUF at ECU

If you've kept up with either me or Tom, you'd know that we're starting a new phase of life. Tom recently graduated from Covenant Seminary. He also, just 2 weeks ago, passed his last ordination exam to become a pastor. The way we've described it is that he's gotten his "marriage license" from the county office {presbytery} and now he just needs a ceremony to make it official - that will happen on September 13th. 



When Tom and I met, I had no idea what RUF was.  RUF stands for Reformed University Fellowship. It is the official college ministry of the PCA {Presbyterian Church in America}. To be a campus minister, one must have completed seminary and be ordained as a pastor. Guys who are campus ministers receive the same training as ministers of churches. They're just pastors of a very specific demographic - college students. We have been hired to start a brand new RUF at ECU. We'll be working alongside a local church (Christ Presbyterian) that has been praying for RUF to start at ECU for over 10 years and is very excited to help us get things going. 

East Carolina University is located in Greenville, NORTH Carolina {not to be confused with my hometown of Greenville, SOUTH Carolina}. Simon has enjoyed spotting the mascot, Pee Dee the pirate, around campus, and we're quickly on our way to becoming Pirate fans. While many folks have not heard of ECU - it's a rather large school {larger than Auburn}, has a booming med school, a newly added dental school, and really is a gem to the eastern part of the state.



We feel that the need for RUF at East Carolina is great. For one thing, there aren't any RUFs in the eastern part of NC. Also, the eastern region of NC is in socio-economic decline. Poverty is rampant, education is poor, and health is flagging. Part of ECU's long-term vision is to revitalize the region as a whole. One of the best things about RUF is that it is a ministry that is for the school and for its students. An RUF goal is not to use the school, but to come along side it to help cultivate and grow the people that will graduate from the university. Our ministry will seek to join the university's efforts in 
improving economic and social health in the region as well as adding another dimension by addressing the spiritual condition of the region. 

Tom and I both became Christians during college. We acknowledge what a sweet time it is to introduce the gospel to college students because for the first time in their lives, they're able to make their own decisions. Students are away from home, their belief systems are being tested, and they're trying to figure out who they are and what kind of people they want to be. What fertile ground for ministry!

Tom was converted through a fraternity Bible study at UGA that was led by RUF guys. I became a Christian while training to become a Young Life leader - it was the first time that I'd come to terms with the fact that I was made for God's glory and not my own. 

We've chosen RUF because we love this ministry. We love that it's a ministry of the church and that it has our church's full support. We love that Tom is hired by the presbytery and that the ministry is under the oversight of the presbytery. We love that campus ministers are ordained ministers - specifically trained to teach the Word of God and pastor a specific demographic. We love that he will be able to preach the gospel to people who desperately need it every week.  




Although I wasn't a part of RUF as a student, I love the fact that I've seen people transformed and genuinely changed through this ministry. RUF is designed to equip students to understand and become members of a local church. RUF is a taste of church community, and one of the goals is to help students find that community after college. I did not do RUF in college and wish that I had - I remember graduating and had no idea that I should have been going to the local church for community. 

While we are the folks placed here in Greenville, we cannot do this ministry alone. First of all: we believe in prayer. We believe that it's the Holy Spirit who changes people. Tom {and I} are merely here to help foster an environment where people can encounter the Holy Spirit through the means of grace: meeting with students one on one, having small groups {Bible studies}, and eventually large group {where the Word is preached}. 

We're asking for your help in prayer. Pray for the students we'll meet this year and the years to come. Pray for conferences that students attend, pray for our Bible studies, pray for Tom, pray for our marriage and our family as vocational ministry involves our whole family. 

Secondly, we cannot do RUF without financial support. Tom isn't hired by the university or the local church; this ministry is funded entirely by individuals and churches who freely give so that the gospel of free grace can be proclaimed on campus.
 In many ways, we're like missionaries dropped deep in the strange land that is a college campus.

We have been asked why we don't get paid by the church; the reality is that the PCA is a fairly 'new' denomination and most churches don't have enough money to fully support RUF, although many churches do give generously to make the ministry possible. 

We believe that the Holy Spirit is at work in the ministry of RUF. We have seen the fruit of this ministry and pray that the Lord continues to grow it and use people to fund it so that Tom can share the gospel with students. 



We are currently seeking financial partners in this ministry adventure. If you {or anyone you know} might be interested in joining us, please send an email to tom.hart@ruf.org. Also, if you would like to receive regular updates on how the ministry is going, send us your physical address. 

If you would like to donate directly, here's how:

All donations are tax deductible, and there are two ways to give:

1.) You can donate online at www.givetoruf.org. Make sure you enter East Carolina University in the box.

2.) You can send checks made out to Reformed University Ministries with East Carolina University in the memo line to:

Reformed University Fellowship
P.O. Box 890004
Charlotte, NC 28289-0004

1 comment:

  1. Soli Deo Gloria!!
    Love y'all, proud of y'all, thankful and excited for y'all!!
    Praying with & for you :-]
    MQD

    ReplyDelete

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