Associate Professor, Mechanical Engineering, Purdue University
When I first came to Purdue about nine years ago, I had a marginal relationship with the Lord. I was active in the church, but my relationship with God had no impact on my career at Purdue.
About three years ago, God began calling me to ministry. I don't mean God was calling me to drop everything and go to seminary or go on staff with Campus Crusade, but rather he was calling me to radically change my personal life and my career at Purdue. I began by bringing and reading my Bible at work; however, because my faith was weak, I hid my Bible and didn't talk to others about Jesus in my life.
Slowly, God began to place a burden on my heart to "come out of the closet" as a Christian.
I also began sensing God calling me to share my faith with my students. I had never before shared a personal testimony about Jesus in class and I was frightened about what reactions I might get from my students . . . and especially from any colleagues. Through the entire process God was there guiding and assuring me that He was in control.
My testimony went well and I even had several students indicate that they are also Christians and they appreciated me sharing my faith. I also had some other responses like "I'm agnostic" and "I'm not a Christian but I understand what it means to you and I appreciate you sharing your faith with us." I could clearly see God at work even through a simple oneminute testimony.
One thing I learned was to not try to be a lone ranger, but rather to look where God is working and join in. So about two years ago, I met [Christian Leadership professional staff] Jim and Brenda Dunn and joined the Christian Faculty and Staff Fellowship on campus.
Three times a year (early Fall, Christmas, and Easter) our Christian Faculty and Staff Fellowship (with a lot of help from Jim and Brenda) places a full page ad in the Exponent, the campus newspaper, listing about 250 Christian faculty and staff and inviting people to talk with us about Christ.
One day, Jim encouraged me to post the full page ad to my office door and highlighting my name in the advertisement. It was one thing to have my name as one of 250 listed in the ad, but I wasn't sure about taping it to my office door! All my colleagues were bound to see it and I wasn't sure how they might react. I told Jim I would have to pray about it. I spent a week praying and sensed God leading me to do it, so I did. I've had little direct reaction to the ad on my door, positive or negative, but I have observed several of my colleagues and students reading it while they were waiting to speak with me.
In our Easter ad this past spring, we offered a free article about the resurrection. I decided to tape a folder on my door and place several copies of the article in the folder. That week, Jim also encouraged me to consider handing out copies of the article in my class of about 80 students. Again, this was something I had never done before. I prayed about it and again sensed God leading me to do it. At the end of class on Friday, I briefly mentioned Resurrection Week and invited students to pick up a free copy of the article on their way out of the classroom. Much to my surprise, almost half of my class picked up a copy!
As a parent of three future college students, one burden I carry is that many parents do not realize the type of environment they are placing their kids in. Vocal students in our student government and campus newspaper (and sometimes with the aid of faculty) actively promote un-Christian agendas like the gay lifestyle, fornication, and the legalization of marijuana, just to name a few.
One of my other greatest concerns on campus is the active hostility by some Purdue faculty against Christian students. Many Christian students have shared personal stories of faculty who have sought to embarrass them and/or tried to make them feel ashamed of their faith. While some Christian students have the maturity to stand their ground, many do not have the depth of faith yet to withstand such intimidation.
While there many not be much we can do to stop such activities, my prayer is that God will raise up Christian faculty who will have the boldness to share about Christ with their students. My prayer is that every student, sometime in their career at Purdue, will have a faculty member stand before them and say "Jesus is Lord of my life!"