Unless you have been living under a rock, you know that, after this week, Michael will no longer be the director of Christian Campus Fellowship at Florida State. We have known this was coming since last summer. God has some exciting plans for our future and we are pumped to move forward. But these last few weeks especially have been all about looking back and celebrating.
This morning we celebrated the graduating seniors as well as the staff who is moving on. I got to share a little from the stage what this ministry has meant to me, but I thought I’d elaborate a little bit.
I came to CCF for the first time in October of 2001 with one of my floormates, Jillian. At the time I was a part of another campus ministry but I really liked the people at CCF. The group was very small, but so welcoming and close with one another. My sophomore year I remained active at the BCM and CCF (which I realize now was really stupid, so don’t judge me!) but, mostly due to my relationship and revere of Mike Waers, I chose CCF as my ministry going into my junior year and began to serve the heck out of it. At that time, Michael was getting ready to come from TCC to FSU (we were only friends then) and I invited him to check out CCF. He did and we both became leaders. We began dating in the Fall of our junior year, and we both found a spiritual “dad” in Mike Waers. Finishing up our Senior year, Michael and I were engaged and planning for our future. We knew I had a one year commitment at TMH after graduation so, when Mike Waers approached Michael about an internship, we decided to go for it. He knew he was interested in ministry and that it’d be fun to live the college life without the homework. All the while, we were planning for heading to seminary in North Carolina post-internship with no plans to make Tallahassee home. I used to joke that the only way we would EVER come back to Tallahassee was if Mike Waers retired, and Michael took his job. Little did I know…
Four months into Michael’s one year internship, Mike Waers told us he was leaving to go work for a supporting church in Ormond Beach. This was, by no means, in any of our plans. Mike WAS CCF. He was everything to this ministry, and to us. What’s more, he wanted Michael to take his job. Michael the 22 year old who had been a Christian for a little over 2 years, with no formal training and 4 months of ministry experience. Mike Waers believed in him back then when it didn’t seem logical. He’d never even heard Michael preach a sermon. But he knew there was something special about him.
We were 2 months from getting married and I was already planning my life in beautiful North Carolina, the place I had always wanted to live. Staying at CCF was not in my plan, and I made sure my husband to be knew it. I fought, tooth and nail, against it, and then, I had my first exercise in submission when Michael decided this is what we needed to do. We “interviewed” with the CCF board as a technicality and we were named the new directors of CCF just weeks after our wedding day.
To say our first year of marriage, and of ministry was rocky would be an understatement. Looking back, I can see so many mistakes I made. I was so selfish. We always say that marriage makes you realize how truly selfish you are. This was beyond true for me. I was still bitter in a lot of ways that this was what we were doing. While I saw the good that was happening (we had our first two conversions the Fall we were named director and first lady), I didn’t want to be here. And I made it known. I resented the times when Michael would go next door to his office (yes, we lived on the CCF property for the first 15 months of our marriage) and not return for hours. I resented how the students would come over and never leave. I felt like my young husband cared more for them than he did for me. And I told him. So often that I can still remember the conversation we had sitting in the brick apartment where I made my husband, so clearly called to ministry, question that calling, and almost call it quits.
From that moment on, I prayed. I prayed that God would change my heart. I prayed that He would allow me to love the students, the ministry, the campus the way Michael did. I prayed He would give me opportunity to serve and to love students. That He would show me the vision He had so clearly shown Michael. Rather than resisting, I began to embrace. I lead small groups, I met one on one with girls, I made myself available. By God’s grace, He began to change my heart. It completely changed my perspective and, I believe, allowed Michael to minister more freely.
Over the years, CCF has morphed and changed so much. When I started it was a group of maybe 20 students. Through the vision Michael has casted of being “Devoted to Christ. Devoted to Campus.” and God’s faithfulness, we have grown! We have seen over 150 students on a given Monday night coming and hearing the Gospel. They come because our students invite them, because our students have been a part of their lives, loving them and showing them Jesus. They come because our students “get it.”
There have been so many victories over the years. When Michael’s vision of “Go Week,” our mission trip to campus, became reality, what a victory! To see how it’s grown has been incredible, watching these students PAY to come back EARLY to serve our campus. What a joy and a surprise to watch 300 students flood the CCF lawn to eat pancakes at 11pm. One of my big favorites has been watching students baptize other students, especially those who had only just been baptized the semester before. And then this semester, having CCF awarded the Mores Award for exemplifying the Seminole tradition of Service was the answer to what we’d been praying for so long.
The funny thing is that a lot of people have been focusing on what Michael, me, or the other staff has meant to them. But, I have never been more challenged by a group of people in my life. I have learned so much from them. A girl whom I started out “mentoring” 2 years ago has become my best friend and the person I now turn to to speak the truth of God into my heart. Even today, as the seniors’ peers shared stories of how they had impacted their lives, it was so neat I hadn’t heard many of the stories! To me this means that this ministry is so much more than Michael or me or Nathan or any staff. It’s first about Jesus, and then about the students who carry the vision to the campus. I heard a sophomore tell a senior “You were the first example of a Godly woman I had had in my life.” You can’t replace moments like those.
CCF students and staff have truly become both our best friends and our family. When my earthly family lets me down, I know I have these people. I know they have my back and they will go to God on my behalf. They have been there through my marriage and the birth of both of my babies. They loved on 3 little strangers like they were there own when we got the crazy idea to become foster parents a few years back. My children literally LIGHT UP when their “CCF friends” (as MP calls them) show up. I will be honored if my kids grow up to be like these kids.
Moving forward, we are excited! We are excited for our own future but all the more for the future of CCF. It is being left in the capable hands of two of our awesome interns as well as new director, Kane Miller. But more than that, it’s being left in the hands of our students. Our students who love Jesus, others, and truly live “Devoted to Christ. Devoted to Campus.”
Thank you all, current students and “Has Beens” alike for all you have meant to me and to my family. The impact you have made on my life is irreplaceable. In those early months, when I resisted so hard, I could have never dreamed that now 6 years later, it would be so very hard to say good bye.