For years we have felt a call at First Trinity to be involved in ministry at the University at Buffalo (UB), but have struggled to figure out exactly what that looks like. We’ve come alongside other ministries encouraging and helping them. I’ve helped lead a weekly small group alongside students. We hosted Lifetree Café on for a little over a semester. All of that was great and we truly saw God at work in each opportunity, but it was also clear that it still wasn’t quite what God had in mind for us. Finally, this past year we landed on a concept that seems to be right in the middle of God’s mission and vision for First Trinity and the fruit we are seeing continues to confirm this.
1 Thessalonians 2:8 says “We were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God, but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us.”
This passage helped lead and guide the launch of our new ministry, UB Common Ground, this fall. Whether it’s sharing some tips for a job interview, asking how a chemistry test went last week, or following up about a health issue, by simply sharing life with students and finding ways to show them how dear they are to us, we also get opportunities to share the good news of Jesus and His love.
The concept of UB Common Ground is simple: We show up every Wednesday afternoon with homemade treats, fruit, and other snacks, plug in a Keurig for coffee, tea, and hot chocolate, put a sign in the hallway announcing the free goodies inside, and wait for students to show up. As students come in, some are hesitant, certain there must be some kind of catch. We assure them, it’s truly free and to help themselves to anything they want. Other students come back week after week and know the drill. Some stop in quick between classes and grab stuff to-go and others decide to stay for a while, take a break, and chat. Either way, we are able to create some ‘common ground’ with the students (I mean, who doesn’t love free stuff?!?) and share God’s love through our service.
As we stepped into this new ministry opportunity we knew we needed to define a “win”. What would it look like if our ministry was effective? One of the many markers of success we landed on was “to have at least one quality conversation with a student each week”. God is faithful and last semester we walked off campus every single week with that win! Numbers aren’t everything, but they do tell part of the story. Here are some numbers from last semester on campus:
- 12 Wednesdays on Campus (plus the last week of classes where we are there every day)
- 368 Total Student Guests (if someone comes back they are counted again)
- 22 Average Weekly Guests
- 91 Prayer Requests Collected
- Over 150 Hours of On Campus Ministry by Volunteers
- Estimated $250 Worth of Donations of Fruit, Coffee, Water, and More
- Over 55 Dozen Baked Good Items Donated
Even more exciting than those numbers are things that God has done through our time there. We’ve prayed with students facing tough situations at home or with school work. We’ve seen students get connected to campus ministries and local churches. We’ve talked with Christians and those who still don’t know Jesus and all seem to walk away encouraged. Here are what some of the types of comments we hear from students week-to-week:
- “This is all worth it each week even if it’s just for me. Seriously, I’ve been so encouraged by this!”
- “This is my favorite part of the week; I’ve been looking forward to this since Monday!”
- “I’m having a bad day. I don’t really wanna talk about it right now but I’m thankful to just be around people who care.”
As we start back up on campus with UB Common Ground this week for the spring semester, we want to invite YOU to get involved! Here are some of the ways you can do just that:
- Join the Prayer Team – Each week after returning from campus we send out an email update with that week’s prayer requests and God sightings to our prayer team. If you would like to get these updates and pray for our students, please let me know!
- Volunteer on Campus on a Wednesday afternoon – Come hangout with us and invest in the lives of students! Talk with Bekah to get more information about parking and where to go.
- Provide Baked Goods – The students love homemade food as they often don’t get that while in college. It shows extra love and care and is much appreciated.
- Donate Fruit, Water, or K-cups – While cookies are great, healthy food is sometimes hard to find or more expensive on a college campus. Many students are excited to see fresh fruit each week. We also go through about 20 K-cups and 5-10 bottles of water each week and can use donations of those as well.
Click here to sign-up to help in any of these ways, and please continue to pray for us as we join together to share our lives and the gospel of God with the students at UB!