Jon and Jenny Rice just transitioned from leading the Chi Alpha chapter at Georgetown University (GU) for the last 5.5 years. He leaves to serve in a staff role in GU’s University Chaplaincy. I talked with Jon recently to convey my appreciation for the years he and Jenny served with Chi Alpha (a previous 5 at Virginia Tech and a year of staff training at Florida State). As he took me down memory lane, I was thrilled to hear him describe how God was able to use them in the lives of so many as they extended God’s Kingdom at Georgetown.
From my perspective (and hearing from many of their colleagues on the Washington DC Chi Alpha staff team), Jon and Jenny served well as missionaries. First, Jon and Jenny established a community of worship, fellowship, discipleship, witness, and prayer among students on an elite campus, originally pioneered by previous Chi Alpha directors Shawn & Deb Galyen.
Second, they modeled a pioneer spirit. In campus ministry new ground must continually be tilled among undergrads, graduate students, faculty and foreign students. They adapted to new conditions and tried new methods until effective (and fruitful) structures were discovered.
Third, Jon and Jenny reflected courage and initiative, which is absolutely essential if our missionaries want to establish inroads on a campus. One of their former students, Bonnie Duncan, told me: “I met Jon and Jenny on my 2nd day of college in August 2009. Jon offered me a snow cone outside of my freshman dorm and I met Jenny and 3 month old Sophia at my first Chi Alpha service that night (not knowing at the time that it was their first service as directors too). You never know when these things happen what defining moments they will become. It’s been almost 6 years since that day, and words cannot describe the impact Jon and Jenny have made on my life. Because of their faithfulness to God’s call so many souls have been won for Christ and so many lives touched. But I can say that none have been touched more than mine.”
Fourth, Jon and Jenny exuded an easy confidence with others. They drew students into conversation and put them at ease. They listened to students’ needs and interests, saw their potential and equipped them for ministry on campus and after graduation. Another former student, James Kim, told me: “Jon is inspiring and full of peace. He inspires the people in his ministry by laying out a clear, solid vision. A sense of calm and steadiness accompanies Jon wherever he is. Whether he is consoling a student in need of emotional support, leading a group in prayer and evangelism activities, or running a 5K for charity, Jon always carries a sense of peace that is hard to find. Moreover, these characteristics add up to defining who Jon is as a husband and a father. He is a trustworthy and dependable man that leads his family (and others like us) through the ups and downs of life.”
Last, a key to the Rices’ influence at Georgetown came from a dynamic spiritual life. As an overseer of growing young Christians in an often adverse, busy, and complex collegiate environment, unswerving commitment to a dynamic personal relationship with God is essential.
Serve globally. It is inspiring to note that both Bonnie Duncan and James Kim graduated from GU and decided to serve in campus ministry with the Rices. When I read 1 Thessalonians 2:7-8, I think of Jon and Jenny. They served God well the past eleven years as campus missionaries. They reached a lot of students, trained leaders, and influenced nations. Now they’ll continue to influence the academy as “official insiders” on the payroll of Georgetown. What a privilege!
Love is a verb,
©2015 by Mike Olejarz