Monthly Archives: April 2015

Monday Motivator – April 27

Many international students say the one thing they are most interested in is “being invited into an American home.” Richard, from Taiwan, felt that way until we met years ago.

I started in campus ministry at Ohio University (OU) in September 1982. I learned in the spring of 1983 that there were two chartered Chi Alpha groups on campus – one supported out of New Life Assembly of God (led by John M. Palmer) and one out of Central Avenue United Methodist Church (led by David Olshine), both in Athens, Ohio. Keith Wasserman (director of campus ministry at Central) and I (with the support of both pastors and churches) decided to partner for Kingdom growth and we created University Christian Community (UCC), a chapter of Chi Alpha Christian Fellowship at OU.

Christian Friends was birthed in 1983 and was one outreach sponsored by UCC. It was birthed out of love for Jesus and a commitment to see “this gospel of the Kingdom preached in the whole world as a witness to the nations” (Matthew 24:14). Keith began our effort to reach out and serve the 1200-1500 international students at OU. Of the 13 campus ministries at OU, none of them were focused on foreign students.

Through a series of dinner activities, hospitality, films, evangelistic Bible studies (a decade or so before The Alpha Course), picnics, and special outings, many Christians on campus and in area churches became involved with Christian Friends. In December 1983, four area churches sponsored a series of dinner and film events for our international friends. At our first dinner, over 100 people stayed to view the film, “The Hiding Place.”

Keith investigated what OU offered as service opportunities and we quickly became involved with airport pickups, short-term housing, English conversation partners, and the weekly on-campus “coffee and conversation” hour in one of the dorms. Before long, we had a dozen or so of our students and townspeople coming to initiate friendship. I met Richard, a graduate student from Taiwan that fall and we became close friends the year he was on campus. What a joy it was to experience that mutually supportive relationship!

During the summer of 1984, we mobilized families from churches in Athens to partner and participate in our activities ranging from volleyball to Bible study. This event, our largest to date, was called “The Event.” Attendance averaged about 40 each week and touched an estimated 200 students. One of our objectives was to create an environment where American Christians could meet and form friendships with international students.

Read Leviticus 19:34-35.

Many international students coming to college today in America are still interested in “being invited into an American home.” What is it going to take to reach the nations that God has brought to the United States? Our missionaries in Chi Alpha believe we must be 1) Informed: Know the international population on a campus near you and get prepared by our staff to serve the foreign students in your area; 2) Intentional: Hospitality and ministry to internationals does not just happen: and 3) Influential: Join us in influencing your peers on campus as well as local churches to make room in their lives for “one more friend.” Serve globally. Let’s partner in mission by practicing the three I’s of Chi Alpha.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2015 by Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – April 20

It was the stuff that drives teachers nuts. Mine too as an assistant junior high wrestling coach. I was going to Wayne State University in Detroit, MI, while living at home with my parents and younger siblings. I recently graduated from high school and finished competing in an outstanding wrestling program. I was volunteering for a couple of months to help one of my coaches and it was the Christmas season. There was plenty of activity for junior highers, including concerts, basketball games, and our fall wrestling invitational – a big test for aspiring grapplers from 7th to 12th grade.

Teachers and coaches handed out all the information students and their parents needed to know about rehearsals, practices, and tournaments. Standard procedure (and a lot of frustrated history) taught us to hand out info sheets more than once to try and ensure it got home to the parents. The sheets (with notes from teachers and coaches in BOLD) made it clear when things took place, and that the times were absolutely unbending.

So what happened on the eve of the first major wrestling weekend event of the fall?

One mother called in a panic about what time her teenager was supposed to be dropped off at the junior high school to catch the bus to the cross-town meet. How was she supposed to know this? Another called to say he and his wife were taking their kids to see grandma and they hoped it was okay to miss the tourney. I kindly explained over the phone from my parent’s kitchen (it was the mid-1970’s, so all we had was a landline), that if Tommy missed the tourney he would lose his starting spot on the travel squad. I remember the dad asking, “Why didn’t someone tell me? How was I to know?” Parents of wrestlers should have known since the message had been clearly given.

If this upset coaches and teachers, imagine how it must grieve God when we ignore His message to us in the Bible. He takes the time and effort to write His love letter to every human being. He illustrates His purposes in two books – nature and holy Scripture – to give everyone a chance to find and enjoy the fulfillment and flourishing He intend His children to experience. Even in the midst of human depravity and rebellion, He does not give up but sends His Son to die on a cross to woo and win each of us back to Himself.

What must He think when we live by our own rules, get ourselves in trouble because of our wrong choices, and then say, “How was I to know what God wanted?”

Read 1 Corinthians 1:18-25.

The Old and New Testaments are God’s note to us, explaining clearly who He is, establishing His character and credentials, and defining exactly what He expects of each of us. It teaches us how to treat one another, how to be empowered by the Holy Spirit to live a Christ-honoring life, how to behave in a godly way, and most of all, how to glorify God by putting our faith, hope, and trust in Jesus as Savior and Lord.

How often do you ignore the clear teachings of Scripture? Is it because you know better or that you think it’s too much work to seek to find the answers, and then practice them?

Walk wisely. What results from ignoring Scripture? Don’t neglect what God expects.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2015 by Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – April 13

Winston Churchill has been a hero of mine for overcoming adversity in his personal life and his leadership during the second World War. The great statesman and British Prime Minister often said the greatest weapon the English had against Hitler and the Nazi’s was “hope.” That word is one of the most powerful in the English language.

I recognized Steve Lehmann recently in a Monday Motivator for serving the past eight years as the Great Lakes Area Director for Chi Alpha Campus Ministries. I received more accolades from one of his former students at Eastern Michigan University (EMU), Sarah Krage (now Jackson). After just giving birth to two beautiful children, Sarah sent me these words about her long time mentor. What an illustration of giving hope!

“Steve is a great visionary leader and is able to compel others to vision by how he brings others into his inner circle. Steve shares his vision, puts ideas out on the table, and invites others to come and dream with him as he navigates what God has put in his heart. I have had the privilege of knowing Steve for over 17 years now. I am super thankful that he took me under his wing as a student. He trained and released me so that I could serve as a student leader and see God’s Kingdom expand. One example was taking a 22 member chorus and 8 person worship team to Argentina in 2000 for the Global Student Encounter, where we were able to lead worship at this World Chi Alpha Conference!”

“Steve is such an encourager. I was always afraid of making a mistake, and I remember one of my first moments helping Steve with a small repair at our Chi Alpha Ministry House near campus. I kept apologizing for not being “exact” with my help, and he stopped, looked at me and said, ‘Sarah, you’re okay. I’m just glad you are here to help.’ He may not have known it at that time, but it was healing for my heart to receive grace and care from a father in the faith. Steve enabled me to gain new levels of freedom and confidence as a young leader!”

“Another key moment of affirmation came when we were at a SALT (Student Activist Leadership Training) Conference my senior year of college. Steve came up to me during a prayer time, put his arm around my shoulders and said, ‘Sarah, isn’t it cool that you can see the reward of your labor? All those EMU students up there getting prayer are a result of your investment in their lives. I’m really proud of you.’ To him, this was probably no big deal, but to my young heart, these words hit me like a tsunami in a desert! I was overwhelmed that something I did made an impact, and that it made him proud. God used this moment to reveal His heart for me as my heavenly Father. Steve’s words helped me see how God saw me and how he too, was proud of me. Steve’s continual encouragement gave room for me to become a student leader, and ultimately, to lead a Chi Alpha group myself as a missionary.”

“Steve has been used far beyond my little world, as his life has literally inspired and birthed ministry on over 40+ new campuses in the Great Lakes as well as in different countries. His heart compels others to vision, empowers them to faith, and encourages them to step into who they are in Christ. I am so blessed by Steve’s impact in my life as a mentor and spiritual leader! My words don’t do my gratitude justice.” Live communally. Imitate Churchill and Lehmann. Be the bringer of hope to your team today.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2015 by Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – April 6

The Bible is the best selling book of all time. Yet if you were honest, and/or you asked some of your friends, you might hear some of the following sentiments. The Bible is: “…good, but I just don’t understand it.” “…very important to me, but I don’t know how to bring it up in conversation.” “…full of ideas that hurt people and society.” “…not relevant in today’s world.” “…okay for you, but not what I need.”

Most of us probably came to believe the Bible is relevant and helpful because we encountered truth firsthand and were affected by it. We may not have been able to explain it, but we knew we were hearing the words of God and not just the words of a man like Luke, Isaiah, or Paul. We learned the Holy Spirit played a powerful role in our “awakening” towards God, but that can be challenging to explain to someone else.

Our experience is certainly personal and subjective. It also is non-rational. Not ir-rational, but non-rational. God uses a different avenue to get our attention and change our minds about His presence and His ways. The objective reasons important to belief are important to show that our subjective confidence is not off-base. What we believe in our heart should be confirmed with reasonable evidence our minds can grasp.

When you start giving people reasons to change their mind – about the Bible, for example – their first instinct is often to resist, while they keep on believing what they’ve always believed. We need to give people good reasons to believe in the Bible…but they may find a compelling interest if they first learn to listen to Scripture.

One option may be to suggest using YouVersion on their mobile device and select the opportunity to listen to a book of the Bible. Option two may be to read why you can believe in the Bible. Radio Bible Class has many resources in their discovery series about the validity of Scripture. Try http://discoveryseries.org/ten-reasons/in-the-bible

If a person says the Bible was “only written by men,” ask them if they have any books in their library? Were those books written by men or women? Sure. But they probably value them because they first listened and engaged the writers’ idea, and found them riveting. Invite them to do the same with the Bible. Encourage your friend to simply listen to Jesus for a while and then come to their own conclusions. Most people respect Jesus. They’ve just never listened closely to what He said. Try the Gospel of Mark first. Then Luke.

Try to avoid getting sidetracked in an argument about inspiration, accuracy, or authority. Ask them to engage the ideas first, then let God do the influencing (as you pray, too). The truth you’re proclaiming has a life of its own, because a) Truth is a Person, and b) the Spirit will work in and through the words. Once your friend listens for a while, their reasons for trusting in Scripture will have the soil they need to take root in.

American Bible Society has developed and delivered solutions for those inside and outside church to help people engage with Scripture. They share the latest research, proven programs, needed technology, and applicable tools to help you and your friends rediscover, engage, and live out the biblical principles found in Scripture. Think theologically. http://AmericanBible.org/solutions is a place to find the help you and your friends need.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2015 by Mike Olejarz

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