What a difficult past couple of weeks we’ve all been through! As our attention has been drawn to all that is going on nationally and globally, we’ve been thinking of and praying for many of you all. In light of these challenging times, I’m glad I can start off this update with some good news! Our daughter, Julia Abigail Pierce, was born on June 4th at 12:48pm. Today was her due date but she wanted to show up a few days early! We are praising God for a great delivery and healthy baby and mom! Thank you for your prayers and celebration with us.
Summer RUF: Theology Thursdays
We continued, as usually as we could, to reach and equip students online for the rest of the semester. Many of us struggled with some Zoom fatigue as the semester wrapped up in May. However, our spirits had a reboot when another RUF campus minister at WVU reached out to me and a few other campus ministers to suggest partnering together for an online summer event we’ve called Theology Thursdays. We’ve taken seminars that are normally done at RUF summer conference, which was unfortunately canceled due to COVID-19, and set them up online. Students from IUP, WVU, Rowan, and even Bogota National University in Columbia have joined us each Thursday to learn together! In a time where people have been weary of video calls and social distancing, it was particularly refreshing to have some fellowship in Christ even with students in a different hemisphere!
For the past three weeks, we’ve had two four week long seminars running, one on Biblical worldview and another on the authority of Scripture. After that we will begin a two week series and I will be teaching one on anxiety and depression. We have been encouraged by the seminars so far and especially by all the great questions students have been asking.
Students and the Headlines
Though the news headlines have often seemed far away from day to day life in the tiny town of Indiana, PA, I have continued to hear how our students are being affected by all that is going on back home. One student was working in a retirement home that had several COVID cases and sadly a few deaths. Another student who was back home in Philadelphia working at a grocery store was transferred because it was looted in the riots.
An African American student who has attended RUF events occasionally this semester reached out to me asking me what I thought about all the protesting and rioting. I lamented with her the havoc our sin has wrecked upon the world and affirmed the call to pray and work for a society in which we increasingly heed the call "to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with (our) God" (Micah 6:8). My words were well-received and we had an encouraging conversation.
Please pray for wisdom for the many moments like this where I have opportunities to bring the truth of Scripture to bear on the national and global issues that students are wrestling with. Pray at the same time we might keep the focus of our ministry on Jesus Christ and the hope of the gospel. Jesus is the ultimate hope for the prejudice every heart is prone to, “for he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility” (Eph 2:14).
Further Prayer Requests
Pray for Fall Plans and Freshman Outreach
As the fall semester gets closer, I am excited at the prospect of seeing students in person again. IUP recently announced that they will be meeting in-person in the fall yet with many social distancing policies in place. Pennsylvania has moved into its more open "green" phase and that has increased my hope of fruitful ministry in the fall. Soon we will be having planning meetings this summer and I’m excited to have some of our students involved with our outreach! However, I am anticipating this semester may not be a typical semester. As we have learned this year, we "do not know what a day may bring” (Pr 27:1).
Please continue to pray that this virus would die out and not resurface during the fall, especially in a way that might hinder our mission to reach and equip students. Pray for wisdom for us and our students who will be involved with outreach, particularly for creative ways to still connect with students while staying safe.
Pray for Resurrection Indiana
A unique aspect of my call to start RUF at IUP is I am also closely partnered with Resurrection Indiana, a PCA church plant. Resurrection was set to launch monthly services mid-March at the YMCA when the shutdown began. I have been encouraged by how the church planter, David Schweissing, has innovated and continued to connect with the Indiana community through online trivia nights, book clubs, and even a night of painting instruction from a local artist. However, it is undeniable that the shutdown was a setback for the church plant. Our family longs to have a more normal Sunday worship gathering and a more established Church community here. We still trust the LORD is at work and can accomplish these things in his timing but we know this may continue to be a time requiring prayerful perseverance.
Pray that the LORD might work beyond what we can ask or imagine in these challenging circumstances. Pray that non-Christians we are continuing to build relationships with might repent and believe the gospel! Pray that our love for the lost of this community in particular might continue to grow. Pray we also might find rest in God ourselves as we bear the burdens of others. Pray for the LORD to send other Christian families and individuals to labor in the harvest with us since there are so many who are harassed and helpless.