By Bill Walsh
When I finished up my first SICM back in 2002, I knew then and there Chi Alpha was destined to be a part of my life in serving Jesus and mobilizing the Good News.
So many of us Chi Alpha staff can trace our college ministry origins back to such a moment. At one point or another, we saw the white heads of grain amid the university and responded. We saw the huge, flaming mountaintop beacon beckoning us to love and transform the campus, the marketplace, and the world.
But if I look back on my journey back in 2002, I did not feel God’s call to serve in Chi Alpha replace my earlier call to be a research scientist. You see, as of age five, I had been fastidiously planning on being a paleontologist, working long hours at a research institution and digging for dinosaurs in South Dakota during the summer. Did I see being a Chi alpha staff member and working as a research scientist as an incompatible match? No, I certainly did not.
Fast forward to May 2004, when I was finishing my undergrad. I was earnestly praying about my future that year (like all seniors do), and as of that month I did not feel that God was calling me to be a paleontologist after all. So, I graduated, looked for jobs, and prayed about where I was going to go. But I knew no matter where I went, I would look for a Chi Alpha group to serve.
Over the next six years, I saw God’s holy providence steer me through some interesting and amazing developments. To make a longer story shorter, here is the truncated version:
- Shortly after graduating undergrad without a clue as to what was next, I was accepted to grad school at my alma mater for a different major, got a graduate assistantship working a residence life job, and joined on as a Chi Alpha volunteer staff all within one week (this is a good, long story).
- After grad school, I undertook a Chi Alpha internship studying under Dick and Joy Schroeder along with Timbo Anderson in Bozeman for nine illustrious months.
- Upon the completion of my internship, I spent three glorious years working full-time in student affairs at Syracuse University, where I did my job diligently, got married, and prayerfully explored replanting a Chi Alpha (sadly, that dream did not happen at that time).
Finally in 2010, God called my wife and I back to southern New Jersey. I did not really know why at the time, only that we more or less felt called back to our home state. Yet no sooner did we arrive that God presented an opportunity to co-direct my old Chi Alpha with a fellow Chi Alpha alumni couple (Carl and Christine Nalbandian), past compatriots that my wife and I served alongside as student leaders back in our glory days. All four of us were either working full-time, part-time, or serving as staff at a church, but through some amazing twists, we felt God call us to co-lead the group. Nine years later, the group has grown by leaps and bounds through the grace of God, now harboring a staff of eleven with the overwhelming majority of us being volunteer staff.
I share my Chi Alpha journey purely to illustrate that God is not exclusively calling men and women to serve as full-time Chi Alpha missionaries. Nay, God is looking to use many of us in roles that fall outside of the traditional templates. If we’re to effectively reach the thousands of campuses across the globe, we need to think creatively and act decisively. Ultimately, regardless of how we pay the bills, God is seeking men and women to embrace His clarion call and to truly commit to serving college students for Jesus.
Are you a Chi Alpha student graduating this year and planning on working full-time?
Are you a Chi Alpha alumnus with a few hours to spare each week in discipling students?
Are you willing to give a portion of your schedule to transform your local campus?
Are you willing to answer?
Through every change in my career over the past 15 years, my life has changed but the need to fulfill the Great Commission has remained the same. At each step on my journey, I felt (in varying degrees) God pulling me to the campus to labor as His servant. All that I ask of people is that they prayerfully consider how they might serve their local Chi Alpha, as we are currently in great need for men and women whom are willing to commit to serving as Christ’s ambassadors.
All that I ask is that you truly pray about it.