Dear Emmaus Family,
You are truly a dear people to me, and it seems the name Emmaus means more to me every week. I have attended Emmaus since my sophomore year of college, and I have grown so much as a part of this community. I’m deeply grateful that our church was planted near Park University with the intentions of reaching my campus and that I was reached.
I graduated this spring, and I thought I would leave Parkville and Park University behind. But, God surprised me my senior year. As I prayed for his leading, as I thought about what was next for me, He led me in a new, amazing direction. My prayers became a fervent question of “Lord, what do You want me to do?” and God answered, “Feed my sheep.” And the sheep he called me to are His children at Park University. God gave me a heart of deep love for this campus and a desire to see Park renewed by the Gospel — to see the students here, my friends, transformed by Jesus. After much prayer, I accepted a position as an intern with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship to be a campus minister at Park — a missionary to the college campus.
God called me and has been faithful. It’s my second week on campus. I am standing before a group of thirty or so people, old friends and new students. I am sharing a call to faith at Revive for what is likely the first time ever. I’m nervous, but as I’m fighting stage fright and talking faster than usual, I trust that it will be fruitful even if no one stands in response. As I share with these students a Jesus who loved a woman caught in adultery, my dear Jesus, I offer opportunities for response. I ask for students to stand if they know about Jesus but want to intentionally and personally pursue a relationship with Him… three people stand immediately and I’m blown away. Shocked and excited, I continue. I offer for those who are hearing of their guilt and Jesus’ grace for the first time and want Jesus, and I see six more students stand. I feel as if I could cry from joy, but I continue, and I offer opportunity for anyone who wants to join in bringing God’s kingdom to campus. Every seat is empty. The entire room is standing, and I am in utter awe of God’s graciousness toward me and toward Park.
At Imani, our newly-formed Black Campus Ministry InterVarsity group, (where African American students can explore faith in the African American context), we gather every week around a table of pancakes and God’s Word. Allison and Neek both gave their lives to Christ at an InterVarsity conference last spring, and now they are leading this group as sophomores who felt led to create this space, and I thank the Lord for their faithfulness. In week three of the semester, Kiara, a freshman, said, “I was invited to Revive, but I didn’t think I would relate to anyone there, and I am so glad I came here tonight!” She comes every week as a faithful regular in this growing community. God’s good plan to reach all corners of campus is thrilling and multiplying.
After standing in response at the call to faith at the beginning of the semester, Rachel and Marina have decided to be faithful to Jesus and create a new community for others to meet Him and grow in Him. They’re forming a track and field Bible study that will kick off this coming spring, and their willingness to follow Jesus is a witness and encouragement to my soul.
Not only have there been tremendous uplifting experiences, but also moments of sharing students’ burdens. As students open the messy parts of their lives with me, I hear stories of school stresses, broken home lives, and even had a student frankly and desperately share he was suicidal. Even in these times, Jesus has been so good to us while we seek Him together.
My voice is one that speaks forgiveness in Jesus, peace with our Father, and a place for all, including those heavy laden. But I cannot do this alone, not logistically, not emotionally and spiritually. If you are interested in supporting me and the work on campus, there are a few ways that you can be a part of what God is doing at Park University.
One fantastic way to be a partner in my ministry is to pray. Pray for me, for the students, for the places on campus yet to be reached. I send out regular updates and prayer requests for my ministry via email. I would be happy to add your email to the list. Another way is volunteering; I know I’m not alone in having a heart for collegiate ministry, and I can help provide opportunity in many capacities. One way is to remember that some of the students I work with are the people that stand near you on Sunday. There’s a substantial number of students who already attend, and many that try our church, often at my recommendation. If you can intentionally get to know the college-age students, you might stumble across some Park students, and I believe they’d enjoy feeling connected and known.
Lastly, the most nuts-and-bolts way you can support me is financially. I am a missional minister, and like all InterVarsity staff, I am able to be on campus because people partner with me by giving financially. This financial partnership makes my ministry possible.
Again, I am so thankful for the community and support provided by you all; I relish every Sunday we spend together. I am excited for the plans God has in store for Park and for the opportunity for your partnership with me in this journey and in this joy!
Deeply and most sincerely,
Hannah Elyse Bertram
If you’d like to contact Hannah directly, you can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org