Author info: XY Lau was born in Malaysia, raised in China, and is about to start his fourth year studying Public Relations and Strategic Communication at American University in Washington, D.C. Having attended multiple international schools in his lifetime, he has gained a fluency not only in a multitude of languages, but also in a multitude of English accents. The conglomeration of cultures through which he had lived would confuse his senses of ethics and personality, but he finally came to peace with who he was when he found his identity in Christ. He will resume his role as a Chi Alpha small group leader and homeless ministry leader once the Fall semester starts. Oh, and he loves puns and music. You can connect with him on the web and Facebook. 

Showing Up for the Showdowns

As this summer enters into its final phase, I eagerly await my final year of Chi Alpha. My daydreams fill with hope, and my plans are tinged with anticipation. Mulling through all the faces that I miss so dearly, I pray over all the new ones coming in. I am excited, once again, to show up for the showdowns.
 
Throughout my time here, I am becoming ever more aware of where I end and where God begins. I have seen Him soften the hearts of those I couldn’t approach, breaking down longstanding, robust barriers of hurt I couldn’t scratch and instilling a healing, lasting peace for so many longing students who let Him in. His presence has become that firm and steadfast anchor for our souls, His promises interwoven into the very fabric of our community. And with time, His Spirit has continued to mold us, growing us in holy wisdom along the way.

I am becoming ever more aware of where I end and where God begins.

As a Chi Alphan, I now understand that my commission as a Christian does not require me to go on a mission trip every year, but to constantly be on mission every day. The campus has become my mission field, teeming with precious images of God to be won for His Glory. It is in these instances when I see my cause as individual showdowns, each person I meet a new battle to guide them out of darkness and into His marvelous light. Seizing upon the urgency of the times, I ask God to use me in powerful and remarkable ways for His victory. And boy, does He deliver.

As a Christos apostolos, I now understand that I can’t win a showdown with a single act of greatness, but rather with a devotional, often monotonous rhythm of consistency. Sowing seeds within college students could often be frustrating, but at the sight of that timid, quiet freshman raising his hand in worship for the first time, I am willing to do it all again. For that sophomore who left his life of sin to devote it to ministry, I would do it all again. For that junior who became Chi Alpha President despite having almost died less than two years ago, I definitely would do it all again. From this steady rhythm came an outpouring of God’s transforming love, and I just had to be there to witness it all.

The significance of this ministry speaks for itself whenever one of my guys states that he would not know where he would be today had Chi Alpha not been there for him. It speaks for itself in the multitude of Godly relationships that have sprouted from the cracks of this university, from the deepest of brotherhoods and sisterhoods to the most committed of marriages. This is an impenetrable community, built on the rock to be the salt and light to the world. God has made a body of Christ out of our student body, and it continues to grow through the grueling showdowns of our mission.

As an Ambassador of Christ, I now know that God will make the best out of all we give Him— so isn’t it grand that we are called to give Him our all?


Posted on August 7, 2016 • Short Link: http://bit.ly/2aenb7m

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Who are you cheering for? No, I'm not talking about college football (although the season does start in 50 days). I mean, who in your life are you cheering on? Or what does that look like? I've got a few thoughts. 

Living in the DC and working in campus ministry at an elite university, sometimes I'm suffocated by the amount of competition (while other days, it can be so easy to sucuumb to the temptations of ambition). When I first moved to the city for the DC Chi Alpha CMIT Program, I was looking for ways to serve the students in my small group and others that I'd met on campus. I was a little bit at a loss because these students didn't necessarily have the needs I was familiar with: knowledge, resources, vision. 

Written by Blane Young   Twitter  ||  Facebook

Written by Blane Young

Twitter || Facebook

For several years, I'd primarily worked children and teenages in low-income neighborhoods where the needs seemed to be more obvious. This was an entirely different scenario! 

But as I processed the story that God was (and is) writing at Chi Alpha at American University, I noticed something. It was later confirmed by several seniors as we discussed their time involved in our ministry.

Our community became a place where people found affirmation without competition. 

I don't know if you've ever been in a community like that. I hope you have. But in some ways, I think all of us have at least one person in our lives who is a cheerleader (for lack of a better word). Like, whether you tell them that you're going to a concert or you're spending a year helping children to learn to read overseas, they're excited for you and want to pack you a snack. 

So, how do we do this? 

Like most things in life that matter, it's going to require intentionality. In other words, it won't happen without us putting thought as to how it'll happen. 

I think we have to engage in the discipline of listening, for starters.  I mean, how can we support people in what they're doing if we're only focused on what we'd like to see them do. 

Perhaps you have a friend trying to be an artist or someone committed to a certain cause like Relay for Life. Whatever it is, I'm finding that being an influence in someone's life is more nuanced than simply painting a picture of what you'd like to see them do and asking them to make it happen. 

Instead, it's about supporting them as they pursue their dreams, as their potential leaks out amidst a competitive society, they'll need someone clapping behind them as they run towards doing something amazing. It takes more time than applying a cookie-cutter to people but the results are always better. 

I've got to admit, I'm not the best at this, but I've had a handful of people in my life that have done this for me and I can tell you, it makes a difference. 

The next thing we have to do is find ways to express to this person that we're rooting for them, that we're on their team. So, telling them is a great option. It's strange how often we expect people to know how we feel without ever telling them. It sounds obvious, but how many of us do it? 

Yet there's another level you can take this to. Find ways to engage and participate in the things they're passionate about. 

This is what affirmation, in my opinion, looks like at its best. 

Its people intentionally and deliberately recognizing how God is working in people's lives through their giftings and talents, then simply yet boldly using our voices and our time to let them know we as committed to them as they are to whatever they're doing.

We've probably all heard the cliche, "People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care." Although I believe it's true, let's take it a step further. People are most influenced in the context of relationship (see Mark 2) or as I've heard it more recently, "People may not remember what we tell them but they'll never forget how we made them feel."

The last and perhaps most difficult thing it takes to make this sort of impact on someone, is the continual refocusing from self to others. Yet, it's so essential to the message of Christ, we can't ignore it, no matter how many times we failed or how tiring it is.

I hope that you experience the joy and fulfillment of cheering on a friend, loved one or relative. And remember that as you do, you're embarking on a journey to become more like Christ while infusing courage (the definition of encouraging) someone else who's also somewhere on that journey.  


Posted
AuthorBlane Young
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Because of intense academic pressure, it is really challenging to find ways to build community within international students’ busy schedules.  Here’s some things we’ve tried to incorporate to build community.

1) Food! Everyone loves food and having international-friendly food really builds community.  For snacks, serve pita and hummus rather than chips and dip. Chicken is a favorite with most cultures and fresh fruit is a winner every single time. And always, always have vegetarian options. We avoid pork altogether at events (no pepperoni pizza) to continue to say “welcome” to our Muslim friends.

2) Cook together. Even better…take them to an international grocery to get the ingredients, and then cook together!   It’s amazing what enjoying their cooking creations does to build warmth in community.

Written by Karen Keyser   Facebook

Written by Karen Keyser

Facebook

3) Games.  Keep an atmosphere of laughter and warmth when it comes to playing games.  Try to have games that are not too language or culturally dependent.  Our group enjoys Gestures, Catch Phrase, and Murder, as well as simple card games like Uno and Spoons.

4) Culture Nights. Choose a culture and have a night where they cook, share their cultures’ music and dance and art, and share a testimony from someone in that culture. 

5) Sports—and ping pong!  Internationals often love sports, especially football (soccer)!  In our group, Haydee from the Philippines invites students to play ping ping on Saturday afternoons. She always has a great group of busy graduate students who show up for her “Ping Pong gang.”  

6) Holiday parties.  Internationals enjoy learning about American culture, so including them in Superbowl parties, Christmas celebrations, and Easter egg dying can be a lot of fun and help students to feel connected to our culture. 

7) Dance!  We’ve had a ton of fun teaching internationals square dancing and line dancing with a professional caller.  Spontaneous cultural dances often break out at other events, and there’s nothing like fun dancing to build community.

8) Grocery shopping.  One of my volunteers said that the best thing she ever did to connect with her busy student was regular grocery shopping.  The student and volunteer could visit while they did something that the student always wanted to make time to do.

9) Sightseeing together.  Taking advantage of academic breaks & weekends to do touristy things together creates special community memories. We’ve enjoyed DC tours, corn maizes, aquariums, and art galleries with our international friends. 

10) Road Trip!  My all-time favorite way to build community with internationals is at a retreat.  Having extended time to cook together, hike, do puzzles, chat into the night, answer questions, share testimonies, and sing under the stars does wonders for building a loving community.

Posted
AuthorBlane Young
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Like most 18 year olds, I was both nervous and excited for college. I was excited about striking out on my own but nervous about where I was headed. Particularly because I hadn't decided on a major and had no idea what I was going to do with my life.

Written by Hannah F. Young

Written by Hannah F. Young

But I held fast to a quote by Frederick Buechner, “Vocation is the place where our deep gladness meets the world’s deep need.”
 
Of course, I had no idea what that meant practically, but I was excited to find out.

However, I faced a lot of questions when I got to college:

  • What exactly is the “world’s deep need”?
  • What is my own “deep gladness”?
  • Do I still have to go to church now that my mom isn't making me?
  • How important is it really that I separate whites and colors when I do laundry?

 
Despite these questions (and many more), one thing I did know was that I wanted to be a better person as a senior than I was as a freshman. I just didn't know what that looked like or how to accomplish it. Then I discovered Chi Alpha. In Chi Alpha, I found fellow students who genuinely cared about me and I found a leadership staff that was committed to helping me grow. This means I was free to ask questions about my faith, about my classes, about my calling, and about all the issues in between.
 
I believe in Chi Alpha because it is a safe place to ask questions. It’s a place where people are willing to discuss the world’s deep need and your own deep gladness.
 

I don't know what questions you have - maybe you're wondering if Jesus is who he says he is. Maybe you're wondering if God has a plan for your life. Maybe you're wondering what the Bible says about poverty and homelessness. Whatever your questions are, there are people at Chi Alpha who want to sit down and walk alongside you. 

This is why I believe in Chi Alpha, because I found people willing to listen, learn and grow alongside me. 

Posted
AuthorBlane Young

We float in murky waters.  The depth of our relationships is not determined by our sight alone- potential is worthless until we dive.  People are as dynamic as the waters are turbulent.  I think I’m complicated enough.  Do I really have to share in the complications of interaction?  

Although we don’t say it aloud, I think we share sentiments.  Like water is buoyant and pushes us back to the surface, so the complexity of relationships drive us to shallowness.  It’s so much easier to block our hearts- less vulnerability, less pain, less trust.  I’ve tottered in the shallow end in many of my relationships.

Written by Nick Holmstedt

Written by Nick Holmstedt

Now, I think there is variation of depth even in spiritual friendships.  But our unifier (you know, God) is more than physical and emotional.  He is spiritual.  So are we, and if we neglect that area in our friendships then we neglect a part of ourselves.  When we interact in the spiritual we can relate along the path of eternity.  Our friendships might look dirtier like that murky water.  But when we swim through, we reach the clear blue of the ocean’s depths (don’t get washed away in this analogy’s incongruity).  

How can we breach the soul to reach this picturesque landscape of a relationship?  I’ve found the primary separator is pursuit.  I like metaphors, so here’s one: in geosynchronous orbit, the International Space Station races around the planet more than a dozen times a day.  To match the velocity and dock, a space shuttle would have to achieve a similar orbit- the distance from the earth in part determines the speed (so-called angular velocity).  Getting closer to earth speeds the vessel.  Our spiritual relationships should gravitate around God.  We match- or closely match- the orbit of our community and thereafter inherit similar speed.  We have to pursue God, so we consistently push ourselves closer to Him, gaining speed all the while.  Along with us are our friends who are also gravitating towards Him.  In this way, we are intimately connected.  Friends without this focus are like comets.  They pass by with fleeting curiosity, but cannot maintain a connection- their orbit is not focused on the nearby earth but on so many other curiosities that float through space.  No matter how long or how important they are, eventually they’ll fade into the darkness unless they surrender to the orbit of God.  

We must pursue God.  Relationships of eternal substance can exist only in light of His reality.  And, frankly, our growth stagnates unless we are eternally focused.  A good spiritual friendship borne of vulnerability and genuine compassion with a focus on God seems to be a predictor of sustainable growth and joy.  

Posted
AuthorBlane Young