Ever since we arrived at Penn State, we have been praying and working for the day when the gospel comes within arm's reach of every grad student and professor on campus SO THAT we can help the gospel come within arm's reach of every person on the planet. Our hearts don't just beat for grad students and professors at Penn State. Our hearts beat for the world. We want to go to the world and send students and professors to the world.
So this past year we have been actively pursuing a partnership with Cru's campus ministry in the Dominican Republic (DR). A partnership is a great opportunity to help accelerate the advancement of the gospel in the DR. It's also a great opportunity to help our students and professors gain a greater heart for Christ, His gospel, and for the world.
To help create this partnership, I (Ashley) traveled with Josh Kerr (one of the Faculty Commons staff guys on my team) and several other Faculty Commons and Cru Undergrad staff members to Santo Domingo, DR in early March to meet with the Cru staff in Santo Domingo and professors on several major campuses there. This was truly a pioneering trip. We only had one appointment set up before we left. If we were going to meet with anyone else, God was going to have to go ahead of us and provide all that we needed. And that's exactly what He did!
On our first day, we sat across the desk from Dr. Rosa Espinal, the chair of the Biology department at the Universidad Autonoma de Santo Domingo (UASD) – the only appointment we had set up. This is what she said. "For many years I have dreamed about and asked the Lord to move in the lives of many professors here so that together we could see many students and colleagues come to know Him. Now you are all here sitting in my office and I know that the Lord is answering my prayer." Dr. Espinal went on to tell us how she already lives out her faith as a professor. She has seen many students come to faith. We were astonished at her boldness and the love she has for her students. She then told us that she doesn't know many other Christian professors and asked us to help. So we prayed in her office with her.
The Lord heard and answered Dr. Espinal's and our prayer. Several Cru students on the campuses we visited introduced us to the Christian professors they knew. They in-turn introduced us to other Christian professors they knew. By the time we left, we met with over 15 professors. And every one of them was just as bold, passionate, and committed to Christ and the gospel as Dr. Espinal. We were blown away!
Josh is going back this summer for six weeks. We'll be taking professors and grad students back with us next March. And Jesus Himself did it all! Isn't He great!
FACULTY APPRECIATION DINNER THANK-YOUWe hosted our third annual Faculty Appreciation Dinner on April 8th. It was one of the biggest highlights of the year! As in previous years, undergrad and grad students invited one of their favorite professors to join them as their guest at a dinner in their honor. God used the dinner to bless, honor, and thank professors on campus. He also used it to create an opportunity for students to begin talking with their professor about their spiritual lives and the difference Christ has made in their lives.
We could not have hosted the event without our student leadership team. And like us, they are fully aware that we could not have hosted the event without your prayers and financial support. Here is a thank-you note they wrote to you:
"This card comes to you from hearts full of thanks for all that you did to fund the Faculty Appreciation Dinner. We were so blessed to be a part of the event, and to serve alongside you in this incredible ministry opportunity. Additionally, thank you so much for providing us with a dinner to celebrate. We all felt very loved and appreciated, and are so thankful for your kindness. Most of all, thank you for your sincere hearts for Christ, and for being examples to us of how to walk in His steps.
The Faculty Appreciation Dinner Student Leadership Team"
Ashley & Heather