By Emma Froelich
It’s around this time of year that papers and exams start accumulating for students, the winter blues get us down, and mission becomes difficult! This isn’t to say that the mission is any less important than it was the first month of classes - it’s actually just as important! How can the excitement for mission be reignited when it seems so easy to push it to the back burner?
Saint Paul’s Outreach’s mission is grounded in a faith that is witnessed to students through community. SPO’s unique strategy is made up of a comprehensive four step proccess: reach, call, form, send. Of course, the students on campus don’t necessarily fit neatly into one of these four steps - it's an ongoing process. However, all mission starts with “reach” because evangelization is relational and every relationship must start with an initial encounter.
SPO New Jersey strives to creatively reach out to students all year long. Every Thursday at 8:30 AM, after morning prayer, the Mission Leaders and Student Missionaries gather and serve coffee and hot chocolate on the Green at the center of campus. There is a chalkboard easel that displays a thought provoking question to engage with students walking past. It’s easy to start a conversation with someone with questions ranging from “Where is your favorite place on campus?” to “Do you prefer bagels or squirrels?” to "Who's your favorite Saint?"
Besides coffee stall, student leaders are involved in running other activities all year long to connect with students. The women run a Craft Hour and FaithFit (faith and fitness) while the men reach out to their peers by playing basketball and Frisbee. The easiest way to start to evangelize is to just bring others into the things one already loves to do. Other ‘grassroots’ activities include skiing and hiking trips, inviting people over for Saturday brunches, and impromptu trips to the City (NYC).
The question was recently posed at a Student Missionary meeting: “What are ways we can continue mission and reach out to students during the last few months of the school year?” Students responded with answers like inviting people to daily mass, spending time with the students in small group, meeting a new person every week, and so on. Each Student Missionary then picked the one item for which they wanted accountability.
The best way to be reignited for the mission field is through prayer. One prayer that has been on repeat is the phrase - “Use Me Lord.” This simple prayer gives the Lord permission to use us to be vessels of His Love to students we meet on campus. Also, asking the Lord each morning to give us opportunities to encounter students that need to know of the Lord is a great way to get your head and heart in the right place each day. Jesus is also a great witness (ahem, the best witness) on how to always be on mission. We can reflect on this by diving into Scripture.
Difficulty in mission served as a great opportunity for the students and Missionaries to ask the Lord to renew their zeal for mission. The Lord has built us up as disciples for mission, and we want to run the race well. He has fully equipped us and can’t wait to see the ways we will confidently share His Love with others! As the Seton Hall Pirates say, Hazard Zet Forward!