Last Thursday, close to one hundred students gathered in OSU’s Lazenby Hall for SPO’s monthly One Gospel program. I had the honor of speaking that night, and as one of the SPO Student Missionaries introduced me to the group, he called me “SPO Ohio’s founder and visionary.” Well, I appreciated the compliment, but I can say with certainty that Iam not the founder and visionary. My first two years at Ohio State, I witnessed firsthand the emptiness and darkness that so often accompanies living the “campus life,” and I yearned to make a difference. I wanted to be an agent of change who impacted other college students with the message of freedom found in Jesus Christ. Then, in the summer of 2003, I was invited to a Saint Paul’s Outreach leadership training program. While God had been preparing me throughout my life, it was at that training in Minnesota that He provided the support, the knowledge, and the spark that I needed to start this mission serving the college students of Columbus, Ohio. It was clear that God was calling me to give my talents, time, and even my money to this counter-cultural, not-yet-realized dream. And with zeal and hope, I said, “Yes!”
From that moment until now, God has not stopped transforming my life and the lives of those around me as He has grown SPO in Columbus. But God did not by-pass the human partnership to make this happen. He supplied the vision and the grace, and He invited me and many others to partner with Him for this call to be realized. Chapter 15 of John’s Gospel demonstrates this so well. Christ is the vine and we are the branches. The branches have no life outside of the vine but rely completely on the vine for vitality. Through this life provided from the vine, the branches are able to bear fruit. And the branches that bear this fruit are pruned by the vine grower so that they are able to bear even more fruit!
In His divine wisdom, the omnipotent Creator of the Universe chooses to work throughus to bring His light to those around us. It is in our free response to serve that He does some His greatest works. And as we respond to this need to be light to the world by following God’s call, we become partners in His work and start to become more like Him. As branches, we share with Him in the ability to bring forth fruit.
So many people have been a part of the founding of SPO in Columbus! From my roommates and the young people that caught the vision for starting SPO, to those who helped me put on the first SPO Retreat in Columbus, to those who have supported the work with their generosity and intercession, all have been branches bearing this fruit! If we had passed on the offer to serve God in these ways, a need would not have been met, and also each of us would have missed out on the opportunity of a lifetime: to be partners in bearing the fruit of hundreds of college students coming to know, love and serve God!
The hope for the mission of SPO in Columbus is to inspire and invite college students to go out and be a light of God’s love to their campuses. And the hope for this blog is to do the same: to inspire and invite all of us to be a light in our families, churches, work places, schools and neighborhoods. Let us all live out this call as fruitful branches to the one, true Visionary and Founder who is calling us to give our all today!
-Submitted by Andrew P. Kebe