Hi friends! I hope this brief letter finds you all well and walking in Christ’s grace with great joy!
Dodger asked me to write to you my greetings as ROC approaches its 50th year of ministry. I’m happy to do so! By way of introduction / reminder for those of you who don’t or do know me, Rich Teske here! I served as Director of ROC for about 22 years from June 1992 – May 2014. That time continues to be extremely formative for me and I’m grateful God led me to serve in Southeast OH for those many years. Two of our three children were born in Athens and two of the three continue as OH residents (Canton & Athens).
I currently serve as Discipleship Minister at Fern Creek Christian Church in Louisville, KY. In many ways, I have continued (and grown in) the discipling ministry that we had with ROC. Here are a few reflections about our time at OU (I only have a page so this will be rather general in nature).
I recall the day I returned the U Haul to the East State Street store after moving and met an incoming graduate student. As I continued to get to know ROC’s ministry with undergraduate students, I continued to meet more graduate students and that first year, the Lord formed a graduate student community alongside the ongoing undergraduate group. In my experience, ROC’s ministry seemed to center on that work of God forming communities of students who sought to follow Jesus (to Belong to Him & one another). These communities were always contexts in which students could grow in their understanding of who Jesus was and in their growing submission to Him (to Become more like Him). ROC was, and still is, a community in which people learn to love Jesus and one another and in the midst of all of life and its messiness, growing to honor Him with their lives and join Him in His mission (to Be Sent by Him) to the world.
There were mission trips to OK, Honduras, Mexico, VA and beyond as well as service within the Athens community through Good Works and Athens Church of Christ (Community Meals program). We conducted campus give aways and prayer walks, leader equipping and development, student led small groups and overall ministry. I recall times when the “light bulb” would go off in the heads of students in Bible studies and how the Word of God was always fresh. I remember students and alumni commenting that the question I frequently asked in large group talks, “so what?” was challenging and somewhat rare in their experience. All of this was an effort to point people toward following Jesus as His obedient disciples.
Along the way, I eventually partnered with the Director of Cru and the Lord brought together a faculty fellowship community that met weekly in the ROC House. Why? In part because I believed what Charles Malik once wrote, “The university is a clear-cut fulcrum with which to move the world. … More potently than by any other means, change the university and you change the world.” Thus, we sought to be available for the Lord’s use in each of the communities of the Ohio University world. Together we helped to form an organization of campus leaders of faith groups that would eventually be recognized by the university opening more doors of ministry within OU and that opened further interaction with university administrators.
We had students from Sudan, China, Madagascar, Kenya, Antigua, South Africa, South Korea, Botswana, Nigeria, Nova Scotia, Ukraine, Afghanistan, Ghana, Chile, Guatemala, Germany, Zimbabwe, Russia, Indonesia, Taiwan, and as far away as KY and other states, in our home for Easter (egg hunt and dinner) and socials and game nights (PIT! & full-contact Twister), mission trip prep and just hanging out one-on-one. Our hearts are full of memories of LOTS of laughter and some tears as life happened and we all sought to hold on to Jesus together.
Alumni serve here in the states and around the world, still following Jesus. One recently led the Africa Climate Summit in Nairobi, another had a baby recently, others serve on staff in church contexts, others are serving the kingdom in and through the marketplace in business, medicine, the military, as professors, engineers, teachers and through their churches as ministry leaders. Some have gone through difficulties like divorce and job loss and tragedies like the death of a child. Wherever they find themselves, each carry with them some touch of ROC’s ministry calling them into community with one another and Jesus.
A university campus Christian community at the University of MN played a significant role in my own walk with Jesus. The ROC community played a significant role in forming me in ministry and it continues to form still others as Jesus’ disciples faithfully following Him right into eternity! I’m grateful for the Lord’s faithfulness in preserving & extending ROC’s ongoing ministry at OU, Rio Grande and beyond. Thanks for being part of that community!