The year is 1975, NASA had just launched its Viking 1 probe toward Mars, “Wish You Were Here” by Pink Floyd was the number song in the nation, and a group of churches and students came together to start a brand-new campus ministry at Ohio University called “Christian Student Fellowship.” A few years later CSF became what we all now know as Reach Out on Campus! I often wonder if these folks could have imagined the impact that ROC would make over the course of the next 50 years.
A lot can certainly change over 5 decades. Advancements in the field of technology allowing students to take classes virtually, changes at the university (who remembers “old” Baker Center), changes in staff and student leaders at ROC, and even landing a “home” that we affectionately call “The ROC House.” But the thing I love is this, that despite all the changes that the years have brought, there are constants that have endured the test of time. Here are a few that I’m grateful for…
ROC’s commitment to honor Christ and make him known on campus has never waivered. I’m not sure what year ROC’s core values of “Belonging to Christ, Becoming like Christ, and Being Sent to Love Serve and Disciple” were written down or established but the precedent and mission were there from the beginning. Faces have changed, programs have changed, and even the methods have occasionally changed (who would have thought ROC would ever venture into Podcasting), but the mission has remained.
God’s people have remained faithful. For nearly 50 years ROC has existed because of the love and generosity of people just like you who love college students, recognize that this phase of life is an incredibly foundational time, and want to see young people come in contact with the authentic Jesus. Some of you were those students impacted by Christ while at OU and Rio and now give to help others experience that same type of life change. Thank you!
God continues to bless ROC in incredible ways. Even as I sit here reflecting over the last semester, you’d perhaps think that at this point I’d seen it all. But God continues to amaze me in what He has done in and through the lives of our students. We’ve had 5 students choose to be baptized this fall, several others are likely to be baptized later this year, the ROC community is growing both physically and spiritually, and God continues to move.
Next fall marks the start of ROC’s 50th year of ministry. I can’t help but imagine that if you could go back in time and talk with those first few students and staff to let them know that God would still be blessing and using what they were doing decades later it might bring a smile, or even a tear, to their face. For my part, I consider myself incredibly blessed to be a small part of what God has done, and continues to do, through this incredible community of believers.