A few weeks ago, in my daily Bible reading, I came across a passage in 2 Timothy 4 in which Paul mentions two different disciples (Mark & Demas) who are going in different directions spiritually. I shared my thoughts in a blog post entitled “It’s Not How you Start but How you Finish” which you can read here.
Not long after, I was faced with a real-life example of this blog post when I had the opportunity to meet my long-time friend Mark Loomis for lunch.
I met Mark when I was a student at Cal Poly, Pomona sometime in the previous Millennium. I had just returned from a Cru sponsored Summer Mission Project in South Lake Tahoe where I experienced amazing community, personal and group discipleship as well as in-depth teaching and training in evangelism.
When I returned for school in the fall, I was eager to make my mark as I entered my 5th and final year.
A couple I knew from the church I had grown up in contacted me to tell me that their son Mark was going to be attending Cal Poly as a freshman. They wondered if I would meet with him and show him around. I was looking to start a small group so I saw this as a potential divine opportunity.
I remember meeting Mark outside the upper level of the student union. I introduced myself and we went inside, grabbed a table and talked for a while.
I told Mark about Cru and that I was starting a small group Bible study for guys who were new to Cru and I wanted him to be a part of it. Like me, Mark commuted to school. Also like me, he didn’t know a lot of people because there weren’t a lot of folks from his high school who ended up at Cal Poly. I had relayed to Mark how difficult it was for me my first year in college precisely because I was not connected to anyone and I didn’t know anyone. If I had to do it over, I would’ve gotten involved with Cru right away instead of waiting until the middle of my 4th year.
Mark took me up on the offer to get involved and he joined my small group, which consisted of 4 guys.
Leading that small group was a pivotal turning point in my own spiritual journey. My experience in leading these men, discipling them and training them in evangelism and discipleship skills was the seed that moved me to give my life to full-time ministry.
Though my time with Mark and the other guys was brief (only 1 year), I’ve maintained a connection with each guy over the years.
When I sat down with Mark for lunch, I was encouraged to hear that he and his family remain steadfast in their commitment to walk with the Lord. Mark has served as an elder, small group leader and mentor, and has been committed to taking the gospel to the world through many various avenues and projects.
Yet I was also discouraged when Mark shared with me that another student we both know had recently abandoned the faith in pursuit of a worldly lifestyle.
Unfortunately, this is a story I encounter far too often. The allure of the world is real and it’s becoming increasingly more challenging to walk with Christ in our post-Christian culture.
Our church is engaged in 30 day campaign called One Life. The idea is that one life can have a tremendous impact in the life of another.
The first week in our home group, the central passage was Matthew 28:18-20, which is commonly known as the Great Commission. The primary command Jesus gives is to “Go and make disciples of all the nations.” A disciple is someone who follows Jesus, hopefully for a lifetime.
This has been our mission, to make disciples, whether with students in the past like Mark, who continues to follow Jesus, or in our current ministry with Young Adults who are trying to find their way in this crazy world in which we live.
Please pray for us to remain steadfast in our own relationships with Christ and pray that we would continue to impact Young Professionals as we seek to heed the Great Commission by making disciples!