This article is based on a preaching given by Pastor Jeng Aguinaldo during an online staff meeting with ENC missionaries in May 2020.
As I am writing this article, it has been 63 days since our “normal,” pre-COVID lives. And I thought K-12 was going to be our biggest challenge in the history of campus ministry. When freshmen started coming back to our campuses, I told myself, “Finally, we’re back in the game!”
But just when we thought we had it all figured out, a pandemic came and swept the nations—and it’s changing the landscape of campus ministry all over again.
I love exactness, predictability, and routine. If you’re like me, these trying times will definitely leave you anxious. The ambiguity and the uncertainty of it all may have you wondering: What about everything I’ve built and planned for? What about what I was called to do? Will I still be able to fulfill my calling?
As we cope with yet another volatile and complex time in campus ministry, I want us to take a closer look at the lives of the disciples who were faced with a similar challenge and how Jesus calmed and reassured them. What could be more unsettling than seeing your expected Messiah, Savior of the world, being killed? Let’s read from the Gospel of John.
On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” – John 20:19–22 (ESV)
At this time, Jesus had supposedly been dead for several days. But the disciples knew about the empty tomb, and Jesus had already appeared to Mary Magdalene. That particular evening, they locked themselves into a room because of their fear of the Jews. They, too, had to quarantine themselves, in a sense, to protect themselves from outside threats. In the midst of their fear and uncertainty, Jesus came and said to them, “Peace be with you.”
Peace That Calms
The disciples were surely experiencing mixed emotions at this time. They were grieving because of Jesus’ death. They had unmet expectations and disrupted plans because the Messiah they expected to save and lead them was dead. Furthermore, their lives were in danger.
But Jesus came at the right time and spoke peace that calmed their paralyzing fear. And since Jesus knew His disciples could be very doubtful, He showed them His hands and His side as proof that He was the same Jesus who died but was now alive. This truth brought gladness to the sorrowing disciples.
It is the same for us now. Our doors are locked and we may be full of sorrow and fear, but Jesus Himself, knowing our true doubts and fears, shows us His scarred hands and side, reminding us of His victory on the cross.
Jesus reminds us that everything has been made whole again.
Peace That Calls
For the second time, Jesus spoke peace (John 20:21). This is the peace that affirmed the disciples’ calling and purpose in Him. As we continually pursue our calling in this time, Jesus is sending us the same way His Father sent Him, and empowering us through the Holy Spirit.
Whatever online platform or medium we are using to reach the next generation, the promise of the Holy Spirit to empower us remains the same. And this calling for campus ministry is not our original idea—reaching the next generation is God’s idea. We don’t invite Jesus in our ministry; we are only invited to participate in the calling and mission of Jesus.
No matter how unpredictable and challenging campus ministry is right now, we have the peace of Jesus that calms us and calls us to His mission. When we learn to embrace this truth, this season will affirm and strengthen us all the more to keep doing our calling and mission in these complex and ambiguous times—whatever it takes.