"Since the beginning, The Embassy has held regular open-air services on campus for believers and outsiders alike."
Picture Humber College: a huge, sprawling campus on the northwest edge of Toronto. Every year it attracts thousands of students from all corners of our nation (and the world) to come and study within its walls. They arrive eager to learn, grow and experience all that college life has to offer.
I remember the first time I paid a visit to this campus. It was one of the first times I had ever stepped foot inside a secular college or university, and it felt vastly different than the comparatively small Bible college I had attended. Walking the halls, passing by classrooms where professors were lecturing, observing large groups of students gathered in common areas, noticing the incredible diversity of the student body … I found myself beginning to pray.
“God, what do You want to do here?”
Sometimes I’m asked to recount the story of how I felt called to this campus or how the ministry first began, and I often frame my answer this way. Really, it all started as the result of two beliefs:
- A conviction that, in light of how common it is for Christian students to struggle in their faith during their years at college and university, some kind of campus ministry should exist at this institution. Humber was on track to become—and now is—our nation’s largest college. The need, to me, was huge.
- A simple belief that were I to step out and attempt to build something at this school—as intimidating as the idea was—God would go before me; that He would somehow provide what was necessary in spite of my lack of experience, natural confidence, and necessary resources.
And He did. And He continues to do so. It is amazing to consider how far we’ve come, how much we’ve learned, all of the stories and testimonies we’ve collected along the way, all of the ways God has proven Himself faithful to us. Here is what God has done over the past 10 years at Humber:
- Students have been exposed to the gospel.
Since the beginning, The Embassy has held regular open-air services on campus for believers and outsiders alike. We book out Humber’s largest public venue (the Student Centre, located near the centre of the school and the intersection of its major hallways) for these meetings, leaving us highly exposed and accessible to students, staff or anyone else who might be walking by. On any given Monday night, it’s common to have students looking and listening in from the sidelines as we sing, pray, learn about the Christian faith, and call people toward a relationship with Jesus. Over the years, many, many students have been exposed to the gospel on account of the public nature of The Embassy’s ministry.
- Students have come and/or come back to faith in Jesus.
Over the years, by God’s grace, we’ve collected some amazing stories of how God has transformed students’ lives during their time at The Embassy. These stories are not to our credit; it is God’s Spirit at work in the lives of the students we love and serve. We are simply thankful to be able to provide a place where students can hear the gospel and be given an opportunity to respond to it.
- Students have been discipled.
By God’s grace, every year we witness much spiritual growth in the lives of the students we work with. We are always thanking God for how we see Him at work in the lives of those we are discipling. This is made evident by their passion to learn, their decision making, the way they prioritize loving and serving each other in ministry, etc. We’re also thankful for students who wander into The Embassy who may start at “ground zero” in terms of their knowledge of the Christian faith but are moved closer to Jesus through experiencing the love of a Christian community.
- Students have been baptized.
There is perhaps nothing more exciting for us than to watch students—in front of peers, friends and family—commit to following Jesus for the rest of their lives. This is precisely what happens during The Embassy’s baptismal services, and for us, this is immensely inspiring and encouraging!
- Students have been sent out to reach the world.
We embrace the “revolving door” nature of The Embassy's ministry and focus on equipping students to reach their friends, family members, and future colleagues with the gospel. In this way, The Embassy helps to prepare students for a lifetime of influence wherever God may call them after their school career at Humber is over.
- Student leaders have been raised up and released back into the local church.
Every year we raise up students to do the work of the ministry, giving them opportunities to help lead our community in significant ways. At our annual leadership retreat, I always mention to new recruits, “My hope for all of you is that by the time you’re ready to graduate, you’ll never feel satisfied to warm a pew!” One of the most exciting things we do at The Embassy is to equip and release students to serve, lead, and become a blessing to their local churches. And it’s thrilling for me to find out later that some of them have gone on to become key leaders, board members, or even staff at local churches.
I had no idea, while walking around campus that first day, what God was really calling me to. I had a ton of questions and very little in the way of answers. How would the ministry work?What should it look like? Who is going to pay for it? Where do I even start? In truth, I felt more intimidated than anything else when thinking about the road ahead.
And yet ... here we are. A decade later, we find ourselves simply amazed at all that has transpired, so thankful for His faithfulness and provision. “To God be the glory, great things He has done”!
Do you feel called to begin a new campus work? The SERVE Campus Network leadership is ready to resource you to develop a healthy expression on campus. Contact us at http://www.servenetwork.net.
Trevor Gingerich planted a campus ministry at Humber College in 2008 as the first appointed Mission Canada worker. He is a member of the national (SERVE) Campus Network team, which helps to strategize PAOC campus initiatives in Canada. He lives in Stoney Creek with his wife, Rebecca, and their two sons, Weston and Tanner.
- Fanny J. Crosby, “To God Be the Glory,” first published in 1875.
Photo © Trevor Gingerich. This article appeared in the September/August 2018 issue of testimony, the bimonthly publication of The Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada.