Lee and I work with Chi Alpha Campus Ministries at the University of Louisiana Lafayette.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Tony's Story...

It is Thankful Thursday again...and we're so thankful for Tony Jones!!

Tony Jones is one of our Chi Alpha students who will be graduating in a few weeks. Tony holds a very special place in the hearts of the Blakney family. He's originally from the Westbank of New Orleans - he graduated in the same class as my niece, Chelsey, from Belle Chasse High School. He has family from my hometown of Buras. I didn't know him back then, though. And today he's not the same person as he was at that time.
He came to college at UL, and seriously wanted nothing to do with God. He liked the things of this world.

He was invited regularly by Tyren to a Life Group (small group Bible study that meets in the dorms), and he regularly turned that invitation down. Tyren kept inviting, and eventually Tony accepted the invitation. That semester, Tony received Christ as his Savior and was water baptized as an outward way to show his commitment to following Jesus.

Tony is a story of redemption. He left the things of the world and has followed Christ wholeheartedly. He has also become an amazing discipler. He leads other men to the cross where they find Jesus. He pours his heart and his soul into the men he disciples. Tony, who wanted nothing to do with religion 4 years ago, now has a deep relationship with Jesus, and is called to be in the ministry.

We are so proud of Tony. We know that he loves us too...all of us, not just Lee. :) Not too long ago, he wrote this on Lee's facebook wall:

I appreciate you big daddy and all you do. I thank God that you sought his will in becoming a Campus Pastor and nothing you do goes unnoticed, and you can see the fruit from your love for college students and the men's leadership. You are always showing each and every one of us how to be a man and more importantly a Man of God just by simply living your life. Thanks for your wisdom, and I pray you continue to seek God for more to be able to pass on to others. I love you, man and do NOT stop doing what you are doing for God and UL Chi Alpha.

Tony is graduating this May, and he will continue to be at UL this fall to complete the Campus Missionary In Training internship like Lee and I did 4 years ago. He is going to do an amazing job. We cannot say enough how proud we are of him.

Thank you, support team members. Your prayers and financial sacrifices are helping us reach more students like Tony.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Summer Is Around the Corner...

I'm looking forward to the summer. We are not "off" like I was when I was teaching. If the students are in school, including summer sessions, we still have events taking place during the week. There will be a weekly TNL (Thursday Night Live) at 7 pm on Thursday nights...it will be at Cafe Chi Alpha instead of on campus in the student union. During the summer, staff and student leaders take turns speaking. It is more laid back, casual, and of course, there is always a fun time afterwards...which usually includes a volleyball game at our own sand volleyball court.
There will also be Life Groups which will meet during the summer for the students who stay around. These are also different than during the semester...and a lot of fun for all who are involved.

It is just a more laid back season of the year, with more time to dream about what we want to happen in the fall semester. We actually start dreaming before the summer, but during the summer it is the time to make those dreams a reality. We take the steps necessary to make our big events at the beginning of the fall semester happen.

Another thing that Lee and I get to do during the summer is meet students at New Student Orientation. We go to the student union for the New Student Expo, where the new freshmen can see many of the organizations on campus (to see the list of Student Organizations at UL click here.) This is one of our first opportunities to make a huge impression on the 3,000 incoming freshmen. Each orientation has about 350-400 students...and we have about 30 minutes during the expo for all of them to "Experience" Chi Alpha and that's only if they want to.
When Lee and I first did orientation, we met several students that we reconnected with when they returned in the fall. This was exciting for us. Not last summer but the summer before, I personally met 3 girls at orientation who are now student leaders in our Chi Alpha group. And we know that there are more...That's just exhilarating!!

So, for this summer, I'll be working with my babysitting crew at the Chi Alpha house, and I plan on being a part of orientation. This helps me feel a lot more connected to the ministry. I know that there are students who I will meet this summer who will be a part of our student leadership team in the future, and this gives me a unique connection to them. It helps me to have an idea of who Lee will be talking about when the fall starts up.

We are finishing up our 3rd year on staff...our 4th year of being here at UL...it has been an exciting adventure! And the best is yet to come...

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Baptisms in the School Pool

A week ago, Lee as the men's discipleship pastor, and Kelsey, the women's discipleship pastor, baptized 9 students in the swimming pool at the Aquatic Center at Bourgeios hall. After our weekly Thursday Night Live (TNL) worship meeting, everyone headed over to the pool to see this take place at the end of the semester. There were 9 students who made the decision to follow Christ in obedience and take their relationship with Him a step further!!

This was Lee's first time ever to baptize anyone as a minister. I'm so proud...there are tears in my eyes as I type this.
I know he did a wonderful job.
I know that it meant a lot to him because some of the 5 guys who were baptized will be in leadership next year.

When a student gets in the water, he or she has a chance to explain why he/she has chosen to be baptized. They get to say that they have made a decision to follow Jesus and are following Him in obedience by being baptized and making a public proclamation of faith.

Then, each person getting baptized is prayed for by his or her life group leader. This is a very special moment...hearing those prayers, and this has been another proud moment of mine.

It's so neat for Lee to see someone who he is discipling who is discipling someone else knowing that next year, both of those guys will continue being discipled and then potentially disciple someone else. Amazing. That's how Chi Alpha grows...that's how the Kingdom of God grows.

*I have to say thanks to the photographers Heather P. and Lindsay C. for taking such great pictures.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Thankful Thursday - One Candle

The semester is almost over...already. Spring break is next week, and then there is a week of classes after that, then finals. It has been a great year for us at UL Chi Alpha. We are being able to see the students grow and mature in their faith right before our eyes. We are very grateful for this privilege. It's exciting to see them share this growth with those around them. It makes me think of this:

"A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle." - Erin Majors

That is exactly what our Chi Alpha students do...they light another person's life with the Light of Jesus. They don't lose anything for doing this - actually they gain so much more. This is the process of discipleship, of helping someone else become more like Christ. This is what we do. Lee and I get to be in these students lives to help them if their candles start to get dimmer...if something is trying to get in the way of them letting their lights shine, which prevents them from lighting someone else's life. We are there to encourage them in this season of their lives.
We are truly thankful that we can be a light in these students lives. All it takes is one candle to light another.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Life Group Olympics

The first Life Group Olympics were held on Saturday. Life Group* members were able to participate in events like: Book Balancing Race, Saltine Cracker Eating Contest, Three-Legged Race, Jeopardy Questioning, Blindfold Maze Race, Water Balloon Toss, and other events.

Each Life Group was assigned a color to wear and had to come up with a team name. The Chi Alpha staff had a team called "Staff Infection," and the Blakney family was there in full-force. Lee directed Lance in the Blindfold Maze, and then won the silver medal in the Saltine Cracker Eating Race. (He had to leave early because he was playing on the Crossroads church worship team that day, so Bella received his medal.)
* I must thank Sherronda, Shelly, and Joy (along with several other students) for watching our kiddos while Lee & I participated in the events - so much fun!

I was with Miranda for the 3-legged race. We started practicing, and thought that our tie was a little loose. It was tightened for us, and it was a little too tight. So tight that I couldn't even finish the race. Everyone else was running around us, and I could barely walk. My ankle took a little beating, but the battle wounds are worth it! Bella & I also did the "Who can hold the Plank Position the Longest." I definitely didn't win, but I wasn't the first to drop to the ground! :)

Our team started strong with Kelsey and Hope winning the gold in the Book Balancing Race, and Ken and Lance placed in the Water Balloon Toss. We even won the team with the most spirit!!
Go Team Staff Infection!

It was a beautiful day to be outside. There were probably 60 or so students out there to participate and watch. Lee & I and the kids had a great time. We love what we do.

The students did a phenomenal job of organizing and making this event happen. It was such a fun day!

We are going to start practicing for Life Group Olympics 2012!

*Life Groups are small group Bible studies that meet on campus in the dorms. They are led by student leaders, who are amazing at what they do!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Thanks Student Leaders!!

I almost forgot that it was "Thankful Thursday" today!

We have so much to be thankful for here at UL.

We are thankful for the student leaders that we are working with to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ on campus. They are amazing. These students are full-time, which means they take over 12 hours of classes. A lot of them have jobs, some working more than 20 hours a week. And then they put in about 20 hours a week as a student leader: attending resource meetings, preparing for Life Groups, holding Life Groups, meeting with other students to disciple them, and meeting with their pastor for discipleship meetings. It's a lot. They make this ministry happen. They are raising up the next generation of student leaders.

We love them so much!! We have some great guys and girls who are transforming this university!!