With the temperature dropping and winter looming, spring seems like a lifetime away. Actually though, May is only seven months away! Now, I realize that for some of you, seven months may seem like an eternity, but for those of you who are graduating it probably feels like May is right around the corner. For Axiom too, May 2011 is fast approaching, not because of graduation or sweet summer time, but because of our spring missions trip! After all the final exams and graduation ceremonies are over, a group of Axiom students will be traveling to Tinca, Romania to love on some beautiful gypsy children! We’ll be serving at Forget Me Not Ministries, founded and directed by Rachel Ross. Rachel operates The Isaiah Center, which focuses on providing stability and nurturing neglected children by meeting their emotional, mental, physical, spiritual, and social needs. FMN’s focus is on the Roma (Gypsy) children of Romania, specifically in Tinca, which has one of the largest Roma villages in the county (http://www.fmnministries.org). For ten days, we will be helping to complete manual labor projects, sort donations and serve in any other way that we can.
“Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!” (Isaiah 6:8 NIV).
Every child needs and deserves love. We’re responding to Christ’s call by getting in there, getting our hands dirty, and loving on these kids.
If any of this sounds vaguely familiar, it’s because it is. In May of 2009, Axiom sent a team of students to Rachel and FMN to begin a relationship with her ministry and show love and support for the work she’s doing there. We’ve chosen to return to Romania this year to further cement our relationship with the ministry and demonstrate our dedication to these kids. Our goal over the next few years is to establish similar relationships with a few different ministries all over the world in hopes of embarking on return trips in the future. Our desire for this trip is the same desire that fuels so much of what we do every day on campus – to have a lasting impact on the Kingdom and to be Christ to a broken world.
If you’re at all interested in going on the Romania missions trip in May, start praying about it! Then, talk to Ben Woods, who is leading the trip (email@example.com), and pick up an application at the house. Applications and deposits are due on November 11th – that’s in 13 days!
If you’re looking for ways to partner with our ministry on this trip, start praying! Pray that God would move in the hearts and minds of our students, preparing us all for what’s sure to be a life changing ten days. You can also check out our website (www.illinoisaxiom.com) for more information on upcoming fundraising events and ways to give.
Cu Mult Iubire,
If you are, or have ever been, a student, then you know that campus life is BUSY. As if classes, homework and exams weren’t enough, there are all those group meetings, advisor appointments, jobs, piles of laundry, dirty dishes, that whole planning-for-your-future thing, friends, and, oh yeah, mom asked you to call home tonight too. I don’t know about you, but as the semester goes by, I find myself wishing more and more for a pause button. It would be just like the one on your TV remote, but rather than getting Jim to hold off on pranking Dwight just long enough for you to run to the kitchen for a snack, my button would make everything stop for a bit while you catch your breath. Unfortunately, my pause button is nothing more than a beautiful dream. Thankfully, there’s a lovely thing called Fall Retreat that serves almost the same purpose as this nonexistent button!
Each year, Axiom’s Fall Retreat is a chance for students to get off campus and away from distractions, to bond with their fellow Axiom-ites, and to be immersed in God’s word. This year, we headed down to Springfield, IL to spend September 24th and 25th at Lake Springfield Christian Assembly. In addition to a building where we held worship, the camp grounds were complete with playgrounds, a gym to play basketball in and, of course, a beautiful lake. It was the perfect place to forget about the demands of school and get lost in the beauty and majesty of the Lord. We even got the chance on Friday night to worship our glorious Creator around a campfire beneath a blanket of stars. As we sang and prayed it was easy to feel God’s presence, and to see that He is constantly working and moving in each our lives.
The topic of the retreat this year was the Power of Forgiveness: What’s so good about loving your enemy? Dr. Gayle L. Reed from the University of Wisconsin was our guest speaker. She specializes in Christian forgiveness counseling, and offered many valuable insights into what forgiveness is and is not, as well as how to grant forgiveness and how to receive it. Aside from the three main sessions, we also spent time in small groups discussing what we were learning, and some of the hurts in each of our lives that require forgiveness in one form or another. Dr. Reed explained that, like many other things Jesus asks us to do, forgiveness is not always easy. It’s often a messy process, and it takes time. Moreover, in our society, the words “I forgive you” have begun to lose their meaning. However, forgiveness isn’t just saying the words, nor is it pretending that everything is okay again when it isn’t. Instead, it’s recognizing the shared humanity between you and the person who’s hurt you, and allowing the grace and love of Jesus Christ to heal you both. It was certainly not the most lighthearted of topics, but it was one to which nearly everyone could relate.
By the end of the weekend, we had formed stronger bonds with each other, because for two days, we weren’t crazed, sleep deprived college students leading separate lives – we were a community of Christ followers learning how to live out our faith in a broken world. When we got back to campus Saturday night, we were recharged and re-centered, ready to take on everything campus life had to throw at us. Experiences like Fall Retreat are the closest I’ve ever come to actually finding a pause button that works on the real world. In fact, I think they’re probably better than any button could ever be.
Just in case you don’t want to take my word for it when I say that Fall Retreat was awesome, here are a few of the highlights!
The best part of Fall Retreat was…
- “singing around the campfire, and enjoying the company of others as we lifted praises to God.” – J.D. Maloney
- “singing and praying around the campfire, and learning a lot about self-forgiveness.” – Derek Walsh
- “worshiping God in a community… and bonding with so many lovely people.” – Christine Shukis
- “worship! And I loved playing basketball. And I loved just learning about God with my favorite people.” – Kayla Campbell
P.S. Bummed that you missed Fall Retreat? Be sure to attend Axiom’s Winter Retreat after Christmas break!
“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe… and the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved” (Acts 2:42-47 NIV).
The University of Illinois is HUGE. There are more than 40,000 students here studying hundreds of different majors. We are a Big Ten university with the largest Greek system in the world. We boast over 800 registered student organizations (RSOs) and a vast number of intramural sports teams. In the middle of all the soy bean and corn fields of central Illinois awaits millions of opportunities for students to make the most out of their education and their life. There are also millions of temptations. Statistics vary, but it has been said that the majority of students who begin college already knowing Jesus, walk away from their faith within the first year, and there are many, many more who don’t have a faith to walk away from in the first place.
Axiom is just one of the many RSOs on campus, but we have something different to offer than the majority of them, something “of greater worth than gold” (1 Peter 1:7). We have faith in Jesus Christ, and we want to share that with the world.
If you haven’t figured it out by now, I’ll fill you in: Axiom is a Christian ministry located on the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign campus. We have a house on the corner of Lincoln Ave and Oregon St in Urbana where some of the guys in our ministry live, where our staff works, where our students gather and fellowship, and where we hold worship every Thursday night at 7pm – whoa, was that a plug for worship every Thursday night at the house at 7pm? Weird… Axiom is a campus ministry that desires to support students as they run towards their passions, and more poignantly, to encourage them to be passionate about Jesus Christ. We, at Axiom, are constantly looking for new, unique ways to reach out to our campus and to meet the needs of the students who find themselves at U of I, Parkland College, or in the surrounding areas. In the last few years, God has been moving in some truly incredible ways on campus and within our ministry. Axiom has been experiencing unprecedented growth; God has really been challenging us to place our trust in Him and dream big dreams. It’s all we can do to keep up, but we’re loving every minute of it!
We currently have five beautiful, Christ-centered ministers at Axiom: Aaron Bird, Mary Baird, Rebekah Songer, Benjamin Woods, and Gary Umphrey. I can say with full confidence that each of these five individuals not only has a heart for God and for His work, but more specifically, they each have a heart for God’s work on campus. We, as students, are incredibly blessed to have such a wide range of life experiences, from an insurance salesman to a rock star, from whom to draw advice, guidance, and support. In addition to our lovely staff, we also have seventeen students on the Servant Leadership Team (SLT). As you’ve probably deduced, these guys and gals are student leaders who, along with members of our ministers, are in charge of a variety groups within our ministry, such as the service team, the worship team, Lifegroups, and English Corner (you can find out exactly who’s who at the Axiom website – www.illinoisaxiom.com – under the “Contact” tab). Each member of our SLT is desperately in love with Jesus, and is looking for ways to pour out His love on campus.
Yikes, we’re already four paragraphs in, and I still haven’t answered the initial question: what in the world is an “axiom”? An axiom is: an accepted, established, and self-evident truth; Jesus Christ is an axiom. In fact He is the axiom. It’s like what Paul said: “…since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse” (Ro 1:20). The truth of our Father’s eternal goodness and our Savior’s unending love is undeniable, and as plain to see as the sunrise, as easy to feel as a breeze, and more beautiful than the stars. Christ is the only reality. Thus, Axiom, notice the capital “A” here, attempts to be a representation of that truth and that reality.
As humans, it is so easy to get caught up in the world we see all around us; to be sucked in to thinking that we are a big deal. Distraction is everywhere. At any given time there are a million different things asking for, and sometimes demanding, on our attention: school, work, friends, family, bills, deadlines, grocery shopping, your sorority/fraternity, your honors society, your volunteer organization, your roommates, TV, video games, the internet, the bars, parties, and, especially when you’re a student, sleep. Now, I’m not saying that these in and of themselves are negative distractions, but the point is, sometimes it gets a little difficult to remember what it is that we’re doing here. For me, Axiom is a place where I am reminded of my center, of my true purpose. It’s a place where I know that I have made friends for life because my friends have become my family. It’s a place that is teaching me how to lead by being a follower of Christ. Axiom is where I go to be challenged, encouraged, comforted, poured into, loved on, and cared for. And, in turn, it’s where I go to be all of those things for my brothers and sisters in Christ. Axiom reminds me that there is a world out there that’s much bigger than me, and much bigger than U of I, and that world is desperately in need of Christ. What I’m trying to say, is that for me, and for quite a few others, Axiom is home.
On a typical Thursday night, our annex (where we hold worship) is filled with students who have gathered for one purpose: to worship our Creator and Savior. It’s one of the few places on campus where you walk in the front door and are greeted with a smile, a handshake, and maybe even a hug, from someone who loves you simply because Christ loves you. And the best part is that this love – Christ’s love – is the most real thing in the world; the only truth.
In case you were wondering, the point of this blog is to keep all of you up to date on the goings on at Axiom. And, yes, I am a real student at UIUC. My name is Taylor Pinion and I’m a junior majoring in History and double minoring in English and International Studies; after graduation, I hope to write, although I’m not sure in what context as of yet. Most entries here will be written by students about students and their pursuit of Jesus Christ. We hope that you are as jazzed about what God’s doing on our campus as we are, and that you would pray for our ministry and our students- that God would always be our center, our guide, and our purpose.