#1 Question of Welcome Week: “So, um, what is ‘Axiom’?”
“For this is what the Lord has commanded us: “‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.’ ” (Acts 13:47 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. We consistently have one of the highest percentages of international students in the whole world, which means you can make connections (and have a real impact) in every corner of the globe without ever leaving Urbana-Champaign. The U of I is home to a number of world-renowned professors and researchers, as well as some of the brightest students you will ever meet. Our football team may be hit-or-miss at times, but our graduates have gone on to, quite literally, change the world…
Smack dab in the middle of all the soy bean and corn fields of central Illinois await millions of opportunities for students to make the most out of their education and their life (all while learning how to spell I-L-L-I-N-I properly and cheering on a relatively non-existent mascot). But, there are also millions of temptations. Statistics vary, but it has been found 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. We want to do something about that.
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.
“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).
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 host English Corner every Wednesday evening from 5-6pm. This year our worship service is being held everyMonday night at 8pm in Mumford Hall (on the south quad), room 103 – you should probably check us out some time; we’re nice, our band is AWESOME, and our ministers are pretty cool too.
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 and who He is calling them to be. 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 and some big changes; 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!
Currently we have four wonderful, Christ-minded ministers at Axiom: Aaron Bird, Mary Baird, Rebekah Songer, and Gary Umphrey. I can say with full confidence that each of these four 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 this campus. We, as students, are incredibly blessed to have such a wide range of life experiences from whom to draw advice, guidance, support, and friendship. 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 our ministers, are in charge of a variety of outreach activities within our ministry, such as service projects, the worship service, bible studies, 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.
Now that you know a little bit more about us, maybe you’re wondering about our name: what in the world is an “axiom,” anyway?
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, 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.
“Let the peace of Christ keep you in tune with each other, in step with each other. None of this going off and doing your own thing. And cultivate thankfulness. Let the Word of Christ – the Message – have the run of the house. Give it plenty of room in your lives. Instruct and direct one another using good common sense. And sing, sing your hearts out to God! Let every detail in your lives – words, actions, whatever – be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way.” (Colossians 3:15-17 MSG)
After three years on this campus, exploring, making friends, and seeing what the U of I has to offer, Axiom is still the place where I am most 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 has been, and is continuing to teach 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 multiple times a week – it never gets old. And, in turn, it’s where I go to be all of those things and do 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. Moreover, Axiom constantly encourages me to do something about that need. We are not a ministry that sits still and waits for people to find Christs on their own; we want to be a part of opening their eyes to His majesty by coming alongside and showing His great love to our campus. Monday nights are a breath of fresh air, Thursday night bible studies are a reminder that God ranks higher than any academic endeavor, and the people I’ve met are never shy about building me up, encouraging my passions, and offering Godly advice. What I’m trying to say, is that for me, and for quite a few others, Axiom is home.
On a typical Monday night, our worship service 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 immediately greeted with a smile, a handshake, and maybe even a hug (okay, it’s probably gonna be a hug; be prepared), 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 senior majoring in History and double minoring in English and International Studies, and this will be my second year serving as the president of Axiom. Axiom found me on Quad Day of my freshman year at a time when I was in no way looking for a Christian ministry; I am so thankful that God saw fit to throw a frisbee at my head and open my heart to what it really means to follow Him! If you ever want to talk more about Axiom, or Jesus, or the university, or Napoleon Bonaparte, or Andrew Johnson (I’m a history major, remember?), please come find me – Monday night worship is probably a good place to look (8pm, Mumford Hall, Room 103).
Most entries here will be written by students about students and their pursuit of Jesus Christ (if you want in on that action, again, talk to me, or check out the “Get Involved!” page here on the blog). We hope that you are just as jazzed about what God’s doing on our campus as we are, and that you would be praying for our ministry and for our students- that God would always be our center, our guide, and our purpose.