Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
“This morning we were invited into a Haitian classroom at Inuqua University for a technical discussion on water borne pathogens, low cost water purification methods, and cultural exchange.
“The first surprise to the American students was being asked to stand for the opening prayer. Wow. It was refreshing.
“Haiti’s education system is almost entirely in French so we used translators. The first part of the guest lecture went well because terms like bacteria, virus, polio, and hepatitis all translate directly. But stories about getting sick from drinks with ice made from bad water were a bit more difficult. The Haitian students were engaged and asking questions. Methods for clean water is an obvious need for everyone here. Even us.
“We left them with about 40 color printouts of an extremely low cost solar method for purifying water called SODIS . The fliers are written in French and have easy pictorials for folks who cannot read. These university students can obviously can – multiple languages, in fact – but the material was still new to all. Even our US students.
“Another team is there this summer conducting a needs assessment of the universities. Next summer we will be helping to meet needs as well as other areas of the country. If any professors are interested in helping me, they can contact me.”
“P.S. No, Shannon and I are not adopting from Haiti, but I sure see how it could happen.”
Charleston Southern University
“Recently I had coffee with some dynamic Christian women who were in Charleston, SC doing some work for Campus Crusade. We ended up talking for two hours about the need for more professors who are working in the field of “Cognitive Science”, as I am, to connect “brain research” to the God who created our brains. It was a lively discussion.
“This spurred me to go to Meet The Prof.com and quickly create my profile page. I believe as a Christian professor that I can really make a difference in the life of a student. We can illuminate the world with the Word.
“I benefit from the encouragement and friendship of other believers. I like people who push the limits, but in a creative way. I enjoy the good energy of smart people who understand their place in the universe and who have not lost the perspective of Who God is and how amazing HE is.”
In addition to Charleston Southern University, Faculty Commons staff met with professors at the Citadel, College of Charleston, and Medical University of South Carolina. Faculty Commons hopes to place a fulltime staff representative in the Charleston area in the near future. — Ed.
(Photo courtesy of Frank Buchalski)
Some excerpts from Ralph Cooley’s emails:
“May 28. Today we moved to the Agape House where we will be staying for the rest of our time here and then made our way to the University of Ghana (left). We as a team spent time “De-coding” the campus and then went on a prayer walk.
“Asking God to lead, provide, connect us up with students. We met a number of students just this afternoon and they invited us to come on Monday to meet with them and their friends for lunch. God is beginning to open up doors for the Gospel just as you are praying.”
“June 6. Thank you so much for praying for our medical outreach on Saturday. It was a big success! It took place in a “sandlot” soccer field. As we pulled into the lot there was a large group of would-be World Cup soccer players competing. Our mission was to set up a medical clinic where the poor in this Accra neighborhood could come and receive some help in time of need.
“We worked with a young, small, mission church nearby. Our team that day was made up of three doctors, four nurses and twenty volunteers. We were part of the volunteers along with ten students from the Baptist Student Ministry. It was really exciting to see the team God called together to help meet not only the physical needs of the people but also the spiritual needs.”
“After meeting with the counselors they next went to the nurse’s station to have their blood pressure and temperature checked. Next they would see one of the three Ghanaian doctors. Then the last station was the medication station. The doctor would prescribe the medication and then some of our team members would fill their prescriptions and explain how many pills to take each day.
“We were all exhausted by the end of the day but sensed God’s hand upon us. It was also very cool to see our team working together, each finding a station where they really wanted to serve and use their gifts to meet needs. Next Saturday we will do another medical outreach but this time it will be in a village.”
To view the story of how Maxwell, a student at the University of Ghana, received Christ:
Don Davis, Library Science,
University of Texas, Review of —–
I Once Was Lost: What Postmodern Skeptics Taught Us about Their Path to Jesus, by Don Everts and Doug Schaupp. Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 2008.
Within the past few years two books have appeared that deal squarely with the issues involved in the proclamation and reception of the Christian gospel to the young generation reaching maturity in the twenty-first century. They have different objectives, utilize different data, and perhaps aim at different audiences. Yet their essential conclusions fit together very conveniently, providing some solid information on which new strategies might be developed to implement the Great Commandments and the Great Commission. They both agree that many in the current generation, those in their late teens and early twenties, are skeptical and wary of evangelical Christians
Kinnaman and Lyons condense the findings of a number of surveys conducted over several years by The Barna Group and the Fermi Project. These sought to isolate the issues that Outsiders, defined as those who do not identify themselves with a church or the Christian faith, consistently raise as unpleasant and unattractive perceptions of Christians. The book devotes one chapter to each of six such themes—describing the data for the finding, suggesting reasons and giving examples of the trait, and pointing to some ways in which the situation might turn around. In all, the book synthesizes some 14 studies, conducted between 1995 and 2007 with a combined sample size of more than 60,000 persons.
Everts and Schaupp in recent years interviewed some 2,000 college-age people, asking them about the particulars of their journey in Christian faith to become followers of Jesus. They found that most persons had passed through five milestones, or crossed five thresholds, along that pathway. Knowing and recognizing where any person is on this continuum or spectrum enables one to see how to relate meaningfully at a given state in initial faith development and to perceive the next steps to take or thresholds to cross.
This short essay does not allow for elaboration of the themes of these books, which must be read in their entirety, fully digested, and deliberately implemented to have their full value. But the major points are worth underscoring—and provide a summary that may stimulate further reading.
The Barna Group volume reveals that Outsiders have a negative impression of Christians as a whole. This appears in six broad themes:
(1) Hypocritical. “Outsiders consider us hypocritical—saying one thing and doing
another—and they are skeptical of our morally superior attitudes.”
(2) Too Focused on Getting Converts. “Outsiders wonder if we genuinely care about
(3) Antihomosexual. “Outsiders say that Christians are bigoted and show disdain for
gays and lesbians.”
(4) Sheltered. “Christians are thought of as old-fashioned, boring, and out of touch with
(5) Too Political Outsiders perceive Christians as being “overly motivated by a political
agenda, that we promote and represent conservative interests and issues.”
(6) Judgmental. “Outsiders think of Christians as quick to judge others.” (29-30)
The study of college students who became Christians reveals that a process is normally involved—a process that proceeds progressively through five thresholds:
(1) Move from distrust to trust. “Somewhere along the line, they learned to trust a
(2) Move from complacent to curious. “The fact that our friends actually came to trust a
Christian didn’t necessarily mean that they were at all curious about Jesus. . . .
“then something wonderful and mysterious happened.”
(3) Move from being closed to change to being open to change in their life. “This
always seemed to be the hardest threshold to cross.”
(4) Move from meandering to seeking. “Even when our friends became curious about Jesus and open to change in their life, it didn’t necessarily follow that they began actively, purposefully seeking God. It was more natural for them to meander.”
(5) Move to cross the threshold of the kingdom itself. “They needed to repent and believe and give their life to Jesus.” (23-24)
The issues that the Barna folks identified as barriers the Outsiders consider in dismissing Christians, along with the gospel they embrace, seem to mesh with what the student staff workers portray as steps to overcome that reluctance. Learning to know and to trust a Christian seems to be the primary antidote to countering their negative caricatures. This can lead to curiosity about Jesus and the Christian faith, openness to life change, purposeful seeking, and, finally, real belief. Of course, the positive benefits of knowing well a single Christian, or several of them, assumes that that the believer is real—genuine, authentic transparent—in his or her life, including relationships. The fact that self-identified Christians as a group communicate such negative stereotypes to those they would like to affect is just cause for considerable concern.
For evangelical, intentional Christians to dismiss the findings of the Barna authors as simply excuses or defensive maneuvers by Outsiders would be a serious misreading of the culture they claim to care about. Getting seriously involved with Outsiders and allowing them to know us and vice-versa could well be the key to changing their perceptions. Though this will not be easy for many, it would be worth a try. In fact, it may be the only way, the Jesus way, even if it takes a long time.
© 2010 Donald G. Davis, Jr., Prof. Emeritus of Library History, University of Texas at Austin
For 2007-2008, we are delighted to announce that the award has been given to Dr. John Walkup, Emeritus Professor of Electrical Engineering at Texas Tech University and Faculty Commons Regional Representative.
After receiving his Ph.D. from Stanford University, John joined the faculty of Texas Tech where he served with distinction for 28 years. Upon his retirement from Texas Tech, he and his wife Pat joined the staff of Faculty Commons and moved to the Bay area of California of which both are natives. Since 1996 they have established and ministered to faculty groups at the University of California Berkeley, the University of California Davis, San Jose State University, and Stanford University. In addition, John has traveled the world extensively representing Jesus and Faculty Commons in the former Soviet Union, England, Poland, Switzerland, Taiwan, and China; visiting some of these countries multiple times.
In all the time John has been associated with Faculty Commons (and its forerunner Christian Leadership) beginning in 1982, John has served humbly and with great effectiveness. He and Pat organized and served as faculty advisors of the InterVarsity student group at Texas Tech and sometime thereafter John and his colleagues organized the Christian Faculty Fellowship at Texas Tech. John served on the National Leadership Team and the Faculty Advisory Board of Christian Leadership Ministries for many years. Everyone associated with Faculty Commons appreciates John’s wisdom and insights—when he speaks about faculty ministry people listen because he has truly lived what he speaks!
If we are ever going to significantly impact the great universities of the West for Jesus, it will be as godly professors, men and women, embrace the same call that Erick Nilson answered more than 25 years ago and stand beside John Walkup and others to challenge our colleagues to make a difference for Jesus through our teaching and research and through our individual and corporate witness on the campus.
Phil Bishop is a professor of kinesiology at the University of Alabama.
Two years ago, he wrote a “Monday Ministry Minute” about the discouragement that has at times accompanied his academic career.
It has been among our most popular essays. (You can subscribe to receive them by visiting the site).
Why is it that so many professors found his essay appealing?
Here is Bishop’s response:
“I write all sorts of stuff, and like most of you, I give all sorts of talks.I am often surprised at what fails, and even more surprised at what works.
“I can only speculate that lots of readers could relate, on some level, to my failure. Many of us feel like we haven’t, or don’t, reach the lofty levels to which we aspire. I think also, we recognize God’s wisdom in putting us into a Body, the Body (singular) of Christ.
“Our vocation requires that we always be competent, professional, and successful. But, in truth, we recognize that we are facing a big job. Journal editors and referees, grant reviewers, even tenure and promotion committees can point out, sometimes gleefully, our shortcomings.
“We want to be reminded that God is willing to overlook our shortcomings.
“Sooner or later we all despair. We forget until some little thing, or some little essay reminds us. We need our fellow believers, and nowhere do we more need the fellowship, support, love and acceptance of our sisters and brothers in Christ, than in the University. We really need others to suffer and rejoice along with us.
“So who’s suffering (and rejoicing) with you?”
[Remarks by Rae Mellichamp and John Walkup]
The 2009 Erik Nilson Award, presented to an outstanding Christian professor, has been given to Buff Furman, Professor of Mechanical Engineering at San Jose State University.
I (John) met Buff Furman in 2000, shortly after Pat and I arrived back in northern California to direct Faculty Commons’ ministries at the San Francisco Bay Area campuses. I was immediately impressed with his commitment to being a blessing to the faculty, staff and students on the San Jose State campus.
Buff and his wife Wanda demonstrate the love of Jesus Christ for others. He has a strong testimony for our Lord’s love and grace to all those around him. Moreover, Buff has the leadership skills to which his faculty colleagues have responded during his seven years leading the faculty/staff ministry at SJSU.
Whenever I attend one of their weekly meetings, I am impressed with the obvious respect that both the faculty and staff show for his leadership. This carries over to his family life; watching them, together with their young daughter, Joy, one sees a genuine picture of Christian marriage and family life.
Buff and Wanda have participated in seven of our national conferences. Because of their participation and urging, other San Jose State professors have also attended various Faculty Commons conferences. He has organized and led the use at SJSU of the PBS “Question of God” series comparing the lives and philosophies of C.S. Lewis and Sigmund Freud.
Buff is one of the most consistently Spirit-led Christian professors we have known. He consistently demonstrates his faith in Christ through his upbeat, encouraging demeanor, the gracious way in which he reaches out to other faculty, to university staff and to his students.
Would you join us in congratulating this outstanding representative of the cause of Christ in the academy? If you know him please consider sending an email, or give him a phone call, to recognize his exemplary service. His example can encourage each of us to make a difference through our teaching and research, and through our individual and corporate witness on the campus.
Looking for a book to give a colleague or student who wants to investigate Christianity for themselves?
Faculty Commons has copies of C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity available at 66% off retail.
The publishers have made this special offer so that people within the academy can have a copy of this important work by Lewis, who was called the greatest apologist of the 20th century.
- To qualify:
You must be a registered member of FacultyLinc.
- Books are not to be resold.
- They are to be used only on your campus — no church groups or Bible studies whose members could purchase the same book at a Christian bookstore.
Contact your local Faculty Commons rep or our national office.
You can now use a website to share your faith and spiritual journey with students and colleagues.
People don’t want to be preached to — but they want to hear your story.
Nearly 200 Christian professors are now talking about their lives — where they went to college, their favorite books, movies and coffee, fantasy dinner guests. Information that can seem trivial, but shows students that professors are in fact real people.
And they are talking about their faith and how it has made a difference in their daily lives.
Their stories include their struggles as well as their successes. Carol Swain (below) was one of 12 children and had to drop out of school. She eventually earned her G.E.D….and her Ph.D. And she tells students what Christ means to her.
- You can complete your webpage in less than one hour… or start it now and complete it at a later time.
- You won’t need to know any HTML or other computer code — you will be guided step by step.
- You can then link to your Meet The Prof page directly from your university webpage — and let students know the most important Person in your life.
To start, click on Register at:
Does your pastor see you as someone
who is called to serve students
and colleagues on campus?
John Cogdell was a professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Texas, Austin,
for more than 35 years. Cogdell obtained his Ph.D. from M.I.T.
In the early 1990′s, Cogdell was commissioned by his church—in recognition of his ministry efforts on the campus—as a Christian professor and missionary to the university. It was a powerful statement to him and the church and a confirmation of his calling.
[The following is reprinted from the archives of Faculty Commons's Real Issue, www.realissue.org ]
RI: What events led up to your commissioning as a Christian professor?
Cogdell: The church wanted to broaden the leadership, so they appointed some deacons. They felt I was spiritually equipped to be a deacon, but they knew, or I said, that I was called to serve God on the campus; that’s where my work is. So they ordained me as a deacon, but without any responsibilities in regard to the church.
It was a recognition; it was an equipping of me spiritually—ordaining me to serve the Lord on campus. There’s really not a lot of visibility that came with the recognition. But I feel it was a spiritually empowering event because when the church lays hands on a person and prays for them and sets them apart for a certain work of God, things happen; God does His part.
It’s so freeing and empowering to have the church recognize your calling.
When Paul and Barnabas were ordained, or sent forth from the church in Antioch, the people laid hands on them and set them apart for the work to which God had called them. I think Paul and Barnabas already knew their call and this was the church simply confirming it.
Is the church supposed to be equipping people for the ministry or not? The church really should be equipping people to go out in the world and have a ministry in the power of the Holy Spirit. It’s so freeing and empowering to have the church recognize your calling and set you apart for it, just as they would a missionary to Africa.
RI: What motivated you to become a professor?
Cogdell: It goes back to a man who discipled me here on campus. I became a Christian between my junior and senior year here at the University of Texas, Austin, in 1957. He was not actually a faculty member; he was employed in a research laboratory on campus. I’ve never met anybody more brilliant than this man; he was a model in the intellectual realm as well as the spiritual.
He and his wife nurtured the InterVarsity group here for many years. I was a part of that and spent much time in their home. So that was the model for me; I came back to Austin from M.I.T. to do for others what they had done for me. I entered into the teaching profession with a sense that this is something to which God had called me.
RI: Has your perspective of ministry on campus been modified over the years?
Cogdell: Yes. I’ll have to preface this by saying that I’m somewhat shy and I tend to need people’s approval. I haven’t been a risk-taker, so I’m not naturally well-equipped to be a bold witness. But Christian Leadership Ministries [ now Faculty Commons- ed.] has really helped me, and having fellowship with other Christian faculty members has helped me. I feel that at least on the first day of class I can tell my students that I became a Christian–that my faith has been the real driving focus of my life. I do this because of the encouragement of CLM and people like Rae Mellichamp, Walter Bradley and others.
I feel I’m called to be faithful to do certain simple things to further the increase of God’s Kingdom on this campus.
There have been some changes. My main calling has been to work within a Christian faculty fellowship and not so much to give leadership. I’m not a leader–I’m not a visionary nor a person that can get people interested in something. But I am a worker, and so I’ve basically been the one who has kept up the email list–the one who’s mailed out the stuff. I support Christian activities among the faculty, and act, to some degree, as a resource for the Christian community here in Austin.
I guess I feel I’m called to be faithful to certain simple things I can do to further the increase of God’s Kingdom on this campus. I’m not a leader, but the simple truth is that people do view me as the leader because I do a little bit.
RI: Is there a balance for a faculty member to reach between church and campus ministry opportunities?
Cogdell: People need to hear what God has called them to do and be. No doubt many Christian faculty members have a terrific anointing to teach in the church–perhaps even children. I don’t see how there is a question of balance. I know in my case I am fed and empowered by the church and I go there for worship and fellowship, but not for service. I fill up my tank at church and then I work on the campus.
RI: What of those who say their ministry at church precludes ministry on the campus?
Cogdell: It’s certainly more comfortable for most of us to operate in church, in a Christian context, than in the somewhat more hostile environment of the campus. I did make a transition to deal with Christians on campus, but I really have not done a lot to challenge the prevailing philosophies here. I greatly admire people who can do that. I mentioned Walter Bradley before; I think Walter is able to do that. Phillip Johnson would be the paragon of someone who can operate on any level and in any environment on campus and challenge, from a Christian perspective, the orthodoxy in any area.
RI: How can professors help churches recognize their calling on campus?
Cogdell: I think the first thing they ought to do is become involved on campus. Then if they are asked to do things that are not a part of their calling, they can explain what they’re doing and how God has called them to that. And that’s true for any Christian; they should involve themselves in what God has called them to do and not allow themselves to be distracted by others.
It’s very important to have God’s call in your life confirmed. People should sense that the church is there to encourage them to go out into the world and minister.