Challenges For Chi Alpha at the University of Vermont

We Can Try
Our new Chi Alpha chapter at the University of Vermont is running into some problems getting recognized as a student group on campus.

According to an article in the Vermont Cynic (the campus paper):

SGA does not recognize clubs that discriminate. However, some say they are about to.
Chi Alpha’s constitution states “[All officers] will profess Christian faith as expressed in the Nicene Creed, and they will support the mission and values of national Chi Alpha Campus Ministries.”
Claire Chevrier, SGA Student Activities Chair, who is in charge of reviewing clubs’ constitutions for discrepancies, said she was concerned about Chi Alpha’s proposed constitution.
“When I saw that statement about the officers I said ‘red flag, that doesn’t seem right,’” Chevrier said. “I initially thought they would have to change that to abide by our discrimination policy, but they were passionate about keeping it in there because they were worried about the longevity of the club.”

It is proper for religious organizations to have religious requirements for leaders. I don’t get why some people don’t get this. Requiring a Christian organization to allow non-Christians to lead it is like requiring a church to hire a non-Christian pastor. It’s ludicrous.

UPDATE: On Tuesday, March 30th the student government voted unanimously to approve Chi Alpha at UVM without requiring any changes to their constitution. Woot!

Reaching the Campus Tribes

Last year I had the chance to meet a guy named Benson Hines. He took a year to travel to nearly 200 college campuses to see what God was up to, and one of his stops was Stanford University. We met and talked shop for a while and have stayed in touch via Facebook since then.

Benson has just written a free book called Reaching The Campus Tribes

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about his observations. His central thesis: college ministry is a whole lot more like foreign missions than it is like youth ministry

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It’s going to be fully available next Monday at

. For now, there’s a prerelease version you can download (pdf link, 4.2 MB).

Benson also has a blog: Exploring College Ministry. Check it out.

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A Lament for a Friend

Joe Zickafoose

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died last night. He had cancer, and in the process of treatment his immune system became so weak that he was very vulnerable to infection, got pneumonia, and died.

Maybe this is normal, but I don’t feel overwhelmed by emotion until I try to talk to someone about it. It’s kind of weird. When I’m on the phone with a mutual friend of Joe’s, I start to choke up. And I usually weep for a few moments after I hang up. After that, I’m fine (albeit sad) until the next conversation.

It would be hard to overstate Joe’s influence in my life. When I moved from Louisiana to Missouri to go to seminary, I began volunteering at the Chi Alpha ministry he led at Missouri State University. He soon asked me to join him on staff, and I seized the opportunity to work with this amazing man.

I got to know Joe very well over the next few years. He was a real mentor. He told amazingly funny stories. He was kind and caring. And wicked smart. Joe really knew his stuff. He helped me understand how theology related to practical ministry in a way that is still stunning to me.

I have so many vivid memories of Joe that it’s hard to believe he’s really dead.

I’ll never forget his booming laugh echoing through the office. I remember once I was giving a student an explanation about eschatology (the end of the world), and after the student left Joe just started laughing uncontrollably. “Glen, do you realize how many times I’ve heard you give that exact same explanation using the exact same words to students?” Maybe it would be funnier if you heard my explanation and knew a little more about my denomination, but this isn’t really the place for a theological treatise on the return of Christ.

Another story that springs to mind is the time Joe decided to buy a motorcycle. He used to ride them as a kid, and he wanted to return to the halcyon days of his youth. So he did his research, bought the bike and all the accessories. It was a months-long process, filled with days of Joe waxing eloquent about the joys of motorcycle riding. Joe could get pretty obsessive about his hobbies, and this was close to displacing music in his level of passion. He set out to ride and my phone rang about an hour later. It was Joe. “Glen, I crashed my bike. Can you come pick me up?” So I set out in my trust Isuzu pickup to retrieve the noble fallen Zickafoose. He sold the bike shortly afterward. It was one of the most heartbreaking and yet funny events I can remember.

But my favorite story of Joe has to be his salvation story. I might have it a little jumbled, but this is the essence of it. He spent his teenage years working hard and saving for college. However, when he arrived at Kent State he blew all the money he had spent years saving in one term on a crazy drug binge. He had to drop out because he had depleted all his funds. But before he did, he met Jesus. Here’s how it happened.

Joe and his drug buddies used to stay up late at night talking about crazy stuff they had seen. Joe Zickafoose’s roommate, Joe Daltorio (hereafter referred to as Big Joe), had some of the best stories about people he had seen healed at the Pentecostal church he grew up in. Joe was skeptical, but Big Joe swore up and down he had seen it with his own eyes.

One night Joe was visiting his supplier down the hall, and they made some sort of joke about Satan. As Joe tells it, at that moment they felt the temperature drop and an ominous presence filled the room. Joe fled back to his room where Big Joe happened to be. As Joe entered the room, he felt the exact opposite presence. A sense of overwhelming peace filled his dorm room.

“I don’t know what’s happening in here, but I want it.”

Big Joe looked at him and said, “Joe, I’m what you call a backslider. I was turning my back on what I knew to be true. I told you all those stories about my church, but I never told you the most important story of all. Jesus is God and he died for your sins. You can be forgiven and have peace with God. I just finished repenting and I’m not going to be part of the drug scene anymore. Do you want in?”

Joe said sure, and so Big Joe explained, “This is the way they do it at church. Would you please bow your head? Without looking around, if you want to receive Jesus Christ as your personal lord and savior, would you please raise your hand? Great. Please kneel and repeat after me. Dear Jesus, I know I’m a sinner and I need your grace. I humbly repent and please forgive me of my sins and help me not to do them anymore. With your help, I’ll serve you.”

And that’s how Joe became a Christian. His drug friends came over to his room and Joe decided to put some music on to celebrate. He began digging through his collection until he found something that looked religious and put it on the record player. He told his friends, “See, there’s a quote by George Bernard Shaw about God on the cover. It’s spiritual music.”

His drug dealer friend started laughing. “What does George Bernard Shaw know about God? He was an atheist!”

Joe’s countenance changed; he stared at his record collection. “I’ve been deceived,” he said slowly. He took the record off the player and threw it out his window like a frisbee. It smashed into the next building. His friends sat stunned. One by one he took all the records in his collection and hurled them into oblivion, his friends screaming at him to stop and begging him to give them the records instead. He bellowed, “None shall have them!”

I always used to crack up at that line. “None shall have them!”

There are so many stories about Joe. He was truly an amazing individual. I’ll miss him deeply. We hadn’t talked too much in the last few years because he was serving overseas as a missionary to university students in Scotland, but I thought of him often.

I can barely imagine what his wife and teenage sons must be going through. I rejoice that Joe is in heaven experiencing his reward, but I weep for his family who now must soldier on without him. If you remember, be sure to pray for them.

Those Wacky Bozemanites

I just got a phone call from Will Klier, Chi Alpha leader in Bozeman, MT. A phone call from Will, one of Chi Alpha’s most inventive leaders, is always a treat.

Anyway, he was telling me that they’ve been having unseasonably warm weather in Montana (in the 50s) and they’ve also been trying to drum up publicity for Chi Alpha, so they decided to stage a mock protest.

Actual slogans chanted:

What do we want? Winter! When do we want it? Now!

Heck no, we want snow, global warming’s got to go!

Powder to the people!

The protest wound up being covered by the media and made it into the AP wire, so that the picture you see above was copied from the San Francisco Chronicle.

Now that’s a creative (and successful) publicity stunt.

Be sure to let me know if you ever have any ideas like that for our group.

Merry Christmas, Nina!

You know those white elephant gift exchanges–the ones where you bring a gag gift and it goes into a pool and everyone picks out a lame gift at random and then opens it in front of everyone?

Well, they just did that at UNC Chi Alpha, and they caught the funniest gag gift I’ve ever seen on tape. See what Nina got for Christmas! (a 40 second movie in Windows Media Player format)

It’s not obvious on the video, but the gift is indeed a live rat.

My commendations to Brad Novosad for his most excellent discipleship of these students in the ways of merriment.

Chi Alpha In Kansas

Chi Alpha at Wichita State University got some press recently:

Kayleen Hallberg, 22, said her spiritual life got back on track after she joined the roughly 60-member Chi Alpha Christian Fellowship.

Last week, she staffed a booth for the Christian group that drew her interest three years ago after “backsliding” from her Christian upbringing.

“I was the typical college student: partying, once I got away from home,” said Hallberg, a fifth-year senior studying management and finance.

Chi Alpha “gave me focus and direction. There’s a lot of focus on character and integrity.”

(source: Wichita Eagle, 8/28/2004)

Way to go, Chi Alphans!

XA in Arkansas is Tearing it Up!

This news from University of Arkansas Chi Alpha leader Ronnie Hoover. They’re building a ministry center, and are having great success at raising the funds:

Hey everyone,

Many of you know that I gave away $1600 to our students after reading to them the parable of the talents. I gave away 50s, 20s, and 10s. The students were to go out and multiply their talents just like in the parable. Well, they brought back just over $10,000 last Wednesday night. PTL!

They did so many so many cool things like investing in clay and making pottery, investing in bike parts and putting together a Mt. bike, hosting a bake sale, selling a CD of P&W songs, Selling cookie dough, suckers, and so much more.

We also hosted a Fund Raising Banquet on Sat. night and our goal was 50K. We brought in $51,900.00 in one night. Praise the Lord. All of this money of course goes to build the new house. Please just take a moment and thank God with us.

I just had to tell,

Ronnie Hoover

How cool is that?