Hello folks! It’s been far too long since we have posted here!
It’s was quite a spring semester at Purdue with the Covid-19 pandemic. The students were basically sent home for online learning immediately after Spring Break. A wild couple of weeks for us all for the students and us! It did not completely stop our ministry as we continued to meet with students and have our meetings via Zoom! The Zoom service has become a verb these days of quarantine and physical distancing.
Thankfully none of our students knowing caught the virus, however some family members/friends have. We have a friend from our church who contracted Covid-19 on a plane traveling to Florida. He was in the hospital for 50 days or so and by God’s grace survived despite many close calls.
We are currently attending our WDA Staff Conference via Zoom. This has added the resource for our International Staff to participate from Brazil to Africa to the Philippines and points in between!
We are excited to share what is on the horizon for WDA on campus at Purdue and as the WDA overall ministry. God has been working in these difficult times worldwide. We trust Him in the midst of hardship and pain.
This semester was a really good one for Sharon and Everette and he wanted to give you a brief update. We finished the Purdue semester with a Senior Dinner honoring the four seniors who are graduating. The time of affirmation was quite powerful as the students who attended shared openly and there was a lot of humor. This was a good year for personal growth for our consistent leaders and we also saw two students make commitments to Christ at the end of the semester. Everette is ready for a break from the pace but will be ready to roll again in the fall.
On the international side, he made a very interesting trip to India March 10 – 18th. At first he was very challenged by the mass of humanity, the pollution, and the chaos in travel. However after a couple of days he was able to recover enough from the culture shock to have a very meaningful time encouraging some young pastors, and there is a possibility he will be returning next year.
A lot has also happened on the home front. On March 4th Myles Edward Albrecht, their first grandson (they have two granddaughters as well), was born to Susanne and Mark in Lake Stevens, WA. Sharon was able to be present and Everette looks forward to seeing him in July as he, Sharon, their oldest daughter Jessica make a trip West. His youngest son Michael is out of the Marines now and is job hunting in Southern California. Their youngest daughter Michelle, who married Luke last year, graduated from Nursing School and is starting her job search. Everette and Sharon love seeing Jessica weekly as she eats Sunday lunch with them. They have a lot of fun interacting with their adult children.
Mary had the joy of one Chinese student (who is now at Ohio State) become a believer on April 7th. She visited over Thanksgiving and the Lord continued to work in her heart. In March, she asked “How will I know when is the right time to say yes?” Mary knew she was seriously counting the cost so she said, “Don’t worry, you will know. The Holy Spirit will confirm in your heart that it’s time.” She called at 11pm, so excited, saying, “My hand went up first!”
Mary is also part of the World Welcome class at Covenant Church. Alison (left in picture) was only at Purdue for one semester but was so glad she found us through a lunch at the beginning of the semester.
Kayle from Taiwan was invited by another church member. Both of them are believers. Puting who Mary has met with for almost 3 years will be moving to Boston University with the entire Cheng research group. The Lord orchestrated a couple working with InterVarsity’s international ministry there to continue the in-town discipleship. God is Good!
This is Mary’s year to go to Kenya and Uganda and teach discipleship training in three locations. There will also be the first ever East Africa WDA staff conference in Nairobi with International staff from seven countries!
Henry Blackaby says when you see people responding to the gospel, this is an indication that the Holy Spirit is working. Parks has seen some thrilling workings of the Spirit this semester!
One young student that Parks has been meeting with for a year and a half recently prayed to receive Christ. He grew up in a Christian home but realized he did not know Christ in a personal way. He immediately turned around and shared Christ with one of his close friends! He was so excited to be able to do this.
On Wednesday evening, March 1st, we had an evangelistic outreach with Steele Johnson. Steele won a silver medal at the 2016 summer Olympics in synchronized diving with Purdue grad David Boudia. Steele shared about his Olympic experienced and how his faith has affected every area of his life. He said it was fantastic to win a silver medal, but that his identity was in Christ.
Three students with whom Parks has been sharing Christ were able to attend. They really enjoyed hearing Steele share his testimony.
He recently had lunch with a student with whom he has been building a relationship. Parks asked the student if he (Parks) had ever shared his spiritual journey story. He said no. Parks asked him if he would like to hear it. He said yes! Parks was able to share his testimony with him and a clear gospel presentation. He asked him if he had ever heard this before and he said he had not. How cool is it to share the gospel with someone who has never heard it before!
Parks was sitting in the lobby of a residence area recently when a student from India sat down beside him. He ask Parks when he did the Bible study at the Alpha Gamma Rho fraternity house. Parks gave him the info and invited him. He said he had never read the Bible and that he did not have a Bible. Parks gave him a copy of the gospel of John and challenged him to read a chapter at a time and ask God to reveal himself to him. He is very open!
It’s amazing that the 2016-2017 academic year has come to a close here at Purdue!
We are thankful for how God has worked this year in many ways. It is exciting to see young men and women committed to following Christ in their pivotal college years. We have had so many opportunities to work with students and see them grow in all aspects of their lives. Several students from all different backgrounds have become Christ followers which is the most exciting for us!
We certainly will miss our graduating seniors as they move on to their new careers. Please pray for them as they step out into the ‘real world’ and the challenges that await them. In addition, that they find good fellowship with Christ followers wherever their career takes them. This is critical to their continued growth in their faith in Christ.
Over the next three days we will post year end summaries by Parks, Mary and Everette. We look forward to sharing a snapshot of how the Lord has used us in the past nine months.
It truly is an honor to serve the students at Purdue University since 1983!
We look forward to the Ratio Christi Symposium again this year! It is part of an annual event held at Purdue University led by multiple campus ministries and churches, drawing from colleges and communities in the surrounding region. The purpose is to discuss and debate probing questions about faith, reason, and life via panel discussions, lectures, and debates.
This year, the main topic will address the credibility of contemporary and biblical miracle claims. The keynote speaker will be New Testament scholar Dr. Craig Keener exploring the question, “Are Miracles Intellectually Credible?” Keener recently authored a two-volume book set, Miracles: The Credibility of the New Testament Accounts, and is the author of the Bible Background Commentary among other publications.
Keener will also give presentations on the notion of the Historical Jesus (exploring the evidence for our knowledge of Jesus) and racial reconciliation in light of current events.
If you are in the area, we encourage you to attend the Keynote on Friday February 3rd at 7:00 pm Eastern time. The keynote is also available via live stream on their website.
We are so proud of all of the Team USA Olympians competing in Rio!
It’s even more fun because of the connection David and Steele have with Purdue WDA!
Purdue alum David Boudia: He was a 2012 London 10m Individual Diving Olympic Gold Medalist and 10m Synchro Diving Bronze Medalist. This month in the 2016 Rio Olympics he became the Individual 10m Bronze medalist along with 10m Synchro Diver Silver Medalist with diving partner Steele Johnson! He now has an Olympic medal of every color!
David has been friends with our Parks Wilson for a few years. He was also a special speaker at one of our events a few years ago!
Current Purdue student Steele Johnson: Prior to the Olympics (his freshman year) Steele was the NCAA national champion in 10m and 3m spring board diving. He took off last year to train for the Olympics. As Boudia’s diving partner, Steele became the 2016 Rio Olympics 10m Synchro Diver Silver Medalist! He also placed 13th in the 10m Individual competition.
Parks has also gotten to know Steele somewhat over the past year and a half. Steele spoke at our event last semester for our the Alpha Bible Fellowship Study at Alpha Gamma Rho fraternity! He is a prolific video blogger on his YouTube channel and shared some of his experiences in Rio there. Below is his video just after winning the silver medal and the multiple media appearances.
Needless to say we all were super excited, very nervous, holding our breath with knots in our stomach for each dive!
We are so proud of these men who are world-elite athletes and bold about their faith in Christ on the world stage. It is so encouraging that amidst worldwide acclaim and visibility they are clear they do not find their significance or identity in diving or the acclaim they receive. They find it in Christ alone and tell the world about it. That’s what matters the most.
This has been an amazing ministry year. It all started with an unexpected trip to Romania in August to teach a Discipleship Training Seminar. Fernando Frincu, who I teach for in Brazil is from Romania and was home on sabbatical. He felt like there were some good opportunities to teach similar content in Romania and invited a team of us to come and teach. I have not been to Eastern Europe before so this was a little out of my comfort zone, but it all came together as we prayed about it and a team of 4 of us headed over. I was encouraged by the people and the response to the content. I was also amazed by how beautiful Romania was and since our seminars were on the weekends, I got to see a lot of the county side. An unexpected blessing was getting to see Richard Mauney who was a student leader in WDA at Florida State. He has been a missionary in Romania for 20 years and is a great mentor of young men. I loved meeting some of his disciples.
I got home in time to jump into the beginning of the Purdue year, but at the same time became aware of another unexpected opportunity. Some good friends approached the 5 members of our staff team about making a trip to Israel in October. I would not normally make two overseas trips this close together, but since they were giving us this trip as a gift, it did not take Sharon and me long to say yes. The Purdue ministry had gotten a good start, and we were now off again. In two weeks we got to see a lot of Biblical locations in Israel, also Petra in Jordan, and Sinai in Egypt. Seeing so many locations where Jesus walked and ministered was refreshing and has made the Bible so much more alive as I can envision what happened where. So much of the Christian life is just being faithful in the little things, but this trip was truly a mountain top experience.
We returned home to reconnect with our Purdue leaders and move ahead with Alpha Fellowship, our Fraternity/Sorority weekly Bible study. I truly love these young men and women and am blessed by their heart for God. This year I had a good problem in that there were more interested young men than I could meet with weekly, so I was able to start meeting with men two at a time. A couple of our seniors graduated, but I have a great group of juniors who will be returning in the fall. I have enclosed some photos of the end of the year. Our prayer is that we can continue to build on the great foundation we have and do a good job of reaching out to younger students next year. I was ready to slow the pace and get a break at the end of the school year, but have been blessed as I have reflected on what God did this year.
The school year is over and things are hopping around our house as we get ready for Michelle’s wedding and have Susanne (our daughter in law) and Olivia and Felicity with us. What wonderful chaos. Michael won’t make the wedding as he is deployed overseas with the US Marines. Please pray for his protection. May God bless you with a great summer.
Puting is from China here at Purdue to get her Ph.D in Analytical Chemistry. I have discipled her for quite a while and led her to the Lord. She has been a believer for about 18 months! I invited her to the Good Friday evening program at church. I waited for her to arrive then got a text that she wouldn’t be able to get there until about 7:30 (30 min. late) but she finally arrived during the last song set with two friends from the same chemistry lab. One of them had just arrived in the U.S. in January as a new “post-doc” and had never been in a church before. They slipped into pews in the back for the last few minutes. Afterward, he asked her how long she’d been a Christian and what (internal) changes she had experienced. She was so excited about the opportunity to testify! They will have many more conversations since they are research partners on a project.
Then, a week later, she and her other friend, Jae, came over (she stayed overnight). Jae also works in the same lab as Puting focusing on the chemistry of optics. Amongst things he is working on is creating a groundbreaking portable biopsy machine! Over cups of tea, we talked about the wonders of science and creation. I talked about how the Christian worldview gave rise to scientific exploration in previous centuries. I suggested looking at Job chapters 38-41 for an amazing look at the order of creation. Puting started reading it out loud and was loving it. She is seeing the wonders of creation their research. Jae is open, moving in the right direction.