The Plains are not exactly a hotbed of confessional Reformed theology, piety, and practice. Nebraska is predominantly Romanist (28%). Lutherans make up 16% of the population followed by Methodists (11%), Baptists (9%), and (mainline) Presbyterians (4%). The Platte Valley Presbytery (PCA) has 9 congregations. The RCUS has 2 congregations (Lincoln, Bellevue) and the OPC has 1 congregation, in Lincoln. That means there are about 125,000 people for every NAPARC congregation in Nebraska. I realize that “For the Farm” or “For the Plains” isn’t quite as sexy as “for the city” (not that there’s anything wrong with that) but plains folk are made in God’s image, they too have a sin problem, and they have souls. They need a Savior just like folk in the big city. What might Reformed congregations do to help bring the gospel to the plains, to plant seeds where people gather but whence they will scatter in future? The University of Nebraska is an essential educational, social, cultural, and economic institution in Nebraska and in the Platte Valley the effects of which are felt in Western Iowa, 500 miles across Nebraska, Northern Kansas, Southern South Dakota and even Northwest Missouri. At UNL (University of Nebraska, Lincoln) about 24,000 young people gather every year to re-think the world and their place in it. They leave home, sometimes for the first time, and seek to learn and grow.
Enter college ministry. I was blessed by godly, patient, college pastors during my years at the University of Nebraska. They were essential for my journey from broad evangelicalism to confessional Reformed Christianity. There was no Reformed University Fellowship at UNL when I was there by Warren Embree, Bill Stephens, and Doug Erlandson led the college of St John’s RCUS when I was there. Sunday afternoons in the church basement, evenings on campus, and in people’s homes provided needed encouragement and fellowship. The Rev. Brian Brown is the RUF leader at UNL now. We’ve talked and I’m excited about his work on campus in his congregation in Lincoln. This is a ministry worthy of your prayers and support. Here’s their latest newsletter:
It has been a fabulous first semester here in Lincoln. Brian preached through the book of Mark to a consistent group of 35-40 students each week. His emphasis in Large Group was to show how Jesus’s Kingship affects our identity. Being tied to Christ, our King, gives us a security, significance, and satisfaction that we can find nowhere else, as illustrated in the stories found in Mark.
The Leadership Group met once a week, and Brian taught from Jerram Barrs’ book Learning Evangelism From Jesus. It’s a small group of 12 student leaders, giving Brian opportunity to teach richer, deeper lessons and facilitate candid discussions. These students then split up and teach the lessons to three groups of Freshman Bible Studies in their dorms. It is exciting to see the older students investing in the younger ones.
Tuesdays are small-group days. In the morning, Rebecca has a girls’ study at the house where they share coffee, baked goods, and discuss the book Crazy Busy by Kevin DeYoung. Three senior girls have come week in and week out to hear some teaching, tell their stories, and share their hearts.
￼￼We took 15 students to the Fall Conference in October where they learned about
Tuesday nights Brian meets with four or five guys to talk through Tim Keller’s book Counterfeit Gods. They’ve had some real, honest discussions regarding truths about things other than God that take hold of their hearts. Both of these groups h!ave been convicting and encouraging for everyone involved.
Some of Brian’s favorite times are meeting with students one on one. He listens hard and asks hard questions. Most students want to be known and, feeling safe with him, are willing to talk about difficult issues. One of the quips Brian touts most is that RUF is not a place where you come to get right with God but a place to come to learn that God has already made it right. One-on-ones with students are times to hammer in the truth that as believers they are fully known, loved, and forgiven in Christ. It i!s good, life-changing news for us all!
RUF is a vital ministry of the church. Seminary-trained, ordained pastors are sent to campuses to care for and share the good news of the gospel with students who are convinced and unconvinced that Jesus is the true King. College is a critical time for students to embrace their faith as their own, and Brian’s work is to shepherd these future members and leaders of the church. It is equally thrilling and humbling to be called to this great work. Please be praying for us!
RUF @ UNL needs your help.
RUF is a ministry that is 100% support-based. Brian was called by the local presbytery, and part of the job is raising funds to cover the entire budget. As you are thinking through your year- end giving, would you please consider giving to RUF@UNL? This ministry is thriving, and your gift enables Brian and Rebecca to spend their time working in their calling, investing in these students as the Lord changes their hearts and builds his Kingdom. Thank you for all your prayer and financial support!
Giving can be done online at www.givetoruf.org, where you can search for them by name or the school’s name. You can create a one-time gift as well as set up recurring gifts if you are able.
Another option is to mail a check directly to RUF, noting Brian Brown or University of Nebraska in the memo line. Mail to:
Reformed University Fellowship
P.O. Box 890004
Charlotte, NC 28289-0004