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Hello CU Caritas Cornerstone Partners and other friends of the ministry,

In a week and a half, Stanford students will begin an academic year unlike any of the 129 before it. Only a few undergraduates with special circumstances will reside on campus; the rest will be scattered across the country and globe. The Stanford community will push technology to its limits in a valiant attempt to substitute physical with virtual presence. Please pray that the time required for these measures will be short, and that God will bring relief from the sickness, disunity, and hardship of these days!

Grace and peace from Palo Alto!

Usually, during the summer weeks, we pivot a bit from our regular Bible courses to do something different. This summer several CU students—including some incoming freshmen—are meeting on Tuesday nights via Zoom to read through and discuss the book of Genesis. Recently while covering chapter 18, we read about Abraham’s persistent intercession on behalf of Sodom before God:

Greetings from Palo Alto!

My wife, Kate, and I have a habit of listening through books of the Bible, one chapter per night, as part of our evening routine. A few nights ago we came across one of the most astonishing parts in Joshua:

Socially distant greetings from Palo Alto!

As most of us continue our stay-at-home daily rhythms, our students are wrapping up this very unusual Spring quarter with their final projects, papers, and examinations. Certainly, while no one could have anticipated what this year would be like, I think back to my prayers in the fall as we stepped into this academic year. I had prayed that our students, as well as our ministry team, would hear from God in new and fresh ways. It’s fair to say that prayer has been answered! There have for sure been some heartbreaks along the way, but as I interact through video conferencing with our Stanford students, generally I find hopeful faces looking back at me. I remain encouraged by how they have faced this challenge, and continue to see God actively speaking into their lives.

I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus,
5 that in every way you were enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge— 6 even as the testimony about Christ was confirmed among you— 7 so that you are not lacking in any gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ, 8 who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord
(1 Corinthians 1:4-9).

In our Vocational Preparation Bible course with seniors (which continues to meet over Zoom as students are dispersed across the country), we were recently discussing how to steward our talents for Christ. When we become members of the body of Christ, the talents God has given us take on new significance. The Holy Spirit “breathes” on them, as it were, to hone, develop, and deploy those talents for the advancement of Jesus Christ’s wonderful purposes. Our talents are like puzzle pieces that—however impressive (or unimpressive) on their own—become increasingly beautiful as the Holy Spirit fits them into the glorious story of God in Christ.

Hello from Palo Alto!

As I write this, our students have wrapped up Winter Quarter finals, and are enjoying their spring break in locations around the globe. Well, that was the plan at least. As we all are now living with the reality of this global pandemic, we are facing the new reality of change, disappointment, and anxiety. Life interrupted.

I love Jesus’s arguments with the Pharisees. Jesus always wins.

Happy New Year from Palo Alto!

College students often share a common blind spot that we all fall prey to: the tendency to think of life through a very narrow and individual filter. I don’t blame the students—the schools cultivate that brand of individualism, and we as a society certainly model it as well. So even as we draft our own personal goals and resolutions for the new year, allow me to offer some perspective from C.S. Lewis:

Merry Christmas from Palo Alto!

Our meditation as a ministry recently has been on Colossians 3:1-4:

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
What has struck me is that Paul does not say, “Set your mind on ‘the Thing’ above (namely God), not on things that are on earth.” Had he said that, he would be distinguishing between Creator and creation (an admittedly important distinction). But to read the passage this way would be overly simplistic, in part because “the things that are above” which Paul mentions are plural. Therefore, “the things that are above” must include more than God alone.

Grace and peace from Palo Alto!

A common refrain that we hear about this point in the fall quarter is, “Sorry, I’m too busy this week!” or, “I don’t know if I can meet with everything I need to do.” And it’s true, the weeks prior to the end of the fall quarter are rough, and the students—especially the new freshmen—struggle to keep above the waters. Sometimes I’m tempted to break it to them that life doesn’t slow down after college either! But part of our calling as ministers on these campuses is not to compound the issue with more events and more obligation. Our calling is to point them to the One who sustains them, the One who is our very peace in the midst of the storm:

Fear not, for I am with you;
be not dismayed, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41:10)

What a privilege to know a God who enters into our storms and reaches out to us with a strong hand! Join us in prayer this season for the work on this campus:

  • Pray for strength and endurance as the students head into the final stretch of fall.
  • Pray for the upcoming Thanksgiving break, that they are refreshed and reconnect with family.
  • Pray for our ongoing Bible Courses, for community and fellowship to flourish through them.
  • Pray for our CU team at Stanford: Abigail, Garrett, Jim, Justin, and Susan.
  • Pray for Jesus to be lifted up throughout this campus through the words and loving actions of his many followers in Palo Alto!

We remain grateful for your prayers and your partnership.

In Christ,

Garrett Brown
Ministry Director
Christian Union Caritas

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