Get to know the A.P.E Writers…Eric & Stacy Rafferty

 

eric and stacy

Eric & Stacy (left) with a group of students from UNO

[This is a series designed to bring you into the the unique APE stories of each writer on this blog. We hope each one of you can find a little of your APE story inside of one of us. Read the other stories]

We didn’t plan on moving across the country from So Cal to Omaha, NE. We were happily going about business as usual in our third year of leading a campus ministry in the LA area. But four short months later we were driving over the Rocky Mountains in a giant yellow truck full of everything we owned in the world. We had said yes to God’s spontaneous call to plant an InterVarsity Christian Fellowship chapter in Omaha, NE and in a matter of weeks we were there.

How did that happen?

Every Corner

A few things happened. The funding for our previous ministry dried up inexplicably. A few intercessors started telling us things like, “God is leading you in a new direction. Get ready for a change.” We even had an experience similar to the apostle Paul’s Macedonian call (Acts 16:6-10). I was sitting in a Starbucks asking God where he was calling us, and if it might be the city of Omaha where I grew up. When I didn’t hear anything I opened my computer and found an email from a Dean at Creighton University and his wife. I had never met either of them, but they told me they’d been praying for 15 years for InterVarsity ministry to be planted in Omaha and asked who they had to contact to get someone out there. That felt like a pretty clear call.

But the call that really moved us to pick up everything and go was a deeper calling. It was a call to plant the gospel on every corner of a campus and to do it in a way that showed the city what the Kingdom of God was like. It was a call to an apostolic and prophetic vision.

God burdened our hearts with a picture of Christ’s Body divided and mutilated, limping along but unable to fulfill its purpose. He showed us deep scars of racism and division in the city of Omaha and he called us to plant a ministry on campus that would show another way: the Kingdom way.

This experience of calling culminated in the vision of planting a multi-ethnic community that would bring the love of God to every corner of the campus. And in our first year at the University of Nebraska at Omaha we began to see the first fruits of this vision coming to reality!

Apostolic

The call to every corner was revolutionary to us! Instead of starting a big centralized thing and hoping that everyone would come to us, we came alive as we went out to the different corners of the campus! Whether different ethnic groups, social groups, geographic places, academic majors, or different clubs, we wanted to see a witnessing community on every corner of the campus.

There were over 700 Latino students on campus. Who was reaching them? Students from all over the world including some very closed countries were spending four years on campus at UNO. Who was showing them the hospitality of Jesus? And what about the significant community of Black students? Where was the place that made them feel at home and that called them to lives of Kingdom influence?

In the first year we saw students from each of these communities come awake to faith in Jesus and go out with us to plant a missional cell among their groups of friends. These students will be our friends for life because we’ve watched them choose Jesus and we’ve gone out with them to call their friends to this same faith. After tasting the joy of going out to every corner of the campus and seeing lives transformed, we’d never go back to putting up posters and then waiting in a room for everyone to come to us.

This points to something that’s at the heart of an apostolic leader: an ambition to reach every corner of a campus, a city, or the world! Ambition doesn’t sound very Christian, but take a look at Romans 15:20-21

20 It has always been my ambition to preach the gospel where Christ was not known, so that I would not be building on someone else’s foundation. 21 Rather, as it is written: “Those who were not told about him will see, and those who have not heard will understand.

Apostolic leaders are not satisfied to compete for the people who are already looking for a church or a ministry to get plugged into. They look for the place that is spiritually under-served and they go out to that place. They look for the community that is not represented in the body of Christ and they go plant the gospel in that community. An “every corner” vision get’s apostolic leaders fired up!

Prophetic

It also gets prophetic leaders fired up. For us, God’s call to plant an “every corner” community was a call to reveal the heart of God for Omaha. Like most cities in America, Omaha is divided along lines of race and money. Planting a multi-ethnic community where every corner comes together in one body reveals the heart of God for “all tribes and peoples… crying out with a loud voice, ‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne!’”(Revelation 7:9-10)

Prophetic leaders reveal another way. They carry a burden for the heart of God. They long for the things that God longs for. When we moved to Omaha we longed for the divided ethnic groups in Omaha to see each other as parts of the same body. We experienced a taste of this as students in our ministry started noticing who wasn’t at the table.

In just a few months a cell reaching out to Latino students was thriving! Students were coming to faith, they were inviting their friends, and a people group who had no home on campus started to feel at home. In the midst of one celebration among Latino students, a Salvadoran student stopped the celebrating. He paused and said, “But what about the Asian Americans. The vision is for every corner of the campus. Where are they? Who is loving them?”

They began to long for something better than just seeing their own people reached with the gospel. Their heart began to beat like God’s heart.

A vision for “every corner” sent us out to reach unreached places (Apostolic) and to reveal the heart of God who loves every nation (Prophetic).

So what about you? Where do you resonate with our story? What corner or culture has God given you an “ambition” to reach? What aspect of God’s heart has he called you to reveal in your city? Please leave a comment below!

[This is a series designed to bring you into the the unique APE stories of each writer on this blog. We hope each one of you can find a little of your APE story inside of one of us. Read the other stories]

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About Eric and Stacy Rafferty

Eric and Stacy Rafferty are passionate about helping college students get to know Jesus. They live in Omaha, Nebraska where they work with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship planting multi-ethnic communities that bring the love of God to every corner of Nebraska college and university campuses. They have two awesome kids: Memo (4 years) and Elena (2).

2 comments

  1. A prophetic voice in society, as you say, reveals another way. At the same time that the prophet’s voice reveals the heart beat of God, it also speaks within a larger societal context of the things that break God’s heart. Your story resonates with me within this larger context, and I to raise the question: is the prophet called to remain apolitical while speaking truth to power?
    For example, last month republican Rep. Steve King (R-IA) expressed concern over discovering that Iowa State University has multicultural groups. King characterized minority students as people “who feel sorry for themselves,” and worried about impressionable students being “brought into a group that have a grievance against society.” King said: “I went to the Iowa State website and […] I typed in “multicultural” and it came back to me, at the time, 59 different multicultural groups listed to operate on campus at Iowa State. It started with Asians and it ended with Zeitgeist, so from A to Z, and most of them were victims’ groups, victimology, people that feel sorry for themselves and they’re out there recruiting our young people to be part of the group that feels sorry for themselves.” Last week Mitt Romney campaigned for Steve King, saying “I want him as my partner in Washington, D.C.”
    Your apostolic vision for the Kingdom of God and your prophetic burden for the heart of God to be revealed on the college campus stand in stark contrast to these larger societal/political voices (i.e. the “king”dom of Steve King) that publicly denigrate and revile your work. There is a sobering gravity in releasing the APE into this context.

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