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Welcoming the Nations. Exploring the Gospel. Equipping the Saints.
 

Hello Dear Friends,

I hope this newsletter finds you well and that your summer was a great one!  But whatever your summer has been like and however you are doing now, I want you to know that I have been praying for you that God would bless and keep you.  I pray that He will be for you an ever present help in trouble, and also your greatest joy in times of gladness.  Thank you so much for your support of me, and of the ministry of RUFI, over the last year.  I am so thankful for your partnership and I am constantly amazed by your generosity.  I thank God for you often.  Thank you so much for your partnership and support!

Now I want to apologize.  I have not communicated with you nearly as frequently over the last semester as I committed to doing when I first spoke with you about supporting me.  I am genuinely sorry for my poor communication.  In the midst of juggling seminary and ministry last semester, I fell behind on communicating with you all, and I am very sorry for this.  In future, I will try very hard not to fall behind again.  Thank you so much for your continued support over the last year.  It really means the world to me and God has used your faithful generosity to build His Kingdom.

So, I want to take this opportunity to go back and tell you about how last semester ended, because God really has been at work, and I want you to see the fruit of your support.  As I gear up to start a new semester of ministry this fall, I decided to look backwards and write to you a belated newsletter describing some of the fruit of your support from last semester. 

Update on Last Semester 

RUFI had a very fruitful season of ministry last semester.  As we continued to have Tuesday evening dinner and Bible discussions and Friday night Bible studies every week, we got to see students continue to engage with the truth, beauty, and goodness of Scripture.  At each of these events, the gospel was shared explicitly, and the semester ended on a high note with some of our best Bible study discussions of the whole year.

Throughout the course of the semester, students' answers to the questions showed their growing understanding of the gospel.  We also had several new students join RUFI and begin to plug into the already existing core group.  Community building events such as ax throwing, top golf, a picnic, a camping trip, and numerous dinners hosted in the homes of Christian families from the church facilitated deeper relationships with students, and allowed for our non Christian students to experience the love of Christ’s people. 

We even took a group of seven students (Hindus, a Muslim, and a Buddhist among them) to the beach for the RUF Summer Conference. This was the first time ever in A&M RUFI’s history that we have taken a group of international students to Summer Conference, and they all had a great time on the beach as well as attending seminars and evening worship!  It was a really beautiful thing to see our students singing praises to Jesus and listening to the sermons.    

Relationships were also strengthened throughout the semester by such avenues as taking students on grocery runs or to the DMV to get their paperwork done, or even helping one student to practice for her driving test (she passed). 

In turn, these relationships also facilitated opportunities for gospel conversations.  I also was able to have several really deep and meaningful conversations with international students in which I got to share the gospel. 

I am still hoping and praying to see these students captured by the love of Christ.  I have a heart to see them converted as it is my greatest desire to see these friends come to know the true and living God. 

A Few Stories

One humorous and nonetheless very encouraging moment happened in one of our Table Talk discussions.  We had read the passage from one of the gospels where the rich young ruler asks Jesus what he must do to be saved.  Jesus’s response is calibrated to show the man the hypocrisy and sinfulness of his own heart.  No man is good enough to stand before God and be acquitted except Christ.  Jesus exposes the man’s heart to show him his own idolatry.  After the man leaves sorrowing, Jesus says, “It is harder for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven than for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle.”  

After we had read this passage, we went through several questions, and when we came to the end of the discussion, we asked the question,“According to the text, can you do enough to earn eternal life?”  

The first student to answer the question comes from a Hindu background, and he said, “Yeah, if you are a good person you can earn your salvation.”  I think my shoulders literally slumped.  I was thinking, “How is it possible that after all that conversation and study of the passage, he still just completely misunderstood it?”  

But then right away, a different student, also from a Hindu background, but one who also has been coming to table talk for several years, turned to him and matter of factly said something like, “No, that is not what the passage is saying at all!  Jesus is saying that no one is good enough to earn salvation on their own.  It is saying that God has to do it for you!!”  

That moment was so unexpected that it just struck me as humorous.  One Hindu student had just preached the gospel to another Hindu student, and he had said it in a very blunt way.  But I was also internally praising God that the gospel had come through to him so clearly that he was able to do so.  He had heard it enough times in Table Talk over the years that he was able to see past cultural assumptions of Karma to see what Jesus was actually saying.  God was at work exposing students to the gospel message of His grace every week last semester and I cannot wait to see what He does with these gospel seeds this semester! 

Buddha or Jesus

Near the end of the semester I got lunch with a student from Myanmar who grew up Buddhist.  We talked about Buddhism and Christianity. He told me about the five tenets of Buddhism, and I shared with him about the Ten Commandments. 

As I spoke more with him, it became clear that he was seriously searching for religious truth.  He was unconvinced of Buddhism because of its inability to offer satisfying answers to the suffering currently occurring in his home country.  He had also been disenchanted by corruption and hypocrisy that he had observed as many Buddhist monks in his country owned nice cars despite their vows against ownership of property.  

This student went on to say that He had great respect for many of the Buddha’s teachings but that He also had great respect for Jesus and for His teachings. He was drawn to RUF because he wanted to explore what Christians believe.  He was searching to see if the teachings of Jesus might offer better answers than those of the Buddha. 

His genuine questions allowed me a perfect opportunity to share the gospel with him.  I explained the concept of sin and explained that evil and suffering entered the world as a consequence of human rebellion against God.  Our sin defiles us in God’s righteous sight.  

He had also asked some questions about the sacrifices in the Old Testament, so I was able to tell him about the day of atonement and the sacrifices of lambs in the Old Testament.  Continuing on, I was able to explain how these sacrificial lambs were, in fact, gracious pictures of the full atonement that Jesus would one day make for our sins. God had promised after the Fall to someday atone for human sin. Jesus came as “the Lamb of God,” I explained.  He came to be our substitute and to die in our place. He came to atone for us.  

I explained that far from being uncaring towards our suffering, God hated suffering and evil so much that He was willing to do something about it.  He was even willing to enter into our suffering, becoming incarnate as a man.  Jesus is God, and yet He is not distant from our suffering.  He suffered “with us” and even more than that, He has suffered “for us.”  Jesus suffered torture, death, and the wrath of God in order to atone for the evil of our sin by His blood.  

I went on to explain that because Jesus rose from the dead on the third day, He has thereby secured heaven for all those who trust in him by faith.   

This conversation continued on and we discussed some of Jesus’s parables and His teachings about “the law” and “sin” from the Sermon on the Mount.  At the end of the conversation, he said he agreed that all of us must indeed be sinners in our hearts because none of us are righteous, and we all have evil thoughts.  We have all fallen short of the glory of God in our hearts. 

Is Heaven Shallow?

Right before the end of the semester, I got to have a four hour-long conversation with one student about heaven.  He is not a Christian, and as we walked around A&M’s campus talking, he brought up the fact that he considered the idea of heaven to be shallow.  “Why would I want to go to a place where I have nothing to do, and I am just handed pleasure and ease?” he asked.  “It sounds like there is nothing to do and no way to grow or get better.  It seems pretty shallow to me.”  

I got to answer that question with a fuller picture of what Christians actually believe about heaven.  I thanked him for his question and said that there was a lot that was correct about his criticism.  He was actually exactly right that such a heaven as he had described would indeed be very shallow. Thankfully, however, the Christian beliefs about heaven are so much deeper and richer than that.  

I explained that for us, Heaven is not just a place where you get pleasure and where you do not have to work.  Because after all, work is not a bad thing.  It predates the Fall.  Work is a gift of God that Adam and Eve had in the Garden of Eden. 

In Genesis, the Bible makes it clear that work is actually a part of our good, God given, nature.  We are designed to work, and I definitely believe that we will continue to have important work to do in heaven for God’s glory.  There just won’t be any sin making us hate our work.  Heaven will have no drudgery.

Continuing our discussion, I shared that Christians believe that the whole point of our very existence, “the chief end” of our being, is “to glorify God and enjoy him forever.”  That is a task that can never be fully completed, but rather will be our continuously ongoing joy for all eternity.  Heaven is a place where we get to be in a continuous, never ending, and ongoing relationship with God. 

There will always be more of God to know and to enjoy and to worship. God is infinite.  You can never reach the bottom of Him.  You can never know everything there is to know about Him, and you can never exhaust the limitless wonder of growing in knowing and loving Him better.  

In the course of our conversation, I got to share some of the images of heaven that are most vibrant in my own mind from C.S. Lewis’s “The Last Battle” and “The Great Divorce.”  At the end of our conversation he said, “Ya know, I really like this Christian view of heaven now.  I see why it is beautiful to you.”

Please pray that this student will be there with us in heaven on the last day when the trumpet resounds and the Lord descends.  When the night fades and day comes, when we worship Christ together in heaven, when we see Him face to face without a veil, please pray with me that this student will be there with us before the Throne, praising the Lamb!

New Developments

New Intern
At the end of last semester we said goodbye to Harrison Holms as an RUFI intern.  He served faithfully in that capacity for two years and now after completing his two year commitment he has moved on to another job.  We were sad to see him go but he is staying in College Station for his job and plans to still volunteer when he can so thankfully the A&M RUFI community has not seen that last of him.

As a result of Harrison's transition out A&M is getting a new RUFI intern!  Her name is Hannah Blankenship, and she will start working with us this Fall!!


Summer Fun
Over the summer, RUF gave me leave to go take Hebrew 1 and 2 for seminary at RTS Jackson in Mississippi.  So Sarah and I moved together to Clinton, Mississippi, and stayed there for 8 weeks while I took these classes. Sarah enjoyed working for a veterinary hospital while we were there, and I thoroughly enjoyed my Hebrew classes.  As a result of these classes, I have gotten to the point where I am now able to read my Hebrew Bible!  After I completed the class, Sarah and I moved back to College Station, Texas, and we are now preparing for another semester of vet school for her and of ministry for me.

Change in name but not function

The last thing I have to update you on is that the name of my position has been changed from “Seminary Intern” to “RUF Fellow,” although none of my responsibilities or day-to-day workweek have changed.  This change of terminology does not change anything about my job description, but I still wanted to alert you to the change.

May the Peace of Christ dwell in you richly, and May God’s Spirit enable you to continue, progressively, to understand the height and depth and breadth of His love for you!  I love you all.

For the King,

Joshua Coleman 

Give
Your gifts play a vital role in helping us to share the good news of Jesus Christ with students coming from all over the world through gospel deeds and gospel words. Please help us to continue welcoming the nations at Texas A&M through our 22/23 school year.

If you would like to partner with me financially, please click the GIVE button below to make a contribution to "Joshua Coleman" on the RUF-I donation page. If you would like to give by check, please write "RUF-I Joshua Coleman" or "account #1872" in the memo line and send checks to:

Reformed University Fellowship

P.O. Box 890004

Charlotte, NC 28289-0004

RUF is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization. Your contribution is tax deductible to the extent allowed by law.


May the hope of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.
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