ore than anything else, Jeff Ferguson wants to work with college students, sharing his faith and watching their spiritual growth. A middler at RTS/Charlotte, he's interning with Reformed University Fellowship at Winthrop College in Rock Hill, South Carolina.
"Working at Winthrop has been very rewarding," says Jeff. "Many of them know the basics of the Gospel, but it goes against human nature to believe that God would freely grant salvation. Some really struggle with what it means to live out the Gospel in their lives, and I'm privileged to help them work that out."
One of the reasons Jeff so enjoys working with college students through RUF is because of the ministry's impact on his life during his years at Clemson University. Under the leadership of godly campus ministers and through prayer with students, Jeff saw incredible spiritual growth in his life.
"The strength of RUF is its philosophy of ministry," explains Jeff. "It's been called organic -- working within the framework of Scriptural presuppositions. RUF uses biblical principles to minister; thus the ministry is the same in Sumpter, South Carolina, or Tokyo, Japan. Yet, it is dynamic, meeting people where they are. While students are all sinners and at odds with God, their experiences are different and what they need to hear about the Gospel is different. RUF encourages campus ministers to get to know individual students; even ten minutes with one student might transform his life because God is at work."
Jeff also appreciates RUF's three-pronged emphasis-- large group meetings, small group studies, and one-on-one fellowship. None is emphasized over the other. The corporate body gets together in the large group, the small group allows students to dive in and gain deeper perspective on certain issues with others, and one-on-one emphasis treats people as created in the image of God and not numbers in a crowd.
Finally, Jeff is glad that RUF does not seek to replace the church, but tries to point students to it while they are in college. "If a student is involved with the church during college, he will probably stay active when he graduates," says Jeff. "Students need to know that the Christian life is not just 'me and God.' It is about worship, service, and fellowship, not merely hearing a cool message and leaving." A
YEARNING TO SHARE THE GOSPEL
It was a strong, evangelical high school youth minister, Mark Yoder, in his hometown of Sumpter, South Carolina, who discipled Jeff and eventually pointed him toward the ministry. Jeff blossomed spiritually under Mark's special interest and was very active in his church youth group; in fact, it was his entire social life until his senior year.
Jeff came to know the Lord in junior high while on a youth retreat with 700-800 kids. The speaker was passionate about Jesus Christ and the Lord's effect on his life, and God used that in Jeff's life.
"I knew all the Bible stories and theology," says Jeff. "I could win sword drills and was the classic academic intellectual. But I had not realized that my faith could impact my life, could transform me and guide me. At that conference God began to open my eyes to see that faith was more than knowing about the Bible, but it was developing a relationship with Christ. Over the next year or two, I was converted. It was wonderful to see God supernaturally ripping sins out of my life with which I had struggled for years."
But in high school Jeff fought legalism, and Mark's guidance was critical. During those years God transformed Jeff's mind, and he began to understand the reality of grace in the Gospel and how good works flow from it -- not because of it. During his senior year he started taking a leadership role in the youth group. Mark gave Jeff many opportunities to participate actively in the ministry, even allowing him to intern one summer, and ultimately was instrumental in helping Jeff discern his call to the ministry. He took him on retreats with other leaders and allowed him to share his testimony. Jeff enjoyed seeing how God used his testimony to encourage others. His most enjoyable moments became those in which he was sharing his faith.
Upon high school graduation, he entered Clemson to study mechanical engineering. There he became heavily involved in Reformed University Fellowship. After four spiritually fruitful years, he wants to give back to college students through RUF what he received.
A MULTI-TALENTED MINISTER
While studying at RTS/Charlotte, Jeff is interning with RUF at Winthrop College, leading the music at worship services (he's an accomplished guitarist) and working with individual students. Recently he received some help in the form of his new wife, Tracey.
Jeff is using his technical engineering skills in the NASCAR racing industry to put himself through seminary. Serving as a liaison between Clemson and the Motor Sports Team, Jeff works in the NASCAR shop determining what research most needs to be done by Clemson students for the industry. Currently he has been focusing on improving the aerodynamics of the race car, both externally on the body of the car and internally in the engine, by designing a part for the front end of cars that takes in air. Jeff asks questions like, "What are the physics behind running a car at 180 or 200 miles an hour?"
Jeff also enjoys the informal relationships
with men in the shop and the challenge of answering their religious questions.
As at Winthrop, he wants to meet them where they are and bring them along
in faith. He'll need the practice; it won't be long until he is heading
up a campus ministry somewhere on his own.
Reformed Quarterly, Volume 20, Number 1