Jennie Allen and the Longterm Impact of College Ministry

February 7, 2017 — 2 Comments

College Ministers: What you are doing matters. Meeting with hundreds of disinterested freshmen to find a handful that want to know Jesus and make Him known. Turning over a multitude of rocks to find one or two gems. Teaching students how and why to read God’s Word. Discipling students who will make disciples.

We rarely get to see the fruit of what we so laboriously sow. Students graduate and get married and get jobs and move off. And we go back to meeting with hundreds of disinterested freshmen to find a handful…

This weekend my wife (with hundreds of thousands of other women!) watched the 2017 If Gathering Livestream. In the last couple years, If Gatherings have reached more than a million women in 50 countries.

And it started when Jennie Allen was a college student at the University of Arkansas and her life was radically changed by a Cru staff, Michelle Bost (Michelle and her husband Mike are still on staff and Mike serves at the regional director of Cru’s Northeast Region, reaching the least reached campuses in our country, most of which are Ivy Leagues).

Throughout her opening talk at If Gathering, Jennie Allen talks about what an impact Michelle Bost had on her life when she was in college, and how that altered the course of her life.

  • [If Gathering would not have happened] without a woman named Michelle Bost who took a nobody college student to coffee
  • We would go over to Michelle’s house and I remember sitting on our living room floor and I’d listen to her talk about Jesus and the surrender she had. And I would want that relationship – I would want to love Jesus like she loved Jesus.
  • As a result of that time, a lot of things changed for me.
  • [Sarcastically] You know, the University of Arkansas is SO Christian.
  • And I needed someone to tell me it was OK to follow Christ. When I was being driven through the drive-through liquor store being offered alcohol. I needed someone to say you can make a difference with your life. You need to be in the Word of God.
  • I still have my Bible from college and it is marked up from top to bottom. I was in my Bible because of Michelle Bost.
  • And all the sudden, when my friends were hung over the morning after, I no longer judged them or thought I need to be with them. I befriended them and there was no longer this angst in me.
  • Everything in my life shifted because of Michelle Bost.
  • I love Jesus because of her.
  • I have a fear that we’re about to have a generation that never had a Michelle Bost.
  • People were saved in front of our eyes at the University of Arkansas.
  • Peoples lives changed and I wanted to give my life to this mission. I wanted in.
  • I wanted to be a part of the kingdom of God because Michelle Bost asked me to coffee.
  • And that is why If Gathering exists because I still believe all the things she taught me.
  • I believe you can open your Bible and mark it up and it change your soul.
  • I believe that women with other women on living room floors can change the world.
  • And what happens if this generation doesn’t have that?

So keep meeting with freshmen. Keep discipling men and women. Because what you are doing matters. You may not see the fruit for 20 years. But God is using you to raise up laborers who will change the world.


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  • Carolyn Allen

    When I was at Texas A&M in the mid 1970’s, a woman who looked like Jill Briscoe, and lived a couple blocks off campus, changed my life. Her name was Janet Loveless and she was the most open and nonjudgmental person I ever met. A friend told me she did one-on-one Bible Studies, so I gave her a call. We began meeting once a week for an hour in her living room. We followed her typewritten lessons on a different topic in the bible for about 24 weeks: Eternal Security, God the Father, Jesus Christ, The Holy Spirit, the Filling of the Holy Spirit, Divine Attributes, Mental Attitude Sins, Confession of Sin, etc. We looked up the verses, she taught, and then gave me scriptures to look up for next week. I was learning truth and the files in my soul were being organized.
    After I married and had children, Janet taught a group of young mothers how to teach these truths to our children. Through this, God was preparing our two kids for their spouses. Our son Zac Allen met Jennie two weeks after graduating from high school.

    • timcasteel

      That’s really neat Carolyn! Thanks for taking the time to share that. Very similar to my heritage. My parents both became Christians in college in the early 70’s through Cru (at the University of Oklahoma). It radically changed the home I grew up in and set me on a trajectory to serve God in full time ministry with Cru. Thank you for leaving a godly legacy of children (and a daughter-in-law!) who are radically impacting the world for Christ.