Today started out as one of those “empty tank” days, for a lot of reasons.

It got a little better.

We had Nathan, one of my buds from college, as our guest this morning at our church. (It’s the annual “state missions emphasis” thing where some “denominational serpent…uh, servant!” comes in and extols the great virtues of our wonderful state group. Let the reader understand…)

Anyway, this year’s emphasis is primarily on what our tribe is doing on college campuses across our state. My bud is one of the campus ministers at the University of Georgia. He laid out a few of the usual stats, and did the “good denominational guy” thing. But then he told us the stories of three of the students in the ministry.

“Emily” signed on for the summer missions program, and ended up in Africa. Emily and her team assumed they’d be assigned to some seasoned missionaries, who would guide them along in their work for the summer. She discovered that was not to be the case. Emily’s team was plopped down in the middle of a village of unreached people, a group whose language had not even been translated or written. Their job? To “write the manual” for the mission strategy among this unreached people.

“Matt” is one the student leaders in the campus ministry. His vision is for students to know Jesus and disciple others. Matt has led the group away from what was formerly a “celebrity” focus with big-name speakers, big-name musicians, and big-show worship gatherings to a more organic, home-grown, relational kind of discipleship.

“Chris” did something really radical! He organized the “jock ministry” to raise funds for the group’s summer missions gigs. He started a bike ride that would go from Athens, Georgia to Jacksonville, Florida in the week preceding the Georgia-Florida cocktail party. They’ve raised bunches of money over the last couple of years.

These three stories inspired me. Emily reminded me that there are folks out there – some I know, some I don’t, some who are linked right over there on your left – who are plopped down among a culture whose language is unsure, but who need what Jesus offers. They are “writing the book” that others, who are willing and able, will follow to reach other cultures. They don’t have a “we don’t do it that way” focus. They have a “whatever it takes” heart.

Matt’s story reminded me once again that it’s really not about the “superstars.” There is, after all, only One. It’s about regular Janes and Joes, who have a passion to make a real difference for Jesus. Not to wow a crowd. Not to make a name for themselves. But to be salt and light in their world.

And Chris’s “extreme” adventure (hey, we are talking in the context of Southern Baptists, in Georgia, you know!) reminded me that there are people (see a couple of paragraphs above) who are fed up with the “give it to me easy” brand of “Christianity” that gives nice, packaged easy answers to life’s problems. They want a challenge. They want to believe that walking with God is a commitment worth making.

I was challenged. Just when I needed it…