It all started with a desire for unity. Sherol had unity on her heart and made a point of visiting the other grad fellowships in the Bay Area. Then we had an evening event at Stanford involving a jam session. Meanwhile, we were each doing our own local things — including Veritas Forums, multi-faith forums on campus, etc. There was a desire for building connections with other like-minded people at other grad and professional schools. We knew that Jesus said unity was important and that it was how others would know who He is, but didn’t see why this particular multi-university grad unity was important. The next year, we saw a multi-university grad retreat including UC Berkeley, UCSC, UCSF, and Stanford, and a late-nite discussion about our vision. The following year this retreat also included UCSD, and a more formal discussion and time of sharing our individual callings and planning how we would connect in the future.
So we had a group, and then we needed to discern what God was calling us together *for*. At this past meeting it became clear that we needed to create a space for people to share their professional testimonies — i.e. what God is doing in their respective fields and individual work.
God working in and through our fields of research? That must be strange talk. Christians build “good bridges”, not “Christian bridges”, right? God might sometimes help us get a job or lead us right into a wall or closed door, but surely He doesn’t get involved in our day-to-day work and business — or does He?
I have a friend who is part of Opus Dei, a group of Catholic brothers and sisters. The website of Opus Dei says “Its mission is to spread the message that work and the circumstances of everyday life are occasions for growing closer to God, for serving others, and for improving society”.
When I went to college, I wanted to do good research and make a difference for the kingdom. I had always thought of these as quite separate things. God brought me to difficult straits in my research in college — and that’s when I realized my need for Him to really “establish the work” of my hands.
Psalm 90:17 says this:
“May the favor of the Lord our God rest upon us; establish the work of our hands for us–yes, establish the work of our hands.”
Sir Francis Bacon, one of the fathers of the scientific method, said this:
“If we labor in thy works with the sweat of our brows thou wilt make us partakers of thy vision and thy Sabbath. Humbly we pray that this mind may be steadfast in us, and that through these our hands, and the hands of others to whom thou shalt give the same spirit, thou wilt vouchsafe to endow the human family with new mercies.”
I was also encouraged to talk with a couple who are both professors in health sciences and who are both believers. They encouraged me, one saying how she can see God working in the big picture of her science, especially bringing them in contact with people and ideas — but that she couldn’t see this when she was in graduate school, since she was in the trenches on a specific project.
Ok, so back to what Reclaimtalks is all about =).
It’s about bringing together in unity Christian academics and professionals who want to see Christ’s kingdom come to this earth, and equipping each other and encouraging each other in our callings, in order that we might, with God’s help, make an eternal difference in the world as we continue Christ’s mission as His body and His ambassadors.
More specifically, it is testifying to what God is doing in our respective fields and in our own work and careers, and together seeking Him — to know Him at a deeper level, recognize our dependency on Him and trust Him more fully, and to see His greater purpose in our work and in our lives accomplished in His time.
Even if our work may seem most abstract and esoteric, God can work through it to connect us with people that otherwise might not know any Christians. He may or may not give us the resource of prestige so that we can steward our influence to advance His kingdom, though we remember his Son often had little prestige during his days on this earth.
On the other hand, sometimes God can use our work and our position to do something amazing and bring new mercies into our world, such as new technologies that help people make a living and provide for their families, new medicines and therapies to heal the sick and mentally ill, new ways to effectively teach students, policies that promote justice and world peace, to name a few.
Ever wanted to change the world? Well, abiding in Christ, we sure can try :).
Let’s see what God does 🙂