Wednesday, May 29, 2013

May 2013

Greetings, Chuck here with another update on the work that Jesus is doing at the University of Maine at Farmington. First I just want to thank you so much for all of your support that you give to the work that Jesus is doing at the University of Maine at Farmington through InterVarsity as it is greatly appreciated and things are looking well, though we could always use and would greatly appreciate any contribution you can offer to go toward Jesus work on campus.

I say the work that Jesus is doing and more than ever I am beginning to realize that that’s what it is. Jesus is at work in the hearts and minds of college students, Chuck is not, InterVarsity is not, its Jesus who works. Now I don't mean that God has not called InterVarsity and myself to join in the work that He is doing on campus, which is why I am here working with InterVarsity, but what the Lord has been pounding into me this last semester is that its not about me, its not about InterVarsity, its not about UMF, its about Jesus. Now that I'm paying attention I'm realizing he's been trying to get this across to me for the past few years I just wasn't listening.
We began this semester by going through the first chapter of the book of Ephesians as a large group. What I love about this chapter is that it very clearly indicates that the story of salvation is more about Jesus than it is about us. As we talked I told the students something revolutionary to them and even in practicality to me. The main character of the story of your life is not you, its Jesus. Jesus is the hero not only of the Bible and the salvation story for mankind but for me and for You. Its about Him. This is a hard pill to swallow because in our sinfulness we want it to be about us. In my work with InterVarsity over the years I noticed that when God was at work I took the credit, I would explain that the reason we were able to be as successful as we were was because of our magnificent strategies and that if other campuses or churches would just employ our strategies they could be successful too. At times I was wise enough to add on that God was the one who did the work but I'm not sure how much I actually believed it. The more time I spend in “ministry” the more clear Jesus becomes. When I'm doing something that is about me it fails, when its about Jesus, especially when its about Jesus and I don't want to do it, He works through me. Now God is gracious and fortunately even when its about us He does many times still work but as he's been teaching me that has come less and less in order that I might learn.

In those first couple large group meetings we made the decision that it wasn't about us and were reminded for what purpose we exist on campus that of growing in relationship with Jesus and reaching the lost. As a result we decided that there was a better strategy than the one we were currently employing to fulfill our purpose. Instead of following the normal pattern we've adopted for the entire time that I have been involved in InterVarsity at UMF both as a student and staff we stopped having weekly large group meetings and began meeting in small groups with the intent that these would be missional small groups. So we created teams of students who were tasked with inviting both Christians and non-Christians to them in order that people who are not currently in relationship with Jesus might come to know Him and those who do might come to know Him more fully. We had 3 small groups that met throughout the semester lead by 7 students. I met with these 7 students each week to train and equip them to be effective at reaching the campus. We saw a number of students who had never been involved in InterVarsity before begin attending and engaging with the gospel, some of these students had grown up in the church while others had not but all were engaging. Over the course of the semester we had 3 students who were seriously engaging with the gospel and who also went on our trip to New Orleans. Of these three students none have yet made decisions for Christ but we are hoping and praying that they will. Pray with us for these students!

At the student organization fair at the beginning of the semester a young girl named Kelsey who was a junior but didn't realize there was a Christian group on campus found us. She was so excited to find other Christians on campus that she quickly and boldly got involved in one of our small groups. As we got to know her she shared with us that she had a friend named Cecilia who, during fall semester, she had led to the Lord and a couple of weeks in to the spring semester Cecilia also got involved in one of our small groups and began to grow in her understanding of what it means to be a Christian as our students studied the book of Luke. She nearly stopped going to study after feeling like she wasn't a good enough Christian and didn't know the Bible well enough but when Erica the leader of that group found that out she reached our to Cecilia and encouraged her with the truth that none of us knows the Bible well enough or is a good enough Christian so she decided to keep going. Toward the end of the semester she ended up running into and going to church with another girl who was a student at UMF that had recently accepted Jesus into her heart and they went to church together. These stories are really exciting and fit the theme of the semester that its not about me. God is reminding us that he is the author of salvation not us and though He chooses to work through us he most definitely does not need us. Praise the Lord for all that he is doing and please continue to pray to Him for us and the students that are being impacted by the gospel. It is such a blessing to do the work that I do but it is impossible without your continued financial and prayerful support. God Bless!
                                                                                                       Your Fellow Worker In Christ,                                                                                                         Charles William Ellis

Monday, October 29, 2012

Charles W. Ellis October 29th 2012 InterVarsity Christian Fellowship/USA 159 Perham St Apartment 1 Farmington, ME 04938 (207) 491-8964 Greetings, Chuck here with another update on the work that Jesus is doing in the hearts and minds of college students at the University Of Maine at Farmington through the work of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. This last year I committed the sin of using my student leaders for the sake of the mission and as a result 3 of the 4 leaders from last year have stepped down from leadership due to burnout. In the midst of this the Lord was gracious and worked mightily through our ill-conceived effort and drew more students unto himself than we had ever seen in one year in all the years that I've been involved with InterVarsity. But looking at what had happened I realized that I needed to be sure that my leaders were cared for, that I was making it my number one priority to be adequately discipling them in order that they might be able to lead with and within their gifting. One of the things I have learned over the years is that I am most frustrated when I am not working within my gifting but instead am doing things that I am not gifted in. There are times where we are called to act outside of our gifting but when we make it a regular practice it leads to frustration which we are trying to avoid in our leaders. Therefore one of the area's of discipleship I am going through with our current leaders is in the area of understanding Spiritual gifting and being sure to work with God rather than against him. This has been very fruitful this semester as it has freed students up to work more effectively where God is already calling them. I would ask that you continue to keep the student leaders in your prayers as we try to follow the Lord's leading. Despite moving away from an events focus to a discipleship focus we still have many things going on. Each week there are 4-5 Bible Studies that meeting which collectively have around 25 students involved as well as our large group meeting that has been averaging between 20 and 25 students. One of the Bible Studies I lead is our Freshmen Bible Study which I am co-leading with a young girl named Magyn who became a Christian in large part through Freshmen Bible Study last year and wanted to help out because of how awesome of an experience that had been for her. One of the reasons I get excited about Freshmen Bible Study is that whether students come from a Christian background or not many have not themselves engaged with the scriptures but have instead been told what they are to believe. As we sit down and look at each passage I encourage the students to both come up with questions, make observations and express what they think the passage is saying and trust that the same Holy Spirit that dwells within me also dwells within them and thus they are capable of coming to the truth as they engage with the scriptures. Occasionally I need to step in and do a little teaching but by and large the students are able by engaging with the scriptures to come to the realization themselves what is being taught. During these times it is really exciting for me because I see their eyes light up as they deepen their relationship with Jesus through the scriptures. Please pray for this study and others as students at UMF seek not only to survive but also to thrive in their faith on campus. From October 26th through October 28th students from Maine, Vermont, and New Hampshire gathered at InterVarsity's retreat center called Toah Nipi in Ringe, NH. This was a time set aside for students to meet Jesus in a special way. It was called messy faith and was meant to encourage students through following the life of Peter that though we are to pursue righteousness with all that we have we are going to mess up and make mistakes and in those times to rest in God's grace knowing that even Peter failed and was restored and used in great ways for the sake of the advancement of the Kingdom. Four students from UMF went down and were greatly impacted by this time and were excited to be able to get back to campus and share this truth with both their Christian and non-Christian friends. Lastly I am thankful to be able to share with you that enough funds came in and were pledged that I was able to receive the cost of living increase that I had mentioned in my previous newsletter, thank you all for your prayers and financial support. God Bless! Your Fellow Worker In Christ Jesus, Charles William Ellis Campus Staff Member UMF

Monday, August 20, 2012

Testimonies (continued)

Another Testimony from the work that Jesus is doing in the hearts and minds of college students at UMF through the work of InterVarsity. Enjoy! "My Experience at InterVarsity My experience at InterVarsity has truly been a great life changing occurrence that brought a better knowledge and understanding of God’s word, who He is, along with His amazing love, grace, and power into my then overwhelming life. Growing up spirituality has always been a significant part of my life. Fortunately at a time where it was beginning to fade, not have any sign of faith and after losing all hope of ever finding it near the University of Maine Farmington campus, it was finally found! My spiritual lifestyle was surely replenished at a whole different level. I was first introduced to the group at a time where I was not having such great second semester. A dear friend of mine proposed the idea of joining a group activity right there on the campus. She began to name all sorts of groups, but the one that I was truly looking for was one that involved the enhancement of my spirituality. The One that had been seeking me to come back into His loving arms and try to develop my morality even more was finally mentioned, and that was InterVarsity. I was truly at my lowest point and was not willing enough to take any other advice that was recommended by my other friends, my roommate, or family, and I decided to give it try. The first time I went I had a great time and it made me want to continue going. As I continued attending, I was enabled to gain wonderful friends, who are almost like family to me now. I learned how to strengthen my relationship with God. InterVarsity to me is not just a church service as I thought it would be, but it is now more than that, based on of my experience of going to the devout gathering. To me it is a time to worship, pray, sing, and listen to His word, giving you the opportunity to be around amazing people that share a great faith in God with you. Lastly it is the perfect place to reinforce your relationship with God wherever starting point that may be for any individual." -Breann

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Exciting and Difficult

This last year was both exciting and difficult. Exciting because we saw 8 students make decisions for Christ, difficult because becoming a Christian is a messy process. Exciting because we saw 32 UMF students go to New Orleans for our Alternative Spring Break trip, difficult because coordinating that many students isn't easy. Exciting because 16 of those students were non-Christians, difficult because 16 of those students were non-Christians. Exciting because one student said of one of our guest speakers who is a pastor in the 9th Ward “I don't want to go to church but I'd go to his church,” difficult because one of my student leaders nearly came back and began dating a non-Christian. Exciting because we're going to be making some changes that will focus more on discipleship and encouraging students to lead within the context of the way that God has gifted them, difficult because what reminded me of this was that I had burned out my student leaders by focusing on events and not having enough of a focus on discipling and caring for student leaders. Exciting because Christians became real about where they're at, difficult because where they're at is messy. Exciting because God worked in mighty ways, difficult because I was at times working against God. Exciting because when we are weak then he is strong, difficult because humility isn't learned in a sermon but in being humbled. Exciting to see where God is working, difficult in trying to understand how some things are going to fit into his glorious plan. All in all it was an amazing year and I once again look forward waiting expectantly to see what God is going to do this upcoming year both in and through InterVarsity at UMF. Please join with me in praying for the Lord to raise up leaders both from within the group and from new students and Jesus might continue to draw His lost sons and daughters unto Himself in part through the work of InterVarsity.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Summer Newsletter

Charles W. Ellis August 1st 2012 InterVarsity Christian Fellowship 159 Perham St Apartment 1 Farmington, ME 04938 (207) 491-8964 Greetings, Chuck here with a brief update on what Jesus has been doing at UMF through InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. I want to again thank You all for your continued partnership in the ministry here. It has been exciting over the years to see that way that Jesus works on campus but also in the provision of finances for the ministry budget each year. Every year God has faithfully provided and each year it has become less and less stressful for me as I trust God and watch him work. Normally though there is a rush for me after the school year ends to push forward in finding the funds to make budget by the end of June(the end of our fiscal year). This year however that was not the case in fact without me making a funding push at this time I was able to end the year with a surplus of $1200 and I ask that you celebrate this with me and praise the Lord for all of the different ways in which he provides for our needs. There are still financial needs in the ministry and I have been working from a bare-bones budget in order to be able to end the year in the black. During this time I have not received the normal annual increase that all staff workers with InterVarsity receive and if I am able to raise another $3000 this year I will be able to be at a full budget and receive my collective 3% annual increase that I have received for the past 3 years. This means if 12 people are able to give at $25 a month I will reach my goal and I would ask that you would prayerfully consider either beginning to support or increasing your support of the work Jesus is doing. Moving on from finances I have heard from many of you the desire to either have me bring students with me when I speak at your churches, which for one reason or another hasn't seemed to work out, or hear from student the impact Jesus is having on their life. I am excited therefore to be able to share with you testimonies from both former and current InterVarsity students on how Jesus has impacted their lives. I hope and certainly believe that you will enjoy and be blessed by these testimonies. I know I did and was. Before you go on to those please join with me in praising the Lord as this last year we saw 5 students make first time decisions for Christ and another 3 students recommit their lives to Christ. This is really exciting and in reality the most students we at UMF have seen become Christians in a single year since I got involved in InterVarsity as a student almost 10 years ago. I also believe it to be the result of years of preparation and learning and understanding how to share the gospel on the UMF campus and that this is only the beginning of God drawing people unto himself. I ask also that you would pray with me that the Lord would send workers into the fields of UMF and that he would continue to draw his lost sons and daughters unto himself. Thanks again and please be sure to enjoy the testimonies! Your Fellow Worker In Christ Jesus, Charles William Ellis Campus Staff Member UMF

Tuesday, July 31, 2012


Hi all, This is the first of what will be a number of testimonies from students impacted by the work of InterVarsity. I hope you enjoy them as much as me: To Whom it May Concern, My name is Rebecca Hall, and I am a recent graduate of the University of Maine at Farmington. When I started college six years ago, I had many anxieties. As I left home for the first time, the challenge of keeping up academically was nowhere as worrying to me as the prospect of having to fit myself into an entirely new community. Most of all, I worried that in my new home, I would be unable to find other Christians to challenge and support me in my faith. This need for community and Christian fellowship was partially filled by my involvement with Farmington Christian Fellowship. Through Bible studies, presentations, and weekly worship, I was challenged to keep nurturing my relationship with God, even in the midst of a hectic university schedule. Even though my views, both theologically and politically, greatly differ from many of those which were taught at FCF, they still welcomed me into an accepting, open community. The fellowship they gave me made a key impact on my life. Even though I have since moved on to seminary, and other Christian communities, Farmington Christian Fellowship was the first group to fill that role in my life. I cannot thank them enough for the support they gave me during my time in Farmington, and I would like to thank you for the support which has made it possible for them to impact me, and so many others, in this way. Sincerely, Rebecca Hall class of 2011

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Spring 2012


Chuck here again and I am really excited to share with you about the work that Jesus is doing at UMF through InterVarsity as well as a recent partnership with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes of Central Maine, and the potential start in ministry to International Students at UMF, not to mention all that is already going on in the normal life of the fellowship as we reach out to the campus.
First off I feel the need to express my gratitude to God for granting me an incredibly mature leadership team that not only know their stuff Biblically but are also excellent at gathering, teaching, training, and making disciples of younger students. This group of leaders has done an excellent job of working with the University and establishing a good report with the administration as well as most of the students on campus. Without these future leaders InterVarsity would not be in the great place that it is today. Please pray for these students leaders though as they shoulder a lot of responsibility and are under constant spiritual attacks from the enemy. Pray that they grow and mature and God gives them grace that those they are witnessing to might come to know the Lord.
We started the semester with the students desiring to have a greater emphasis on prayer as it is when we are on our knees before the Lord that he tends to work the most. There are now 3-6 students who meet weekly to pray both for one another and that God would move in mighty ways in the hearts and minds of the students and faculty on campus. We have begun doing monthly 24 hour prayer sessions where we grab a classroom on campus and someone is praying for the fellowship and the campus for 24 consecutive hours. During this time also anyone who needs someone to pray with can come and be prayed for or they can simply come and seek the Lord in silence and solitude. I had opportunity to man the prayer room during the first 24 hour session and was greatly encouraged in my own relationship with the Lord and I am confident it has already had a great impact on those involved as well as, through their prayers, the campus.
This year we sent 32 students from UMF to New Orleans for KRUP (Katrina Relief Urban Project) our alternative spring break trip during which we spend our days working with locals helping to rebuild the poorer neighborhoods in the city. 32 students from UMF about half are unbelievers, many of whom have never really engaged with the gospel before in their lives, and each evening we engage with the gospel hearing from different speakers as well as spending time in small groups studying and talking through the scriptures. Now as of yet I do not believe any students have made professions of faith but evangelism is so much deeper than that and many of these students took important steps in the direction of faith moving from a position of skepticism to being more curious about this whole Christian thing. One of our small groups even decided to keep meeting once they got back to campus because though only half of them believe in Jesus the others wanted to continue to pursue what this life might look like, which is really exciting especially given where some of these students lives have taken them. Four of the non-Christian students who went to KRUP have decided to get involved in our weekly Large Group meeting to continue to learn about Jesus.
Another exciting development this semester have come in area’s that I have had a burden for many years now but have just never gotten the opportunity to make contact. The first of those is with Athletes on campus who are for InterVarsity a practically unreached group of people who make up a large part of the campus. I was contacted early in the Semester by a young Woman named Margaux Shute who grew up in Skowhegan Maine before going off to UNH to play Field Hockey, where she would later coach and only recently decided to work with FCA (Fellowship of Christian Athletes). God was also at work in the heart of a senior named Emma and through their combined efforts FCA and IVCF at UMF have launched an Athletes Bible Study with the hope of it developing into a ministry that will reach Athletes for Christ. At their first Bible Study there were 8 students who showed up. One of those who showed up is a young woman named Keli who is a freshman but has a huge heart for the Lord and she and Emma will be leading the Bible Study this semester. Praise God for the mighty ways in which he works bringing people together to accomplish His purposes of redeeming sinners.
This upcoming semester through a connection with an InterVarsity Staff Worker on the West Coast we are going to have the opportunity to minister to students from southern China who will be at UMF for a year. Most, if not all of these students, have never heard the gospel and we’ll have opportunity through this connection of basically starting a small group Bible Study for them. Please pray that God would work mightily.
Lastly please join me in praising the Lord for the ways in which he continually provides for my and the ministries needs. Over the course of the past couple of years my support raising has gotten easier and easier as more and more of you have taken up the cause of supporting the ministry on a financial level and I just want to thank you once again for all you do and remind you that without this support I would be unable to minister on campus. Thank you all and God bless!

Your fellow worker in Christ Jesus,

Charles William Ellis