The Community of RUF

Martha Kate Stainsby  |  November 19, 2015

Wednesday nights were my favorite during the four years I was at TCU. Each Wednesday night I walked through the doors of the chapel and was greeted by a community of people who loved me exactly as I am—flawed, messy, and in desperate need of grace. The first time I went to RUF I was scared because I did not know a single person in the room. After I was greeted with warm smiles and gentle welcomes, I knew there was no reason to be scared. For the first time in college I felt at home. A peace washed over me like I had never felt before and I knew I had found the community I so longed to be a part of. That community was RUF.

During my time in college, I came to realize  that RUF did not primarily live within the walls of the chapel nor was it confined to the large group meetings. The community of RUF was visible during late nights at Whataburger and while making Slurpee runs to Seven Eleven. You could see RUF’s community at early morning breakfasts, at birthday parties and Christmas parties, in the midst of break ups and heartaches, singing karaoke on a Saturday night, or in many other ways that we shared life together. 

These people held my hand, dried my tears, calmed my fears, loved me when I felt unlovable. They showed me grace upon grace, and they were the people who always pointed me back to the cross of Jesus Christ. They spoke truth when it was hard to hear and came to my rescue when they saw me in need. They have gave me more love and grace than I could have ever imagined and they have demonstrated what it means to be in true community. 

It has been three years since I was a part of RUF at TCU. Three years since I attended large group in that chapel. And yet the work of RUF is still being done not only in my life but in so many of my friends lives as well. I fully believe that it will still be twenty years before we recognize all the work that was done in RUF at TCU and the way it changed students hearts and lives.

Because the fact is RUF changed my life, because of what this community did for me, I wanted to share the same gospel-love with others. I want them to know that it’s okay that they aren’t okay because Jesus is better than being better. I want them to know that Jesus loves immensely flawed individuals and that there is a community that reflects that love and for me and so many others that community was RUF.

So today, three years later, I am in my second year as an RUF intern. I am on the other side and get to sit across the table from many college students who’s world’s were so like mine. I get to love students. I get to sit with them in the midst of heartache and pain. And I get to point them to the gospel, to scripture, to a God who loves them better than I ever could. And for that I am humbled and grateful.

These last two years have grown me in ways I never thought possible. They have made me fall deeper in love with Jesus. They have taught me that no matter how hard I try I cannot fix my students, I can only love them and point them to Christ. And let me tell you, for a people pleasing fixer that sure is humbling. God has worked here in RUF at Baylor despite my shortcomings, my flaws and my sinfulness. 

So while my role has changed in the RUF community my belief about this ministry has stayed firm. RUF at Baylor, RUF at TCU and RUF across the nation is a place where it is okay that you are not okay because Jesus is better than being better. It is a place where it is okay to ask questions, to not understand. It is okay to not know why you walked in the door and at the same time feel like you want to leave at any moment. It is a safe place.

Regardless of where my students come from I pray they feel loved and welcomed, because we all need a community this side of heaven to help bear in our burdens and love us well. And this is what I have seen the community of RUF be time and time again. So yes in some senses the curtain has been pulled back. I have seen the joy and the heartache that is in this ministry. And yet after nearly two years I can confidently say God is at work.

God is at work even when no students show up to Bible study. He is at work even when the student I love slips back into her addiction. He is at work when the student I so desperately want to meet with cancels on me every time. He is at work when I walk away from time with a student and just know I messed everything up. Because Jesus’ work doesn’t depend on me and for that I am so very thankful. 

So as I finish out my last year with RUF I stand amazed at the work Christ has done in RUF and in the way He has changed hearts and lives. Jesus didn't need me to be a part of the RUF community at TCU and He certainly didn’t need me to work with RUF at Baylor but I am so humbled that He chose me to be a part of His. Because twenty years from now I will still say the work of the gospel in the ministry of RUF changed my life.