…[W]e will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. Ephesians 4:15-16
Tendons are made up of many tendon fibrils, all somewhat independent. Together, these fibrils must be highly elastic and strong, so they can stretch to connect muscle to bone without breaking. Lately, I’m feeling like a tendon fibril in the body of Christ.
Each Part Doing Its Work
I grew up an American in Tanzania and Kenya. I have learned to be flexible and to bridge cultures, while not necessarily being immersed in either one. As a Macalester College student, I stretch myself to connect my secular education with what I have learned from my Christian family. Aware of how it feels to be an outsider, I enthusiastically welcome new people at church. I plan InterVarsity outreach events to introduce non-Christians to my friend Jesus and include them in that community.
I’m inspired by my mom, a family friend, and my pastor to be a connector. God has connected me to them, them to each other and to InterVarsity and Africa International University—all for the growth of Christ’s body.
Three Intersecting Journeys
Janice Horsager, my mom, transferred from a Christian college to the University of Minnesota where InterVarsity helped her connect those two experiences. InterVarsity also stretched her, especially when she taught English to future missionaries in South Korea as part of Student Training in Missions (STiM), an intense training program for students participating in summer projects.
At Urbana 84, my mom told God she was flexible and open to foreign missions. When I was two years old, our family moved to the Tanzanian mission field.
Caleb Kim, a Korean student from STiM and part of InterVarsity through IFES, also felt a call for missions. God’s call took him to Kenya and Tanzania, and eventually to become a professor of Intercultural Studies in the Missions Department of Africa International University (AIU).
On a visit to AIU, my parents greeted Caleb Kim in Korean.
“Where did you learn Korean?”
“Oh, I taught English at a missionary school back in ’84.”
“And you were in InterVarsity, and your dad fought in the Korean War, right? I remember you!”
Caleb Kim and his family welcomed our family to the AIU campus and worked to connect us to other faculty. My dad, Steve Rasmussen, and Dr. Kim now teach together in the Missions Department at AIU, where they train pastors and missionaries how to connect the Bible with their own cultural contexts in flexible ways.
Once we moved to Kenya, our family decided we would make Nairobi Chapel our church home. Several years earlier, Oscar Muriu had just finished seminary at AIU (then called NEGST) when he was asked to pastor Nairobi Chapel. At that time, the church had declined to twenty members. Through prayer and connecting the church to a nearby college campus, the church began to grow and grow, eventually splitting into five “fibrils” to maximize impact on the city.
The past two Christmases I’ve had the opportunity to visit dear family and friends in Kenya. When my flight was delayed, Dr. Kim picked me up from the airport. His family invited me over for a wonderful homemade Korean dinner.
Pastor Oscar’s daughter, a close friend, also invited me over. Pastor Oscar, who spoke at Urbana 2006 and 2009, was excited to hear of my involvement in InterVarsity and my plans to participate in Urbana 12. That night the whole Muriu family prayed in the living room for my Macalester campus. It was an awe-filled experience.
Made Possible Through Submission
What a blessing and inspiration to know these Christ-followers! Their submission to God allowed him to accomplish his purposes though them. Students were transformed, who later became faculty who now transform their students. Campuses like Africa International University were renewed. World changers were developed, who continue to develop other world changers—whether it be Nairobi Chapel’s youth, the future missionaries in my dad’s classes, or the students at Macalester.
The impact of the connected body of Christ has transformed me as a student. I long for renewal on Macalester campus. My prayer is that my school, well known for developing world changers, will develop Christ’s ambassadors to make disciples of all nations.
For a tendon fibril like me, Urbana 12 is the perfect chance to connect with so many others in the body of Christ. I look forward to reuniting with friends from InterVarsity Leadership Institute at Cedar Campus, and networking with the mission agencies represented.
How incredible to imagine—a unified gathering of muscle, bone and every other body part—people with all different functions and origins! I know that if I am open to being stretched God can use me to form links in Christ’s body I never would have imagined.
God has placed each part of his body just where he wants it (1 Corinthians 12). Though we are many, we form one body. We are Christ’s body, united in community and communion with Christ. May we embody Christ to our world!
~Originally published Sept 4, 21012 on InterVarsity’s “Go and Do” blog for Urbana 2012 (see the original article)