Christian Ambassadors United for Service and Evangelism—otherwise known as CAUSE ministries—would not exist without a Christian call to reach out into the community. However, some John Brown University students question CAUSE ministries’ motives and impact, or their ability to break out from the comfort of the JBU bubble. Are they simply another way to socialize, enjoy college, and perpetuate the familiar isolation of university life? Or do they actually cause students to make a long-term impact in the community?
Philip Braun, senior construction management major, led two CAUSE ministries during his sophomore and junior years. One was Community Service Outreach, a ministry Braun describes as being dedicated to “entry level service such as painting, staining, and other basic non-skilled stuff everybody could be doing.”
The other ministry, Cornerstone, was, according to Braun, a “more specialized construction ministry. Most of the time we built wheelchair ramps, but sometimes professors and other faculty members gave us the lead of a person who really needs help.”
Braun, however, saw the JBU bubble in these two ministries. “A lot of times people at JBU do things because they know other people doing those things, which is pretty consistent with CAUSE ministries,” Braun said. “We had people who were the friends of the leaders or friends of consistent members. Everyone once in a while, you would get new members who didn’t know anybody, but that was pretty rare.”
Braun also recalled how, once the general work was done and the team had served is purpose—be it raking lawns or building ramps—Braun would often never see or speak to those people again. “I like building relationships. If they needed their yard raked, we accomplished that. If they needed connections that lasted, that didn’t happen,” Braun said.
However, many CAUSE members feel they are doing good in the community, building relationships with those they serve.
Dalton Chance, sophomore Christian ministries and formation major, co-leads a new CAUSE ministry called Koinonia: a ministry to “give students the opportunity to show the love of Christ and share the gospel without saying a word from the pulpit,” according to the JBU website.
Currently, Koinonia members serve at the Tahlequah apartment complex in Siloam Springs, playing with kids and building relationships with families.
Sometimes only two or three children will show up to kick around a soccer ball or play frisbee with the eight Koinonia members.
Chance proposed some of the different motives students have for participating. “The fact that we are there for ministry reasons definitely takes the focus off of just hanging out with friends in the sense that we could easily do the same thing on JBU soil, and it just wouldn’t feel the same,” Chance said.
“I don’t think that CAUSE is meant to be just a social interaction,” Chance said. “I definitely think there are some people who are like ‘oh, all my friends are doing it, so I’m going to do it as well.’ But…it is not because I want to hang out with people, but because I realize that there’s a little piece of following Christ I don’t get when I just hang out with people and do school and occasionally go to chapel. So, filling that hole with ministry is the only thing that helps.”