Editor’s Note: From its inception, the women in the PCA have loved on and supported the denomination in practical ways. One way has been through the annual women’s ministry love gift. This year, the women’s ministry of the PCA is praying for and partnering with the different agencies and committees of the denomination regionally. Throughout the year, we will highlight the committees and agencies to learn more about what they do and how we can pray for them. I recently interviewed Rod Mays, coordinator of Reformed University Fellowship (RUF), about their work with college students on university campuses.
Christina: What is your role at RUF and can you tell us a bit about how RUF started?
Rod: Currently I am the Interim National Coordinator. I served as the National Coordinator from 1999 until 2014 and returned to RUF in 2017. As I retire again, at the end of the year as the National Coordinator, I plan to stay on in some other capacity.
RUF was started in Mississippi in 1973 along with the PCA. RUF grew in the state of Mississippi and became a part of MNA in 1982 where numerous campuses were started in other southern states. In 2001 RUF became its own Permanent Committee in the PCA. At this time, we started to build our senior staff as our expansion started to grow quickly outside of the south. Our growth continues out west, the mid-west and north-east.
Christina: What is its mission?
Rod: “To reach students for Christ and to equip them to serve the church and the world” (“the gathering and perfecting of the saints”)
Christina: How many universities is RUF in currently and how have you seen it grow in recent years?
Rod: RUF now has a presence on 169 campuses in forty states. We have started 110 campuses since 2000. Our internship program, (male and female recent college graduates who work with a campus minister for 2-3 years) has increased 15% a year totaling 189 interns currently. Our campus staff (women who have seminary degrees or are attending seminary) has increased in the last couple of years to 40 women working alongside a campus minister. RUF now employs over 400 people to carry out our mission.
Christina: What are some of the most pressing issues you see college students facing these days? How are RUF leaders being equipped to help students face those issues?
Rod: More and more, college students are arriving at campus with lots of fears, loneliness, and anxiety. Students are depressed and medicated. RUF is there (with ordained campus ministers) to care for their souls. Our campus ministers, staff, and interns are trained twice a year to meet the needs of students. Our campus ministers and interns receive pastoral care from our area coordinators who have several years of campus ministry experience and are ordained PCA Ministers. Each area coordinator is responsible 15-17 campuses.
Christina: What are some plans/goals RUF is working toward as a ministry?
Rod: RUF has 4 main goals as a ministry. We want to see students grow in grace, enjoy fellowship and service, have a heart for evangelism and missions, and embrace a biblical world and life view. We want to see RUF campus growth as well as expanding RUFI (international), our ministry to international scholars who are attending American universities. We are currently working with mission agencies including MTW and Serge to establish RUFG (global) in several foreign countries.
Christina: Can you tell us about the new coordinator taking over for you in January?
Rod: At this past General Assembly in June, Will Huss, a ruling elder from Clemson Presbyterian Church, Clemson, SC was elected to be the next National Coordinator for RUF. Will has been a good friend of mine for over 20 years. He is a proven leader and churchman. His business acumen will be a great asset to RUF’s growing budget and organizational leadership. Having served on the RUF Permanent Committee, he knows most of our senior staff, area coordinators and many of our campus ministers. He will lead with great skill and humility.
Christina: How can women in the church pray for and support the work of RUF?
Rod: For many years, women in the PCA have been the greatest encouragers for our ministry. We know they pray for us and are interested in what RUF is doing across America and the world. (Your writing this article is evidence of this.) I would encourage women to get to know the campus ministers and interns and staff in their area. Take the wives, staff, and women interns to lunch. Remember them at Christmas with a special gift such as a Starbucks gift card or other gift card. These are a great help to our staff as they meet frequently with students. And of course, encourage their sessions to put RUF in their church budget.
About the Author:
Christina received her undergraduate degree from Covenant College and her Master’s Degree in Counseling from Palm Beach Atlantic University. She writes for a number of Christian ministries and publications including TGC, Revive Our Hearts, Desiring God, Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals, and Ligonier Ministries. She is the content editor for enCourage and the author of A Heart Set Free: A Journey to Hope Through the Psalms of Lament , Closer Than a Sister: How Union with Christ Helps Friendships to Flourish, Idols of a Mother’s Heart and Sufficient Hope: Gospel Meditations and Prayers for Moms. Christina serves on the advisory board at Covenant College and is on the national women’s ministry team as Regional Adviser of the Southeast. She prefers her coffee black and from a French press, enjoys antiquing, hiking, traveling, and reading. She lives in Atlanta with her husband and two boys. You can find her at www.christinafox.com, @christinarfox and on Facebook.