Engineering a Future Ministry

A college student discovers his identity needs to be in Christ.

  • by Katie Croft
image courtesy of Andrew Wong

There is a funny trend in Andrew Wong’s summer plans. For the last 4 years, the New Mexico State University student has had to scramble at the last minute when his summer plans fell through. This year, a last minute shake-up led the civil engineering student to Denver, CO to take part in a Cru Summer Project.

The Denver Summer Project focuses on students with internships. As a result, intelligent and high achieving students, like Andrew, often chose to participate. “The Denver Summer Project merges two worlds: the technical/educational field and ministry and the Christian walk,” Andrew states.

Staff members recognize that not every student will go into formal full-time mission work. That’s why DSP staff members like Shawn Cramer were intentional to help students see how faith and work combine in all walks of life. “We dream about sending a different kind of graduate into the work force,” says Shawn, “one who works with great purpose and excellency and can winsomely share their faith.”

“I would strive to make myself feel and look significant,” Andrew confesses. It became apparent from his first mentoring appointment at DSP that this issue needed to be addressed. For the rest of the summer, God exposed the ugliness of Andrew’s self-dependence—often times through failure.

“When I fail it brings out the motivations that are already there,” Andrew states. “When I live out of that performance-based mindset, I feel like I'm on the top of the world when I succeed. When I fail I'm just in the pits, life sucks and I get frustrated very quickly. The important thing for me was to begin letting go of that and holding on to who I am in Christ.”

Like many in the working world, engineers are often pressured to perform. “It’s hard to make [work] about serving people and making things better. From what I saw, there is a lot of ‘do a good job so you get the project done and make your money’,” he explains. “But it’s my identity in Christ that allows me to live in security rather than try to find value and significance in how I perform.”

Now that DSP has ended, Andrew is back in his typical routine trying to apply new truths. “There is no doubt those idols are still there to some extent,” he says, “but now it has been really amazing to wake up and live out of the security and joy of being loved already. Last year was a lot of waking up and thinking about school and thinking, ‘Oh, I just can’t do this. It’s so hard. What if I don’t get this project done?’”

The truth of his position in Christ changes how Andrew goes about ministry also. “I am a Bible study leader at my church and before project, if I led well I would be really happy, but if I led bad then I would be frustrated. If people weren’t talking, I would get really frustrated. It seemed like I hadn’t succeeded in the way I wanted to. But now, I just got back from a church retreat and things went really well. There were times when conversations were really awkward and I didn’t know what to say or people didn’t want to talk but that didn’t really get me down this time. I was able to continue on and not dwell on it too much or let it discourage me.

“This summer we talked a lot about work as an act of worship. Adam and Eve in the garden didn’t have ministry but their work was how they were to worship.” By taking a summer to combine work and worship, Andrew now has a plan to live as a missionary at work.