Anna Brewster, Assistant Faith Editor
Jumping into the spring semester might seem chaotic, but Focus Week is an opportunity for students to set their sights on Christ as they begin a new chapter at OBU.
The speaker for Focus Week this year was OBU alumnus Rusty Kennedy, founder of Leavener, a ministry based in Fishers, IN.
With chapel services on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday during chapel hour in Raley Chapel, and one on Tuesday evening in the Geiger Center, students had several chances to hear a message of grace this past week and to rack up chapel credits.
Focus Week has been held annually at OBU for more than 35 years.
Assistant Vice President for Spiritual Life and Dean of Chapel Dale Griffin oversaw the planning of Focus Week this year.
“Focus week is a way to focus on our relationship with God and with each other,” Griffin said.
“We call that discipleship.”
The central passage Kennedy used during Focus Week was 1 John 2:12-13.
On Monday, he focused on all-encompassing forgiveness.
Every time he spoke during his week at OBU, he asked the audience, “How many times did Christ die for your sins?”
“Once!” was the reply, and he went on to explain that Jesus died only once for all past, present and future sins.
On Tuesday night, Kennedy referenced 2 Corinthians 5:17 and spoke about finding your identity in Christ.
“Even if you’re doing good, if it’s in your own strength, outside of faith, it’s sin,” Kennedy said.
Wednesday morning, Kennedy used an illustration involving nametags to demonstrate that our identity is not found in our past or present sin.
Instead, it is found in what God says we are – heirs, children and new creations.
To finish out the week, Kennedy spoke on Sabbath Rest and the need for both spiritual and physical rest.
In addition to the four chapel services, Kennedy also spoke to many groups while he was on campus, including Noonday, the baseball team, Dr. Camp’s family parenting class and chapel crew.
He also spent several evenings talking with students at Braum’s to get to know them better and answer any questions they had about God.
Not only did Kennedy speak to this variety of groups, he even set aside time each day to sit in the GC and talk with students.
“I’m passionate about the message and I’ll talk about it all day long,” Kennedy said.
“I’ll take the opportunity in a heartbeat. I felt that I was giving my whole week [to OBU]- I told Dean Griffin to keep me busy!”
While he was at OBU as a student, Kennedy was in Zeta Pi Lambda with both Dean Griffin and Dean Compton.
Their friendship in college led to deeper conversations about Christ in more recent years and to speaking opportunities for Kennedy at OBU.
Kennedy’s favorite thing about OBU is the same today as it was when he was a student.
“Simply put, it’s just the people. People is what makes the university,” Kennedy said.
This was not the first time for Kennedy to be on campus as a speaker.
Several years ago, he was asked to speak during Focus Week along with Bart Millard, lead singer of MercyMe.
Kennedy has become good friends with the members of MercyMe and even toured with them on Inspiration Cruises this past January.
If students take away anything Kennedy spoke about during Focus week, he said he wants them to remember that their identity is found in Christ.
“I want them to know who they are in Christ, simple as that. I want them to know that the Good News is the best news ever, and that they are loved,” Kennedy said.
Dean Griffin has some advice for students about Focus Week next year.
“Be watching for it in the future and make room in your schedule personally for this week because it’s going to be a major impact on your life, like it was for me when I was a student,” Griffin said.
Find out more about Rusty Kennedy and his work at Leavener at http://leavener.com/index.html.