By Eric Treuil
“Why are you still at UL working with students? Why don’t you go start your own church? When are you going to get into real ministry?” These are just a few of the questions that I get from time to time when I tell people what I do. It is often a combination of not understanding the need for ministers on a college campus or the fact that I am a much older individual. Either way it is somewhat entertaining to watch people endeavor to choose the right words to phrase their question.
Let’s start with the big “why:” why do I serve as a campus minister with Chi Alpha Campus Ministry at UL? I grew up in New Orleans, LA in a home where my mother was Lutheran, my father was Catholic, and as a child they sent us across the street to a Baptist church. I basically believed there was a God and that as long as I didn’t mess with Him he wasn’t going to mess with me!
I went off to college at Nicholls State University in Thibodaux, LA and in my junior year as a theatre major God began to get my attention. I was doing a play all about death and dying and had to interview a lady who was terminally ill and knew at any point she could die. I was stunned to find out she didn’t have a clue what was going to happen when she died. This began the wake-up call.
When that play was over, I didn’t want to think about death or God anymore. I had a friend who was looking for someone to spend the summer with him in Los Angeles, CA. I went so that I could look for an acting job. We ended up staying with his Aunt and Uncle and it just so happened that his uncle was the associate pastor of an Assemblies of God church. Needless to say that staying with this family and attending their church had a profound effect on my life.
I didn’t find a job, but the truth of the Gospel was being planted in my heart. After the summer was over and I returned to school, about six months later I found an Assemblies of God church in Thibodaux. It was in that church on a Monday afternoon (February 1, 1982) that the senior pastor, Walt Rose, led me in the sinner’s prayer and my life was forever changed! I walked off the stage never to act again and decided to start acting like the person God called me to be!
It was a few months later as a student that I helped begin the first Chi Alpha group at Nicholls State. After graduating from Nicholls, I went through training with National Chi Alpha and was mentored by Pastor Rose. In the process I met a beautiful young lady from Panama and we were married in December 1985. August of 1987 we were invited to help re-start the Chi Alpha group at USL. We moved into a two-bedroom rental house next to campus and started reaching out to students. Our first meeting had three students, and in that first meeting one person raised their hand and said, “I’m not into this!” and they walked out.
Since then we have seen thousands of students make decisions to follow Jesus and hundreds desire to go into ministry. We are still on campus because every semester new students arrive who deserve to hear the life-changing message of Jesus. We are not underwritten by any one church but by a combination of churches and individuals who believe in the importance of reaching students for Christ. It has been an absolute blast seeing the faithfulness of God to provide the resources and facilities needed each month to fulfill His call. For me the “why” of campus ministry was answered long ago. The only real “why” left to answer is, “Why aren’t you a part of this?”