Blog

  • Campus Minister Introduction: Sam Taaffe

    Last summer we introduced to you Caroline and Wilson... two new members of the RUF at UK staff team. We're pumped for you to meet the newest addition to our crew, Sam Taaffe, UK RUF's next campus minister!  RUF is committed to having ordained, seminary trained campus ministers serving on the college campus. And we couldn't be more thrilled to have such a pastor serving the University of Kentucky in Sam. The Taaffes officially moved to Lexington this week and have begun work with UK RUF. We sat down with Sam and asked him a few questions to help you get to know him a bit... 

    UK RUF: Tell us where you're coming from and what you've been up to these past few years.

    Sam: We are moving here from Murfreesboro, TN, where I have been working with RUF at Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) for the past four years. Before that, we lived in Mississippi, where I went to seminary. 

    UK RUF: Why work for RUF? 

    Sam: My wife Anne and I have loved RUF for a long time. It was through RUF at the University of Georgia that God saved me and gave me a deep love for the Gospel. Anne went to Auburn, and grew so much during her time there. The friends we made through RUF still remain some of our closest friends. After college we both served as RUF interns, and actually met through the internship (at RUF Summer Conference!). We are so thankful to work for a ministry that God has used so profoundly in our lives and the lives of so many; we can't wait to share in the work He is doing at UK! 

    UK RUF: What about living in Lexington excites you the most? 

    Sam: A LOT! Anne is from Lexington and has always loved this town. As we have spent so much time here over the years, I have grown to love it as well.  In addition to being a great town, we have some pretty great friends and family here (Anne's parents- Gary and Linda, Sam's sister and her family- the Carters, along with many of Anne's lifelong friends). We are so excited to try out the many new restaurants that have popped up over the past few years, go to UK sporting events, hike the gorge, and just explore this city and the beautiful countryside that surrounds it! We are always looking for new things to do, so let us know if there are other cool places we should check out! 

    UK RUF: When you're not hanging out with students on campus next year, what will you spend your time doing? 

    Sam: Spending time with the family [we have 3 boys- Finn (4), Charlie (3), and Patrick (8 months)] watching sports, playing sports, reading, playing board games, cooking out, trying to exercise (see: next question). 

    UK RUF: Favorite donut? 

    Sam: I'm a sucker for the chocolate icing donut at Magees. My wife is a Spaldings person. We are working through this. 

    UK RUF: Favorite Netflix binge show? 

    Sam: Sherlock, ESPN 30 for 30s, The Crown 

    -- 

    We are thrilled to have the Taaffe (pronounced like: "taf") family here! 

    Here are two ways you can partner with them as they transition to Lexington:

    1. Pray for Sam, Anne, and their boys as they settle into Lexington and begin to lead the ministry at UK. 
    2. Support the Taaffes financially. Campus ministers raise 100% of ministry expenses and salary - monthly giving would be particularly helpful in sustaining their ministry at UK over the longhaul. 
  • Dear Freshmen. With Love, Caroline

    Around this time of the year many years ago, I left Lexington and drove 13 hours into unchartered territory. My mom moved me into my freshman dorm room, and then all of a sudden, I didn’t know a soul in the great big city of Dallas, or in the even greater state of Texas.

    You may be planning a similar trip across the country to get to UK this fall, or you might be traveling a short distance down roads you’ve known your whole life onto campus. No matter how close to or familiar with UK you are, you’re weeks away from leaving the predictable, known, and maybe even comfortable existence of your life at home, and about to begin somewhat of a new life in an unfamiliar world that is college. 

    Something I’ve learned in my own experience as a college student at SMU, and from years of walking alongside a new class of college freshmen each fall, is that no matter what you bring to the start of your college career, you’re standing on even ground. No matter how happy, full, or easy everyone else’s lives look, you’re not alone, you’re not the only one struggling.      

    Everyone is nervous, everyone is new, and most significantly, everyone is uncertain as to what freshman year, let alone their college years, will look like. No one has it all together.

    While who you are is entirely unique and complex, and this season may cause you to feel like no one knows or understands the real you; I assure you, you are not alone. 

    God knows all of you (your shame, your fear, your wounds, your insecurities, your emptiness, your loneliness), better than you know yourself; and He’ll never stop saying to you, “I want you. No matter what it takes, I want to be with you.”

    The words we all so desperately hope to hear from our crush, our parents, a sorority or fraternity, or a group of friends, you will hear them endlessly from Jesus. And, because He is God, Jesus is the only person powerful and perfect enough to satisfy the aches of the lonely, heal the wounds of the broken, & quiet the fears of the anxious with these words.  

    I was in a sorority that I loved, have an incredible group of friends from college, I’ve dated, I have parents who support me, and get to do what I love. These are great things, things I want for you, and things I’d be honored to hope for with you and pray for them for you. But none of these great things are really the thing that your heart, my heart, longs for. A group of friends, the right sorority or fraternity, a boyfriend or girlfriend, the perfect body, or a full calendar won’t ever be enough. Only being with Jesus is. Author Scott Sauls reminds us, “Because our souls are crafted in the image of a great and magnificent God, they can never be filled with such a small thing… Only Jesus can fill an empty soul.”  

    As you pull up to your new dorm, run to your house on Bid Day, sit lost in class, or wait for friendships to form, hear the Lord Jesus’ words to you, “I want to be with you. I am with you.”

    RUF would love to be somewhere in your life at UK where you are reminded weekly that you are not alone, that you matter, that you are loved and accepted more than you could ever imagine. No matter what you do or do not bring, where you’re from, how your story has been written, we would love to do life at UK with you!

    --

    Contact Caroline at caroline.white@ruf.org

  • A Mid-Summer Meditation, by Caroline White

    Since I can remember, the month of May has forever been characterized by great readiness for summer. The end of spring has never arrived without an intense and unfailing desire for a break, for a long rest, for a season of pause rooted deep in my worn out soul. This year was no different, I could have put money on the fact that summer would be greeted with a big, fat, excited, “finally!”

    I also can’t remember a summer in which by July I wasn’t antsy, ready to get going. Get what going? Anything. A filled schedule, a faster pace, a re-immersion into community. I’m noticing more and more in myself this annual pattern of discontentment in which I long for summer, then once summer sets in, I’m desperate for the dawn of busyness once more. Anyone with me?   

    Summer brings and consists of a variety of unique factors for you, college students. I don’t think I’m alone in the struggle of summer, however surprising or shameful it might be. The return to a broken home, the polar transition out of the nice warm pool of busyness into the frozen waters of idleness, the seclusion from the safe and rich community you have at college. It might be a tough weekend of boredom or innumerable weeks of loneliness and anxiety. However you are experiencing hardship this summer, you are not alone.

    While I am thankful for plenty of really enjoyable and exciting moments and days this summer, for rest that has been constructive and healing, my heart concurrently repents of the distrust, anxiety, discontentment, and fear that has consumed me in this season of change and stillness. 

    You might be like me, without busyness and noise to hide behind, you might be hurting this summer because the brokenness within that’s easily avoidable during the school year, is now undeniable amidst the slowness of summer. Summer might be when you are finally able to hear your loving Father begging you to collapse into Him. And, convinced that you just can’t do life on your own, you finally want to.  

    In your restlessness, dare to sit at the feet of Jesus and learn the joy of resting in Him. In your boredom, gaze at your Savior and let Him restore in you the wonder and fullness of your salvation. In your loneliness, face your Groom to see the pleasure that union with you brings Him.

    Use the silence you’ve been given this summer to actively remember God’s faithfulness to His people, and His faithfulness to you. And in light of God’s endless grace, take all of yourself to His throne. Bring with you all the stuff you’ve seen this summer that you hate about yourself: your insecurities, anxieties, sufferings, idol-worshipping, and emptiness. In Jesus, you are safe to come out of hiding this summer. It is certain, you will receive nothing but the redeeming love of the triune God.

     “…even the wilderness is His, and He is there.” –Sammy Rhodes

    ~ by Caroline White (caroline.white@ruf.org)

  • Staff Intro: Caroline White

    We are excited to introduce another new addition to our staff, Caroline White! Caroline will be serving in a staff position to help us further our mission of reaching students for Christ and equpping students to serve, with special emphasis on overseeing all of our efforts to reach female students at UK. I sat down with Caroline to ask her a few questions that will allow you to get to know her...

    JD: Tell us where you’re coming from and what you’ve been up to these past few years?

    CW: I moved to Lexington this summer from Starkville, Mississippi. The RUF internship sent me there after college to serve at Mississippi State University. I stayed for 3 years, and left with a few cowbells and incredibly sweet friendships.     

    JD: Why RUF staff?

    CW: I love RUF. I love working for RUF for the same reasons I loved being involved in RUF as a student at SMU: I'm given Jesus-- my tired, hurting, fearful heart needs him.  The unique joy of working for RUF is getting to watch the extraordinary redemption & beauty unfold out of a community that is looking at the face of God together. There's nothing I love more than the privilege of being invited into a student's life, having the time and space to see, hear, and love her, and most of all, getting to watch the Lord at work in her. I took this job because I love being involved in what God is doing in the lives of college students, and because I care deeply about the future church. 

    JD: What about living in Lexington excites you the most?

    CW: The people! Meeting new people, and living near my family again (I'm originally from Lexington). 

    JD: When you’re not hanging out with students on campus next year, what will you spend your time doing?

    CW: Exploring all of the things going on around town-- markets, festivals, restaurants, art, & music. 

    JD: Favorite donut?

    CW: I'm usually satisfied with a cup of coffee, but I'd never refuse a bite of a blueberry cake. 

    JD: Favorite Netflix binge show?

    CW: The Office

    --

    We are thrilled to have Caroline join our team this year! Here are two ways you can partner with her as she transitions to Lexington:

    1) Pray for Caroline as she settles into Lexington, says goodbye to old friends and meets new ones, joins our church, and begins planning for the fall semester.

    2) Support Caroline financially. Staff raise 100% of ministry expenses and salary - monthly giving would be particularly helpful in sustaining Caroline's minstry at UK over the longhaul. 

  • Intern Introduction: Wilson Jamison

    We are thrilled to introduce our new intern, Wilson Jamison! The RUF internship is an outstanding two-year program of ministry training and personal study, one that I wish I would have embarked on myself! I sat down with Wilson to ask him a few questions that will allow you to learn more about who he is and where he's coming from...

    JD: Tell us where you’re coming from and what you’ve been up to these past few years?

    WJ: I am coming from Birmingham-Southern College where I enjoyed serving in RUF, playing baseball and music, and hanging out with friends! 

    JD: Why the RUF internship?

    WJI felt called to the RUF internship because I was saved in college and spent time pursuing Christ with other believers in college through RUF.

    JD: What about living in Lexington excites you the most?

    WJBeing involved on a large campus, having four distinct seasons, and of course... basketball!

    JD: When you’re not hanging out with students on campus next year, what will you spend your time doing?

    WJLooking for good live music venues!

     

    JD: Important question, what's your favorite donut?

    WJChocolate glazed

     

    JD: Another important question, what's your favorite Netflix binge show?

    WJFriends

    --

    We are so excited for Wilson to join our team this fall at UK! This summer Wilson will be in Birmingham raising money and beginning the study program. Here are two ways you can partner with Wilson this summer:

    1) Pray for Wilson as he studies, raises money, and begins to transition to Lexington.

    2) Support Wilson financially. Interns raise 100% of their salary and ministry expenses through the generosity of people like you!

  • 3 Reasons RUF Loves K-Week

    I have a very unique job. I feel this most acutely during K-Week. K-Week is a "welcome week" for new students at the University of Kentucky. It is 7-10 days of fun events, informational sessions, residence hall meetings, activity fairs, and lots and lots of free stuff. Throughout this week, I find myself loading up my car with RUF stadium cups, icee pops, RUF banners, frisbees, glow sticks, and staying up way later than I should each night as we host and attend events.

    But I really love K-Week, and RUF loves K-Week. Here's why:

    1. RUF loves K-Week because it allows us to serve the University

    We are a ministry that is for the university. We proactively look for ways to serve this campus, to make it a better place. When we put on events during K-Week, we are seeking to serve the university by welcoming new students to campus simply by giving them something fun to do and by being a warm, welcoming face in a new unfamiliar environment.

    2. RUF loves K-Week because it allows us to show the love of Christ to students

    It's difficult to transition from high school to college. You move away from long, close friendships, from familiarity, from family - into a new environment with academic, social, and emotional pressures to navigate. As RUF hosts events and spends time with new students, we get to welcome students with the love of Christ. We have the privilege of extending hospitality, warmth, and friendship to students in the midst of the chaos of the adjustment to college.

    3. RUF loves K-Week because it allows us to connect students to our ministry

    Each year we host an Ultimate Frisbee event on the intramural fields. Hundreds of students come out and play Ultimate for hours. Off to the side of the field, we have a table set up with information about RUF. Last year at the end of the night, a student came to our table, looked at our information, and said, "I had no idea there was a Christian ministry like this on campus! I'm excited to come check it out!" The next night that student attended our first large group, joined a small group, and became involved in the life of our ministry. This year that student is on our leadership team and is preparing to welcome students into RUF in the same way he was welcomed in last year. K-Week was his connection point to RUF.

    If you're a student, check out our schedule of K-Week events here. We'd love to meet you in the next few weeks. If you're a supporter, parent, or friend of our ministry, would you pray and ask God to bless RUF during K-Week?

    See ya on the field!

    Jonathan

  • Why I Wish I was an RUF Intern

    One of my big regrets in life is choosing not to do the RUF internship when I graduated college. I know God's providence in my life is perfect - he led me into a wonderful job in the homebuilding industry, gave me opportunities to belong to and serve the local church as a lay person, and best of all, this was when I met my wife, so I'm grateful for the path he's had me on. But the longer I work as a Campus Minister, the more I appreciate the RUF internship. There's a lot that could be said about the internship program - the camaraderie, the staff training, the study program - all of these are great; but I think the gem of the internship is that it is set up for the intern first and for the ministry second. The RUF internship is for the intern. We don't view these recent college grads as tools we can plug into our ministry system and get immediate results on campus, rather, we see their two to three years with us as primarily a part of their lifelong process of sancficiation. It is a safe place to learn who you are in light of who God is, to learn what it looks like to serve the local church, to learn how to minister to others, and to consider what it looks like to grow up into Christ.

    At RUF Staff Training last week, one of my interns, Thomas Kuhn, was asked to share how God had been at work in his life during the internship. Here is what he said:

    "First, the internship changed my dependence. I thought this job would make me depend on my ability to give good counsel, to keep a conversation going, or to be a likeable person; instead it’s made me dependent upon Jesus, his Word, and his church. The internship has forced me to look beyond myself to Jesus in the midst of days where I’m feeling half-hearted at best. I expected to be caring for needy students but most of what I’ve seen is how needy I am. I thought I would become more independent as I learned to do this job, instead I’ve been driven more deeply into dependence. I am consistently forced outside of myself relationally, intellectually, and spiritually into places where I must face my fears. This job has driven me to deeper dependence on Jesus in the midst of my fear, my half-heartedness, and my disillusion with my students and myself.

    Second, the internship has changed how I see my gifts. I felt extremely uncomfortable when I was asked to rate my strengths on my application for the internship. Even worse was the fact that my campus minister from college and a couple references were doing the same thing. I was convinced it was prideful to believe that God had gifted me in unique ways for the building up of his Church. The internship has given me a safe and affirming place to acknowledge and exercise the gifts that God has given me. I’ve been given countless opportunities to lead and be creative as a part of an affirming team. The internship has given me the support, structure, and challenge I needed to learn my gifts and how to use them for the glory of God.

    Third, the internship has changed how I see my limitations. If listing my strengths on my application felt uncomfortable, listing my weaknesses felt like dying. For me, my shortcomings were things that I didn’t talk about in hopes that they would just go away. The internship has led me to rejoice at the fact that I am not Jesus. I am a dearly beloved child of God, but I am not indispensible. I can’t be everywhere. I can’t fix everything. I can’t know everything. I am now able to see my weaknesses as invitations for deeper relationships with students. My shortcomings aren’t merely shameful anymore, but an opportunity to show students how deeply I need Jesus. I’ve learned that Christ’s strength is perfected in my weakness. I’ve learned more that Jesus in my place is enough for me and enough for students.

    God is at work. Not only in students, but also in staff. I’ve learned that our ministry with students is most impactful when we lean into the ways that God is shaping us through this job."

    ---

    This is why I wish I would have done the RUF internship. This is why I believe so strongly in the internship program. If you're a current student, maybe God is calling you to consider serving in this capacity for a few years after you graduate. For the rest of you, if you know an RUF intern, would you pray for them? Shoot them a text or an email and let them know that you're thinking about them; remind them that God is at work - not just through them, but maybe most importantly he's at work in them during this time.

    For more information on the RUF internship, click here.

    Jonathan

  • 3 Reasons You Should Join an RUF Small Group

    This fall UK RUF will offer a handful of different small group Bible studies that will meet at different times, in different places, and discuss different topics. What I have experienced in my own life and witnessed in the lives of students is that small groups can be one of the most impactful ways of growing in your faith during college.

    Here are three reasons you should join one this fall:

    1. You want to know more about the Bible

    Many people have questions about the Bible, many of us feel like we don't know as much as we should - or as much as our peers do - about the Bible. In RUF, we structure our small groups in such a way that they are safe, welcoming places for you to bring your questions, doubts, and insecurities and freely study and discuss the meaning of the text. Small groups offer a unique way to learn more about the Bible because you can ask questions, discuss, disagree, and work through the application of the text with your peers.

    2. You long for meaningful friendships

    The first few meetings in a small group can be...awkward. You don't really know these people, they are a little different than your typical friend group, and they don't know you. This is where there is a great opportunity in your small group - to build solid, meaningful friendships around something substantial - the Word of God. Stick with it, because as you meet together week after week, go out to grab dinner afterwards, and see each other around campus, you'll quickly realize these people in your small group are actually becoming some of your best friends. I still keep in touch with friends today that I met in an RUF small group back in 2003.

    3. You need a place you can be honest

    As you settle into life on campus this fall you'll meet lots of people in lots of different contexts. Each time you introduce yourself or walk into a new social setting, you'll be projecting an image of who you are, or in reality, who you think these people want you to be. A small group is a safe place where, over time, you can begin to be honest about who you are, what you long for, what you're afraid of - and you'll have a group of people around you that are committed to walking through these things with you and praying for you.

    So, jump in a small group this fall. Bring your questions, your doubts, and let's walk together into a deeper understanding of who God is and who we are.

    Jonathan

  • Gearing up for the fall semester!

    One of my favorite things about the summer as a Campus Minister is having time to reflect on the previous year and plan for the year ahead. As a staff we take time to evaluate what went well, make any necessary changes, and begin to make plans for the coming semester.

    The planning really begins before the spring semester ends. We meet as a staff in April & May to begin outlining our Large Group teaching series, Small Group Bible studies, outreach events, and conference plans. We also meet with our Ministry Team (student leaders) to get their input on the upcoming year. At this point in the summer, we are in the thick of planning K-Week, Fall Conference, and everything that we'll do as a ministry in the fall.

    While we're still finalizing these plans, here's a taste of what's to come:

    • K-Week: Truly one of the most fun weeks of the year! We'll be at all the fairs with RUF info (and RUF "swag" - cups, stickers, goodies); AND we'll hold our two annual events - Ultimate Frisbee and Capture the Flag! These events will bring out hundreds of students to the Johnson Center Fields and are a great way to meet new students, hear more about RUF, and have fun before classes start! Watch the K-Week guidebook for more details!
    • Large Group: I'm so excited for Large Group this year. We'll be looking at the Gospel of John asking the question "Who is the real Jesus?". I love the gospels, I especially love John's Gospel and am looking forward to diving in this fall. We'll continue to meet on Wednesdays at 8pm - BUT, we'll be meeting in our new location, Sanders Chapel. This space will fit our group perfectly and will be great for Large Group since it used to be the chapel for the seminary that UK now owns. It'd be great to walk over and check it out before the first Large Group on August 26th!
    • Small Groups: Just like every semester, we'll offer a variety of small group Bible studies at different times and in different locations on and around campus. You need to join a small group! This is the best way study the Bible in-depth with your peers and to build friendships centered around your faith. Stay tuned for more details!
    • Fall Conference: This is one of my favorite weekends of the year! We go to the greatest place on earth, Camp Greystone, for a weekend of great teaching, fellowship, and fun in the mountains. Trust me, you won't want to miss this! Stay tuned for dates/costs.

    We've got a lot of great things planned for the fall and would love for you to consider joining us. Regardless of your doubts or beliefs, you're invited to come and consider the claims of Christianity. See ya at K-Week!

    Jonathan