Report on Rosaria Butterfield at RUF Event at University of South Florida

Reformed University Fellowship sponsors Rosaria Butterfield on the USF campus speaking on Homosexuality and Christianity

Rosaria spoke for 35 minutes and then fielded questions from the audience for another hour and a half. While she received many challenging questions from opposing viewpoints, the audience was mostly very respectful of her and her time. In short, the Gospel was clearly proclaimed both in her lecture and during Q&A. Even several from USF’s administration told how thankful they were for her lecture and for how smoothly the whole event ran.

 

As I reflect on the events of the past week, especially the past 48 hours, it is difficult to express all that the Lord has done through Rosaria Butterfield’s time at University of South Florida (USF). Words are hard to find because I am simply amazed at God’s goodness. On Monday night [October 7, 2013] we had an estimated crowd of 500 come to hear Rosaria Butterfield speak on the topic of Homosexuality and Christianity.

This was a much publicized event on the USF campus and one many feared would be a time filled with hate and vitriolic language towards the LGBT community. In the space of 6 days USF’s newspaper ran 6 articles (4 front page) addressing this event from a variety of angles.

Rosaria spoke for 35 minutes and then fielded questions from the audience for another hour and a half. While she received many challenging questions from opposing viewpoints, the audience was mostly very respectful of her and her time. In short, the Gospel was clearly proclaimed both in her lecture and during Q&A. Even several from USF’s administration told how thankful they were for her lecture and for how smoothly the whole event ran.

One of the compelling arguments that Rosaria made was the need for students to read their Bibles and understand its message. The evidence of this is that we gave away over 250 Bibles by the end of the evening. Additionally, we also gave away 200 copies of Rosaria’s book (The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert: An English Professor’s Journey into Christian Faith).

On Tuesday Rosaria and I spent 4 hours sitting in a Starbucks on campus interacting with students who had questions from Monday night. For these 4 solid hours we had a group of 10-12 students sitting in a circle discussing theology, sin, canon, justification, sexual identity, personal experiences and more. The group changed as some students had to leave for class and others joined us after classes ended, but the size remained about the same.

As students would sit down they would join into the dialogue and ask their burning questions. What was amazing is that this group maintained a 50/50 balance between Christian and non-Christian, gay and straight. Yet our time was never heated or argumentative. The two words that kept coming to mind were hunger and hope. These students were hungry for the Gospel, hungry for meaning, and hungry for truth. Yet through the whole time there was a palpable sense of hope. Hope not just for God to be at work in our lives today, but deep hope in the new heavens and new earth when sin is finally vanquished. I don’t think anyone left without feeling a deep sense of hope in the work of Jesus on our behalf.

Thank you for praying for us! God was truly faithful in answering our prayers. Thank you for your partnership and giving us the ability to bring Rosaria to USF and host an event like this one. Please pray for Reformed University Fellowship as we now enter into the challenging ministry of faithful follow up. Many of these students are already counting the cost of what it will mean to follow Jesus and we want to be faithful in helping them bear that burden.

Please pray for Rosaria as she continues to labor in difficult environments. These speaking engagements require much sacrifice on her behalf as well as her family’s. Her faithfulness is so encouraging to me as I labor at USF. I deeply thank you for standing beside us during these times. It gave me such confidence to know that God’s people were interceding for us as we approached Monday night. Monday night’s talk was recorded and when it is available the link will be made public. Again, thank you for your faithfulness.

Jeff Lee is a Minister in the Presbyterian Church in America and serves as the Reformed University Fellowship Campus Minister at the University of South Florida.

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