My name is Dominique Horne and I work full-time with a campus ministry called InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. We develop students to not only be bold leaders in their faith, but in every aspect of their lives. They grow in self-awareness of their strengths as well as opportunities for leadership skills; such as public speaking and cross-cultural communication. My work focuses on sorority and fraternity students, with a special interest in ethnic/cultural-based organizations. My role is to provide a type of holistic support for these students, helping them answer questions about not only faith and leadership but how to thrive in that space. This is my journey of how I went from planning my path based on material success to being obedient to God’s direction, even in the midst of challenges.
Last December, I sat with the rest of my graduating class, filled with both excitement and nerves, anticipating what post-grad life would be like. Unlike the rest of those in the arena, I was not going into a fancy corporate job or prestigious graduate program. I was going into full-time ministry, where I had to fundraise not only my operating budget but my own salary. It wasn’t exactly the financially-stable, high accolade position I was aiming for when I enrolled in the University of Michigan’s Business program four years prior.
I entered college like many first-generation students, with an expectancy that if I studied hard enough that the degree, and job, I earned in the end would be worth the loans and financial investment my family sacrificed for me to get there.
I was raised in the church, but most of my encounters with God were based on relationships I had with other people-my mother, grandmother, pastor, etc. As a result, I didn’t really enter college considering what God wanted for my journey just the knowledge that it wouldn’t be a good idea to do anything drastically rebellious. Up until that point in my life, my relationship with Jesus was based solely around Jesus as savior, not as Lord. For me maintaining that surface relationship was enough.
During my freshman year of college, reality hit me. For the first time in my life, I couldn’t depend on my mom or myself to get me through. My mom didn’t go to college so she couldn’t offer any guidance on how to navigate the new difficulties of campus life. In such a competitive environment, I couldn’t rely on my intellect as a protection mechanism anymore. Add into that the pain of a broken world (racism on campus, assaults and abuse on campus, systemic injustices etc.). I soon realized I needed Jesus more now than ever. I began my search for a Christian community to help me to navigate the new challenges of transitioning into campus life.
Thankfully, that first semester on campus I was introduced to InterVarsity. After that meeting my planned college journey was completely redirected. I was passionate about social justice issues but up until that point, I believed my faith had to be kept separate for that passion. I wrestled with why God would place this passion within me and also give me the desire to speak truth, if that was not what Christians were supposed to do.
Through my connection with the InterVarsity community, I rediscovered God’s heart for justice. God is just, and that He is powerful enough to handle His people, allowing them to honestly bringing their pain and trauma to him. This was a major step of identity healing for me, as a black woman, that sparked a desire in me to see others healed.
I continued my involvement with InterVarsity (IV), by attending more conferences and training while also continuing to develop my community outside of InterVarsity. I joined a black greek sorority during my sophomore year of college. Although I noticed the absence of black fraternity and sorority students in the typical campus ministry environment, I had not considered how I could change that. People had encouraged me to consider going on staff with InterVarsity since my freshman year. Finally, after I pledged my sorority, I agreed to apply for a position with InterVarsity. The week before my interview the pieces of this calling on my life began to fall into place for me.
After attending a conference InterVarsity hosts for sorority and fraternity students, I began a new type of advocacy. The lack of cultural and ethnic diversity within the community and staff was alarmingly obvious. The conference broke my heart for the student population and challenged me to become an active participant of the much needed change. At the time of that conference there was only one staff member of color.
Although I knew this was just the conference in our region, and there were two others in more diverse areas of the country. I also knew nationally only one member of a Black Greek Letter Organization was employed through the fraternity and sorority department of our ministry. The fact that there was only one person of color in the fraternity and sorority department nationally for a such a huge population of under-resourced and under-served students, was not acceptable to me.
Unless there were more people in the room who understood cultural/ethnic based organizations and had that experience, we would continue to miss the mark making a space that would be accessible to and serve the needs of this unique student population. This is why I was being called to staff.
I already knew that at some point in my life journey I wanted a role that would allow me to make a tangible difference in people’s lives, but I never expected it to take the form of ministry. God had called me on a different path than the one I had prepared for: his invitation was risky, lonely, illogical and definitely not the financial security I had looked for.
The one person of color in the fraternity and sorority department of the ministry when I joined the staff, transitioned out of the position and I am now the only one of color. This is exhausting being the sole spokesperson for the community, particularly one with this many nuances. As the only person in an ethnic/cultural based sorority in my department, it gets lonely being one of few people of color in the room. It is isolating to be in spaces where it is falsely assumed that everyone shares the same base understandings and experiences, particularly when there is so much cultural significance behind those differences.
I find it frustrating trying to explain to friends and family why I chose to be obedient to God’s direction; when it doesn’t make sense from a practical view and hasn’t born “normal” fruits of success. I have struggled with funding since I began this position, and oftentimes people have tried to measure my calling by how easily God has (or hasn’t) provided. This isn’t to say the journey hasn’t been rewarding. My personal relationship with God has developed drastically, mostly out of necessity.
I am more aware of my dependency on God and my inability to be Lord of my own life. I have seen this ministry lead to a change in perspective of fraternity students, whereas they are no longer viewed as just wild party goers. I have also witness the development of new ideas and partnerships with the sorority and fraternity students, meeting them in very real and painful spaces. I have had students and volunteers of color thank me for being obedient to God’s invitation in the midst of real risk and for advocating on their behalf in the spaces they can’t access yet. I have seen students meet God in ways that have changed their whole life journey, just as God did with my own.
Most of you reading this will not necessarily be called to campus ministry, but you will likely be called to an uncomfortable assignment. It may be taking an “illogical” leap of faith, where God is calling you to deviate from your life plan and training to do something that won’t make sense to those around you.
Maybe the call is to take a risk and invest in a dream or gift where there isn’t an upfront guarantee that it will work out. It could be that God is calling you to a path that feels lonely, where your faith and dependency on him is all you have to get you through.
Regardless of which of these applies to you, I want to encourage you that trusting God is indeed worth it. You may not have all of the answers right now, of how this work, or what results will come but God does. It may not be easy, and it may not go the way you expect but take comfort in knowing that God is beside you every step of the way. We often focus on the final destination while God is trying to develop something in us during the journey.
When God calls us to new or uncomfortable things, he’s not surprised when we falter. It’s often in our weakness that his strength is made apparent. He can handle your tears, fears, and questions-indeed he welcomes them. If God is calling you into a new or difficult journey, go, even if you go with apprehension. You may not have all of the answers right now, of how this will work, what results will come, the solutions needed-but know that God does. Trust God, embrace the journey, and believe that he will see you through to where he has called you.
I am not sure where God will lead me next, or when, but I know that I want to continue advocating for the unseen, the unheard, and the hurting. It doesn’t seem like God will be calling me out of full-time ministry anytime soon. So for this current journey I look forward to ministering to and caring for students that have often felt like the weight of the world, or at least their campus, is on their shoulders.
I will continue to advocate for systemic changes on a local, regional and national levels for those who currently don’t feel seen. I pray that wherever this journey goes, that I will continue to be obedient to God’s direction even when the path gets lonely.
I pray that God has been able to use my journey to minister to you and provide some encouragement on yours. If you have any interest in hearing more about the ministry work I do, or donating to the work, please email me at email@example.com or message me on Facebook at Dominique Horne.
At the moment, my greatest need is financial as I am currently $30k short of what I need to be full-time in the Fall. I need regular financial partners, but I would appreciate any and all gifts. If you are willing to give, the link is here (https://donate.intervarsity.org/support/DominiqueHorne)
~One Love (Dominique Horne)
"Every job is a portrait of the person who do it...
Make yours a Masterpiece." ~Unknown
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