Tyler Stibrich watched Conner sit down excitedly and spread out his notes. “Guys, this is gonna be awesome!” Conner exclaimed. “We’ll have the zombie team start here and the humans over there.” Pointing to the next page, he continued, “And I found these squirt guns that will work perfectly.” Their game board and snack bowls had been pushed to the side. The group huddled around the card table, all trying to see the hand-drawn map of the University of Arizona’s campus. Conner had been meticulously planning a ministry outreach event through a zombie night. He seemed confident in his plan. “I think if we make this really engaging, people who normally wouldn’t go near a church will come!”
He smiled as Conner share his ideas with the group. Tyler is a Missions Door missionary and Campus Ambassador who has spent years discipling students like Conner. Conner looked so alive. So creative. He had changed so much. Before, his cynicism prevented him from trying anything. Now, Conner was forming communities, creating outreaches, and taking huge creative risks. Tyler was amazed.
Seven Years Earlier
Leaning back, Tyler massaged his forehead. He could be an aerospace engineer right now, but he surrendered his degree to be a missionary to college students. And one student he’d been pouring into was probably the most pessimistic person he’d ever met. “Connor,” Tyler started, “You know that just because something bad can happen, doesn’t mean that it will happen. Right?”
“But it does happen!” Connor almost shouted. “Watch the news.” He paused for a bite of pizza. “It makes no sense why people take risks. They’re going to fail. It’s stupid to even try.”
This was the same conversation they’d had last week at Starbucks and the week before that over lunch. No matter how much they talked, two topics repeated themselves — Connor would share his pessimism, and Tyler would re-share the gospel.
The Impact of Campus Ambassadors
Sometimes it felt like the conversations weren’t making progress. But Tyler refused to give up. Their meetings moved from public restaurants to Tyler’s home. Connor spent time with Tyler’s family. Slowly, bit by bit, the gospel wore away the negativity. Conner was changing. He began trusting God and developing his God-given creativity to bless people. He created relationships at church and hosted elaborate game nights. He took risks that could end in failure — writing science fiction, designing video games, and creating campus ministry outreaches like Zombies vs. Humans. It was clear that the Lord was helping Conner overcome his fears and was going to use him for His kingdom.
For many people, this is what spiritual growth looks like. Slow, incremental change. Tyler’s persistent love helped Connor learn to trust God’s persistent love. Not many people pour into others so patiently. Support through Missions Door and Campus Ambassadors makes it possible for Tyler to invest in the lives of college students like Connor who can make tremendous impacts in ministry. If God could turn an engineer into a missionary, who knows what He’ll do with Conner and other students? To support Tyler, you can do so at his page here.