by Ben Simms
Some Ohio State University students thrive on hot dogs as they hang out in the early morning hours on High Street in Columbus. For several years now, Student Christian Fellowship has been giving away free frankfurters at what it calls FFF (short for “Free FrankFurters”).
More than Hot Dogs
Christian minister Steve Sjogren says, “Small things done with great love will change the world.” This is really the point of free frankfurter night. The hope is that, at some point in a student’s life at OSU, getting a free hot dog will trigger a conversation about Christ or plant a seed that can grow into interest in Christianity.
And OSU’s Student Christian Fellowship has been gaining quite the reputation on High Street. Campus minister Seth Aldridge tells about one guy milling around the table who was loving his second or third hot dog. He saw a friend walking down the sidewalk, ran over to him, put his hands on his shoulder and said, “The Christians are here!”
His buddy looked at him for a second and yelled, “Hot dogs!”
“More than one person told us, ‘I knew you’d be here,’” Seth said. “I realized what a reputation we are getting for this. Students know Student Christian Fellowship is doing this.”
Last year an Ohio State staff member who patrols off campus even mentioned to Aldridge the benefits his ministry provides to campus. Students who otherwise would binge drink take a few moments to get food in their system. Even some administrators have taken notice of the free hot dog ministry.
Churches Get Their Hands Dirty
SCF is able to sponsor these giveaways at least once a quarter thanks in large part to area churches that send funds and volunteers to help.
Recently for Senior Crawl, an Ohio State tradition where seniors travel up and down High Street visiting bar after bar right before graduation, two churches sent volunteers to assist SCF: Miamisburg (Ohio) Christian Church sent a group of their young adults, and volunteers from Licking Valley Church of Christ, Newark, Ohio, also helped.
Before distributing the dogs, volunteers from the churches and students from the campus ministry gather to pray and make other preparations. At about 11 pm, distribution of the free hot dogs begins. During June’s Senior Crawl event, 2,200 hotdogs were served in just over three hours, but sometimes distribution continues until 3 am.
Sharing Their Hope
Jesus was asked, “‘Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?’ Jesus replied: ‘“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: “Love your neighbor as yourself”’” (Matthew 22:36-39).
Instead of condemning students for immoral behavior, SCF is practicing the greatest commandment. And in doing so, the ministry has opportunities to share hope.
One volunteer shared the hope and freedom found in Jesus with a student, who replied, “My life has no meaning, and that gives me a certain amount of freedom.” That comment shows the challenges a campus ministry faces in trying to reach students for Christ. Free frankfurters help by providing a way to have conversations with students.
After the recent frankfurter giveaway, Jeff, one of the volunteers, noted that when he told people at his church about the project, someone said it reminded him of Mark 6:34: “When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd.”
Many students are wandering, not sure which way to go and what to do; not following anyone who can show them the way to life. In a small way, FFF night is an opportunity to show compassion and demonstrate God’s love.
Your Next Step
Contact your local or state university campus ministry to see what you can do to help. Perhaps you can “get your hands dirty” with a servant evangelism type project. To find the campus ministry near you, visitwww.naccm.org, click on the downloads page, and access a directory of ministries
You can also do some servant evangelism in your own town. Visitwww.servantevangelism.com for ideas on projects you can organize with your church or small group.
Ben Simms serves as executive administrator with the Miamisburg (Ohio) Christian Church (mcc-online.org) and as a board member with the Student Christian Fellowship at the Ohio State University (scfosu.org).