Eli and Mary Gautreaux married their senior year and completed degrees at Sam Houston State University, Huntsville, Texas. They were asked by the local AG pastor, Joe Barnes, if they would revitalize a dormant XA group at SHSU. Eli and Mary had given their lives to Christ while in a XA group in California, and wanted students to experience what they had experienced when they decided to follow Jesus. They said “yes.” They served locally as campus ministers from 1991 to 2018 and saw the ministry grow to be one of the largest XA groups in the nation with 1200 students involved weekly. During their time at SHSU, they raised up and trained teams to go and plant campus groups on multiple campuses in several states. They now serve in a broader XA leadership role with North and South Texas and New Mexico districts meeting with leaders, speaking at events, and visiting campuses they helped start. They are presently assisting their daughter and son-in-law, Kory and Jamin Murphy, in planting another XA at Western New Mexico University in Silver City.
They are not ones to take credit but as XA grew and experienced revival Eli and Mary continued to seek God about how to reach and disciple more students. By the mid 2000s they introduced three principles on how to be an effective and faithful follower of Christ and in applying these principles the campus ministry grew and started new XA groups.
The first principle was to have a real devotional life. Mary stated, “We must learn to feed ourselves daily if we want to grow in the grace and knowledge of God.” We must not rely solely on pastors and teachers to inform and guide us. We must have our own personal time with the Lord, reading, meditating, praying and studying His Word. If those Biblical patterns are practiced your life will be revolutionized. A regular devotional life allows us to place ourselves before God so that He can transform us.
The second principle was real brotherhood (and sisterhood) later changed to real relationships (other XA campus leaders have adopted this principle, and defined it as real community). All emphasize the importance in your walk with Christ to have real friends (genuine godly relationships). As Mary states, “people who will love you enough to tell you the truth and to redirect you if need be, and who will also encourage you as you seek to live how God asks us to live.”
The term “one another” is used frequently in the Bible to describe how are relationships ought to be expressed— encourage, serve, forgive, pray, show hospitality, admonish, and bear one another’s burdens. God desires ever-deepening friendships among His people. There will be an openness and honesty where you can share with each other your pain and sorrow as well as your hopes and dreams without fear of condemnation. You can support each other in perfect love.
The third principle is real responsibility. Responsibility for others and to God’s kingdom lived out is true Christianity. Some campus leaders refer to this principle as real mission. We are commanded to go and make disciples. Mary explains, that are primary disciple-making responsibility “is the very thing that will make us grow and be unselfish is to share the good news with the people in our sphere of influence, to teach them how to walk with the Lord, and to teach them how to pass everything on to someone else.”
These three principles reflect a commitment to Jesus Christ, the body of Christ, and the work of Christ in the world.