Steve graduated from Georgetown University and served three years active duty in the U.S. Army. He was led to the Lord by a college student and experienced a dramatic conversion to a real faith in Jesus Christ. Steve received divine direction to State College, Pennsylvania, home of Penn State University. He began doing outdoor preaching. He became a member of the local State College Assemblies of God church, pastored by Rex Bornman. Rex asked Steve to organize a XA group at Penn State. Steve would direct XA a from 1980 to 1985. During that time, he met and married Charlene Bernhardt in 1984 who had come to PSU from Evangel University to pursue a Masters degree.
In 1990, Pastor Arnold Lastinger invited Steve to preach two services at the First Assembly of God in Gainesville, Florida. He was looking for someone to develop XA at the University of Florida. The pastor then referred him to the AG Peninsular Florida District Council (PFDC) in Lakeland for an interview. The district presbyters approved Steve as the first full-time XA campus minister in Pen Florida.
Steve and Charlene implemented the XA principles of prayer, worship, discipleship, fellowship, and evangelism as a foundation for university ministry. XA meetings were held on campus. Student leaders equipped their peers for spiritual growth. Bible studies met in dorms and apartments. Those with musical gifts led in worship. Over the years, hundreds of students participated in the UF XA ministry. They witnessed salvations, water baptisms, fillings with the Holy Spirit, and healings.
UF influences students from many nations and cultures and with a diversity of backgrounds. For twenty-five years (1991 – 2016), they directed XA at UF. In 2016 Steve (age 71) and Charlene stepped away from full-time XA to focus on international students and scholars representing fourteen nations. Through the years, UF XA students have traveled to fifteen countries on mission trips. Here at home, students helped hurricane victims in New Orleans and migrant workers in South Florida.
The global impact of campus ministry is represented by a journalist who came to UF from Taiwan on a Fulbright scholarship. Her major was media management. One day, she called the Michaels to let them know that she was setting aside three days to seek the Lord, and wanted to meet to talk about the Holy Spirit. She received the baptism with the Holy Spirit in the Michaels living room after a Bible teaching from Acts! This scholar returned to her nation knowing that Jesus gave “power from on high” to be a witness to her unsaved family and her nation.
National XA provided the Michaels with an opportunity to fulfill God’s assignment. The network of relationships and oversight helped them to continue these many years. Steve explained, “We are grateful to the Lord, our supporters, and all the college students who made this mission an exciting adventure!” At 75, Steve’s ministerial credential card reads, “Senior Retired,” however he and Charlene continue to minister to internationals as retirees.
More than 100 campuses and 225 students participated in XA Spring Breaks Nationwide
Most Spring Break student missions teams were stateside campus to campus ministries and service and compassion outreaches, and a few were international teams.
Nicholls State sent teams to Arkansas Tech, and 3 campuses in Texas: Texas A&M, Sam Houston State U, and Texas Tech.
New Mexico State U sent teams to U of Texas Arlington, Northern Colorado, and Texas A&M Kingsville.
Boston XA received teams from Baylor U, Texas A&M Kingsville, Indiana U, James Madison U
Prairie View A&M received teams from the University of New Orleans, New Mexico State U, and sent a team to NMSU.
U of Alaska Anchorage sent a team to the U of South Florida.
U of Minnesota– Duluth partnered with Utah XA to minister to Mormons at Utah St U.
Missouri State U sent out 81 students and staff to 7 different locations stateside.
The Ohio State U took a mission trip to Atlanta, GA with a ministry called Pure Hope. Students were able to minister to the homeless and less privileged. They also helped a church with construction.
Campuses that reported international student mission trips included: Yale U, Virginia Tech, Embry Riddle, U Virginia, James Madison U, Virginia Commonwealth U, Montana State U, North Dakota State U, Western Washington U, Univ. of California-Davis, Tulane U & Texas A&M U.
And so many more sent or received teams: Fairmont State, U Michigan, Louisiana Tech, U South Carolina, U Toledo, Austin Peay U, Memphis U, Tx Christian U, Arizona State U, Florida Gulf Coast, Carroll College, U Vermont, Longwood College, Hampden Sydney College, Loyola Chicago, Edinboro U, American U, Youngstown State, Kansas State, Ohio State, U of Miami, Lamar U, Northern Arizona U, Montana Tech, U Wis. Green Bay, U Tennessee, U Tex -San Antonio, Angelo State, Texas, TAMU Corpus Christi, Troy U, Purdue U, Texas State, Kirkwood CC, U Houston, Florida State U, Louisiana State U, Langston U, Western New Mexico, U Idaho, NC State U, Columbus State U, Colorado State U, Rice U, U South Dakota, Ole Miss, U Wisconsin, N.Dakota State U, Minot State U, Black Hills State U, U Maine, West Virginia, Northern Iowa, Drake U, Northeastern State U, Oklahoma State U, Frostburg State U, U Alabama, Idaho State U, U Oregon, U Ark Little Rock, Central Washington, Henderson State College, Cal St. U– Sacramento, U Arkansas, Hendrix College, Central Arkansas, U Cal Merced, Missouri Science and Tech, Whatcom CC, Cal St. U -Stanislaus, Bellevue College, Buffalo State U, City College of New York, Loyola New Orleans, and U Louisiana Monroe.
—As reported by Brandon Hurst, Missions Teams Mobilizer, and Facebook postings by Ohio State U and Missouri State U.
As a senior in college, James Damude walked the campus of Northwood University, Midland, MI, with the XA campus pastor. The campus pastor asked James, “what do you see when you look at all these students?” James paused, allowing the Holy Spirit to work in him, and said, “I see spiritually dead people.” It was on that cold crisp fall day in Michigan, James heard the Holy Spirit call him to campus ministry.
That next year he entered an XA internship with campus minister, Scott Miller, on the campus of Boston University. For 18 months, he learned how to take the calling and actualize it on the campus. James returned to NU in 2001 and directed campus ministry until 2010. In 2011-2012 he served with AG World Missions in Jaipur, India on a campus missions assignment. After he returned stateside, he launched a XA ministry at Saginaw Valley State University, Saginaw, MI, and served the next four years. For 15 years, his calling was to bring the life-changing gospel of Jesus Christ to college students all over the world.
The transition from XA to US Army chaplaincy was much like his transition from a full-time student to a campus minister. It started with him hearing from the Holy Spirit and then working hard. Over a Thanksgiving dinner, my uncle talked about his chaplain while he served in the Gulf War. James learned about the influence the chaplain had in soldiers’ lives. That night, the Holy Spirit was speaking again. James researched chaplaincy, saw the path was difficult but worthwhile to pursue.
The US Army holds the position of chaplain in high regard, as they are the Shepherd of a soldier’s spiritual life. It comes as no surprise; the requirements are immense. They require applicants to be ordained ministers, complete an MDiv have substantial ministry experience, pass a physical fitness test, and receive approval by the endorsing denomination. For James, that process was nine years in the making.
Now as a US Army Chaplain, it is his great honor to continue to serve the Lord, my country, my soldiers. Titles have changed from campus minister to chaplain, but the calling remains the same!
Chaplain (CPT) Jasmin R. LuckUS Air Force*
Jasmin 27, is a recently commissioned U.S. Air Force endorsed chaplain and ordained Assemblies of God minister. She credits her training in XA with setting her course. Jasmin, a captain, stationed at Kadena Air Base in Okinawa, Japan, planning to build a spiritual community among the airmen at Kadena.
Military personnel at foreign bases often can’t just visit the local church of their denominational choice down the street. “Whatever spiritual community is on base is where they go and that’s why it’s so crucial to have strong spiritual communities overseas,” Jasmin says. “There are worship services held at churches off base, but often people look first to chapels where they can be around like-minded believers in similar seasons of life.”
Jasmin understands the value of having a strong spiritual community away from home. As a college student at Arizona State University, she too wondered if there was more to life than the party culture that surrounded her on campus.
“I knew that I was called to ministry at age 12, but I didn’t have a strong foundation in my faith until I went to college,” she says. Jasmin gained the spiritual foundation she needed through ASU XA chapter.
“XA not only gave me the grounding that I needed in my faith but also as a minister,” Jasmin says. Through XA, Jasmin received formative discipleship and training that solidified her calling to ministry. While active in XA, she took part in two transformational missions trips (XA Expeditions) to Greece and Macedonia.
Chaplain candidates must pursue their MDiv, work toward ordination in their church, and receive military training during their time in the program.
Jasmin enrolled in the chaplaincy candidate program and applied to the MDiv program at AG Theological Seminary. She gained acceptance into both programs in 2015 and finished in the top 5 percent of her class, which contained 235 chaplains candidates.
“I received a lot of training and experience in the chaplain candidate program that included assignments in Guam, England, and South Korea. The training helped me see the need on our overseas bases,” says Jasmin. Kadena Air Base is her first active duty assignment. One of her goals is to build a strong gospel and contemporary worship community, especially among the younger troops. Jasmin believes she has the coolest job ever.
Chaplain (Major) Russell H. Trubey—US Air Reserves
Russ Trubey’s XA story began in a roundabout way when Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait on August 2, 1990. He was 21 years old, and in the Army, stationed at Ft. Sheridan, IL, about 30 minutes north of Chicago. Rusty was less than one month from getting out of the Army, and that day couldn’t come soon enough. He had no clue what he wanted to do with his life. The one thing he knew was he wanted out of the Army. Apparently, however, trumpet players (Russ played the trumpet in the Army band.) were needed. “Stop-loss policy” involuntarily put his exit from the Army on hold. He wondered if his band and trumpet playing were critical to national security.
In the providence and grace of God, the Holy Spirit brought people into my life who helped me understand and respond to His leading. It became crystal clear. The full-time ministry was my calling, but its shape would be a process. When he left the Army, he enrolled in Southeastern University, Lakeland, FL. from 1991 to 1995. It convinced him of two things – he wanted to reach young people and didn’t want to do it in a church.
After graduation and an internship, he met Mario Solari, the XA missionary at Florida State University, Tallahassee. After exposure to XA, he was hooked. XA was his path, and so he embarked on the daring journey of faith and finances as a campus missionary intern with campus minister, Gary Paschal at Stephen F. Austin State University, Nacogdoches, TX,1996-1997. He spent 16 years directing XA at the University of South Florida, Tampa, and West Virginia University, Morgantown. It was a rewarding ministry, but Russ felt his time with XA was ending. The Army needed chaplains.
He wondered if there was something to his calling to ministry that began when he was a soldier. Again, it was clear. He knew what God wanted him to do. He completed all the education and requirements necessary and became a chaplain in 2012. Because he was a Reserve Chaplain, he still needed a “civilian” ministry. The calling to help Soldiers and Veterans was primary, and so in 2015, He became a chaplain with the Department of Veterans Affairs.
His passion was to carry the stories of those on the front lines of faith who struggle with life’s greatest questions. XA helped prepare me for this unique ministry of bringing hope of Christ to those who have borne the battle.
*Originally an AG News article “Building a Bedrock of Faith,” about Jasmin Luck by Ally Henny, June 14, 2021, appeared: https://news.ag.org/en/News/Building-a-Bedrock-of-Faith