I (Dennis Gaylor) dedicated my life to Jesus Christ in 1969 following my sophomore year in college. This transforming experience set the trajectory of my life and ministry. The decision I made during one of the most important developmental windows of my young adulthood, between the ages of eighteen and twenty-two, would have far-reaching influence on my years of ministry ahead. I became intensely aware and committed to a career in ministry to college and university students as the context and fulcrum to change the world. I learned of a young ministry known as Chi Alpha (XA) and never looked back. Chi Alpha led the way and I followed.
My introduction to XA began while attending a college retreat in Texas in 1972. In 1973, I participated in a regional student conference known as SALT (Student Activist Leadership Training). By 1974, I was serving as the full-time director of South Texas District Chi Alpha in Houston.
In 1978, full of youthful idealism, unbounding energy, and creative imagination, my wife, Barbara, and I packed up our two young children, Jennifer and Jason, and all our earthly belongings and headed for Springfield, Missouri, home of the national headquarters of the Assemblies of God (AG). We left Texas that sweltering day in August excited with possibilities. The clarion call in our hearts to serve and help establish the kingdom of God on every college and university campus was compelling and unstoppable. Throughout my next thirty-five years of service in the national office, I continually sensed the need to stay rooted, to remain faithful and committed, and to build and grow XA nationally. Today, I see the fruits of this faithfulness and dedication to serve.
There are many ways to tell the XA story. Most importantly, it is the story of God’s redemption and love, bringing His kingdom to bear on the university culture and the world. I believe God’s eternal story will continue to bring power to the ministry of XA in the generations to come.
This book is written from my vantage point as national director. It offers history, stories, testimonies, memoirs, and my perspective on how the XA ministry began and developed, what it has become, and where it is going. It highlights the spiritual and cultural dynamics that have transpired over time to birth and grow a national ministry and student movement.
History buffs will not be disappointed with this book. I include facts, names, details, numbers, lists, dates, and charts. There are anecdotes, notable quotes, and personal observations woven into each chapter.
There is a reason why this book is important. The role of university ministry in advancing the message of Christ’s love throughout the world cannot be emphasized enough. It is not just a place where some twenty million collegians gather on a few acres in buildings dedicated to learning. These students lead the way into the future. Their influence and leadership will shape the world. They will transform organizations, institutions, cultures, and societies for generations to come. Chi Alpha is a thriving national student movement at the center of societal change and influence with unlimited potential for shaping our world for Jesus Christ.
This story needed to be told and that’s why I wrote the book.