The Challenges of a Ministry Start-Up

Any small business owner will tell you, the start up is brutal. You work non-stop, sometimes 60-80 hour weeks, and you are every member of your support staff. You are the salesperson, you’re the marketer, the cook, the maid, the accountant, the manager, and the secretary. All those hours, all that work, all that heart and soul and hope.

But, that’s life as an entrepreneur. You do everything you can and hope that something, somewhere sticks. Someone becomes a customer, a fan. You start to build a reputation. And eventually people know you and trust you, and one day you find you’ve gone from having an extremely costly hobby to a business.

And all that heartache pays off.

I am, of course, describing the life of a typical start up. Someone opens up a coffee shop or a freelance writing service. And I’m also describing the difficult and strenuous course of the church planter.

Pranny and Larry

Pranny and her husband Larry

Pranny Xie-O’Bryan is a dear friend of our family and a regular at Trinity. She has set off into the wild west of campus ministries, taking on the daunting terrain of Cal Poly Pomona, a non-religious state school that is made up mostly of commuters (83%) who come from a wide range of ethnic, racial and cultural backgrounds.

Last year, Pranny set off on her own to reach out to the international student population there. She did so because she knows, first hand, the struggle and isolation that many international students face. Adjusting to a new culture, language and city can be enough to drive even the best student to depression. In her own experience as an international student, Pranny easily recalls the loneliness and isolation she encountered. It was then that she found ICF (InterVaristy Christian Fellowship) and joined a community of Christians that embraced her, even though she was at the time an avowed atheist.

It was that experience and her faith in God that helped Pranny say, “yes,” to the opportunity to plant a new chapter of ICF on the Cal Poly Pomona campus.

And that effort has been a great challenge, but also a great success. Where there once was nothing, Pranny has forged a presence on the campus where several international students can share in their experiences and enjoy a blessed sense of community. Two formerly non-believing students have already made the commitment to be followers of Jesus. Pranny hopes many more will do so in the years to come. She also hopes to increase contacts, events, and a stronger overall sense of shared community. Her plans for the coming school year include raising co-leaders to help lead and energize small groups, generating more momentum and contact with the international student population.




16451_picturePranny Xie was introduced to Jesus as a Chinese immigrant student through InterVarsity’s International Student Ministry. Last year, she planted a new ministry to international and immigrant students at Cal Poly Pomona. Although there were many ups and downs, she learned a lot, 2 people accepted Christ, and she persevered and is passionate about her 2nd year of ministry. Trinity praises God for her growing heart for the international students of Cal Poly Pomona.

Click HERE to support Pranny and ICF Cal Poly Pomona.


2 thoughts on “The Challenges of a Ministry Start-Up

  1. Pingback: Speaking of Prayers and Church Plants… | Love God, Love People, Change the World

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