As most of you know, we initiated our most recent chapter at the University of Michigan in December 2013. The founding of our Alpha Kappa Chapter has been significant because Michigan is a new state for BYX and will also go down in history as our first Big Ten school. And while bringing BYX to a new state and a new athletic conference is exciting, it is by no means the most exciting thing about this chapter.
The most exciting thing about our newest chapter at U of M is the men God has brought together with the same vision that is impacting 29 other campuses across the nation. It has been such a privilege for me to get to know each of the founding fathers over this past year, and I was thrilled to meet the 8 men of their Alpha Pledge Class during my first visit to Ann Arbor since they were initiate as an official BYX chapter.
If you know anything about Michigan, you know that it gets arctic cold there in the winter. Just to put the temperature during winter in Ann Arbor into perspective, when I drove onto campus at 6:00 p.m. on the night of my arrival, it was 19 degrees and there was a dude walking down the street in shorts and tennis shoes because it is finally beginning to warm up. In Texas, we call that crazy. During my trip last week, it reached 30 degrees for the first time since October!
Despite it being North Pole cold, the officers did not allow the weather to keep them from establishing a new tradition during their pledge retreat this year. And while I won’t tell you what that tradition is, I will tell you that it involved the pledges working together in the elements late one night while the wind-chill was in the negative 20s. Needless to say, the experience forced them to come together and will give them a memory they may or may not share with their grandchildren. All that to say, the men of our Alpha Kappa Chapter have proven that brotherhood and unity can thrive in just about any condition.
I arrived in time to make it to their chapter meeting on Sunday night, and I was so encouraged by the culture that has already been established within this chapter in such a short amount of time. These guys get it. They love each other remarkably well, share life with one another honestly and have already began to walk in Christ-centered community in a deep way together.
The pledges brought incredible energy and creativity to the meeting, which involved writing and performing a song to President Reid Compagner to the tune of “Mine” by Taylor Swift’s. I unfortunately find myself still singing that song 10 days later. I also witnessed something in a chapter meeting that I won’t speak of, other than to say I laughed harder than I have in a really long time about something that I absolutely did not see coming.
After the fun and games, Reid introduced me to the chapter to share with them about brotherhood. Apparently before someone can speak to them, you have to attempt their own version of “two truths and a lie” with a twist. They grill you on each statement and try and discover flaws in your story. I almost outwitted them but one last minute swing vote nailed me (apparently donkeys don’t live in Colorado.)
After introducing myself the pledges I was able to share about brotherhood with this new chapter. I gave several examples from my own life and challenged them to go deep with each other, to hold each other’s feet to the fire, to link arms and fight the battles of life alongside one another, and to love one another in a way the world, and the students of Michigan, have not seen.
They were gracious and allowed me to talk for a while before asking some great questions. We then entered into a time of worship with each other, and I was encouraged because the guys were really going for it. For a room with only 22 young men (and one more middle-aged guy), we made some noise!
I spent the next two days meeting with current officers and other guys with aspirations to lead within BYX. I enjoyed getting to know each guy as we talked about BYX and life. I was also able to join an officer meeting during my last night.
As I listened to the officers talk through plans for the remainder of this semester and early discussions for fall rush, I was struck with the incredible potential for the Alpha Kappa Chapter. They are off to an amazing start and the future looks bright for them. They are simply doing things right. Part of the reason they have had such success is because the leaders have continually reached out to other chapters to get wisdom and vision throughout the process.
As I walked away from Ann Arbor, for potentially one of my last trips to the University of Michigan, I felt one thing more than any other. I felt love for these guys. I have been so encouraged by them throughout their short journey, and I was proud of the remarkable work God is already doing among the men of our Alpha Kappa Chapter. And while I may not be working as closely with them in the years ahead, I look forward to staying connected to the founding fathers. I have grown to love these founders, and I’m privileged to share this journey with them.