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Year of jubilee

"Year of jubilee" Continued...

Issue: "Tortilla wars," March 10, 2007

Campolo began to put together the Mission Year concept in 1996 at the behest of his father, noted liberal evangelical pastor and author Tony Campolo. Bart Campolo says he got the idea from the Mormon missionaries who visited him in his Philadelphia neighborhood. "If you live in the inner city like I do, you see Mormons a lot," Campolo said. "They are almost the only people who come visit us. What's interesting is that when they come to the door, you may not like their theology, but you have to respect the commitment of those kids. They are out there."

And, generally, Christians aren't out there in the same way, says Campolo.

When Campolo hits the recruiting trail to try and find Christians willing to take a one-year break from college or to pause before entering the professional world, he finds lots of folks willing to cut checks to fund the program. But he needs warm bodies. "When I go to a Christian college, I find kids are very focused on getting a good job, finding a wife, buying a home-it seems like the American dream has become synonymous with the evangelical dream."

According to Ro, Mission Year changed his dreams. Prior to joining the group, he had been on a solid career track that one day would have made him a doctor, just like his parents. He says it was like he was on career autopilot when he entered Mission Year. "One of the great things Mission Year did for me was it allowed me to pause from the regular schedule of being a student then being a professional." Why did he want to become a doctor? He didn't have good answers.

Rather than follow his parents' footsteps into medicine, Ro eschewed medical school and in August enrolled in Trinity Evangelical Divinity School near Chicago. He says he plans on pursuing ministry options including joining up with a group named Emmaus that brings the gospel to homosexual prostitutes, proving true one of Campolo's maxims. If you let a kid experience living out the gospel, he may never come back.

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