A Ministry of Presence
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However, thanks to the Genesis Church pastor’s leadership, that group developed into a Chi Alpha chapter that has introduced hundreds of students to Christ. The group also has sent hundreds on mission trips to such places as England, Peru, Guatemala, and Mexico.
Amid what is likely his final year as campus minister at Robert Morris, the 64-year-old Jackson is still amazed at how students from a host of backgrounds blend together annually as one body at Wednesday night meetings.
“They show up at Chi Alpha and within a month they are friends singing together, worshipping together, and finding unity in the atmosphere,” says Jackson, who has spent nearly half his life leading the group.
Over the years, Jackson has performed the wedding ceremonies of a dozen couples who met at Chi Alpha and seen multiple group leaders transition to vocational ministry, whether in a full-time or bivocational role. Chi Alpha Campus Ministries is a department of U.S. Missions.
His influence has extended beyond Rogal Chapel, where Chi Alpha meets. Jackson has led pregame chapels since the school formed its football team in 1993 and he is also president of the Campus Ministries Association.
Yet, former students mentored by Jackson say his lasting influence is felt in deeper ways.
Justin J. Driscoll, 38, who received his AG ministerial credentials in 2013 and preaches regularly at Genesis, says numerous graduates can attest to Jackson’s impact. Driscoll says a dozen Genesis members came from the Chi Alpha group.
“His pastoral style is one of availability and a willingness to be there for people,” says Driscoll, who also works with a high-tech company. “He shows up at the hospital at all hours of the night, takes phone calls, and is a pastor to pastors.”
Fort Lauderdale native Marvin D. McCalla, 31, who runs an evangelistic outreach near his hometown in Florida, says Jackson set an example for him. Almost a decade after graduation, McCalla remembers Jackson’s stirring messages and the kindness the pastor routinely showed to everyone.
“He allowed me to do one-on-one counseling and youth group counseling at Genesis,” McCalla says. “Just having his influence in my life was a lot of help.”
Jackson’s former administrative assistant, Grace M. Aiken, 52, says Jackson prepared her for marketplace ministry by the way he lived.
“He’s never met a stranger,” says Aiken, now office manager for an engineering firm. “He’s always taking time to talk to somebody and ask about their family. He’s always pointing people to Christ.”
Jackson, who plans to continue pastoring, credits various AG figures for discipling him after he accepted Jesus as Savior during the Jesus Movement in Southern California. He sensed his calling to ministry at a 6 a.m. prayer meeting at Vista Assembly in California.
“When I got up from the altar, God spoke one word: people,” Jackson recalls. “I knew that had to do with ministry.”
Years later, after completing his education through Global University’s Berean School of the Bible and the AG’s Southeastern University, a woman who sang at his wedding invited him to speak at the church then known as First Assembly of Coraopolis.
That invitation later resulted in an offer to join the staff and a three-decade-long ministry to students and community alike.