Soon after Phil Munro became a Christian in 1960 at InterVarsity’s Bear Trap Ranch, he felt that God wanted him to offer his Christian service as a university professor. When Phil completed his education in 1974, he and his family moved to Youngstown, Ohio, where he took a position in the Electrical Engineering department at Youngstown State University (YSU).
Phil had maintained his interest in InterVarsity through his years of education, so when he arrived at YSU he looked up the chapter. He found a group that had been on campus for about ten years and needed a faculty advisor. He offered to fill the position. Phil and his wife Carolyn opened their home to the students for Bible studies, hymn sings, and fellowship. Being able to spend time in a Christian home was a refreshing change for many of the students.
Very soon, however, the unity of the chapter was threatened. The question of charismatic gifts was dividing the group. Phil offered his wisdom and calm to the situation. He invited the students to pray and search the Scriptures about this issue. Over the course of a year, neither side convinced the other, but they all learned to work together. Several of the charismatic students were invited to serve on the leadership team the following year, and the chapter experienced a period of growth. One small group split into three and many new students joined the chapter.
Phil and his wife continued to serve the chapter. By 1985 the InterVarsity staff person had left, and the number of students involved in the chapter had decreased. The area director Bob Trube, stepped in to help the chapter, visiting the campus every two weeks or so. A high point of his visits was the time spent in prayer with Phil. During the year, Bob also challenged the students to pray. In answer to those prayers, ten YSU students attended chapter camp, a week-long training conference at the end of the school year. Phil and his family lent their support to these students by taking a week out of their summer to go with the students to the conference.
Another ten years pass, and again the chapter numbers had waned. During prayer time with the staff member, Phil mentioned several international students in his department. Soon a plan took shape. Becky, a student from Taiwan, invited students and offered to lead the Bible study. Phil and his wife opened their home for the meetings and an international student ministry was born at YSU. Phil and Carolyn continued to host the gathering for many years.
Phil has continued to develop new ministries on campus as he supports the ongoing work of InterVarsity. He has been a part of a weekly faculty Bible discussion. Along with other Christian faculty, he has sponsored creative ads in the student newspaper at Easter and Christmas. When Katie Schneider arrived on campus in 2005 as the new staff worker, Phil and Carolyn welcomed and encouraged her. Phil and his wife have continued to open their home to the chapter.
“Over the years,” Phil said, “Carolyn and I have done various things with students, and although I never feel that we are terribly strong in such ministry, we seek and trust the Lord to direct us, and I think that we have seen some good things happen under his direction.” Indeed, God has rewarded the steady commitment of this faculty advisor.