Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Too much...

First of all, I'm sorry it's been a few weeks since I last posted on here. I bet you already know what I'm about to say, because it's the story of my life, but these past few weeks have been absolutely crazy! (In a great way though! =)..) Last week we took 21 people on a mission's trip to Cleveland, OH. It was really awesome to see God move and work through the lives of these students. I was able to see some of them come to realizations about themselves that they probably wouldn't have reached if they hadn't went on the trip. A decent number of students had never been on a mission's trip either, so it was really cool to be able to be a part of their first experience. Our schedule for the week was packed to say the least.

We were able to work at a homeless shelter for men a few days out of the week. Two of the days I took a group of about 7 students at 6 am to serve breakfast there and then we cleaned about 4 bathrooms. It was certainly an experience to say the least. Sunday we were able to go help setup/tear down and attend Momentum, which was the church that I was able to work at as an intern about 3 years ago. That was a fun experience and many of the students had never been to a church that was based in a theater, so they absolutely loved it! We were able to go to two laundromats and serve people by helping to pay for their laundry and talk with them. The girls were able to go to a women's pregnancy center and help them out as well as a local camp, while the guys were able to go and help remodel a local church by painting multiple rooms. We all as a group were able to help out another local church by assisting them in unloading 10 pallets full of food and supplies that were dropped off for their food pantry. We also helped them in cleaning up their building. Some of the guys were able to go help a older man dig a ditch all the way through his back yard. When we were finished with the ditch, we guessed that if he had done that by himself, it would have probably taken him a month if he worked every day on it. What I thought was one of the most rewarding experiences was the fact that we were able to go out with some ministers and members of a inner-city plant and join them as they did their street evangelism. It was certainly stressful and possibly even a little frightening for some of the students, because the area of Cleveland where we were was the 'hood.' The group I was in actually ran into and talked to some gang members and drug (marijuana) addicts. But the awesome part of it all, was that we were able to pray with them and talk to them a little bit about what these guys were doing with the church plant. It was truly encouraging to see just how 'REAL' it was and to get a perspective on the type of life that the people in that area live in every day of their lives. This quickly became one of the high points for many of the students on the trip.

There was just so much that went on during the trip that I don't think I can do it justice to simply just tell you everything that happened. It's really hard to believe that there's only 40-something days left of school, and that May is knocking at the door. I've had a few students send me some reflections about what they experienced on the trip, and so I want to share at least these two as I close out this post. =) Until next time!


"Going on the mission trip was such a blessing and a humbling experience. Before going on the trip I stumbled upon Galatians 5:13 and that really prepared me to be ready to serve others with love and an open heart. This scripture really stuck out to me on Monday morning at 5 a.m. when I had to wake up to serve breakfast at 2100. It was tough getting out of my sleeping bag, but that scripture and Colossians 3:17 (the scripture that Pat spoke on the night before during devotions) really helped me get out of bed and prepare my heart to serve at 2100. Another thing that really struck me was how close I got to other students that went on the trip. I knew a little about Justin before going on the trip, but after, I felt like I knew him better. The scriptures weren't the only reason why I got out of bed Monday morning, Justin was the other reason. Without asking him to, he set his alarm to go off five minutes after mine and he made sure that I was up before going back to bed. I also didn't know Tyler or Josh Hornig that well, but after spending 6 days serving and playing pitch with them (almost every night), I got to know them better and found out how funny and what great people they were."
                                                                                       - Levi F.

"Serving the community & doing God's work in Cleveland was a promising experience. From cleaning, feeding & spending those without home, to assisting the church, & most of all being laborers & going after God's harvest. Personally I felt funny about spending my spring break doing community service & I wasn't truly seeking after doing God's work for this trip first. Most indefinitely after the experience that I had volunteering & spreading the love of God was a far better way to spend my spring break versus going on vacation. Not only did I grow closer to God & grow in love for him during this mission trip but I also gained a closer relationship with my fellow brothers & sisters in Christ. All in all it was wondrous experience & I'm ready & excited to go again."

                                                                                                                            - Jashawn K.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Already March?!?!?!

I know this year was a leap year and that February was a day longer than normal, but still... IT'S ALREADY MARCH?!?!!? That's so hard to believe!!! This past week has been a very busy one. Emily's getting over bronchitis, and I'm getting over a stomach bug, so the two of us are probably a great picture to look at right now, haha. Despite feeling bad, we were still able to be at CSF this past Wednesday night, and what a night it was!!! We had about 40 show up and participate! I talked about a subject that is probably on the top of the awkward list for every college student: Relationships. Because this topic is so vast, I boiled it down for friendships and more-than-friendships. From there my goal was to help students look through Scripture and understand what God has to say about relationships and how to look at and identify healthy and unhealthy relationships. I talked about how it's probably a good idea to take this seriously, because it's important to God. Since God's a trinitarian God, who's each person exists in close relationship with another, and we as human beings are created in God's image, we were created for community! We were created to have relationship with one another. It was a tough night because of the some of what was talked about hit really close at home for many of the students. I even ventured into the realm where many people begin to get defensive and angry, the realm of homosexuality.

I reached this topic when I arrived at Scriptures that help us identify unhealthy relationships. I explained that above all, it is a sin, so I don't know why so many Christians today are supporting it as an acceptable lifestyle. I then began to explain also that I don't know why so many Christians elevate this sinful practice above other practices such as cheating, lying, and other forms of sexual immorality (including but not limited to adultery). In Paul's New Testament letters, he lists homosexuality alongside of these other sins, and talks about them all as what they are, sin. I talked about how many Christians take what's said in this verse, and elevate homosexuality to a level of higher significance, when in reality, they are looking at other people's sin, in an effort to alleviate from and transfer attention from their own sin. I addition to all of this, I took time to redefine, and reclaim, the true definition of adultery. I explained that when you look through Scripture, when you give something that belongs to your spouse to someone else, that's adultery. I even explained to them that since I have a strict definition of adultery, I truly believe that sex outside of marriage, before or after, is adultery, because you taken something that belonged to your spouse (which you don't have one) and given it to someone else. If you don't have a spouse, the gift shouldn't be given! It's as simple as that.

Overall, it was an intense message that I had been preparing for weeks. Each of the past two weeks, God had prevented me from preaching this one, and led me to write brand new ones a day before or the morning of our CSF Wednesday night service. From hearing responses from some of the students who attend, I understand now why I wasn't supposed to deliver this sermon on one of the previous two weeks. God sure does work in mysterious ways and knows what he's doing. There's been quite a few students who came up to me over the next two days, or texted me that night saying that they were wrestling with some friendships or potential more-than-friendships and God spoke to them on Wednesday night and gave them the advice and direction that they needed. It's times like these that I'm overwhelmed with excitement with the ministry that God is using Emily and I to work in. However even though there has been so much on the part of students responding to God's calling and teaching, there has been A LOT of stress on myself over the past week. I would appreciate any prayer that you all could give in regards to Emily and I continuing to press on, serving God, serving these students, and growing in a deeper knowledge of Christ that attracts and draws seekers and unbelievers to the cross. Thanks everyone! I love you all! Sorry this was posted late, as I was writing it on Friday, I had three students come and talk to me, but that's why I'm here! =) Hopefully I'll post more up here before we leave this Saturday for the mission's trip to Cleveland! Until next time!! =)