Lately, it seems like there’s always a trip or two in the works, and another that I’ve just finished up. I recently counted up my travel with InterVarsity over the past year, and this is what I’ve come up with:
- July 1-14 – Chapter Planting Cohort training in Madison, followed up with visits to ministry partners and family in Iowa and Ohio.
- October 2-4 – Fall Conference #1 – Big Bay, MI
- October 19-20 – UP Team Spiritual Retreat – Little Lake, MI
- October 30-November 1 – Fall Conference #2 – Wisconsin Dells, WI
- December 7-10 – Regional Staff Conference – Green Lake, WI
- December 26-January 1 – Urbana – St. Louis, MO
- March 15-17 – Bible Speaker Training – Grand Rapids, MI
- March 20-22 – Campus Visits to LSSU and NMU – Sault Ste. Marie and Marquette, MI
- April 14-22 – Visiting ministry partners in the Twin Cities and the Chapter Planters Retreat – San Diego, CA
- April 30-May 13 – Chapter Focus Week – Cedarville, MI
- June 5-9 – Regional Staff Conference – River Falls, WI
Adding in a couple of trips visiting family, I’ve spent over two months away from home this year. Yikes! Read More…
I met with a student on Tuesday for a prayer walk, just a few hours after I had been feeling anxious and overwhelmed by all that needed to be done by next week.
We read this from Mark:
He also said, “This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. All by itself the soil produces grain—first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head. As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come.” Mark 4:26-29 (NIV)
As we discussed what we could learn about the kingdom of God from the parable, we came to the role of the farmer. He scatters, trusts, waits, and identifies the right time to harvest.
Just as the farmer was attentive to the growth of the plant, we need to be attentive to what God is doing around us, identifying our role/responsibility in the process.
Praying that God would open our eyes to those around us, we made our way over to her department. As we walked through the halls, we prayed for those whose offices we passed by. She introduced me to a number of people from her department, including a postdoc that she just recently found out is also a Christian.
We ended at her empty office, praying for success in her research and a better relationship with her office mate. We sat to debrief the prayer walk, and she realized how large her network was; she knew by name nearly everyone we passed in the halls. As we talked further, it became clear that her next step was to seek out and pursue relationships within her department, made easier by the fact that many grad students eat lunch together in the lounge every day.
God answered our opening prayer; he opened her eyes to the community in her department, and invited her to step further into it. It’s not often that I call Lindsay immediately after a meeting with a student, but I was so excited and encouraged that I couldn’t wait to tell her!
Hebrews 4:12 begins: “For the word of God is alive and active,” and I saw that on Tuesday. This parable applied well to the prayer walk, and our eyes were open to the opportunities in her department. But when the same text is used in a different application in my life, Hebrews 4:12 rings that much more true.
Our planting coach, Sarah, was praying for me the following day, and the same parable came to mind for her. The farmer was not anxious in his sleep; he was able to trust that his crop would grow – mysterious as that process may be. Sarah prayed that I would be able to let go and trust God in what he is doing, and that we would have eyes to see how things have grown in the times that we’re not working. It was a powerful reminder of who really is in control, and that I need to keep trusting and keep putting him first.
Just as this student was challenged in mission through the parable of the growing seed in exactly the way that she needed, I was ministered to by the same parable, just as I needed. God’s Word is truly active and alive. Praise God!
Last Friday we hosted an international worship night at InterVarsity’s large group meeting, led by students from International Fellowship Association (our International Student Ministry). We were excited to share the experience with a handful of friends from the community, as well. It was a wonderful celebration of God’s love for all cultures and languages as we sang, heard scripture, and prayed – in a total of nine languages. For a sampling, see the pictures below:
Every March, InterVarsity students from the UP, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and even the Dakotas travel to spend their spring break learning and serving in inner-city Milwaukee. This year’s Milwaukee Urban Plunge (MUP) focused on answering the question, “Who is my neighbor?”
Through studies of passage like Luke 4:14-30 (Jesus rejected in Nazareth), Mark 5 (Jesus healing three people), Luke 10 (the good Samaritan), and Matthew 25 (the sheep and the goats), students encountered how Jesus saw and interacted with the marginalized, and how we are called to do the same. We were then sent out to work sites to respond to the scripture in tangible ways, serving local ministries in whatever way they needed.
My group served at the Scott Christian Youth Center, started by Mother Scott in 1974. Since then, it has become a ministry hub in its neighborhood, serving two free meals a day, offering free clothing to those in need, and being home to a local church.
Before leaving the first time to our work site, we were told by the MUP director to expect a slower pace; if we don’t actually accomplish anything our first day at Scott CYC, that’s okay.
Having adjusted to the slower pace of life when we lived in Bolivia, I wasn’t too concerned, although the students’ first day there was a challenge for them. We did a little bit of work sorting and organizing clothing, but spent a good chunk of the time just sitting and talking with each other, and then Mother Scott, the highly-respected matriarch of the ministry.
Over our four days (we spent about 4 hours there each day), I noticed the students becoming progressively more comfortable with our site. Each day we did some work (cleaning out their cooler and cutting 50+ pounds of carrots and zucchini, for example), but a large part of our time there was spent talking with the people that worked/volunteered there and those that came for the meals. For the students, each day seemed better than the last as they started taking more initiative (and needed less prodding) to talk with those that were there.
As we debriefed at the end of the week, students felt more confident in identifying and seeking out the marginalized on their own campuses, learning their stories and loving them as Christ commands us.