We left the kids with Hans’ parents for the first weekend in October and headed to Cross Training (IV’s fall conference) for a weekend “getaway.” Really, it meant that we stayed up even later than normal and spent the weekend looking at the Bible with students from four UP schools (LSSU, NMU, MTU, and Gogebic CC).
Going into the weekend, we had four Global InterVarsity students signed up. The day before we left, one of them came down with the flu and decided to stay home (which was a good thing). And after we arrived on Friday we found out two others wouldn’t make it due to unexpected grad school complications. We enjoyed the weekend with the students who were there – but were disappointed that 3/4 of our students weren’t able to make it.
Hans spent the weekend leading four students and one volunteer through the new curriculum we helped design this summer called “Come and See: Meet the International God”. (It was designed specifically for non-Christian international students). Ironically, everyone in his group was American, but it worked better than we had expected for them.
My responsibility for the weekend was new for me – I got to be the emcee for the large group times. When I signed up for the role, I didn’t realize that the emcee was also the organizer for the large group times – and got to be part of a planning committee for our InterVarsity region. Through that planning committee, I also got to co-write three skits that were presented during the large groups.
As emcee, I was the one inviting the group to respond to God on Saturday night – which was intimidating. Having only spoken to a large InterVarsity group on two other occasions, and never having presented the gospel or given an opportunity to respond to it in that setting, I was a little overwhelmed as I prepared. But after spending 1 1/2 weeks preparing during naptimes and after the boys’ bedtime, the weekend arrived.
It was a beautiful weekend, and the extra time I had to prepare while everyone was in their groups was nice. And as the emcee, I had the privilege of hearing students tell me what they were learning from God, and had the chance to see them responding to God – both throughout the weekend, and during the response time I led. 11 students committed to following God in mission, 20 responded with specific things they needed to release (or re-release) to God, and 1 student made a first time decision to follow Jesus! (Actually, I almost moved on before he stood up to say he wanted to follow Jesus. Whoops! Next time I’ll make sure to pause longer.)
The student who made the first time decision to follow Jesus was part of Hans’ group for the weekend. It was amazing to be a part of it.
It was a long, full weekend. But it was a good one – and hopefully I’ll get the opportunity to emcee again in the future.
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!
Two weeks ago we left for a two-week “vacation”. Most of the two weeks weren’t really vacation (although not having to cook for two weeks made it feel that way) since we spent one week in Madison, WI, for training with InterVarsity and half of the next week visiting supporters (which also felt like vacation… we love getting to spend time with people!). The last part of our trip was spent in northern Ohio, visiting part of Hans’ extended family and attending his cousin’s wedding.
The training we attended was for planting an international InterVarsity chapter* at Michigan Tech. We’ve been trying to get something going for the past few years, and the training we received is going to help make that happen. We were matched with a coach (another InterVarsity staff who has experience planting a chapter) and were brought through several cycles of activities to help us really see how we can grow a student group that multiplies itself.
Our biggest takeaway from the week in Madison?
Students are seeds to be scattered, not sheep to be gathered.
This weekend was the first “normal” weekend we’ve had since school started this semester. On the first weekend we had barely arrived home from all of our travels, and only had some of the usual activities with students. Last weekend, we were up north in the Keweenaw at the chapter’s winter retreat, so none of those usual activities happened either. But this weekend we had the full schedule. And full is how it felt!
On Saturday mornings, we have been hosting a group of (American) students for breakfast and discipleship training. With the group from last semester we looked at the Five Thresholds of Conversion – a fancy way of looking at the stages of how people generally come to know and follow Jesus. This semester, we started another group of students and they are also going through the same material. But the tricky part comes with the fact that the first group hadn’t quite finished up yet… so we decided to run two simultaneous groups!
How does that work? Hans is continuing with the first group, which happens to be smaller – a mere seven students – and they get the privilege of eating breakfast and meeting upstairs in Caleb’s bedroom. (Why Caleb’s bedroom?… the spare bedroom has absolutely no furniture in it currently… maybe we should finish that room!) The new group, which has 16 students, gets to meet in our livingroom with me. I’m excited to lead the group through the material and see them grow in their faith. (I’m also more than a little nervous to be leading something like this!) The goal is to work through all of the material by spring break, which also happens to be near our baby’s due date, and then we will combine both groups and Hans will continue with them.
On Sunday nights this semester we will be hosting two leadership meetings over dinner, with additional students joining for dessert. This group was a little smaller – only eight students made it for dinner this week, though I’ve been told that number was a little lower than usual. But seven more joined for dessert, so we still had a good crowd.
I have been thankful for the size and location of our house many times in the past two years, but this weekend made me thankful again. It was wonderful to see our house full of students, and to see so many students excited to grow in their faith, lead the chapter, and encourage others to grow as well. We dreamed of having a house full of people when we bought it, and it is great to see God filling it up!
During last night’s leadership meeting, Caleb and I ate our dinner in the Bible Study leader’s prep meeting, since attendance was low this week and there was room at the table. The group is in the middle of the Gospel of Mark, and a miracle of Jesus healing a blind man was mentioned. We were all surprised when Caleb immediately began to tell us how Jesus spat on the ground, made mud, put it on the blind man’s eyes and told him to go wash his face in water and be healed! (This particular miracle happens to be recorded in the Gospel of John, but that’s a minor detail!) I don’t even remember when Caleb first heard this story of Jesus, but he had all of the details correct. I am starting to see that having students come to our house for trainings, Bible studies, and other events is not only teaching students, but also teaching Caleb!