There were half a dozen bat intruders fluttering around our the cabin that was supposed to serve as the staff lounge and I was all at once freaked out, grossed out, exhilarated and homesick. In one hand I clutched this cold, silver fireplace shovel thing and in my other my surprisingly weak windup flashlight I had got as a prize for donating to NPR. I had no idea what I was doing. This was one of the many epiphanies these past two weeks that I most certainly was not in Chicago anymore….
Serving at the InterVarsity leadership here in the upper peninsula of Michigan has been a BLAST (You can ask me for more details on my bat story). It is all at once challenging, stimulating, fun and revolutionizing my walk with Christ and my approach to ministry. There are 85 student leaders here from as far away as Serbia and India, EVERY single one of them is on fire for God and passionate and excited about growing as Christian leaders. This is an unbelievable experience.
Let me give you a quick rundown of the top 5 cool things about IVLI and I’ll share some prayer requests below.
Top 10 IVLI Updates!
10.) The opportunity to do battle with forest bats. I feel like the Joker.
9.) Very limited internet – Talking to people and students face to face for long periods of time is surprisingly rewarding! I just went on twitter for the first time in a few days and I feel kind of dirty.
8.) Amazing exposition – We’ve had two weeks of solid bible teaching from some amazing speakers. Last week we went through the book of Ruth with Carolyn Custis James, and my view of Ruth (and Naomi) has been changed forever (ask me about this sometime). This week we’ve been studying Jeremiah with Chris Wright and it has come alive for students and staff alike.
7.) Since coming here, I’ve developed a new favorite font, “Optima.” (This message was meant to be read in Optima btw.)
6.) Working out (somewhat) regularly – Some of the staff have started a somewhat regular W3 club (wake up, work out and worship) where we work out and do Quiet Times together. And with no internet, TV or other mindless distractions, I’m learning its actually kinda fun to do active stuff like play volleyball, take hikes… I should try it more often.
5.) My first trip to the Cedar Campus Sauna after a dozen trips here… Look out world, here I come!
4.) Doing life with fellow staff – living with fellow staff have also been an incredible blessing, not just partnering in ministry. Its been a huge encouragement to me to live with 24-7 some veteran staff who are passionate about God and incredibly gifted and skilled in ministry.
3.) Doing life with students – living side by side with students has been challenging because they are actually seeing me how I REALLY am. But has been SO great. It has given me so much joy not to just serve them as their staff worker but to live with them and walk with them daily.
2.) Family Group – I am privileged to be a family group leader for 6 unbelievable young leaders. All rising juniors from across the region in key roles of their chapter, I spend 1.5 hours EVERY night with them we share, talk, pray, hang out. Its been amazing how close we’ve gotten. We are fasting together, memorizing scripture together, sharing our testimonies together. At first, I was nervous that we will be spending so much time together, but this has really taught me what it means to pour into and invest into students, disciple them and grow along side them.
1.) God’s presence in powerful ways – God’s presence is thick in this camp and speaking to me in powerful ways. Every Sunday we have a 4-hour retreat of silence in camp…. And what was once a dreadfully long time has been incredibly healing and fruitful time for me. I’ve been really honest with God these past two weeks, honest with my struggles, doubts, failure and challenges in ministry. And I think for one of the first times, I really believe in my GUT that God is big enough to take my fully-disclosed doubts and that He still loves me despite them. So in that regard, this month has been just some quality time for me and God to work things out and rebuild our relationship. That has been an amazing blessing.
Top 4 Prayer Requests
3.) My family group – Pray for amazing times in family group. I see SO much potential in my students and I am just praying for God to pour his love and Spirit into them so that they would be developed as leaders and Godly men and women. Pray for me that I would love them faithfully and would deeply invest into them.
2.) Pacing – I’ve been working pretty hard these past few weeks, leading a family group every night, leading worship almost every night, teaching and trying to be present with students. I thought that being at IVLI would be a completely relaxing time. And while it has been at points, it has also revealed some of my issues in ministry of wanting to do well, work hard and succeed. So I’ve been intentionally trying to rest and get away (Mark 1:35), but please pray that I would continue to do so and be open to God in that area.
1.) Mackinac Evangelism – Next MONDAY we have the privilege of doing a full-day of open air evangelism on Mackinac island.
Its a popular tourist destination, and IVLI has partnered for many years with a local church to do various types of outreach events there. We are training students in open-air preaching, evangelistic testimonies, music, the arts and proxe stations, which interactive booths that people can visit and hear the Gospel presented. We’ll be sending students out throughout the island in groups to sing, dance, perform poetry and preach, share their testimonies and invite people to accept Christ. I’m excited to be leading the artist team but desperately need your prayers.
- Pray for boldness for students and staff to proclaim and demonstrate the Gospel
- Pray for logistical organization between us, the Church and the island government.
- Pray for freedom to set up and operate (there have been some island officials who have tried to clamp down on our efforst in the past.
- Pray for open hearts for our message.
OK, I gotta go now. Gotta go on a kayak trip with my family group……. jealous? =)