Wow, it has been quite a while since I updated this blog. My sincerest apologies to my faithful supporters and readers. I hope this post finds you well.
It’s going to be tough to explain all that has happened in my life within the last 6 months, but I’ll try to do the best that I can while being as concise as possible.
Let’s go back to the end of my summer in Ocean City…
At the end of Week 5 (World Vision Week), I had formed some great relationships with the students and staff on project. Sadly, this was the last week for the staff on the project. Week 6 (Agape Week) started off with the project students from UCLA and myself discussing how we would take what we have experienced back to campus. This time was led by Bob and Jill Fuhs (our project directors) and they had a lot of great encouragement and wisdom to offer us for the many transitions to come, both during and after project. That weekend we had all been made aware of the positions we would be given after the staff left. That night, Dave explained to Josh, Peter, Jake, and me individually what our job was and what our specific responsibilities would be. I spent some time over the next few days reflecting on the role I would be taking on, Middle Action Group Leader. For the remainder of the project I would be in charge of leading 3 guys in a discipleship relationship and would be discipled myself by a student who was chosen to be on the project leadership team. My three guys would also disciple 3 guys each and lead them in a Bible Study (hopefully that’s not too confusing). I was honored to receive this position and was incredibly humbled by the opportunity. It is no small thing to have the responsibility of intentionally leading three men in their spiritual development over the course of a month. It’s something that I knew would challenge me in big ways.
Cru always places a high priority on properly training and equipping those who lead in any capacity and this situation was no different. On Tuesday all of the MAG’s and Action Group Leaders were trained by Ryan Burg on techniques in reflective listening and how to lead a successful small group. The next day, Wednesday the 13th, I did not have work in the morning and spent some time reflecting on my growth over the summer and what it was going to look like for me to lead for the remainder of my time there. I received a text from Ryan that morning informing me that would be discipling Will Adams, Cale Erickson, and Rick Brown. I was incredibly excited to have been given an opportunity to come alongside these men! Later that afternoon, I had my last discipleship time with Dave. We rode bikes down to the bay and sat at a picnic area for our time. It wasn’t too emotional, but we definitely discussed some very personal issues. Dave went over a vision plan he had drawn up for me and we discussed my strengths and weaknesses in detail. I had always enjoyed time spent with Dave and this time was no different. I was then and am now honored to have had him as a spiritual mentor and friend. The very next night was the Agape Feast, the last meeting where the students and staff would be together. We all shared a very intimate time where students shared testimonies to encourage the staff about how they have been changed while on project. I was one of those students who spoke that night.
Here’s a link to the video from that night: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yfIinfzC398&context=C3e97b17ADOEgsToPDskLaQdEgj9otEWPqcJKICQiR
Overall it was sad to see the staff go. There were a lot of emotional moments but also moments of great encouragement and love between us and our leaders. Immediately after the staff left our new project directors were introduced, Mike and Emily, two students from Northwestern University. They gave some background about themselves and introduced the theme for the rest of the project, “In View of God’s Grace” taken from Titus 2:11. We were all excited for what was to come and knew that God was going to do great things through us. It’s definitely a night I won’t soon forget.
For the next month 101 students from around the country became a full-functioning spiritual movement unlike any I had ever even dreamed or heard of. (Especially coming from a campus with a small Cru movement!) We enjoyed some really fun times that included the Shawn McDonald concert, swing dance nights, taking our Impact Group girls out for a day, and going to see two great American cities: Philadelphia and New York! Even more than all of the fun we had there were some amazing times of spiritual growth that I experienced. I was a part of a bible study with the male student leadership and other middle action group leaders that produced some of the most insightful spiritual conversation I have ever been a part of. My friend Brandon Brooks and I challenged each other to a 100-hour water and juice only fast that tested our perseverance and grew our faith tremendously. I got to have a spiritual conversation with my boss at work during this fast and I got to share with her how much I had grown in my reliance on the Lord over the course of 5 days of fasting. We had night of encouragement with our Impact Group which produced both lasting confidence and humility in me. I participated in the last Men’s Conference that taught me some great lessons about perseverance in the faith. I also had the privilege to lead worship and share a testimony during one of the last meetings our team had together and that was very special for me. I thoroughly enjoyed being a part of Will, Cale, and Rick’s lives by investing in them and watching them grow as men of God during that last month. But, probably the best times of growth for me were spent with Tony, the student chosen to walk alongside me during the last weeks of project.
Our times together will be hard to forget. We focused our times together on becoming disciplined, pursuing holiness, and growing in humility. Tony was more dedicated to the Scriptures than any other college student I knew and we “dug for gold” in them together. We also experienced great times sharing the Gospel on the boardwalk together and even saw someone place their faith in Christ of the first time! It’s amazing what happens to you when you put forth all of your effort into cultivating a strong relationship. I learned that, as you study God’s character, the more you are able to see how great His love really is and how it is expressed through other people. God used Tony in a powerful way to impact my life and I am grateful for the chance to have been a part of his story and learn so much along the way.
Here we are, at the end of my summer adventure. I left on May 31st, 2011 completely unsure of what I was getting myself into; wondering if I had made a mistake by giving my summer over to God. I could not have been more wrong.
But so what? Why does it matter that I went to spend time with other Christians on the east coast for 10 weeks during a summer while I was in college? Did anything truly significant come from this?
Yes. It mattered last year, it matters now, and it will count for something forever. It means something. Not just to me, but to God. It means more than you or I will ever know in this lifetime.
Here are the final numbers from the steps of faith that we took as a project during the summer. Over the course of 10 weeks…
We had Spiritual Conversations with approximately 6,332 people
We presented the Gospel in its entirety to 3,098 people and gave them a chance to respond to it by faith.
We saw 396 people place their faith in Christ so that their sins could be forgiven and they could now spend eternity with God and live the life that they were always meant to live!
Lives were REALLY changed because you and I took a huge step of faith together. Including mine. I am and will always be grateful for this experience.
Since I returned from the Ocean City summer project, I have continued to grow in my relationship with the Lord and participated in ministry on campus as a student leader at Long Beach State. During the recent fall semester we saw the Lord bring new students into our movement and become involved right away. I lead a freshman bible study with a few of the new guys and facilitated our outreach time during the week. It was evident to me within the first few weeks of school, that I had grown tremendously in my ability to handle hard situations. My conflict resolution skills had improved significantly and learning to listen well to others was no longer a struggle, as it had been for me in the past. Anyone that has worked within an organization of any kind knows that having strong communication skills is essential to success (Maybe some of you can relate?). It was encouraging to see how far I had come in my ability to clearly communicate the message of the Gospel and to see God’s grace come through in my not-so-great moments of sharing it with others. It was and continues to be exciting to apply all that I learned last summer within the context of the movement at my school and in the real world. My fellow leaders and campus staff have acknowledged and affirmed the growth that happened in me over the summer and can see the fruitfulness of that experience in my daily life even still today.
In no greater way was this proven to be true when, over winter break, my campus director, Jonathan Whitmore, asked me to lead an international summer project to our regional partnership in Tokyo, Japan. I remember being both extremely humbled and terrified when he explained to me the responsibilities involved with the role of a project director. This was an opportunity few students involved with the ministry ever get a chance to pursue. After a few days of thoughtful prayer and seeking out wisdom from other respected peers, I accepted his offer. I knew this would not be an easy task and I immediately felt the weight of responsibility set in as I processed through all that would need to be done to make this possible. Thankfully, no task is too great for God and He would not leave me to do this on my own.
I soon found out that I would be leading alongside two friends of mine from Cal State Fullerton who were involved with Cru, Tori and Beth. Tori and I would give overall leadership and vision to the project while Beth would be the operations director which is an equally essential role, I might add. A week later at our annual regional winter conference in San Diego, I was reunited with my Ocean City team members from the Pacific Southwest Region and shared the exciting news with them. They were, as expected, very excited for me and a few said they would consider joining my team. During the conference, I was encouraged by the Lord on several occasions that this was the right move for me and would cause my capacities to be stretched more than ever before. From January 6th – 9th of this year I attended another conference in Denver, Colorado that specifically focused on training and equipping all staff and students who would be leading summer projects in 2012. Here, I received in-depth training in spiritual leadership and planning for a summer project through several seminars along with my other team leaders and over 400 Cru staff from around the nation. This was another great growth experience for me and heightened my excitement for what God had in store for this summer.
At this time, I’m a few weeks into the spring semester of my junior year at Cal State Long Beach. I’m going to school to study business administration, working part-time with a Boys and Girls Club, leading a spiritual movement on campus, and preparing to lead a team of college students to a very spiritually dark nation this summer. It’s a lot to take on and it does seem overwhelming at times, but I am constantly reassured of the decision I have made to step out in faith to go to Japan this summer. Soon I will be seeking to, once again, raise up a team of faithful supporters who are dedicated to investing in this mission. I would invite you to consider joining my team this summer and invest in seeing lives forever changed by the Gospel of Our Lord, Jesus Christ. It is an honor and privilege to serve alongside you and I thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for your support.
“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice!” – Philippians 4:4
"The Church exists by mission, just as fire exists by burning.” - Emil Brunner
There is a lot I have to catch you all up on. God is on the move here in Ocean City and I’m enjoying every moment of it. This last week has significantly changed my outlook on God’s heart for the world and for missions. Here’s how it went down…
Sunday the 3rd: We always have a Sunday school lesson before we attend church. Most of the content taught during these meetings has been Campus Crusade ministry philosophy and practical application of different topics (discipleship, movement building, etc.) and they have been great. On this day, Adam Penning spoke about how we all felt about our futures and what we thought we would do with them. As a college student, this is one of those really big, hard-to-answer type questions that you think about quite frequently. Even for someone who is walking closely with God, thinking about the future is difficult to wrap your head around. So, Adam taught us about the Send Model and how we can be sent into a lifetime of ministry wherever we end up occupation-wise. It was very encouraging and helpful to hear his advice on how to determine God’s calling for my life.
Monday (Happy 4th!): Day off of work! I got to spend some time relaxing on the beach with a few friends and read more of “The Reason for God” by Timothy Keller. Later that day, I went to worship practice for that nights meeting, which is always a good time. Then we ate dinner and headed straight to the meeting. Worship went really well and I was happy to serve the team during that time. Bob gave what I thought was one of his best talks on the Holy Spirit on this night. He reminded us that as we grow with Christ, it is not about how we step up to participate in ministry that matters, God wants us to be fruitful and to allow for the Holy Spirit to grow our characters to be more like Christ’s each and everyday. He encouraged us to continue to keep in step with the Spirit daily and trust for His leading moment by moment. After the meeting, we quickly ran back to our rooms and grabbed our towels so that we could meet out on the beach to watch fireworks! The firework show was great and we had a really fun time taking pictures and making more memories as a team.
Tuesday: I worked from 7am to 12pm. Spent the afternoon catching up on some sleep and digging into the Word. I really wanted God to reveal more of His heart for the world to me during this week and He sure did. That night we had an event called the “International Dinner” and individually received invitations that included a place and time that we would meet in separate groups for this event. Upon arriving at my location, I was informed that I would be joining in experiencing the culture of Africa that evening. I was really excited because I know that I have wanted to learn about how the Gospel has impacted the continent of Africa and the specific needs of the people there. Our staff leader for Africa, Kim Johnson, told us that many people in Africa are ready to receive the Gospel, but there are very few trained Christian workers there who are able to disciple people and raise them up to make more disciples of Christ. The rest of the night was spent learning what that looked like through a series of interactive experiences. It was incredibly powerful. During our debriefing time after the exercise, many of the students shared passionate stories about how God opened their eyes to His heart for the world throughout the night. I saw many of the other student’s hearts change as they were burdened to take the Gospel to the whole world. I am definitely considering a few international locations to take the Gospel to in the future and may even possibly give up a year to STINT overseas for a year because of this exercise. God is continually giving me a greater burden to share the Gospel with those who are apart from His grace, both at home and abroad.
Wednesday July 6th: For a few weeks prior to this sickness had begun to spread amongst people on the project here and on Tuesday night I had begun to feel a bit sick. On this day, I woke up miserable and was coughing non-stop. I went to Rite-Aid and bought Mucinex, walked back to my room, and rested for the remainder of the afternoon. That evening we had a meeting due to a scheduling change and it was incredible. Adam Penning gave the most motivating and heart-wrenching message on missions that I have ever heard. He told us about his experiences in Brazil (while on STINT) and the Middle East (On a personal short-term mission). He mentioned the family that he stayed with while in the Middle East in particular the woman of the household. He told us how often she cried because so many people did not know or were hostile to the Gospel. At the end of Adam’s time there she begged him to summon more missionaries who would choose to stand in the gap for those who are part from Christ. Ever since that talk, my heart for missions has completely changed. I will do some missional work overseas during my lifetime, I have no doubt. After the meeting we were asked to spend some time “defining our relationship” with God. I was able to record my thoughts from that night and it is completely evident that God is continually burdening my heart for those who are lost, especially those who have no opportunity to hear the Gospel at all. I meditated over these thoughts again and again. I really want to encourage you all: We have SO many spiritual resources here in America my friends. The average American has over 300 opportunities to hear the Gospel per year! I would encourage you to examine your own hearts toward those who are apart from Christ and ask God to empower you to share with them because if the Gospel is true, those who are apart from Him stand condemned. Share Christ’s love with someone today.
Thursday: Rested in the morning to continue to fight the sickness. Worked from 12pm until 5pm. Had some dinner and then headed over to our last action group time with Dave. This was a great study. We talked about how the Holy Spirit imparts power to us to be Holy and fight against our sin. After many serious talks about our sin struggles and how God has revealed sin in our lives throughout the summer, we had a great time playing games with our Impact Group girls in Dave’s apartment one last time. Dave also took Peter, Josh, Jake and I aside one by one to let us know what our project jobs would be once the staff left. He also asked us to not reveal our jobs until Sunday when the leadership team would be announced and everyone could find out their jobs together. The rest of the night was spent in great fellowship and sharing of how God had moved in our lives up to that point through summer project.
Friday: Was feeling a lot better! Worked from 7am to Noon. I grabbed some lunch from Wawa (mmmmm….) and then headed over to the Inn. I met up with Sharon, one of my Impact group girls, and we went out sharing on the boardwalk for a few hours and has several encouraging conversations. After dinner, Lauren, Katelyn, Kevin, and I went to go meet our adopted family for some dinner. After much conversation and feasting, they asked us if we would like to get some ice cream from one of the local parlors. Who could say no to that? We went to the local ice cream joint known as Hobby Horse and got some of the best ice cream I have had in a long time. It was great to talk with Kevin O’brien, his wife, and their children about their travels and experiences in Ocean City. I really enjoyed spending time with them, an awesome God-centered family.
Saturday: Worked from 7am to noon at the Deli Dept once again. During the afternoon, I spent time in prayer over my new position that I would be taking on as the staff left. I asked God to remove any pride that would creep in because of this position and that I would fully give myself in service to Him alone. Knowing that we were going to be doing a project outreach that night, I prayed for a plentiful harvest and that God would send laborers out to reap it for His glory. After dinner we met with our Impact Groups and prayed together for the outreach time. We were told that the staff team would be wearing disguises and that it was up to us to find them amongst the crowds while sharing. I paired up with Jake and we set off. Little did we know we would have an interesting encounter upon finding one of the the staff, Kim Johnson, near a bench on 10th and Boardwalk. We spotted her wearing a mask that had the face of an older woman and began to approach her. As soon as we got close to her a man that was sitting on the bench behind her stood up from his seat and said, in a rather menacing tone,”Your other friends came over here earlier. I don’t care if this is for some scavenger hunt or whatever. Stop bothering this lady. Beat it! You heard me, beat it!”. It was quite the experience. As we walked away we laughed at the fact that he didn’t know Kim was in a disguise the whole time! Pretty funny. In an even stranger turn of events Jake and I went through the boardwalk survey with two kids named…you guessed it: Jake and Zack! Pretty cool, right? The conversation went well and we gave them a full Gospel presentation and encouraged them to consider the claims of Christ and sincerely look at what it means to be a true Christian. After our time of debriefing at the Inn, Armando Ocando, one of the staff interns, asked us all to participate in a Freeze Flash Mob out on the boardwalk. I partnered with Anthony Ybarra and did an awesome freeze explosion during the flash mob! It was great end to a great week. More memories were still to be made…
- Please forgive me for not having this post up sooner. It has been incredibly busy the last few weeks here on project and I am doing my best to keep up with these posts so that you can all stay informed. I hope to have the post for week six up very soon. Thank you for your patience and I hope you will continue to check back here often for more updates!
- God has placed a lot of potential locations that that would be ideal to share His Gospel with in the future. This week has significantly changed how I view God’s glory and His heart for the world. Please pray for clarity as I continue to seek out God’s will for my life in this area.
- We have seen a lot of fruit bearing here amongst the students on project! I have thoroughly enjoyed spending time getting to know and having fun with these awesome men and women of God. Please continue to pray for the students here on project as we step into the roles God has placed us in and that we would be growing in Him more and more everyday!
I hope you are encouraged and will continue to press on toward Christ!
Another exciting and faith-stretching week has gone by here on OCSP and I would love to tell you all about it…so…here we go!
Just a little wrap up to Killing the Giants Week: So, on Saturday June 25th, we ended our week with an outreach in Atlantic City (just a few miles north of Ocean City). I went sharing with Kelly, one of the girls from my Impact Group, during that evening. We were able to talk a bit about our spiritual backgrounds and time in ministry, which is cool because she is from Northern California, and it was great to perspective from her own life experiences. Unfortunately, that night we didn’t have many spiritual conversations, BUT many people who went did. After sharing and returning to Ocean City, the entire project met back up at the church for a meeting. After many hours of sharing that week we EXCEEDED our goal of 5,131 conversations significantly. Our final number of conversations that week was just over 5,800! (And of those 5,800 about 200 people accepted Christ as their Savior!) What a blessing! Our staff also informed us that in the last 12 years no other project has beat the goal before the final outreach in Atlantic City! Needless to say, we were pretty stoked about that. :) That night we slayed the giant (literally) and kicked off All For One week in style! Bob informed us that we would learn how to rely on each other in a whole new way over the course of this next week…he was right.
Sunday: Church was great that morning! We got to celebrate God’s faithfulness in our number of spiritual conversations from that week with our church family. They were very excited for us as well and continually affirmed their support in our ministry. In the afternoon, we had a beach party to celebrate all that God did! I had a great time playing volleyball and just hanging out with the other students. It was really nice to relax and enjoy community after an intense week of ministry.
Monday: In the morning I continued to recover physically from the previous week. I worked from 12pm-5pm and then rushed to dinner and then to our main meeting. That night Adam Penning, one of our staff talked about strong community within the body of Christ. Through referencing some of the wisdom from Ecclesiastes he challenged us to see our need for authentic community and to find ways to build and maintain unity within the church. His four points of the night were: Strength, Synergy, Security, and Shelter. All were reasons why we need deep, authentic community. A very powerful and inspiring message and a great way to focus our minds on the challenges of the week!
Tuesday: (Day off of work=score!) I got to play some guitar and sing songs with some of the other students on project that afternoon, it was great to have some R&R time in community. The previous night I had taken the Meyers Briggs personality test at the request of my discipler, Dave. I scored as an E(xtrovert) N(tuitive) F(eeling) P(erceiving) and described as a Champion. (Pretty sweet, right?) I felt like the test was right on with my personality and was interested to hear Dave’s thoughts about my results. During our discipleship time we discussed 1 Peter 4:7-11 which covered a broad range of topics. Afterward, we looked toward the personality test results. Since the only way we differed in our results is that Dave is introverted and I am extroverted, we had a lot to talk about. We discussed the things that make us tick and how we can best use our strengths for the Kingdom of God. I have been earnestly waiting to have conversations like this for a long time and I’m very thankful that Dave and I had an opportunity to do it together. After our time of sharing on the boardwalk and a little downtime for me, I grabbed some dinner and went to meet my “Date Night” group. Since, it was All For One week we were given an opportunity to have a communal quiet time with two other guys. I had the pleasure of being joined by Nick and Andrew, two of my good buddies out here (I had mentioned Andrew K. in a previous post). We discussed Colossians chapter 3 together during our time. In this chapter Paul discribes what it means to “put on the new life” and, essentially,live it out. We had a lot of fun looking at the text objectively together and learned a LOT form each other in the process. These guys are both very knowledgeable in the Scriptures and it was great to wrestle with it together. After this time of discussion we headed over to the church for what we thought was a men’s time, but it actually ended up being much more. We soon found ourselves, all of the men, in one of the Sunday school rooms with 3 of the staff women seated at the front. It didn’t take long for us to figure out that this was one of the infamous Crusade Relationship Panels (We had one at our Winter Conference this last year and at some of the larger campus movements they have them more frequently). We soon learned that the women were having the same kind of panel in the main sanctuary. After about half an hour of questioning the staff women the panel changed and we got to hear from the men who give leadership to our project. After all was said and done, we all had a lot of information to process. A lot of great wisdom from Godly men and women was shared that night and was a great benefit to everyone who was present. The topics presented covered pursuing a women, relationships, sex, marriage, and dating. Lots of information on hot topics for all of us 20-something year old men to chew on.
Wednesday: Worked early (7am-12pm) After eating some lunch, I met up with Lauren, another student on project, and went sharing on the baordwalk for about 90 minutes. We had some great conversations with 2 groups of Christian teenagers about the Gospel and encouraged them in their personal walks with the Lord. I got to have some quiet time after we finished sharing and then went off to dinner. After dinner, the men had action group bible study time while the women went off to their conference (ours was the next day). This particular study was very impactful for me personally. We talked about how we cannot hide our sin from God and that all creation is laid bare before His eyes. So often, I kid myself and try to pretend like I’ve got it all together when, God knows, I don’t. This really hit home for me. It was great to talk about common struggles with Jake, Josh, Peter, and Dave. We had a lot of fun and were also able to talk about serious issues in our lives. We have definitely been brought together for a reason. These men have made an impact on my life and I am thankful for their honest and encouraging hearts. After out time we decided to get a game of Settlers of Catan in before bed. They put up a fierce fight and we had a great time together in fellowship that evening.
Thursday: Worked in the Afternoon (12pm-5pm) then, ruched back to the house to get ready for our men’s conference we were going to have that night. (A bit of background: We had no idea what we were going to be doing that night. We knew that we had to memorize Hebrews 12:1-2 individually and get to the location that was 20 minutes away by 5:50pm.) I met up with Nick, the guy who’s car I was assigned to and we all took off pretty close to 5:30pm, but made it on time. Upon arriving, we noticed that we were in the marshlands next to a huge road bridge. We went up to a staff guy and recited the verse, then joined our brothers under the bridge standing in formation completely silent. Scott, a staff guy, gave a brief introduction to what would be happening throughout the night and then handed control over to Ryan Burg, one of the staff men on leadership. He drilled us for about half an hour going through various exercises (push-ups, sit-ups, up-downs) until we lined up to start an indian run that took us onto the bridge and back. On my way back during the run, I lost my lunch. (note: do not eat Mcdonald’s for lunch before men’s time that you know is going to involve physical activity) After some of my brothers noticed I had fallen behind they ran back to help get me across the finish line. After that, I was feeling pretty sick. Our next challenge was to army crawl for about 200 feet and, standing at the end of the line, I threw up whatever else was left inside my stomach from that day. Pretty intense. After the dizziness and fatigue subsided I worked through the army crawling exercise and met my brothers on the other side. Definitely reminded me of my summer football camp in high school. For the rest of the night, we listened to talks from the staff men, guided ourselves over a 5-foot chain barrier, and helped each other work through various hindrances. We ended the night having crossed over from boyhood into manhood. It was an incredible experience and every single part of it was intentional. God taught us a lot that night about teamwork, brotherhood, and what it means to be a Man of God. I’m very thankful for my brothers here on project and I’m sure we won’t soon forget how we came together that night.
Friday:Woke up pretty sore, as I’m sure you could imagine. I worked from 6am until 12pm that day and slept for most of the afternoon. We called a softball practice to prepare for Saturday’s match-up against the staff that evening after dinner. We had a great time running through various drills and helping each other prepare. It was great to get back out a ball field. I must say that I was reminiscing quite a bit that night, thinking back to my baseball days. The practice went well and we turned in for the night soon after it was over, still being exhausted and all.
Saturday: Woke up extremely sore. Worked form 7am until 2pm. (Apparently, people really want their meats and cheeses during 4th of July weekend.) Came back to rest before getting some dinner and headed to the game. We suited up got our eye-blue on and took the field! It was a great game and we had a ton of fun, even though the staff kicked the snot out of us. It was a great ending to All For One week. We really learned how to work together as a body of believers and I’m sure the lessons learned will carry far beyond summer project.
- This last week has been quite exhausting physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I have been reminded continually of my need to find my rest in God alone. Please pray that I would continue to follow Him in all that I do.
- Since “All For One” week was not focused specifically on evangelism I did not have as many chances to share the Gospel out on the boardwalk this week, but God is still at work and I know many of the other students here have had opportunities to follow up with several people that they have had spiritual conversations with. Please pray that God would continue to burden us for the lost souls here in Ocean City. We are so thankful for all the God has done and is doing through His people here!
- Because of the nature of my job, I haven’t been able to generate much time for spiritual conversations in the workplace. Please pray for opportunities for me and my Crusade co-workers to share God’s love with the other Deli employees during our time here.
I’m very excited to learn more about God’s heart for the World this week! It has been very exciting to get to know more of the students here on project and learn what other movements around the country are doing. I hope you are doing well and that you had a great time celebrating the birth of our country this last weekend!
In all honesty, I underestimated (or rather never estimated) how intense this last week would be. It has been one of the most challenging weeks of my life and God has moved significantly as we have trusted Him out here in Ocean City. So, I will now introduce…the details. Here we go…
Wednesday the 15th: First of all it was my Mom’s Birthday, Love ya Ma :) I had the day off of work which meant that some R&R with the Lord was much needed. I had my first discipleship conversation with Dave and it was awesome. Talked about the Holy Spirit’s role in our lives, the specific giftings that each of us have through His power, and how we have seen Him use us and grow us. This conversation really got me pumped for our time together this summer. Dave is great guy, and even though he’s only 28 years old, he has a lot of great knowledge to share. We went out sharing after our talk and afterward I was able to continue some reading that I had started in Francis Chan’s “Forgotten God” (An excellent book on the Holy Spirit, highly recommend!). We also had our Action group bible study time that evening and we discussed how the Holy Spirit empowers us to live the Christian Life. That we cannot do it on our own. We shared great conversation over this topic and we able to share our own personal struggles in living the Spirit-filled life. I really enjoyed our time together and was greatly encouraged by the stories the guys shared that night.
Thursday: I had my first early morning shift at Superfresh (7am-12pm) YIKES! I am not a morning person and I had to pray and ask God for strength that morning about 3 times before I walked through those sliding glass doors. (It helped that on my way to work I stopped at a Dunkin’ Donuts and grabbed some coffee :P) After work, I took a nap and was able to respond to some of emails that I had been sent from some of you, which is always encouraging. That night we had our usual meeting. After a time of games and worship, Bob gave part 2 of his talk on the Holy Spirit. (Are you starting to see a pattern here? You’re not going crazy if you are.) He talk about the personality of the Holy Spirit and that He has emotions and a will. It was encouraging to be reminded that apart from the Holy Spirit we cannot grow in our walk with the Lord and that by faith He fills us an enables us to do the supernatural. The phrase of the night was, “Lord I can’t…but You can.” This has been an extremely helpful phrase to depend on when I’ve been tired or stressed out with the business of project.
Friday: Staff’s Day off as usual. I worked the afternoon shift (12pm to 5pm) in the Deli. After work we decided as an Action Group to go out for some pizza. We found Mack and Manco’s, a very popular spot on the boardwalk, and had our dinner there. Later that night, I got have some chill time with some of the other students on project over at the Inn. We played some fun games and had great conversation before departing to our rooms for sleep.
Saturday: I didn’t have to work and had an extended time with the Lord in the morning. Here’s a bit of what I wrote down in my journal that day: “God, I thank you that you call me your child. I want to grow and learn more about what it means to be a child of the Most High. I love that You have compassion for me and that You do not hold my sin against me, but that you paid for it all because You love me so much. Help me to be sensitive to Your Holy Spirit and walk in love as I serve my team here this summer.” I was a great time to process and express thankfulness for all God has been showing me at that point. Sometimes you just gotta cry out, you know? Later in the day we had the “Taste of Ocean City” Outreach with our Impact Groups. Each group was given a list of tasks that we could do collectively in order to earn points for prizes to be revealed later on. Early on we found out that we were a competitive group. We went all over the boardwalk, played games, and encouraged each other so that we could win. What was really cool is that each one of us were able to use our individual skills for the betterment of the whole group. No one was excluded or unneeded. After getting through the games portion fairly quickly we were able to slow down and have a time of sharing on the boardwalk for 90 minutes (which was worth a lot of points), but I was really encouraged to see our team come together and remember that sharing the Gospel during this time wasn’t about winning a competition. After having many spiritual conversations we were able to regroup at Ocean City Baptist and try to grab some last minute points. Heading into the meeting, where they would announce the results, we had felt like we did a pretty solid job at racking up points throughout the night and were hoping to win it all…but we ended up winning 3rd place! (and a $30 kite that looked like a pony). The night wasn’t over yet though. In honor of our new theme, the Giant was revealed (see pictures) and Killing the Giants week began! We all set 2 individual goals: number of spiritual conversations and a person who we would share the Gospel with this week. After we had turned in our numbers, our staff shared that we would be trusting God for 5,131 spiritual conversations within the next week as a project! Crazy, right? Well, we didn’t waste any time, immediately following the meeting we all took of on the boardwalk and began our first time of sharing until we were ready to collapse. It was intense and the week wouldn’t get any easier, but we know how big our God is and that we could trust in His power to grant us many spiritual conversations throughout the week!
Sunday: During Sunday school, one of our staff took us through how to use the “Satisfied” booklet which explains how to live the Spirit-filled life and is a great follow-up tool for a new believer. Church was great, my adopted father preached on restoring biblical manhood in honor of father’s day. After church, we spent a few hours doing outreach and having more conversations with folks on the boardwalk and then had some time for fun and games on the beach. We had some tug-of-war battles and ultimate frisbee games. Later that night I was able to relax, spend some more time reading my book, and pray for the many times of outreach we would be having in the coming days.
Monday the 20th: Went to work at 7am and stock shelves and worked on my slicing skills. By noon I was tired and took a nap. After dinner we had our usual Monday night meeting and one of the staff, Alicia Penning, spoke about our motivation for sharing the Gospel. She shared about how evangelism should naturally happen out of our love for Jesus the heart for the lost that the Holy Spirit gives us. She also shared about a letter that she wrote to her Grandfather while he was dying and that he accepted Christ only minutes before his death. It was an extremely motivating and heart-wrenching message. You can’t help but see Christ’s love in such a beautiful story. So naturally, we went out to share God’s love with more people that evening and I had a great time doing it with Bryce, a staff guy.
Tuesday: One of my days off from work. (Yes!) Spent some good time in the Word knowing what challenges would face me as the week went on. Was able to read some more of my book. Grabbed a sweet hoagie for lunch. After dinner we were able to spend quality time with Jesus on our own for about 2 hours. I found this great spot near a church on 13th street and was able to play and sing my heart out for a while. We were given an article on the doctrine of Hell to read during our time with the Lord and it was very sobering to meditate on. Understanding the spiritual realities that await those who do not accept the Gospel is a hard thing to do. It’s even harder to try and communicate this intense spiritual reality to someone who has no spiritual discernment whatsoever. Regardless, this time helped me to refocus on God’s mission and plan of reconciliation. Feeling extremely motivated I returned to pray with my Impact group at 8:15pm. After a great time of prayer, Jake and I went out sharing and had a few good conversations with some teenagers, but no Gospel presentations were made. God works in amazing ways. I was able to focus in on my own shortcomings in understanding the Gospel that night and was reminded of God’s great love for me. No matter what, you ALWAYS learn something about yourself and God when you go out sharing. This truth continues to deepen in me every time I share the Gospel: Evangelism is a two way street.
Wednesday: Work from 7am to noon again. Super fast shift though. After work, I did some reading and decided to make a few purchases. I got my first pair of TOMS from a local surf shop and ordered a new compact ESV bible online. Before our Action group time, I worked through the part of our “Thirsty” devotional called “Walking” and continued to evaluate my confession life. Later on during our study time, Dave talked to us about what it meant to walk in the power of the Holy Spirit and how that power is able to conquer our sin. Learning to be sensitive to Him has been one the hardest parts of my walk with the Lord. It’s absolutely liberating to know that I need not feel guilt or shame because of the work that Jesus did on the cross for me. It was great sharing more of our sin struggles during our time together. We were able to pray and continue to encourage each other throughout the evening. I’m very grateful that God has put these men in my life. We were able to spend time sharing after out study. I went with Josh and we had some great Gospel conversations. We were reminded of the grace and mercy of God throughout the night through each spiritual conversation we had.
Thursday: Another day off from work. I was able to sleep in for part of the morning and then work in some quiet time before Discipleship with Dave at noon. We went out and shared for 4 hours (minus lunch) along the shore and on the boardwalk and had great conversations with 2 college guys who were serious about having a relationship with God. I was really encouraged by their interest in the true Gospel, despite not being ready to put their lives in Christ’s hands. After about an hour of rest and then dinner, we had our meeting at OCBC. Bob delivered the 3rd installment of his series on the Holy Spirit and talked about how sin is a relational issue. A few good points I took away from that talk that I would like to share:
- Real forgiveness is costly suffering.
- My focus should be on what God has done, not on what I can do…
- A “guilty Christian” is an oxymoron.
- The Holy Spirit brings us to conviction, not guilt.
In meditating on these truths, I was very convicted and realized that I had characterized a lot of my sin by the guilty feelings that I had tried to shove down in my soul. I was also reminded of times where I had been very convicted in my life and thought about the changes (if any) that resulted from them. This all really hit home for me. So much so, that I did not feel like going sharing after the meeting, I wanted to just crawl under a rock and pray for a while. But, I still felt the motivating doctrine of Hell under me and knew that I could prevent people from hearing the Gospel if I chose not to step out in faith just because I was feeling crappy. One of the girls on project, Rachel Root, asked me to go sharing as I was debating it over in mind and I knew I had to step out of my comforts if I wanted to see God save lives through me. God IS faithful. I was pretty quiet as we approached the boardwalk and the feelings of unworthiness continued to sink in. Rachel and I prayed before talking to anyone and I was able to realign myself with God’s purposes just-like-that. That’s just how He works sometimes. The first two guys we shared with, Evan and Kyle, both ACCEPTED CHRIST into their lives by the time I finished sharing the KGP! Incredible! God used me to welcome souls into eternity, even when I felt so unusable. The rest of the night was great and was talked to many more people, but that conversation with those guys still stands out in my mind and reminds me of how faithful my Heavenly Father truly is.
Friday (Today): Work from 12pm to 5pm. So, as you can imagine, it’s been a pretty tiring week and I slept in that morning. After work I went with the Action group guys to dinner at McDonald’s and the headed over to the Pennant room for a briefing at the Inn for the outreach to follow. it was a great time of sharing and encouragement for the entire group. Many of the stories were surprising and it motivated me to continue pursuing my personal goals for the week. I got to share with my friend Mo, a girl from the University of Illinois. After going down several blocks worth of boardwalk, we were greatly encouraged by an older couple who prayed for us after we went through the survey with them. On the beach we got to go through the survey with about 10 high school kids and share the Gospel with them. On our way back to the Inn we approached two teenage guys and engaged them in conversation using the survey. After talking about their spiritual backgrounds it was apparent that one kid, Chris, had no religious upbringing and the other, Mark, had a Catholic background. Chris rated (on a scale from 1 to 10; 10 being the highest) God’s desire to know him personally was a 15! A very honest answer that led me to think, “This kid might actually be serious…”. After going through the Gospel and how he could know God personally, Chris said that he genuinely wanted to accept Christ and start his relationship with God! I was able to pray with him and welcome him into the family of God! And here’s the kicker…he wants to follow-up on his commitment! I’m hoping and praying that we can meet up sometime this weekend and talk about what having a personal relationship with God looks like!
- This week has been absolutely the most spiritually stretching experience of my life. I’m exhausted almost everyday now from the hours of work and sharing, but I have seen a lot of fruit in my life! Praise God for that!
- Please take some time time to thank God for the salvation He has brought here in Ocean City! It has been amazing to see what God has done through us as a team this week and we will get to see how close we came to our goal of 5,131 spiritual conversations on Saturday night. Remember: You are only reading ONE of the 101 stories that are being written during this project this summer. The students and staff here are great and we have been laboring so incredibly well together. Please pray for their strength and rest as well.
- It has been great to hear from some of you and how God is leading you to pray for me and for the team, keep the updates coming! You can always email me at firstname.lastname@example.org! (I will also do my best to respond if you have any questions!)
Now, it’s after 1am…I really need to get to bed! Hope you are all doing well :)