Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Thirty days hath September...

...and it's never enough!
September was a really packed month. This is kind of the mellow-out and find-your-groove month. I think I'm allllmost there, but haven't found my groove quite yet. It'll get there eventually!

I've been spending a lot of my time with Jesus in the book of Philippians and these verses always remind me of you guys, my faithful partners in ministry! I'm so very blessed to have each of you in my life!

 "I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Jesus Christ."
Philippians 1:3-6

None of what I'm doing this year would be possible without you guys! 

One cool thing that happened this month was I got to give my first sermon for one of my classes. It was just a tiny five minute talk from the book of Matthew, but I want to share it with you guys! It encompasses some of what's going on in my life right now on campus, as well as in my internship classes. So here are some things about it you should know first! 
Questions on Display Board at TWU
 We started doing weekly campus outreach at both UNT and TWU. The two most common types we'll be using this semester are Campus Conversations and Questions on Display. 
Campus Conversations is where students are paired up and then sent out on campus to talk to someone. We equip them with a main question and some follow-ups, like "Who would you say God is?" and "How did you come to that conclusion?"   
 It's pretty intimidating sometimes, but I've been so very proud of how our students have been boldly approaching other students (as well as faculty, on-campus workers, etc) to engage them in meaningful conversations. 
Questions on Display are thought provoking questions where students are encouraged to engage in exploring their opinions more, talking about it with another person, or writing down their answer on a whiteboard.

Now that you know what kind of outreach we're doing, parts of my sermon will make way more sense! =) 

Matthew 9:35-38
Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”

    So in this little passage, Jesus has been going around teaching the people and healing them. The people are massing around him, wanting whatever he can give them - food, healing, hope, a new kingdom.
    In just being around them, he is able to discern their real need - how lost they are, without a shepherd guiding them.  They’re harassed by their enemies, their government, their every day life troubles.
    He’s moved to compassion for them and tells his disciples “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” Basically, “They’re ready. Who’s going to do the work to bring them in?”

    I chose this passage because we’re all on either the first or second week of outreach on our campuses. I know that I for sure needed to be reminded of what we were doing out there and why, and God showed that to me this last week in a pretty direct way.

    A couple of weeks ago, in preparation for leading the students in outreach, Sarah and Matt had each of us go out and do some campus conversations at UNT or TWU. While I’ve really enjoyed doing outreach in the past, it’s been a while since I’ve done it and I was in the mindset of “Oh great. Just another thing to add to our schedules of things to plan and attend.” Ashley and I went out together around lunchtime, prayed for God to give us boldness, and then went out to find someone to talk to.
Obviously not us, but this is what it was like! Minus the cool forest-y setting.
“We” chose this girl who was sitting by herself and looked like she had a full plate, so she’d be there for a little bit. She was super open to us sitting with her and was extremely open to talking! We sat there for almost an hour talking about so many things! She opened up about her past as a Wiccan witch, what her biggest take away from that experience was, what she thinks about God now, just so much! At the end, she asked for OUR numbers and then later that week initiated with me to get dinner and continue the conversation.

    I don’t think that’s the typical “norm” in a campus conversation experience, but I think God was really gracious in reminding me of what the purpose is in our outreach time.
    For this girl, her life IS harassed. She doesn’t have anything steady in her life guiding her and that is genuinely good. She’s turning to boys and alcohol to numb her pain and to find an easy venue of social interaction. She is helpless in a sense because right now she’s so entangled in the grossness of the world that she doesn’t even recognize that there’s a different way to live! If hearing someone’s story of searching in ALL the wrong places and all the heartache that comes with that doesn’t stir your heart to compassion and reignite desire for our campuses, I’m not sure what will.
    It also just blew my mind how simple this interaction was: a lunchtime conversation, where really, I think the Holy Spirit was just all over it, because it flowed SO beautifully, got deeper than most conversations and seemed to be way more engaging to her than I think just me on my own ever is! We didn’t have hardly anything in common, but to her, it was “the best day she’d had on campus since being back!” Guys, that’s, what five weeks where her BEST DAY was sitting and talking with a stranger. The Spirit directed that interaction and I believe set it up way before I moved in obedience to go talk to her. 

    I want to encourage you guys in what we’re stepping out to do over the course of this semester and the next. God commands us to go tell the harassed and helpless the good news. What a cool multi-purpose we are accomplishing in outreach - we get to be obedient to God, He can use us in ways that are outside of our comfort-zone or even perceived ability, and we get to point the helpless and hopeless back towards Christ.
The harvest is so plentiful, especially for our campuses. I think it’s so interesting that Jesus didn’t tell them to pray that more people would be made ready to receive the good news, but to pray for more people to tell it. The harvest is ready!! We can be the answer to that prayer and be wholly confident that God is ALREADY moving and preparing the way ahead of us. 

Thanks for reading all the way to the end! I hope that you are encouraged in sharing Jesus in your interactions with others! 
Some things to pray for!
Please keep me, my team, our students, and the campuses in your prayers as we continue to engage in meaningful conversations that point people towards Christ!  
Pray for our up-coming Fall Camp (This is one of my FAVORITE events! I'll tell you more about it next month!) - for students to make time to come, for them to deepen their budding, spiritual friendships, and to be refreshed in their relationship with God.