Monday, April 4, 2016

A Change, Some Rest and A Story

   We Made It!

March is one of those months that are a huge blessing in so many ways, but come with a lot of hard work. We've made some big changes, one of which is a name change for the Internship! We're now calling it an Apprenticeship. The reason for this change was that so often, people have preconceived notion as to what one does during an internship, which may or may not match up with what our interns actually do. So now we have Apprentices! If you look at the dictionary definition of Apprentice, you will find almost exactly what we seek to do in our 10 month time period: 

Apprenticeship
A system of training a new generation of practitioners of a trade or profession with on-the-job training and often some accompanying study (classroom work and reading). 

After a lengthy process of applications and interviews, we've selected our upcoming apprentices! Please be praying for them as they all prepare to move to a new city/campus and begin their fundraising. Pray for God to be preparing their hearts for all of the things He will be doing in their hearts, too. It's going to be a wonderful year!
Shayla, Pedro, Hannah, Ryan, and Sandra

Right in the middle of all the hecticness, we get Spring Break! Those five days were such a restful and rejuvenating time for me! I renewed my library card and read until I was *almost* tired of reading for fun. The weather was beautiful and I spent a lot of time outside with friends and my dogs. And I got to go dancing with wonderful friends! It was a much needed reprieve before moving into SSI week! 


SSI WEEK

SSI stands for Spring Student Initiative. We had a team of ten students and two leaders come down from Western Washington University to do outreach on our campuses. This week is one of my favorites of the year, but also potentially one of the hardest, because of the schedule and high demand for energy from our team.  

Denton SSI Team 2016
Our displays this year asked questions like: 
What's God like?
What's Jesus like? 
What are Christians like? 
What should Christians be like? 
What kind of friends are Christians?
What kind of impact have Christians had on Society? 

These questions opened some interesting conversations to explore what non-Christians' experiences with Christians have been like and what Christians think about themselves. Sometimes it was really hard to engage people longer than just answering the question, but it was helpful for all of us doing outreach to learn how to ask good follow-up questions to try to engage deeper. 

One story I want to share with you in particular is from Austin Hill, one of the interns up at Western Washington University. He shared this story at our Friday Night Fellowship and I've transcribed it here to make it easier for you to access!
Outreach at TWU

So this is fun. This is actually my second time to come down to UNT. I came down here three years ago as a student, and now have the privilege of being one of the leaders on this year's trip. That's actually where my story starts and I want to jump back three years ago, because I think that will help me paint a picture of how deeply God loves each and every individual. 

So three years ago, me and another girl from my team are going out, talking to people on campus and we're in the library mall area. And we're just looking for someone to talk to, to encourage, or to pray for. 
We see this blind kid sitting on a bench near the water and we feel that God is pressing us to go sit down and talk with him. So we sit there and talk with him about faith and what it's like for him to live as a blind man. He doesn't have much to say about faith or God. He just isn't super interested. 
Making Lunch to Take On Campus

But I just walked away from that conversation with a weight in my heart. I remember very specifically when I got back to my dorm in Washington that had this weight on my heart that I should have prayed for him. I felt like the Lord was saying, "Austin, you should have prayed for him. You should have reached out your hand and prayed for him and reminded him just how much the Lord loves him." I remember texting other people on my team, just trying to remember his name so I could pray for him then. 

Just Having Some Spiritual Conversations
So now we fast forward three years. We're on UNT campus doing outreach and campus conversations. Two of the guys get back from doing some campus conversations and I hear them talking about how they saw a blind man walking into the Union and how they wanted to be able to go pray for him, but one of the guys had to go to work. Because we can't engage students without a UNT student with us, they had to just go ahead and come back. 

So immediately, God sends me back three years and reminds me of this conviction He gave me to pray for that blind man. And I can't shake off this conviction that God wants me to go pray for THIS man. So I go up to the guys and say "Did you just talk about a blind man? Because I had this experience last time I was here" and I share my story with them.  

And somehow I just know that this must be the same, exact person. Ten minutes had passed and he had already gone on his way into the Union. But I asked Jon, "Would you be foolish with me and walk through the Union to try to find this guy?"
Outreach at UNT
Jon decided to be crazy with me and we walked into the Union. This Union had so many nooks and crannies that anyone could hide! We could not have walked more directly towards him. I don't recognize him, because it's been three years and he's changed, but we walk by and Jon says "Yup, there he is!" 

And I'm like "Are you joking?" Like I said, I didn't recognize him, but I had this strong conviction that it was the same guy. But we didn't have a UNT student with us, so we walk BACK out of the Union to get a FOCUS student, because we have this conviction that we need to talk to this blind man. 

So we walk back in there and we go up to this young man and I say "Hey, this may sound crazy, but I was here three years ago and I think I met you. Can I ask you some questions to verify this?" He agrees and I ask "Were you on this campus three years ago?" because he looks pretty young, and he's like "...yeah..."
"Were you a high school student at that point?"
"Yeah..."
Did you live with your mom and dad on campus, who work here?" 

"Yeah!" 
And all of the sudden, I'm like "Ok, God, not only have you proven to me that this is the same exact person, You've sent me BACK to him! And I don't know what you want me to do here, but You've sent me here!"
Teachin' Them How To Two-Step
It astounds me, because HE remembered ME, too. "Didn't you come up to me with someone else?" He remembered the person I originally engaged him with.  
I tell him "I don't believe in coincidences. I don't believe I can hear about this blind man walking into the Student Union and have this conviction from God that it's you and that be a coincidence. And I think that has to do with the fact that God deeply loves you and that He wants to touch your life in a radical way." 

He's still not interested in prayer or faith. So in one way, it may seem like the conversation wasn't worth anything. But in another way, I see it as just the most perfect demonstration of how God loves every single individual...that He would bring me to Texas three years apart and remind me of who this kid is, and send me back to him, specifically as a testimony that God is chasing after his life. And I wish that we would walk with eyes to see that for every student on this campus...that God would go through that kind of length to give every student an opportunity to know Him and accept Him as their Lord and Savior. So would you guys pray for our eyes to see students in that way and would this story be an encouragement that God loves the people that you see every day, like that man. Thank you. 

Wow, right? God was with us, going before us, and weaving His amazing plan all throughout this week. I love getting to be part of His work. Thank you for your prayers for our students and our staff as we used this week to continue practicing being good sharers of God's Good News!