And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others. (2 Timothy 2:2)
Greetings from Kent! Can you believe we’re already coming to the end of another school year?!? It’s gone by so quickly! Just as the flowers and trees have been sending out their pollen, we at H2O are also doing a lot of sending these days. We’re graduating another class of seniors and blessing them to enter their careers as nurses… and teachers… and fashion designers all across the country and around the world. We’re commissioning another church plant out of Kent, this time going all the way across the Atlantic to Stockholm, Sweden (there’s a whole other prayer letter waiting to be written about that one!). And we’re celebrating another crop of young men and women having cycled through our internship program.
The interns are on my mind because I took them out for a celebratory meal at a unique restaurant in town last week (you might get a kick out of reading more about this local joint, from a story I posted online at http://www.ericasp.com/2017/05/henry-wahners/). We had some great food and some great conversation that evening, and in the midst of our meal I looked around the table and realized just how amazing the whole arrangement really is. These students work so hard to serve our church, even though this end-of-the-semester meal as the church’s only tangible form of compensation for their labors! Of course, we trust that the experience and equipping they receive through the internship is highly valuable. Still…I’m so thankful when I remember that they’re basically working for peanuts (or schnitzel, as the case may be)!
I’ve loved each group of interns I’ve been privileged to supervise; and even though I recognize there may be some recency bias at play, I have to say that this year’s group of interns was extra-special. We had a total of eight student-interns here in Kent this year. Four of them served for the entire school year, three served for just the Fall Semester, and one served for just the Spring Semester. In addition to that, I supervised one Spring Semester intern from the University of Akron, as well (the leadership team from H2O Akron approached me to mentor this particular intern because of his interest in reaching out to international students).
For our Internship Program, we recruit involvement from any students who are considering a career in full-time ministry (even if it’s only ten percent likelihood of a career in full-time ministry). I work together with each applicant to create a personalized, prioritized proposal for a job description, aiming for 10-15 hours per week. Every internship includes Intern Management and Staff Meetings, plus two to five other points of ministry involvement as areas of focus for the internship. In all of this, we’re basically trying to create an environment in which students can gain exposure to the ins and outs of collegiate ministry, in order to assess (and hopefully stimulate) their interest in long-term career missions.
It’s a win for the students because they receive specialized mentorship and leadership development opportunities. It’s a win for H2O because we get extra feet on the ground and extra hands to help, working directly at the level of those to whom we are reaching out. And it’s a win for Reliant because we gain seasoned, qualified candidates feeding into our team in Kent, as well as other projects and church plants toward which God leads them.
Now, I recognize the way that internships and staff recruitment strategies are more of a “back-end” thing in collegiate ministry, which may not be as easy to appreciate if you’re not in among the interns on a day-to-day basis. Seriously, though, I’ve been awed by everything God has done through our Internship Program over the last several years since I was given oversight of the initiative! When I asked the interns about their experiences from this year, one student said, “I have loved all of the spiritual equipping lessons that we have done throughout the internship (i.e. spiritual pathways, reflective listening, book readings). This has allowed us to grow as beings connected with God and as those who are seeking to serve the church.” Another said, “I enjoy seeing the behind the scenes of collegiate ministry while being challenged in my faith.” I can say with confidence that there has been demonstrable growth in the life of each individual intern, and I’m just thankful to see how God continues to raise up the next generation of spiritual leaders.
Please pray with me for these young men and women: that God would continue to work powerfully in their lives, through the Internship Program and beyond. Pray also for those who are considering Fall Semester internships, as this is a strategic time of the year for turnover. And thank you, in any event, for your involvement in praying and financially supporting our ministry here in Kent, allowing things like this Internship Program to continue! We’ll be in touch…