Give my greetings to all the Christians there. The brothers who are with me here send you their greetings… May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. (Philippians 4:21-23)
Greetings from Kent! It’s summer time! Are you doing anything special to celebrate this season? A fun vacation? A return to a seasonal hobby, like gardening or camping? Or even just an especially-enjoyable blockbuster at the movie theater?
Speaking of movies, I sometimes think about life moments in terms of scenes from Jim Henson’s Muppet movies. And as strange as that may sound, I mention this to help describe the experience of a summer in collegiate ministry. To me, it feels remarkably similar to the middle part of The Muppets Take Manhattan. In the film, the Muppets decide to try make it big on Broadway, in New York City, after an idealistic college experience that culminated in a successful Senior Variety Show. When the road to fame and fortune proves more difficult than they had expected, however, they are forced to say good-bye and scatter for a season. Kermit stays in the city, in a continued attempt to sell the show. But everyone else spreads out across the country, keeping in touch by writing letters until circumstances allow for a reunion on Broadway. Fozzie writes updates from a cave somewhere in the wilderness. Doctor Teeth and his band write in between gigs at a polka hall in Pittsburgh. And Gonzo, of course, has the most interesting summer — performing daredevil stunts on water skis at an “Aquacade” in Michigan. Again, I know it’s silly to think about life in terms of the Muppets — but these strange, surreal, fictional scenarios resonate with this season of ministry.
Many of our Staff and students have scattered, though some remain: working at the proverbial diner and doing the legwork required to “get the show ready for Broadway.” We continue to make plans for outreach at the beginning of the next school year. Meanwhile, the church maintains weekly rhythms for “House Church” on Sunday evenings, meeting in living rooms around town, since we can’t reserve our normal rooms on campus and since our congregation shrinks to about twenty percent of its school-year size. It’s definitely different, but it’s actually a season of deeper fellowship for everyone here in Kent: slow, informal, and relational.
For everyone else, though, we just get periodic glimpses through text messages and e-mails… Through posts on social media… Occasionally even through a handwritten note, just like the Muppets! But regardless what form the updates may be, they all feel very much like news from the proverbial caves, polka halls, and aquacades across the country and around the world.
Nick is back in the Dayton area, raising support for a paid internship with H2O through his senior year at Kent State; he hopes to parlay that experience into a transition onto our Staff team directly following graduation next May. We keep in touch by phone calls and text messages… Rebecca recently posted a picture to Instagram from a spot called Bible Point, at Estes Park Leadership Training, writing: “So blessed to be living, working, and worshipping God this summer in this beautiful place!”… Tommy and Kairie are in the Canton area, getting ready for a wedding next summer, and Marci and I are hoping to meet up with them again sometime soon to provide some pre-marital counseling… Kaylyn regularly posts photos, reports, and prayer requests to her Facebook page from all her summer abroad experience with Kent State University’s extension site in Florence, Italy… Cam uses Snapchat to share pictures of him eating Chipotle with his girlfriend or swinging in a hammock… A couple of different group chats on the GroupMe app keep me smiling with the latest information from all the different people in our Life Group from last year.
Isn’t it amazing to realize all the lives that are touched through collegiate ministry?!? The people of H2O come from so many different backgrounds, and they’re on their way to so many different futures. For some, the summer is a very encouraging season of growth and development; for others, it’s a dry and lonely time. For some, they need regular accountability and encouragement; for others, they just need a general sense of blessing and continued prayer. Could you please pray with me for all these “Muppets” who are scattered for the summer?
Please pray for our family, too. Our June is filled with a good bit of travel. This week I get the privilege of visiting our network’s Leadership Training program in Estes Park, Colorado, and then spend three days in the mountains planning, preparing, and praying for next school year, in our annual Pastors Retreat. Ministry Team Development (support-raising) will also be an ongoing focus for this month, as well as the rest of the summer, so we’d appreciate your prayer for that. And at the end of this month, we’re also going to get some much-anticipated family vacation time. Thanks, as always, for your partnership in the Gospel! We’ll be in touch…