As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the Lord surrounds his people both now and forevermore. (Psalm 125:2)
Greetings from Kent! The trees are bursting forth with flowers and leaves. The students, however, are burrowed in the lounges, libraries, and coffee shops: studying hard for final exams. By the end of this week, thousands of them will be graduating and heading off to new adventures. Everything around here in Kent will change: a period of relative dormancy for the summer, followed by a whole new school year with a whole new crop of incoming freshmen. Collegiate ministry is weird, wild, wonderful in that way. We’re grateful to God for everything that He has done, everything that He is doing, and everything that He will do from this point forward.
In all honesty, I can hardly remember another year that felt so lively and adventurous. We’ve seen many instances of genuine life change this year — God moving young people from apathy, skepticism, and antagonism to spiritual curiosity, gospel engagement, and passionate faith. As these college students are transformed into the image of Christ, they impact others and create a contagious environment for the gospel. It’s hard to explain, but it’s beautiful to witness. One of the students who’s involved with H2O put together a couple of videos that provide some glimpses into what God is doing in Kent, and I’ve recently posted these videos on my website at https://www.ericasp.com/2016/05/glimpses-of-h2o/. Thank you for all the prayer support and financial support you’ve provided over the course of this school year! We’re honored to be partnered with you in all these adventures.
Our next ministry adventure is just around the corner: a summer program called Leadership Training, in Estes Park, Colorado.
Fifteen of our students from H2O Kent (pictured to the right) will join with other college students from across our Collegiate Church Network to form a vibrant group of approximately 150 young people — living, learning, working, relaxing, and building relationships over the course of 11 weeks.
Twice a week, we will have high-powered gatherings that feature some of the best speakers from across the Collegiate Church Network (one of my primary roles for the summer will be to direct and coordinate these gatherings). We also divide the students into project groups of 10-15 to be families on mission for the summer. Collegiate Staff from all over the country help to facilitate the program and mentor students in Christian Spiritual Formation and Christian Leadership Training.
Our venue for the summer will be the YMCA of the Rockies, a large camp adjacent to the Rocky Mountain National Park, on the western edge of Estes Park. The camp is surrounded by snow-capped mountains and has hundreds of miles of trails for students to tackle, alone or with friends. The views are amazing, and the air refreshes mind, body and spirit. The YMCA of the Rockies is a coveted summer work experience for people all around the world (more than 50 countries may be represented!). LT participants gain a broader understanding of people from different backgrounds and worldviews, as they have lots time to build strong relationships while working, eating, and living with many of the same people throughout the summer.
I, personally, feel refreshed by the idea of snow-capped mountains and long hikes talking about the deep things of life with students. I mean, seriously: It’s kind of amazing that such an experience could be called ministry or work! But there’s also some element of uncertainty and anxiety as we approach this summer. How will our family respond to living in a two-bedroom cabin? What will we all do without a television for two months (especially as the Cleveland Cavaliers keep marching through the NBA playoffs!)? How will it feel to rush straight from Colorado into Elliot’s freshman year of high school and a new collegiate ministry season, so close on the heels of the summer? We’re trusting God to reveal Himself along the way, and we’d love to have you pray with us!
I’ll be leaving with most of the students on May 21st. Marci and the kids will follow when the kids’ school year is completed, at the end of the month. It’s going to be wild, weird, and wonderful — but we wouldn’t have it any other way. Thanks, again, for partnering with us. We’ll be in touch…