August 2016 Prayer Letter


It’s time for you to go. I’m sending you out armed with vulnerability, like lambs walking into a pack of wolves. (Luke 10:3)


Greetings from Kent! Our summer of Leadership Training has concluded. The last students are leaving Estes Park, Colorado, this week. Our family, however, got a bit of a head-start in order to prepare for the coming school year. It’s a good thing, too. Everything is rushing up on us quickly here in Ohio. It feels like this year could be a bit of a doozy. We’ll have one student in elementary school (Cor, going into the 4th grade), one student in middle school (Olivia, going into the 7th grade), one student in high school (Elliot, going into the 9th grade) — and then of course Marci and I spend much of our time at Kent State University! God help us! We’re just going to take it a day at a time.

Colorado was great. We regularly shared the Gospel with unbelievers. We bonded deeply with the Kent State students, who went out with us and seemed to be especially soft-hearted in a setting such as the LT program. It was also a fantastic environment for building relationships with other Collegiate missionaries from different campuses. And we enjoyed a lot of unique recreational opportunities: especially hiking, with some running and fly-fishing and rock-climbing thrown in for good measure. I took nearly 1,000 photographs out there, but I’ve narrowed it down to my Top Ten from the summer at https://www.ericasp.com/2016/07/top-ten-pictures-colorado/. Without a doubt, I miss some of these things about Colorado, but I’m also excited about things here in Kent and looking forward to the year ahead. There are lessons to be applied here and new lessons to be learned as well. It’s such a privilege to walk with God, whose mercies are eternal yet still new every morning.

Looking to the year ahead, there seem to be some extra-special opportunities for living with Gospel intentionality this year. I spent the summer focusing on an in-depth study of Luke 4-10 (Jesus’ model for missions), and now I’m full of fresh insight that I can’t wait to apply. My own heart is freshly stirred for reaching out to students at Kent State University, but it’s even more exciting for me to think of the ways that several of the students from LT like Clay, Seth, Tommy, and Blake are coming back fired up in similar ways. My experience in overseeing H2O’s Outward Journey leads me to be more excited than ever about the opportunities this school year will present: most notably with the 5,000 new freshmen arriving on campus August 25th!

One of the verses I’ve been chewing on recently has been Luke 10:3 (particularly as it reads in The Voice translation): “It’s time for you to go. I’m sending you out armed with vulnerability, like lambs walking into a pack of wolves.”

You know, it’s easy to think in terms of “arming ourselves to the teeth” when we go out to share God’s truth with those who seem to be far from Him. We “need” apologetics for every issue that might come up. We “need” the perfect tools, techniques, diagrams, etc. We “need” the perfect circumstances to open up in front of us, and we “need” the perfect entry strategy to capitalize. We “need” experienced, skilled and confident partners who will go with us. We “need” walls of prayer and spiritual protection circling us, making us invincible to pain or embarrassment or failure in our mission. But, in fact, the truth of the matter is that we don’t need any of these things at all. We don’t need a wallet, a backpack, or even footwear — in fact, Jesus’ disciples are explicitly instructed to go without these most basic pieces of equipment (things that I would automatically include on any walk across campus). We’re sent out, armed with vulnerability. Our dependence upon God and our defenselessness against others are our greatest assets. All we need is just enough courage and obedience to step out in faith.

More often than not, the response from Christians who step out in faith is exuberance and elation. That’s the clear result from Luke 10 (see verses 17-21), but from my own experiences and observations of others as well. “It’s amazing, Lord!” We get to participate in God’s redemptive work! What purpose! What power! What a privilege!

Will you please pray for us to keep these principles in mind, as we enter into the most critical season of the year for outreach? Freshmen move in on August 25th, and H2O will be engaging in an all-out blitz over that four-day period (especially until classes start on the 29th) to establish relationships and lines of communication that will allow for students to know and walk with God during their university years. Thanks, as always, for partnering with us in prayer and in practical support. I look forward to getting back to you with a bunch of pictures and stories on the other side of Labor Day. We’ll be in touch…

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