October 2016 Prayer Letter

Then Jesus said, “Let’s go off by ourselves to a quiet place and rest awhile.” (Mark 6:31)

Greetings from Kent! October is my favorite month of the year. Good-bye heat and humidity; Hello, frosty nights and fall foliage! Every drive, walk, run, or bicycle ride at this time of the year feels like a special privilege. I also love the way that our kids’ sports schedules mellow out just as the higher-level sports schedules (Buckeyes football and Cavaliers basketball, especially!) get more interesting. Praise the Lord for October!

This month is also an exceptional month for ministry because of two upcoming retreats: our annual Fall Getaway (October 7-8) and a new Evangelism Equipping event we’re organizing two weeks later (October 21-22). Will you pray with us for these strategic weekends?

We’ve already got more than 100 people signed up for the Fall Getaway at Camp Carl, a half-hour drive east of Kent. This weekend is a sort of climax to all our Fall outreach efforts. We promote the weekend as an escape from campus to have fun and develop friendships while pursuing God as a church community through worship sessions, small group hangouts, and playing games (including the annual H2Olympics). Even with all the activities that go into the Fall Getaway, I feel that the best ministry often happens during the down times. We’re hoping for a lot of deep conversations and a lot of life transformation at this year’s Fall Getaway.

Then two weeks after the Getaway, we’re going to head out of town again — with a smaller group of leaders from Kent State and from the University of Akron — to explore the topic of experiencing God’s love and expressing that love to others. Thanks to a generous donation, this will cost the students almost nothing, but we’re going to have some serious fun, getting away to the shores of Lake Erie, enjoying free time in an indoor water park, and learning together. Best of all, we’re also going to come away equipped with a new vision and strategy for how God can use us to impact others as we live out the Great Commission on campus at KSU and the U of A.

Sounds like fun, doesn’t it?!? We’re excited to think about all that God may have in store for the next month! So with all the aforementioned context in mind, please pray:

  • For students on the fence about attending this year’s Fall Getaway. We often hear about the amount of homework they have, or about opportunities to go home and visit family — but we also suspect it might just be scary to try something new, particularly when you’re the “new kid” at school. I think in particular of a freshman named Caroline, from my Life Group, who’s been deliberating between going home this weekend or going to the Getaway. Let’s pray for Caroline — and other students like her — to take that last-minute leap of faith and come to the Getaway.
  • For students on the fence about this whole “following Jesus” thing. Our theme for this year’s Fall Getaway is Identity, and it seems like there is a lot of potential for life-changing follow-up conversations based on this theme. The Gospel will be central! We’re asking God for many new commitments to Christ over the course of this weekend.
  • For Mike Klunke, our guest-speaker for the Fall Getaway. He’s coming in from Illinois State, together with one of his daughters (my kids are especially excited to be reunited with one of their friends from Estes Park Leadership Training this summer!). Pray Ephesians 6:19 for him, that whenever he speaks, words may be given to him so that he will fearlessly make known the mystery of the Gospel.
  • For Blake and Jonny, two of our student-interns who are helping to manage much of the organization for our Evangelism Equipping event. They’ve been doing a great job up to this point, and I’m praying that these guys will catch a vision for going on Staff after graduation.
  • For John Drage, our trainer for the Evangelism Equipping event. He is a pastor at a collegiate church at the University of Missouri, a national leader for the Collegiate Church Network, and the Director of the Leadership Training program in Estes Park, Colorado — but despite all the credentials, one of his deepest passions is catalyzing a culture of evangelism that goes beyond tools or techniques. We’re really excited to think what a weekend with John could do for our Staff and students.
  • For Seth, another student-intern, as well as Dan, a new staff member — both of whom are helping to organize special follow-up initiatives to get us engaging with our mission field. The leadership of these two young men will be critical for getting our people to immediately apply the attitudes and actions we learn from the weekend to our context in Kent
  • For our “Thirsty Thursday” outreach team. We’ve been encouraged to see the growth of this ministry initiative in downtown Kent: bringing pancakes, prayer, and the love of Jesus to a place of darkness, drunkenness, and spiritual thirst. But I’m especially eager to see what God will do with the Halloween weekend coming up. I’ve recently been reminded how significant the spiritual stakes for this downtown outreach can be (see one of my blog posts at https://www.ericasp.com/2016/09/tugged/ for a recent story about this).

I know that’s a lot of prayer points — but I gues we just need a lot of prayer! Thank you so much for being willing to support us financially, emotionally, and spiritually. It makes all the difference in the world. We’ll be in touch…

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