It’s hard to believe that in three days we will be leaving this place we have called home for the past two months. Many mixed emotions have been coming in the past week about leaving. I think we are all sad to leave behind the relationships we have made both with students and people from The Crowded House, but excited to go home and see family and friends. We are thankful for what we have learned and the ways we have grown and hopeful for what ministry could look like in the fall at our different campuses. I’m sure all of us on the team could talk for quite awhile about the ways God has worked in us and through us over the course of these few months. It has been cool to see that God really does work in our lives and sanctifies us when we walk with him. We are leaving as changed people, and the cool thing is that God will continue to change and grow us and the people here in Sheffield. God does not stop working after we leave here, in us, or in others.
long term team
We hope that God continues to work in Sheffield through the campus outreach staff that will be moving here in the coming months. We have prayed through Matthew 9:37 that God would raise up laborers in Sheffield, and he is already answering that prayer by allowing the long-term team to begin coming here. This past weekend Andrew and Sara Knight moved here with their three boys. They will be joined in the coming months by two other couples who have caught a vision for Sheffield and the work God is doing at the universities here. They will spend most of their time doing what we have been doing - going on campus and meeting students, building relationships with them, caring for them, and loving them by sharing the hope they have found in Jesus. God will continue working on campus here, orchestrating conversations, granting boldness, and softening hearts. Some of us will be able to connect the students we have met to the staff team, who will be here a lot longer than us. It is also cool to think that maybe students who we briefly met, or in whom a gospel seed was planted, might meet these staff people.
long term church
God will also continue to work through The Crowded House after we leave. We helped organize two events -- a barbeque in the park and a tea and dessert— so that our new international friends could connect to the international student life group. We were only able to spend a few weeks with these international students, but the people of the crowded house will be able to spend more time with them. Most of these students have come to do a masters program, which takes a little over a year. For some of these students, it is the first time they have been out of their own countries. It can be a big change, and with that big change a lot of big questions can come up (What am I doing with my life? Why am I here? Etc.), along with just a curiosity about western culture. What an amazing thing that God has done by bringing the nations to this city and working through us, and the people at the crowded house, to draw the nations to Himself. We recognized that the church didn’t need us here. They are on mission with or without us. But we hope that God has used us to serve them and bless what they are already doing here.
long term god
God will continue to work in hearts here after we leave. Only God can bring dead hearts to life, and I think all of us have gotten a new perspective of that. Far before the crowded house and long after, and far before the campus outreach and long after God has and will continue to pursue hearts. The one who works through both of these things also works through many other things in people’s lives. He knows each and every person in Sheffield. He knows the brokenness in their lives, knows the desires of their hearts, and knows their personalities. We are thankful to have a God who is mighty to save and whose patience means salvation. We are also thankful to have a God who is sovereign and understands things way better than we do, as it is difficult to leave some relationships without much closure and some students unconnected to the church. We have all come to know Jesus in a deeper way this summer and are thankful for all that he did in and through us!