Four days ago, we all jumped out of our vehicles and stood on Minnesota ground once again. Though many tears were shed in those moments, the bittersweet feeling that project was just a dream turned our minds back towards reality. With heads spinning and much processing to be done, we all knew that God gifted us the community we had found in Garden City, South Carolina, but He was now calling us back home to share, grow, and establish further roots into His Word, community, and sharing the Gospel with urgency we have never felt before. Some were excited to share, some not quite sure how they could go about doing that, while others felt the overwhelming weight of anticipation towards sharing with their fallen world, family, friends, and others God put on their minds. Since we all come from different backgrounds, not everyone felt the same way. Despite the emotions, students walked away sharing a memory of the most impactful, loving, and stretching summer of their lives. Though it felt like the end of a beautiful dream for most, the beginning of project's produce is yet to arrive. The end of project is not the end, but just the beginning of what God is about to do with it in our lives.
Here are a few quotes taken from students about how summer training project impacted them:
“Project was extremely impactful for me in many categories. However, if I had to pick one that impacted me more than others, it would be the community project has given me. I formed relationships with brothers and sisters in Christ that are long lasting and Gospel centered. Within a week of leaving project, I already had my community contacting me, informing me that they are praying for me, and showing excitement to hold each other accountable in Christ. I’m excited to grow, as well as evangelize alongside my community this school year.”
-Austin Pavelka, University of Northwestern-St. Paul.
“My head and heart are bewildered, content and heavy all at once. I was challenged and stretched this summer in ways I didn’t know I needed. Jesus showed me more of who He is and His constant pursuit of me! Always chasing after me, relentless! He reminded me how very personal and near and intentional He really is. I couldn’t be more grateful for how Jesus worked and for the incredible people He put in my direction.”
- Natalie St. John, Bethel University
“We love because He first loved us. This summer I was reminded with the importance of LOVE again. Jesus died for everyone including me, you, and the non-believers. There’s nothing we can do to change hearts unless we show them the love of Christ and leave God to do the rest. I can’t wait to be back on campus to see how God can use me to love the unloved ones already!”
-Scarlett Swift, St. Cloud State University
“Being at project this summer opened the door for God to give me a whole new perspective on loving people and stewarding my heart. Through His gracious love, the Lord revealed to me my deepest and most internal sins and gave me a community of believers that challenged me in my walk with Jesus. Project was a great tool in establishing habits of a disciple that will last a lifetime.”
-Daniel Fenske, University of Northwestern--St. Paul
“I used to think that God was someone I needed to constantly impress and that I needed to work for His love and His salvation. I learned that there is nothing that I can do that could make Him love me more or less than He already does. I learned how important the gospel truly is and how imperative it is that we share it with everyone possible.”
-Jenn Olson, University of Saint Thomas
“Athletes in Training allowed me to see how selfish I really was. I believed my strength depended on myself and I had to be physically and mentally strong in order to carry my burdens. This summer broke me and made me realize how weak I really am. I held onto the promise for when I am weak, then I am strong—that I can and should be boasting in my failures and weaknesses to glorify God. God’s grace is sufficient and His power is perfected when I fail and have no strength to carry on. I should glorify Him even in my time spent building physical strength”
-Danielle Jibben, University of Northwestern—St. Paul
This summer I fully understood the pursuit God has for my heart. I watched as He uncovered my sin and broke down my walls leaving me fully dependent on Him in every aspect of my life while sweetly reminding me of the Gospel and the freedom I have because of Jesus. I was reminded that He is in every situation right by my side walking with me not just watching over me and I can have hope in His unfailing love no matter the circumstances (Lamentations 3:21-24). I also was shown the importance of Gospel centered community and how we can come alongside and encourage each other as we grow further established in our relationship with the Lord.
-Katelynn Mehrkens, University of Northwestern--St. Paul