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Our Redeemer

It is the last full week of project and students are preparing to go home. We will no longer be doing beach ministry and working at Walmart. So who’s our ministry now? Where do we go from here? 

The Campus

Monday night David Cook, student project director, gave a theme talk about Jesus being our redeemer and what this looks like in ministry. 

“Jesus has redeemed us and invites us to participate in His redemption where we are.” 

The gospel is the story of redemption and how Jesus makes us to be like Him. I’ve been thinking about what this looks like in my life and how my interactions with people reflect my relationship with Jesus. 

This next school year I will be living in the dorms at the University of Northwestern, St. Paul. I’m going to be around new, freshman girls who may not understand the true meaning of the Gospel. This is my ministry. Going out of my comfort zone and showing freshman and sophomore girls the love of Jesus is worth more to me than getting a good grade on a test,  making a lot of money, or building my resumé. 

This summer I have been convicted of so many ways I spend my time selfishly and don’t let the message of the gospel permeate every area of my life. 

Our Reward

If Jesus is our reward, why am I not jumping at every opportunity to serve Him? If we lived in a community of believers that inspired us to do so, how would our campus change? I look forward to the opportunities that will arise living in the dorms as a senior. God is worth going out of your comfort zone.

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Laundromat Ministries?

One place you’ll see a lot of students on our day off is the laundromat.  There’s sand, sweat, and grease all over our clothes by the middle of the week. I’m the type of person who puts off laundry for as long as possible. I don’t know how effective that method is because I end up spending the same amount of money by doing more loads, but I guess it’s considerate to keep your clothes clean.

A couple of weeks ago I was minding my own business, putting in my last load when I noticed a woman sitting on the table next to the washer machine I was using. She had a devotional book open and I felt God tugging on my heart to talk to her. I asked if I could sit next to her and she eagerly accepted.

We made small talked for a little while, “What’s your name? Where are you from? Where to you work?” then I pointed to the devotional book she had opened. She shared with me how she became a believer and how she’s trying to be better about reading her Bible. We continued to talk about her past, hard things she had been through, and how Jesus has always been a constant in her life. I was so encouraged by our conversation and wanted to let her know that she is loved. The woman opened up to me about how she has felt alone for many years. This broke my heart. She so readily accepted my offer of friendship and community which is something I take for granted. I expect people to circle around me and be in community with me. I believe that community is Biblical and beautiful, but I never understood what it was like to stand alone and be complete in Christ.

Before I left I asked her if we could exchange numbers and get together again. She gladly accepted and we met again. She contacted me last weekend and we met at Dunkin Donuts. We talked about how her Bible reading is going and how God meets us where we’re at. We read Psalm 81 and talked about how God delivers us from the hard things of this life. I hope to meet again with her at least one more time before we leave project.  

The more I meet with people the more I see how God is the only one who can change hearts. I am an inadequate human being who has been saved by the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ and it is HE who works in the hearts of others. I have a tendency to take credit and expect God to change people because of me. How sinful am I! There is nothing I will ever say or do that will stir the hearts of others apart from Christ. He holds His children in His hands and by His grace I am able to have encouraging conversations with others. Praise God for His mercy and allowing me to catch a glimpse of His beauty through the Holy Spirit that is living in others.

 

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Welcome to the Carnival!

Greetings from South Carolina! 

Three days later, we are 1,084 miles from home, burnt from head to toe, and decked out in Walmart gear; welcome to Summer Training Project 2016! Praise the Lord that everyone made it to South Carolina safely. Everyone was so excited to get out of the car and onto the beach. 

On Friday, we had our very first project social. The theme was “Awkward Family at a Carnival.” Each guy and girl room paired up and creatively decided what their theme was going to be. This year we had a lot of different types of families in attendance. Minion, Olympic, hillbilly, hood-rat, Noah’s Ark, and zombie-nurse families tried their hand at multiple carnival games. My favorite awkward family was Krista Bain and Benjamin Greener’s room who dressed as the Duggar family. 

At the end of the carnival, the “Balla-Shock-Calla” family, Alexis Garcia and Erin Bankson, won ice cream sandwiches in a name drawing. Minion family Mariam Amirikian and Thomas Luichinger also won 10 tickets for best costume. 

The carnival concluded with a dance party in all of our costume attire. What a site it must have been to see Noah’s Ark and the Duggar family doing the cupid shuffle in 90 degree weather. All in all, the carnival social was a success and students are stoked to hear what the next social will be! 

Thank you to all who have supported and been a part of our Summer Training Project. The first social is just a taste of what is to come! 

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Trusting His Sufficiency

minneapolis@campusoutreach.org

A week ago, 50 staff and students involved with Campus Outreach Minneapolis gathered at Camp Victory in Southern Minnesota for a weekend of fun, relationship building, and leadership training for the various summer events of the ministry.

What does it mean to be a leader? What is my role? Will I do a good job this summer? Do I have what it takes?

These are the same questions that echo in our heads every time the both of us start thinking too much about being the directors of the 2016 Summer Training Project. And if we had to guess, they are questions that everyone involved with the leadership team has asked themselves as they contemplate the summer, whether serving on the Summer Training Project (STP), Cross Cultural Project (CCP), or the Twin Cities Project (TCP).

At the retreat, talks and workshops were designed to help us better understand our role and give us resources to thrive as leaders, but they didn’t put all the questions to rest. In fact, the more we talked about the summer, the more inadequate we realized we really are. The task is daunting. Yes, we want this summer to be filled with fun memories, growing experiences at work, and deepening relationships with other students. But ultimately, we want students’ hearts to be changed by the good news of what Jesus Christ has done for us in his life, death, and resurrection. That is something that none of us have the power to do. We do not have what it takes to do the work that we would love to see happen in the lives of students.

So why are we here? Why pull together a team of 50+ students every summer to lead our summer events?

On the first night of the retreat, Paul Poteat, our regional director, used Exodus 3:11-14 to help us understand our place. Moses, when called to challenge Pharaoh and bring the nation of Israel out of slavery, realized his own inadequacy and asked a similar question.

“But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?” He [God] said, “But I will be with you, and this shall be the sign for you, that I have sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God on this mountain.” (Exodus 3:12)

The answer to Moses’ fear of inadequacy was God’s promise of the sufficiency of His presence.

The same promise is true today for as we look forward to the summer. We ought to feel insufficient when we think of our roles; without Him we are insufficient. But we are not alone. We can be confident leaders this summer because God promises to be with us, working in and through us to do what is good.

Please join us in asking God to do great work in students’ lives through the STP, CCP, and TCP, and ask him to help all of us to rest in his presence as we prepare to serve this summer.

David Cook & Emma Button
STP Student Project Directors

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Rats, Llamas and Christian Leadership

The Rat Pack. House of Jacob. Bean Squad. Holy Ghostbusters. Super Drama Llamas.

You might be thinking, “Does that actually mean something? Has she gone crazy and started typing random things?”

That’s a legitimate question. But I haven’t gone crazy, and yes, each of those represents an STP team this summer. STP is divided into teams and then further divided into rooms to facilitate deep relationship growth and development; there are two team leaders over the whole team, and then each room has a room leader. I’ve talked in general about what it’s like to be on STP, but being a room leader is a whole different ball game. I am on the Rat Pack this summer, so I asked Nirmal and Christa, our team leaders, a few questions about what it’s like being in a leadership role.

What brought you back to STP as a leader this summer?

Christa: I was asked in November to consider being a team leader. I grew so much the last two summers, and each summer I learned something new; I was excited to learn more about sin and the gospel and myself, as well as to live in super intentional community for the summer.

Nirmal: I’m going on staff with Campus Outreach, and Mike Polley [campus director at the U of M] said it would be the most strategic thing for CO ministry for me to be here this summer. I wanted to help and serve wherever is most helpful, so I was totally willing to come back as a team leader.

How do you think your expectations have been different from reality so far?

Christa: I came in expecting being a team leader to be like being a room leader, but the team leader role is so different. Also I’m not working 40 hours a week, so this summer is more restful. Living with five team leader girls and getting to know the room leaders on my team is a lot sweeter and more exciting than I expected.

Nirmal: I think I expected it to be harder and to encounter more challenges so far, but it has felt really natural to build relationships with the guys on my team and others. I’m anticipating things getting harder, but for now I’m enjoying it being surprisingly easygoing.

What’s been your biggest challenge as a leader?

Christa: Leading a team with each room and girl having very different personalities and figuring out what’s most helpful for each girl has been a challenge. Deciding what questions to ask to get to the heart of issues is much more of a person-by-person decision than I thought, but it’s good. It makes you think more about everything.

Nirmal: Balancing all of my different priorities this summer has been hard: investing in the room leader guys on my team, the disciples in their rooms, and guys from the U of M. Going to Athletes In Training has been helpful in that, since a lot of those guys are involved in it. I’m also raising support for the coming fall to be on staff so prioritizing has become key. Getting rest in the midst of all that has been hard, but it’s been good to learn.

How are you seeing glimpses of God’s work and the gospel in what you’re doing?

Christa: I’m learning a ton about forgiveness: how it practically works with my relationship with the Lord and my peers. The first theme talk about the prodigal son hit me hard. I realized I’m like both the younger and older son; I desire the Lord but run the other way. That realization has been convicting and beautiful at the same time.

Nirmal: I’ve talked to guys or heard from others about how the talks have been impactful: guys are seeing the depths of their sin in a new way and understanding more of what’s going on in their hearts, which I’m excited is laying groundwork for great growth throughout the summer.

Being a leader is never easy. But seeing Jesus in a new and deeper way and having the privilege of watching God work in others’ lives are unique in Christian leadership; leadership changes you way more than it changes anyone you’re leading. It’s absolutely worth it.

 

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Drum roll... 2015 Summer Interns!

It’s that time of year again!

Each summer Campus Outreach chooses a group of interns to help serve the Project and staff, as well as those who are back home: family, friends, and supporters.

We have six individuals part of the Communications and Finance team this summer.

Our finance go-to man this summer is Jacob Klimek, a senior at the University of St. Thomas and also the team leader for the House of Jacob, one of the five teams on Project (Students are put on different teams for the summer in order to get to know more people on Project). Jacob is using his talents to help serve the Project by organizing and handling all of the finances. His tasks include sending out support updates to students showing the amount they have raised and also handling reimbursements for those who have raised more than the cost of Project.

Weston Smith, a first year from the University of Northwestern, is heading up the web content, which includes uploading and managing the audio from all of the talks. This is great if you happen to miss a talk or if you want to go back and listen to it again, and again, and again. Also, for those of you who are not in Myrtle Beach, SC you can go to Summer Training Project website and listen to the podcasts to hear what we're learning!   

The woman behind the camera lens is Emily Durenberger, a sophomore from Bethel. She will be using her photography skills to capture all of the fun snapshots from socials, talks, and everything else on Project. You will be able to see all the photos on Instagram, Twitter (follow @COMSTP) and Facebook.  

Andrew Brinkmann is a freshman at the University of St. Thomas and will be the videographer at Project. He will record all the memorable moments and action shots such as spike ball and pool-ball. These videos will available for your enjoyment on the Campus Outreach website.

Last but not least, we have our communication interns in charge of the blog, STP portal, and social media. Briana Williamson, a sophomore at the University of Minnesota, is the primary blogger who will also be updating and posting the social media content.

Finally, this leaves me, Jordan McCauley! I am a sophomore at St. Thomas and will primarily be in charge of the STP student portal, MailChimp, Instagram posts, end of the summer support update and blogging once a week. The portal allows students to access information on talks, deals in the area, and announcements. MailChimp is a great tool for those who want to have a template for updating their supporters. The support update is a good final summary for those back home to hear all the exciting things that happened this summer.

Well there you have it, all of the 2015 STP Interns. We are very excited to get into our roles this summer and do our best to serve everyone on Project!

Please pray for us as we take on the various tasks and balancing our work with growing closer to Christ. 

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Retreat to Victory

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A weekend retreat to a camp in the rolling hills of southern Minnesota, when the trees are budding and flowers are blooming…who doesn’t love the sound of that? Add to that the fact that the retreat is put on to prepare a group of college students to be effective servants of Christ, and it has the makings of the best weekend ever.

A couple weekends ago, about fifty students, including myself, attended a retreat just like the one I described,  better known as the Leaders Retreat, at Camp Victory in southeastern MN. These students have committed to be leaders on the Summer Training Project, Twin Cities Project, or Cross Cultural Project this summer. This retreat was a time of training and bonding to prepare us for a summer of spiritual growth. With four talks, three workshops, Bible studies and worship packed into two days, there is so much to share, but I want to give you a sneak peek into what the leaders retreat is all about!

Servanthood

Now, you may be wondering why this post is titled "Retreat to Victory." It wasn't meant to be just a funny pun on a retreat happening at Camp Victory. We learned a lot about what it looks like to be victorious as a leader this summer. The talks given by staff members Matt Reagan, Paul Poteat, Mike Polley and Eric Lonergan highlighted the truth that victorious Christian leadership is not about leading the most people to Christ, having all the answers or telling people what to do.

It's about being a servant.

Mark 10:43-44 states, “But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all.”

Servanthood sounds great, but nobody naturally wants to be a servant. It can be a lot of pressure thinking that we have to be the perfect selfless leaders for a whole summer. But we also learned that because of the grace we have received on the cross, the success of STP, TCP or CCP has been redefined. Success no longer looks like us being model Christians.

Success looks like being faithful stewards of the Gospel and growing deeper in our relationships with Jesus Christ. The results of the summer are up to God.

When the results aren’t up to us, we are free to fail. But we are also free to take risks, to step out of our comfort zones and experience the grace of God in a whole new way. That kind of victory makes this summer incredibly exciting! 

Leadership in Action

Saturday morning of the retreat, the STP leaders attended six mini-workshops designed to equip us for being team leaders and room leaders. We learned how to effectively spend time one-on-one with students, studying the Bible together or just having fun. But we also learned that all these things should be done with the aim of knowing them on a deeper level and pointing them to the Gospel. We also learned how to lead a discipleship group, do beach evangelism and study the Bible using the inductive study method.

Seeing day-to-day what it means to be an STP leader this summer helped adjust expectations to reality and allay a lot of fears!

Field Day Fun

Of course, we couldn’t spend a weekend at a beautiful camp without getting some time in the great outdoors. On Saturday afternoon, the CCP team put on a good old fashioned field day for the rest of the teams and staff. We competed in a three-legged race, wheelbarrow race, tug-of-war and lip-syncing contest. During free time on Saturday, ultimate frisbee, volleyball, mini golf and exploring the river area kept us busy; in the evenings, games like Mafia, Nertz or Bang were the popular attractions. It was awesome to see everyone come out of their shells a little more with people from other schools through the fun, informal times!

So much more happened at the retreat, but now you have a few snapshots to give you a taste of what we experienced! We’re so excited for this summer and can’t wait to share more about what God is doing! 

Here are a few pictures from the weekend: 

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