A lot of people don’t exactly understand how Project works. They wonder how we spend our time, what we are learning, and what the schedule looks like. When they hear that we work forty hours a week at Walmart, they wonder how we have time for rest, fun, or any spiritual growth and processing. They question why we need to raise support if we have a full-time job and if it is actually a good experience to monetarily support. These are all very valid questions. These were things I asked before coming down here for my first summer.
One thing that really stood out to me when I first started getting involved in Campus Outreach is that almost everything within the ministry is very intentional. I couldn’t help but respect and appreciate how purposeful CO was. That means that the way Project is set up is very intentional and purposeful too.
Yes, we do work at Walmart for forty hours a week. Yes, that is a lot of our time down here. But it’s almost surprising how much good comes from it. It isn’t just a job and source of income for us for the summer. Walmart is a key part of building community here at Project. I’ve always heard that suffering bonds people. Walmart isn’t exactly suffering (we’re actually all very grateful that they give us jobs!!), but work is work. We are all experiencing life together as coworkers, which is a different kind of bond than just living in the same place. You truly become so close with the people you experience Walmart with.
Walmart is also the perfect ground for evangelism. All summer long we are learning about relational evangelism, and our Walmart coworkers give us the perfect opportunity to put our newfound knowledge into practice. We work so much with these people, become friends with them, and come to genuinely care about them. Conversations about life and faith can’t help but naturally come up every so often. Many students have been able to share the Gospel with their coworkers before the summer ends.
How do we have time for much else when Walmart is forty hours of our week? Project is an intensive discipleship program. Every Monday after work we have a theme talk. Every Tuesday we have time with our individual campuses and a discipleship group with our room that involves Bible Study, reflection questions, and testimony sharing. On Wednesdays we have a ministry training talk and a workshop that sometimes includes going on the beach and striking up conversations with strangers about Jesus. Thursdays are dedicated to a fun social event. Fridays are for personal worship training where we learn about different spiritual disciplines and how to to apply them practically to our lives. Everyday there is a devotional on 1 Peter that we can go through on our own or with other people.
The thing I’ve noticed is that often the most spiritual growth happens when you are living and doing every day normal life activities with others, like working or grocery shopping or running to the post office to mail letters back home. We are all doing life together here and creating relationships built on the foundation of being brothers and sisters in Christ. Project is a unique environment where we can be authentic and vulnerable with others about the hard things and the good things we’ve gone through in life. It is an environment of support and encouragement, a safe place to ask tough questions and be open about sin. This is a place to forgive and ask for forgiveness, a place to process and heal and grow. Students truly meet Jesus here. That’s why it is so life changing, even when we spend so much time at Walmart.