Spring Conference THIS Weekend

This weekend, over 123(ish) students in the Eastern Carolinas (including 15 from CofC) area are headed to South Myrtle Beach for our annual Spring Conference (Feb 10-12).

The purpose of our conference is to help students see the big picture of God at work on their campuses and how they are uniquely called to be a part of that work. We want students to have a sense of mission every time they set foot on campus. We want them to believe that God owns every bit of their campus and that they have a role in renewing the campus.

I, along with the Eastern Carolinas area staff, are in need of your specific prayer support for this weekend. And of course I will tell you know how the Lord answered your prayers later this month.

First, you can give thanks already to the Lord that we have had well above the number of students we anticipated register for the conference. And most of them well in advance of the deadline!

General requests:

Please pray for students throughout this week: that the Lord would prepare their hearts for what He has in store for them this weekend. Pray for protection from any attack from the enemy.

Pray for staff to have holy creativity as they prepare talks and activities. Particularly lift up Allison King and Adam Gilbert who will lead us from up front during our large group sessions. Pray the Holy Spirit will move both in our large group sessions as well as in our track times throughout the weekend.

Pray we maintain good relationships with the hotel that is hosting us and are a blessing to them as well.

May students feel freedom to express themselves in musical worship, even those who have not previously experienced this freedom.

We are hoping that a number of folks who are not yet Christians will be with us this weekend. Pray that they will take the risk to say yes to joining their Christian friends for the weekend.

Pray that all the logistics of our weekend of the weekend will come together: that track rooms will be adequate, for meals to go smoothly, for no registration or housing glitches to occur.

Requests for tracks:

Collide is a track designed to help people explore brokenness and restoration from God’s perspective. We hope this is the track that most of our non-Christians land in. Pray for student to be open and honest and that the gospel would be boldly proclaimed here.

Connect (missional prayer): May students learn to hear the Holy Spirit and be inspired to pray for revolutionary things and lead others into these types of prayers. Also pray the all track prayer time on Sunday morning is guided clearly and all the students would feel freedom to engage in the time.

Impact is our leadership track. In this track we hope to counter some of the negative images of leadership that students may have experienced and call them to leadership that is God centered. Pray that students who participate would gain a new understanding of leadership and leave willing to lead their peers in fulfilling God’s mission on campus.

Worship (lead in musical worship through the weekend): The worship team is made up of students from various participating schools. They really serve us by leading. Pray that as they bless the conference by leading us in worship the Lord too would bless them.

Thank you so much for your prayers and support.  This week I will specifically be helping with everything from registration to leading a small group to running the book table to Emceeing the open mic night to leading the hands-on experience part of the Collide track… plus whatever else comes up. I, along with the rest of the staff, greatly covet your prayers.

Keep your eyes out for a newsletter next week!

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand We’re Back!

The first week of the semester has always been one of my favorite times on campus. Everyone in out and about – buying textbooks and reconnecting with friends. Classes are short and the homework is generally lighter.  Midday trips to the mall and midnight ice-cream runs abound! The first week back on staff, however, is a bit of a different story.  There are students to seek out, events to coordinate, retreats to plan and budgets to update. So much to do!

But I still love it :0)

As busy as I have felt these past couple of weeks – there is evidence that the Holy Spirit has been up to much much more!

A Time of Reflection

Last Sunday, a group of IV students crowded into the Weber’s downtown apartment to process together how God had been working in their lives over the break. Many of them had been to a conference and returned with amazing stories of conviction, forgiveness, healing, redemption and freedom.  We laughed together and cried together and were totally vulnerable with each other. After a time of sharing, we gave the students space to dream and cast vision for what it would look like them to bring their stories and experiences to their peers within the CofC community. We talked about the importance of telling others about what God has done in our own lives.

A Call to Action

Two young women who attended the conference felt challenged to pursue God’s heart for social justice, particularly in respect to modern day slavery.  They were heartbroken to hear about just how rampant slavery still is around the world but particularly here in America. Those two women are currently working to get together a group of students who would be willing to host dinners at local churches as a way to educate the Charleston community about the realities of modern day slavery.  They are also hoping to connect people with resources and opportunities for them to give towards organizations working to free people (mostly women and children) from slavery.

A Vision of Freedom

At the end of last semester, we had cast a vision for our student of owning Charleston as HOME.  Charleston was recently named the #1 vacation destination in North America. So we as staff took the opportunity to challenge our students to not give in to the consumerist, apathetic, self-focused, indulgent life-style of our vacation-minded city. But to instead be open to God’s calling for the here and now. We challenged them to take a risk by investing their time and their relationships towards God’s work on campus.

Last Thursday night we had our first Large Group Meeting of the semester. We gathered together for a time of Worship + Prayer + Art + Stories.  One student leader took some time to re-cast the vision and invite students into living intentionally this semester. Then another students shared her story of how God had led her from slavery to herself (which had for years manifested itself in an eating disorder) to freedom in Christ – which resulted in her being able to invest in others and give herself fully to God’s work on campus. The prayers were raw that night as we laid hands on her, thanking God for the sweet freedom he had granted her and confessing our own obsessions with self-image and our selfish desires. During worship time, students cried out, thanking God for the things He had freed them from and the mission He had freed them unto.

Overall it has been a full couple of weeks. Thank you all so much for your continued support and prayers.  The Spirit has been doing some beautiful things in this city and I cannot wait to see what He has in store for the rest of the semester!

The Joy of Gratitude

“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the work of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as your sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude on your hearts to God.”

Colossians 3:15-16

Some Shadow Art Love

If there is anything I have learned about life in ministry so far, it would be to expect the unexpected.

I never expected to fall in love with Charleston and all her quirks.

I never expected to be blessed with 2 phenomenal roommates who have so graciously welcomed me into their community.

I never expected to see the Lord begin answering prayers for the campus so soon in my internship.

I never expected my missionary friends, my unemployed college friends, that family I met at a music festival in Pennsylvania last year, that woman my parents met in Cairo Egypt 25 years ago, my cousin’s best friend’s parents and that girl I met on a bus in St. Louis years ago to be SO EXCITED in joining me through financial and prayer support.

I never expected to be so full with joy that I break down and cry with gratitude.

But what else is there to do? When I tell people that there is literally NO WAY that I could go about this work at College of Charleston without the Lord’s ever present care, I mean it quite genuinely.  The Lord’s overwhelming display of provision and generosity through His people is astonishing. In the end, I am left in a deep place of joy and thankfulness.

So to everyone who has committed so much of their time, energy and resources towards helping me get funded (we’re almost there!) and on campus – I want to say “THANK YOU” with every fiber of my being.  Would you join me in thanking our Father for his lavish gifts of providence and faithfulness?

“Give thanks to the Lord, call on His name; make known among the nations what He has done.”  -I Chronicles 16:8

*Keep your eyes peeled for the long-awaited prayer letter update right after the Thanksgiving break!  Thank you all for your patience as I learn to balance life on staff.


The ONE who makes all things new

“And He who is seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” –Revelation 21:5

The rain is pounding outside. The locals tried to warn me about the occasional city floods here, but it is certainly one of those things that you have to see before you believe.  The deal with rain is that it changes things: traffic patterns, the color of the grass, your choice of clothing for the day, the amount of people walking around on the street, your desire to leave home… These changes aren’t bad things – they are simply different from what is normal (unless you live somewhere in the northwest where rainy weather is the norm).

The IV chapter at the College of Charleston (CofC) has been going through a number of changes this year. Of course, I haven’t been here long enough to know the difference. But through conversations with students and my staff trainer, I have learned that this chapter is in the midst of a transition. So as I transition into post grad life I have found some companions in encountering transition and “visioneering” our way through it. Perfect.

The biggest change for the chapter here is that they have moved their large group meetings from Friday nights in a meeting room on campus to Thursday nights into the homes of students off campus. As any large group coordinator worth her salt will tell you, this is quite the big step.  This transition came after months of prayer and consideration on the parts of both students and staff.  They came to realize that the previous large group situation was not as effective as it could be because

1) College students who love Jesus were taking time away from the student body on Friday nights.

2) Most CofC students simply do not spend much time on campus in the evenings.  It is far more common to find them in organic setting like living rooms, backyards, coffee shops, tiny kitchens and semi-sketch basements.

Switching nights and moving large group off campus has opened students up to better engage their community and invite new students into a more comfortable atmosphere. With this transition we have, of course, encountered a few bumps and bruises – but we’re excited to see what the Lord has for us in this new experience.  At the moment, staff and students are working out a new vision for what large group is about and what it potentially could look like in the future.  What if we had more opportunity for students to share their creative worship? What if we saw more prayer happen? What if we had a series of talks on restoration?  What if students stuck around talking in the homes long after large group?

Dreaming is quite the thrill, my friends.  But dreaming and then implementing that dream is a different thing entirely.  It’s hard, it’s messy, it’s complicated, sometimes it’s awesome and sometimes it’s disappointing.  A friend reminded me that I am here to watch and learn how staff and students handle these kinds of situations. This lesson will be worth its weight in gold once I am at a school on my own.  In the meantime, the biggest lesson I am learning is this –

Our God is one who makes all things new.

The other night, I was privileged to hear a student share a bit of spoken word (more on that later) in which the poet reminded the listeners over and over again that the only one who can restore our spirits is the One who makes all things new. This evening a local pastor preached that the one who can bring healing and restoration to our families is the Once who makes all things new.  In welcoming in a new large group dynamic to our chapter, we are constantly finding ourselves at the feet of the One who makes all things new.  Having once lived in slavery and now finding myself dancing in freedom, I am daily falling more and more in love with the One who makes all things new.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.  The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” II Corinthians 5:17

I now bike to work – awesome

It has been a long 3 weeks my friends.  So good – but so long.  Even though life is far from routine at the moment, I have decided that I need start giving blog updates on the regular.  There are quite a few stories that I am excited to share with you, but here are a couple to start with.

Thanks, Dad, for fitting my entire life into the Honda!

Having reached an elusive 91% of funding, I got the green light to move down to Charleston.  I was blessed to be sent off with a commission from my church (where the elders lay hands on my in front of the congregation and prayed for me to send me off).  That Sunday night I drove down to CNU where I spent some time with my close friends who are still students there.  It was uplifting to hear about how the Lord has continued His work on that campus this school year despite the hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes, flooding and swamp fires in the area.  Then on Monday 9/28 I made the long drive down south! My roommates were very kind, having a “Welcome Home Erin” sign out for me when I pulled up.  They helped me unload the car, fed me dinner and shared the bottle of wine I had brought. So. Delightful.

I spent the first week getting acquainted with the area, my roommates and a few of the College of Charleston InterVarsity students. The roomies (Andrea and Austin) (otherwise known as Drew and Austin) (yes, Erin, Drew and Austin are all girls living with each other) were kind enough to take me around and show me where the organic grocery story is and help me get oriented with the city.  I also bought a bike off of Craigslist and the roomies told me about where to get the best deal on tune-ups in the city.  Did I mention that my roommates are very kind people? Ok, good.

That weekend I left with about 30 College of Charleston students for their Fall Weekend Retreat.  On Friday night, Willis (the current IV staff at CofC) broke us up into small groups and led us in our first scripture study of the woman at the well.  The weekend revolved around love from and for the Lord. Students were asked questions such as “How has God demonstrated is love for you?” and “How has He loved other people through you?”  The repercussions from the weekend are still being felt in our chapter as it takes new turns and twists in it’s shaping and formation (more on that later… as well).

Students' creative response to the scripture study from the weekend retreat

Once I got back from that weekend I turned around and went to the first intern training session of the semester. About 7 of us interns in the Blue Ridge Region get together once a month with an IV Area Director (or two) to review what we have been learning in our reading and interactions with students on campus. We were challenged to think through our roles as staff and particularly how we see those roles exemplified through scripture.

Since then I have spend the majority of my time hanging out with students in groups as well as one-on-one meetings. I’ve already made friends with the baristas at 2 local coffee shops (still working on getting a frequent-buyer discount) and have enjoyed getting to explore the city with students.  The students have been very welcoming, inviting me out to their dinner parties and soccer games. Getting to know them personally has been both a joy and a challenge.  I have realized that there is a lot to southern culture that I need to catch up on (I promise to write more on this later as well).

Keeps your eyes peeled for more stories on adventures in Charleston! I’m working on writing more articles with some specific stories – but until those arrive please be in prayer that the Lord would be faithful in drawing the student at CofC into deep/ meaningful relationships with Him and with each other.

Peace!

Students worshipping at the end of the retreat weekend

Charleston Here I Come!

That’s right! After talking with my supervisor yesterday it is official – I’m moving! Praise the Lord! I still need to raise the remaining 11% of my budget, but I have enough now to begin work on campus. More details to come, I promise. For now the plan is for me to travel south on Monday the 26th.  Thank you all of your kindness, support and especially your prayers!