I have been re-reading the Chronicles of Narnia to our boys for bed time, we are almost done the series and a recent chapter title in the final book “The Last Battle” succinctly describes what I feel is happening as I reflect about the ministry here this fall. It is more than things are “busy”, or that “life is full”. I believe the things that God is doing among us and the students is deepening; which in turn opens up new opportunities, challenges and categories for us to see the kingdom of God grow.
We have seen the pace quicken among the ISM & USM work on both the University of Manitoba and Winnipeg Campuses. There are more students gathering to share meals together, there are small group bible studies happening in the cafeteria where people just join in.
Piling five fantastic people into a van and driving eight and half hours through some of the most beautiful country is always a good time. This was the baseline for the September 29 – October 2 weekend, as I took this years’ interns; Kristen, David, Julie and Charity; to Thunder Bay so that we could connect with the student group at Lakehead University. The fall colors on the leaves were breathtaking as we wove our way through the rugged Canadian Shield landscape. One of the highlights on the drive was sharing parts of our stories through song. Before the trip I asked each of the interns to create a 7 song playlist – each song should tell us something about them. This was a delight as we got a glimpse into each other’s lives as well being introduced to some great music.
Yesterday, in the flurry of family and getting ready to host our church’s small group I realized I needed to quickly whip out to our kid’s school to look for a lost back pack. I mounted my bike and in a great effort to have this take as little time as possible I clipped in and launched onto the road, focused and in full speed. The next thing I found was that my foot slipped out from my pedal which threw off my balance, sending me to a grinding halt on my side on the pavement.
And now, due to my philosophical nature I find myself pondering how we handle wipe outs… for whatever it’s worth here are some of my observations of this experience:
1. I find that I quickly try to minimize the pain and overestimate external damage. I am quick to say that I am “okay” despite the limping leg, and road rash; and then I get all worked up about the unchecked,”must be true – damage” of the bike. The truth is that the bike is fine, and well, I still hurt. Sometimes I think this happens to me in other areas of my life. I minimize the pain of a situation and blow out of proportions the external circumstances.
2. It is good to have people around you able to observe and care for you. It is obvious to state but true to say how good it is to have Jana help me gain perspective on both the injuries and external circumstances of the the bike and back pack.
3. Fix the little things. In my review of what caused the accident I am certain it could have been avoided if I would have taken the 3 minutes it would have take to tighten my clipless pedals – which for sometime now have been too loose. How often to do I neglect the simple tasks? Getting them done doesn’t take much time, but often save me from future challenges that could be avoided.
Don’t worry I’m alright, a scrap knee and elbow.
How do you handle your wipe outs? What have you learned along the way?
Last week was one of the best weeks I’ve had as a Ministry Director for IVCF. It is simply because our campus team was doing what they do best – being with students on campus! Dave, Jason and two of the newly arrived interns were on both the University of Winnipeg & University of Manitoba campuses, with student leaders, welcoming the throngs of students with the intriguing question “What gives you hope?”
Michael, Jessica, Anne and the other two interns were also hard at work with students on the first day of school (which means no classes!). They gathered the student leaders and assisted them as they planned out their student groups for this coming year. Students and staff are encouraged and excited about being on campus and starting small groups to better serve the high school communities.
All in all, the way I’ve been trying to describe last week is “On the very first day of fall term, we were out of the gate and running with students on campus!”
It is good!
It is very exciting to see where God will lead us!
I feel it my own home as we prepare to send out our two oldest children to school next week. I felt it as the campus team met last week for a team retreat; and it was palatable when we met to pray yesterday in the NEW intern house. The activity of campus work in IVCF is running at full capacity! And it is good! Interns arrive today, students leaders have been meeting together planning with staff. We have all been working very hard these past two weeks.
I am very excited.
It’s GO TIME!
Please take the time to visit my Prayer Posts Page.
Anticipation is a funny thing. Yes, I must say that I am full of eagerness, hope, and expectation for the coming fall. But with the anticipation that I feel comes the hard work of building the excitement, and also creating space for asking the difficult and challenging questions that arise as I plan, pray, and participate in the building of this coming campus year. There are a lot of hopeful indicators that produce a sense of anticipation. Jesscia and Anne, coming to Winnipeg to begin their IVCF High School work, 4 new interns arriving August 30th (2 working at the University of Winnipeg, 2 on High School Campuses), the summer planning and gathering of students as we prepare to begin new student outreach early in September.
I can sense and feel the anticipation; I am eager to begin and see what God has in store for us, full of hope that it will be good, and expecting that God will fulfill our desire to be an outpost of the Kingdom here in Winnipeg.
It has been a very full month in the life of ministry and family life. In the flurry of activity I had the pleasure and joy to see something for the first time. It was out at Manitoba Pioneer Camp where in the midst of playing and splashing on the beach with my boys that we saw a dragon fly emerge from its former self.
The day before when we were down at the beach playing (I hope you a catching a theme of how we spent our time there), I saw a large water beetle swimming near the shore and I asked someone close by if they knew what it was. They said it was a dragonfly.
“NO WAY!” was my response. But sure enough the next day we saw the unlikely, and mysterious change take place when the bug crawled up on to some rocks and sat in the sun! Slowly, and I mean slowly – the new form emerged warming in the sun, drying off until finally flight!
As I and some friends chatted and watched this, the obvious and simple question came: “Why does it take so long?” I am no biologist, so I won’t even attempt to give a technical answer – but metaphor of change does ring true in my life and experience. There are many times where I desire for fast and immediate change – but I find myself in a space of change where millimeter by millimeter I am part of slowly cracking out of the old and into the new. Why does it take so long? I don’t know but I hope to enjoy the warmth of the sun in the process.
I am grateful. As this year’s High School internship comes to a close, I have been doing a lot of reflecting and reminiscing. In the midst of this it has become clear that there is much to be grateful for this past year: finding housing for the interns, sharing in the work of the internship with local & national staff, pioneering into new high schools, seeing the undergraduate work on both the University of Winnipeg, Manitoba, and Lakehead grow, seeing the International Student Ministry blossom at the University of Winnipeg, co-teaching the gospel of Mark at Mark West with a student group of 100, and having Anne, Jessica & John join staff. All these highlights have contributed to this year being one of the fullest and most satisfying years of being on staff with Inter-Varsity. I truly and humbly respond by saying – thanks be to God. I could not have planned or imagined a year like this.
Mark West was the most recent event where I have had the opportunity to serve and lead students and it was a time marked by community learning, transformation and adaptation. This intensive week-long scripture study of the gospel of Mark was held again at Pioneer Ranch Camp in Rocky Mountain House. We had our largest student participation with 150 students and staff meeting together to be shaped by scripture. Our commute out to this event tested our resiliency and ability to adapt to circumstances as we were stranded in Virden, MB by the huge snow storm that swept western Manitoba April 29th. But God provided – there we found tremendous hospitality from some old friends of mine, and were well taken care of – with food, fun and a place to sleep. Realizing early that we would miss our first session at camp we changed plans and began the scripture study in the basement of a church. It was a great time of learning for me as well as I, with Lisa Laird (Ministry Director in Saskatchewan), led a group of 100 people through the first half of Mark.
With this latest student year ending I am also in the great place of planning, preparing and praying into the fall of 2011. It is with hope, and anticipation that I share about the many things in the works for this coming year.
First, as I mentioned in my previous letter, I will be directing another internship next year. It will be a little different this year as we have two interns that will be working in the High School Ministry (HSM), and two will be working in the Undergraduate Ministry (USM) at the University of Winnipeg. Dave Birrell will play a role in assisting in the ministry formation at the University, as well as building and caring for the intern house community. I will continue to oversee the program, lead the teaching modules, and provide the one on one mentoring.
Secondly, a very fun new dynamic at the universities has been the increased international student work. In both the ISM and USM at the University of Winnipeg we are seeing increased international students. We are seeing this dynamic emerge at the University of Manitoba as well, where Jason Miles has been increasingly discipling internationals alongside and with the current undergraduate students. We are looking forward to seeing what sort of surprises God has for us as we work closely together.
Thirdly, as I lead the growing campus team it is clear that we need increase our capacity in a few areas. As we bring Anne and Jessica on as new staff, we are all needing to give more focused attention to our funding goals. Another priority is for our team to grow in cultural and ethnic competence. This past February, we were able to participate in some training led by Donna Dong, Inter-Varsity’s Multi Ethnic/Culture national leader. It was a very rich time. We have continued this development path as we all learn more about our own personal history and culture.
Finally, how we make wide invitations on our various and diverse campuses is another critical focus point for us. We long to see many students encounter and wrestle with who Jesus is, for them and the world. We recognize that we could do better at creating creative entry points for students to engage the relationships to which we long to be present as we wrestle with these big questions together.
“If adults are willing to undergo this critical reexamination of [their] young adult Dreams, there is the possibility that a deepened, more mature and wiser passion becomes available. The self is renewed so as to beckon the promise of the next generations of young adults”
– Sharon Daloz Parks (Big Questions, Worthy Dreams)