Monday, November 30, 2015

Christian Challenge November 2015 Update!

     Happy Thanksgiving!  We hope everyone had a great holiday!  Yes, it's already that time of the year.  Where has the semester gone?  It's certainly flown by.  Great semesters tend to do that and a great semester is what we have had.

     We have such an amazing group of students this year.  We continue to build on the foundations laid out in years past.  Last year, we had a solid group of students we were discipling.  Toward the end of the school year, we had many students starting to disciple other students.  That has continued this year as our group continues to grow.  We are seeing more and more students who want discipleship and are being discipled.  Our students are becoming disciple-makers and it's awesome to see.  God is really working thru the ministry!

     If you read our first update of the semester, you saw all the things we had planned.  Everything went really well.  I wanted to hit on some highlights though.

     One of our biggest event so far was our pizza party we do on campus for the freshmen.  Last year, we had around 260 students show up for it.  This year, we had even more, probably just under 300.  Thru the event, we were able to make a lot of connections with the new students and meet them that first weekend they were on campus.

     Just recently, we had Thanksgiving dinner put on jointly by most of the campus ministries.  We only planned for 120 or so students.  We ended up having around 300 at it.  We did a lot of praying that the food would stretch and it did.  Somehow, we fed all 300 and had a good amount of food leftover.  It was pretty cool seeing God multiply the food.  It was also great seeing all the ministries work together.  Thru that, God blessed us with a huge amount of students who got to hear the Gospel that night!

     Our discussions on Tuesday nights have gone really well too.  So have family dinners on Thursday nights.  We may be outgrowing the houses we host at very soon.  That's a great problem to have.

    Another highlight or highlights of the semester have been our retreats.  We've had two so far.  Our first one was on our identity in Christ.  It was an eye-opener for a lot of students.  Both Christians and non-Christians alike said that it was something they had never really thought about.  There was a lot of growth that weekend in our students and new friendships were built.

     Our second retreat focused on discipleship.  We brought in Josh's parents to speak.  They have been in ministry for years and just recently retired from running a college ministry at Oklahoma State University.  We also brought in former NFLer Clarence Lee, who happened to be in town at the time, to share.  At one point, we had around 40 people at it.  We were blown away to have so many students who wanted to go a lot deeper with their faith.  It was so exciting!

     As great as things have been, I wanted to have students share it from their side.  The first comes from Chelsea who is in her second year with us.  Not only is she currently being discipled by the ministry, she is now discipling other students.  At our first retreat, she led one of our discussion groups.  Here are her words:

     "The fall retreat was incredible this year. I had the privilege of being one of the small group leaders, and God really used me in that. In the small group discussions, I made sure that I was open and honest with my group. It was amazing because there were times where I would be talking but I really was not talking.  It was the Spirit through me, and it was incredible. Also, at the end of all our discussions, God laid it on my heart to ask if anyone had anything they wanted to say or share. So a guy in my group, named Logan, said that I had brought him back on track and he wanted to start walking with God. That was incredible to hear because none of it was my doing. Another cool aspect of this story is that there were originally going to be four small groups but something came up at the last minute, and we had to do three small groups instead. Logan then, got put into my group. I just love how time after time, God reminds us that he has it all under control, and if we let him, he will use us for wonderful and marvelous things."

     Now, I had met Logan at our table that we run at the club fair on campus in the first week of classes.  The club fair allows us to share what we do with new students.  As I talked with Logan, he talked about a deep desire to get plugged back in with his faith.  He was wanting to get serious about it again.  He said he was kind of like the prodigal son and was really looking for a group to help him grow in his faith.  We've been meeting weekly for discipleship ever since.  Another student, Lucas, joins us.  Lucas is in his second year with us.  Just so happens, Lucas grew up 15 minutes from Logan back in Oklahoma but the two never met until college.  It's been awesome to walk with those guys and help them grow.  In talking about Logan, I thought I'd share some of his own thoughts:

     "For me, Christian Challenge has had a huge impact since moving to Colorado. It is by far the group I am the most involved with here on campus. Christian Challenge has helped me to grow in my faith, meet several great friends, and partake in many great activities such as helping the homeless. Because of the great Christian Challenge atmosphere, I have been able to keep myself on the straight and narrow path throughout my first semester living at Fort Lewis College. Overall, Christian Challenge has definitely had the largest impact on me in Colorado. I look forward to many great times that lie ahead."

     It's encouraging to see the impact God is having on our students.  I'm thankful Rachel, I, and the ministry can be a part of that.  But we're not just seeing an impact on the campus.  We're seeing an impact across the world.

     Some of you might remember Sarah.  She went to the Philippines with us a couple of summers ago.  After only being there a day or so, she told us she thought God was calling her there.  Not just for the two weeks we were there but possibly permanently.  I laughed a bit in my head because we hadn't even started our trek yet.  There was still a lot of heat and humidity in front of us without air conditioning.  I thought maybe we should revisit that thought after the trek.  And after the trek, she still felt the same way.  It may have been a year or two down the road but she would eventually be moving to the Philippines.

     Well, this past October, she did just that.  She is currently in Tacloban doing mission work with the kids in the area.  You might remember that Tacloban was devastated by a super typhoon not too long ago.  She committed to working there for six months but there are many who suspect she may just stay.  After her first month, it sounds like she's having an amazingly blessed time.

     After our last trip to the Philippines, Rachel and I wondered if the biggest reason for that trip was to just get Sarah to the Philippines.  I still think it was.  And funny story with that...Sarah never would have gone if Meagan, her roommate, hadn't gone on the first Philippines trip with us.  Meagan played a big role in getting Sarah to go on the trip.  It's amazing how God works.  We're stoked that God can use the mission trips we take students on in more ways than just us directly sharing the Gospel.  That's a big part of why we take students.  We want to be able to introduce our students to missions.  We want to give them a taste of it and an opportunity for them to put their faith into action.  We want to do that in hopes that maybe someday, God will call them to the mission field full-time.  In reality, we're all called to the mission field, whether it's at home or at our jobs or overseas somewhere.

     Before I end this update, I just want to remind our friends and family who do end of the year giving, that the time is coming soon if you’re wanting to get it in for 2015 tax purposes.  Know that we definitely appreciate that support!  You can find a link to give at the bottom of this section.

     Thank you for all the support and encouragement you give! We are super thankful for that!  Keep us, the ministry, and the FLC campus in your prayers!  #Pray4FLC

Cheers and God Bless,
Mike and Rachel

If the Lord is leading you to give, follow this link to our giving options:

Prayer Requests:

- Jen's dad has been battling some pretty serious health issues due to diabetes.  Pray for healing there, and that the family would have the strength to make it through these tough times.

- With Sarah being in the Philippines, be praying for her.  Pray that God would bless her ministry and grow her in her faith during her time there.

- Our water heater and house heater have been broken for two and a half weeks.  Unfortunately, our system was only supposed to heat our water.  It was never meant to heat the house but a plumber before we moved in rigged it up to do both.  That caused it to fail and dump out lots of water all over everything...and void our unit's warranty.  Thankfully, we have a wood stove we have been heating the house with.  Unfortunately, we had to leave the house unattended due to a retreat out of town so we couldn't keep the fire going in our wood stove to prevent our pipes from freezing.  We called immediately when it originally happened but due to the plumber trying to find parts and him taking a week off for Thanksgiving, he's just now getting to replacing the unit.  That was supposed to happen yesterday.  Pray that our plumber didn't have any issues with installation, and that we don't come home to water damage and pipes that froze.

- Throughout the year, the semester can wear on you and it can be easy to find yourself discouraged at times.  It happens in just about any ministry at one point or another.  Pray that God would keep us and our staff encouraged.

- Being Christians, we are in a spiritual battle.  When you do ministry, you become a bigger target in that battle.  Keep praying for us and our team that God would protect us from any spiritual attacks.  Pray that God would give us the strength and encouragement to endure.  Also pray for everyone praying for our ministry because when you pray for the ministry, you become a bigger target as well.

- On any given year, about half of the students we work with are atheists or non-believers.  Pray that God would open doors for the Gospel to be received and understood.  Pray that the Holy Spirit would be working on the hearts and minds of the students we work with.

- Over the years, our staff has had a lot of health issues that can really be a discouragement.  Our most successful years have been when we have good health.  Pray that God would keep our staff safe and healthy.

- We are still working to get our support where it needs to be.  
We trust God to provide but would appreciate you praying as well that the funding needs would be met.  If you would like to give, go to: 
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