Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Challenge New Fall Semester 2016 Update!

Wow, the beginning of the semester is upon us already! It's always an extremely exciting time for us in collegiate ministry! The students are back. New ones are coming in. Christ is ready to do amazing things on the campus of Fort Lewis College!

With the ministry over the summer, we've been busy continuing to meet with students who were still in town.  We were able to do some hikes with them too.

We did a weekly game night and when we could, we'd look at the stars with the students thru Josh's telescope. It's a pretty cool sight to see Jupiter and some of its moons, and even Saturn and its rings. It was a lot of fun but it also helped Josh in his mental recovery from his stroke. The game nights were actually Doctor suggested. Josh, though still working his way back to health, has come a long way, thank the Lord!

One of the coolest things to come from the game nights was that it helped us stay in touch with one of our former students. If you've been reading our updates for awhile, you might remember a student named Lane. He came to Challenge with a couple of girls two or three years ago. When he first started coming, he was a pretty strong atheist. As time went along, we'd continue to invite him to things. His typical response was "I don't believe that [garbage]...but I'll see you tonight." He used another word instead of garbage but I cleaned it up a bit. Despite him being a strongly opinionated and vocal atheist, our group accepted him and he's a guy everyone just loves.

Well, during the last game night of the summer, he asked, "So if a guy like me wanted to check out a church in Durango, where would he go?" Needless to say, we were pretty shocked with excitement. We've been reaching out and praying for him for so long. It was a huge answered prayer. That next Sunday, he came to church with us. Now, I wouldn't say he is there just yet (so keep praying for him) but being open to coming to church was a huge step forward. We're stoked!

That right there made it a pretty awesome summer. Thankfully, Rachel and I also got to rest and recharge which made it pretty awesome as well. Doing ministry where you're in the trenches with young folks working thru some pretty heavy things in their lives can take a toll on a person and a marriage. It can be draining so being able to rest, recharge, and reconnect was very much needed. Rachel has said that this is the first time she has ever gone into the start of the school year energized and not already exhausted. We're both very thankful for that!

This summer was also filled with some travel. Rachel traveled to Glacier National Park to do a ladies' backpacking trip with some friends.

She was so refreshed and encouraged spiritually by the trip with those ladies. I traveled to the Denver area to go to Aleksandr and Anna's wedding which was great.

Rachel and I had state directors' meetings in Colorado Springs. We just had our local staff retreat a week ago. This summer, we've also tried to run and hike more in order to get to a healthier place in life. The hiking has been nice.

The running? Well...it's running. It's nice when it's over. Anyway, it certainly hasn't been a quiet summer but I think we've learned to balance it with rest much better than previous summers. We're in a really good place right now ready to start the school year and see all that God is going to do!

I've also had doctors' appointments with my thyroid issues. I am cancer-free by the way. Praise God for that! It was a 2 cm nodule on my thyroid which I guess is pretty big but no surgery was required. The doctors did some blood work testing my thyroid level and whatever the one thing they tested for was okay. They want to continue to monitor the area of the nodule so I'll have to get an ultrasound and biopsy again when next summer rolls around. My energy levels are still on the low end but I've learned to pace myself and push thru when I need too. We still don't know the cause of that but we'll keep researching. I know that when I'm weak, God is still strong and more than enough to see ministry get done. So I'm not too worried.

Last year, God really challenged me to be in prayer more for our ministry and to challenge our supporters to be in prayer more for the ministry. We saw huge fruit from that. This year, that challenge hasn't changed.

So without further delay, I give you guys this year's Christian Challenge Prayer Challenge...or The Challenge for Challenge. I want to challenge you to give 5-10 minutes a day praying for the ministry. If that sounds like not much, go for more. I suggest praying for it during your mornings so you don't forget. If the ministry comes to mind later in the day, pray for it then too. I'm challenging you to do it for 14 days. If you can make it that far, take it another 14 days. I know I might be asking a lot but it's so important and so worth it.

I'm going to give you the normal prayer requests section below but here are our event dates you can be praying for as well. Some will already have passed by the time you read this but that's okay. Pray for what you can. Here's our schedule of events:

8/25: Hanging up event flyers, meeting new freshmen students.
8/26: Having a table during Orientation to meet students. Slacklining on campus to also meet students.
8/27: International Student Dinner.
8/28: Breakfast for students and rides to church. Afternoon Pizza Block Party near the freshmen dorms.
8/29: Welcome Back dinner for returning students preparing them to reach out this school year.
8/30: First Tuesday night discussion on campus.
8/31: Day of rest.
9/1: Club Fair where we have a table to meet students. Family dinner which will be student-run for the first one of the year.
9/2: Night hike up Smelter Mountain.
9/3: Basketball Tournament @ court by upperclassmen housing to meet upperclassmen.
9/4: Breakfast & rides to church. Afternoon waterfall jumping.

After this, we settle into our normal schedule being on campus most of the week discipling. Christian Challenge discussions will be on Tuesday nights. Once we talk with the international students and find out their schedules, our conversational English class will get scheduled in. We'll run a table on campus near the cafeteria to meet students and strike up conversation on Wednesdays. Family Dinners will be on Thursday nights. Here are the rest of our big dates for the first month:

9/10: Ophir Pass/Telluride 4WD trip, hike, and dinner.
9/11: River tubing.
9/16-18: First retreat of the year.
9/23-24: Ice Lakes camp and hike.
9/30-10/1: ABQ Balloon Fiesta trip.

Hopefully, those are more specific things you can be praying for throughout the month. Look below for our normal prayer request section.

If you're on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, and up for an extra challenge, post the time, date and hashtag it #Praying4FLC and #Challenge4Challenge every time you pray for the ministry. This will remind our staff and students that we've got people praying for us when they get on social media. And hey, maybe it gets others who see it to pray for FLC as well. If you're not into the social media thing, no worries but still be praying.

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!

Cheers and God Bless,
Mike and Rachel

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

Prayer Requests: 

- Last year, we had a great group of solid students and leaders in the ministry. It was a big answered prayer. Pray that we would have an awesome group of student leaders again this year.

-In years past, we've had pretty terrible weather at times during our planned events. Sometimes, it makes for an even better adventure but other times, we have to cancel the event altogether. Obviously, that's no good but we need to keep the students safe. Sadly, we lose out on valuable time to make connections. Pray we have good weather for our events this year and make great connections.

-We've got a lot of retreats coming up this semester. Not only is this a great way to deepen relationships with the students but it's also a great way to go deeper in their faith. Pray that God will speak to our students' hearts and that they will grow in their faith on the retreats. Also be praying that God will clear our students' schedules so that they can be there with us.

- As the semester get busier, it's easy to neglect things big and small. We get so focused on ministry that we lose track of the things that help keep us going. We lose track of taking care of ourselves. Pray we have energy and get good sleep throughout the busy semester.

- With as many things as the ministry does, it's easy to take on way too much and get burnt out. This is especially true in the first month. By the end of September, we just sort of expect it. Pray that we would be good stewards with our time so that we don't fall into burnout.

- 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 throughout the year.

- 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 this year 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.

- Atheism is a big belief system at FLC. 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 are going to meet.

- 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.

- Pray for our new staff members and our team that it would mesh well and adjust well to the new dynamic.

- So you've heard about our mice issues. Well, we know have bees too. They are in our roof and walls. Though the mice are still a problem, putting hot sauce on the inside of our outlet covers has really helped. But yeah, now we have bees and tons of them too as house guests. It's almost comical. I'm actually laughing as I write this because it's somewhat ridiculous. We thought of jarring their honey and selling it. We'd call it Colorado Cabin Wall Honey. But warning, it may contain pesticide. I'm starting to think we should pray that God brings us someone in pest control as a supporter. Pray that God would help us solve the pest issue one way or another.

- Though we have been underfunded at different times in our ministry, we have had many big financial hits this past year like our cabin heater going out and the radiator on my vehicle needing to be replaced. Thankfully, God provided. We've got some big financial hits coming up as well like needing new tires on my vehicle and campus parking passes which aren't cheap. 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 for the coming semester, there is still time. Go to: Give Now