Greetings! The beginning of the semester is here. Well, actually, it's come and gone. We're over a month and a half into the new semester, and we've met a lot of new students.
You might be wondering, "But what about Peru?" Don't worry, Peru was great, and God did some pretty cool things! But I'll have to update you on that in a later update because there is a lot to share...and I'm still working on putting a video together (which takes a long time for a closet perfectionist like myself) from pictures and videos taken on the trip. I hope to get all that out to you in the next month or so.
Anyway, we hit the ground running after getting back from Peru. I think we had three or four days of rest and recuperation before our Challenge schedule started back up. After finishing up the mission trip on six hours of sleep in 72 hours, getting back into the swing of things for Challenge was challenging. I felt like I was in a fog for about two weeks as I recovered. The semester came quickly and I was just trying to get traction and keep up.
The freshmen moved in soon after we arrived back in Durango. We were on campus as much as possible, day and night, making a big push to meet as many new students as possible. Anything from setting up tables at student club fairs to slacklining to volleyball to Frisbee to throwing a big pizza party outside where we had around 200-250 students. We were out there trying to meet freshmen and make new contacts. They hung out for quite awhile, and we got to have a lot of good conversations with them.
During the first week, we also had a dinner for our student-officers. It was great to see everyone and catch back up. We were able to cast a vision for our officers as to what our expectations were for them and the ministry this year.
More events followed over the month. We had a freshman dinner and an international dinner to connect with those students. And of course, our first family dinner.
We hosted our traditional night hike up Smelter Mountain. Though having a lot of students on a mountainside in the dark can be like herding cats, this year, it went really smoothly. Nobody got lost which is always nice. There were even some good spiritual conversations on the hike which opened the door for more to be had with those students after the hike. The conversations continued when we hit up Denny's afterwards for a late dinner and milkshakes.
We went waterfall jumping this year again as well. Despite the extremely cold water, everyone had a pretty awesome time. There were some good spiritual conversations on the ride up there as well.
There was our trip to Silverton which was a big hit. We had nine sign up for the trip beforehand. Nearly thirty showed up for the actual trip. That always is tricky making sure we have enough rides for everyone but we made it work. We drove up to a mining ghost town just outside of Silverton. During the drive, we discussed that a lot of people left their values behind going wild and crazy when they went to mining towns. We talked about how college is similar and from a Christian perspective, how to protect yourself from that.
Once we arrived at the ghost town, everyone got to walk around and explore the houses and structures that are still standing from around 100-150 years ago. Then we headed back into Silverton and got dinner together. We had students we'd never met show up for that trip. It was great getting to connect with new people.
This year, instead of our normal Ice Lakes trip that we've done in years past, we decided to move locations and do a camp and climb of Silver Mountain to mix things up. It's a mountain I've been climbing since my college days. We've done a lot of expeditions on it for ministry. It's a super sketchy drive up the side of the mountain covering extremely narrow switchback after switchback. The students walked the sketchier parts so that I didn't flip my Xterra with them in it. Thankfully, I only got on three wheels three times during the drive up. We drove up to almost treeline and set up camp there.
As day turned to night, we got the campfire going and cooked up some chili. We followed that up with some s'mores roasted over the fire. As the night went on, we hung out around the fire talking about anything from cultural differences between America and Japan, to life, to the Gospel. We went to bed when the fire finally died out around 2 a.m.
After an early unscheduled wakeup call by a hunter driving his dirt bike into camp around 6 a.m., we cooked up some eggs and sausage, and had a short devotional about following Jesus and letting Him guide us. Following that, we packed up camp and started our ascent of Deadwood Mountain and Silver Mountain.
Having a smaller group and great weather, we summited Deadwood, traversed the ridge, and then summited Silver quicker than any expedition in the past. In the end, we made it down safely and had a great trip despite being pretty exhausted.
We followed up the Silver Mountain expedition with a retreat for Christian Challenge college ministries across the Western Slope of Colorado. We had Mesa (Grand Junction) and Western (Gunnison) drive on down to Durango. We hosted the retreat at Cross Bar X, a camp just outside of town. In all, we had about 70 attend. The Mesa group brought with them their worship band to play. I got to join in and play bass guitar with them. I hadn't played in ten years so it was a bit challenging getting back into the swing of things but it was a huge blessing to be able to join them.
We also brought in Josh's dad, Mike Story, to be the speaker for the weekend. We covered topics like the importance of Jesus, the importance of discipleship, and the difference between discipline and legalism. Our cooks for the weekend came from Mike Story's church and were able to share their testimonies throughout the weekend with the group as well.
It was a great time for our students where they really had an opportunity to grow. We also had a bunch of our Japanese students check it out which sparked some great questions and conversations. And of course, we had fun activities for the students too.
So far, our events have really opened the door to connect with new students. Just recently, we had a bunch of new students we were able to take down to Albuquerque for Balloon Fiesta. Being that it's one of the biggest hot air balloon festivals in the world, it's always a big selling point for our students, especially the Japanese. It's amazing the good spiritual conversations that can be had when traveling in a car for hours.
All in all, it's been a pretty good semester so far but we've definitely felt a lot of spiritual attacks since being back. Hopefully that means we're doing something right with the ministry. We know that God's doing big things in the lives of our students and the enemy can't be happy. So we expect attacks to come but still, it can be exhausting. We need all the prayers we can get. And that's a nice segue into the next paragraph.
Over the past years, there has been a lot of prayer covering our students and our staff. God answers those prayers. We know that you play a big part in that so keep praying. I've challenged everyone in past newsletters to really be praying for the ministry and campus, to set at least 5-10 minutes a day aside to do that. We have really seen fruit from that. So please, keep praying. God is moving thru your prayers!
Thank you for all the support and encouragement you give! We are super thankful for that! As always, 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, please follow this link to our giving options:
Prayer Requests:- Pray that God would continue to grow our student-leaders. Last year, it was tough at times to find committed student-leaders that would reach out to our younger students. Thankfully this year, many who weren't quite ready to step up last year have stepped up this year. We pray that they would continue to step up and grow.
- Pray for our students that God would continue growing them and keeping them strong in their faith. It seems like some of our students took some steps back this summer while they were away and that's carried on over into the school year. We hope and pray that they'll get back on track and get serious about their faith again.
- With as many things as the ministry does, it's easy to take on way too much and get burnt-out. Most of the time, it's all good things that lead us down that path. Pray that we would find time for rest and that God would protect us from burnout.
- 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.
- Over the years, our staff has had a lot of health issues that can really be a discouragement. Pray that God would keep our staff safe and healthy.
- With the size of our staff, it's easy for personalities to bump into each other and rub each other the wrong way. Keep praying for our team that it would continue to mesh well.
- For years, Challenge has done everything possible to preserve unity on campus between us and other ministries knowing that division opens the door for the enemy to attack and try to tear down what God is doing. Please pray that the different ministries on campus would have unity, being team players, with the common goal reaching FLC with the Gospel.
- It's that time of the year when we start trying to figure out summer plans and if God is calling us to go. We've been praying about where God might want us this coming summer. Peru is probably not an option this point but an exploratory trip into the high Andes of Bolivia may be a new open door. We'll see. That's just one of many trips on the radar right now. Please be praying that God would give us wisdom and discernment as we listen for His plans for us this summer.
- Pray that Rachel and I would not neglect the ministry that is our marriage. We can be much more successful in our college ministry if our marriage is in a good place but it's easy to put that on the back burner when things get busy.
- Pray that God would open the door for us to partner with more churches and individuals. With us moving closer to town, we've had students in our home a lot more. From one-on-discipleship meetings to mission trip trainings to Bible studies to family dinners, our ministry costs have gone up quite a bit. I know this is no secret but students can eat a lot and that can get pretty expensive. We also have other costs like campus parking passes to pay for this time of the year. Rachel and I trust God to provide for us and the ministry but we'd appreciate you praying as well that the funding needs would be met. If you would like to give for the on-going ministry happening at Fort Lewis, please go to: Give Now.