“Leadership: I’m writing a note I never anticipated writing. As of today we have registered 90 people for chapter retreat, and will most likely reach 100 by the time the week is over and we head out for camp on Friday! This means something very important: God is using THIS retreat to answer our prayers to change the chapter into a more welcoming place.
I have registered gobs of people I have never met before. We have an abundance of freshmen coming, people who are NOT in the “core” of IV, people who are not even Christians, people who say they are coming because of the football or their roommates but will end up being face to face with Jesus at some point this weekend.”
The last few months have, in a word, been exhilarating for us. It seems that God, in his magnificence and sovereignty, has wisely chosen this time to say “yes” to prayers that we have been praying since we were placed at CNU as staff (and even before). Although the ministry here has always seemed to thrive as far as sheer numbers of people, we’ve struggled when it comes to developing and sustaining genuine community.
We’ve been asking the Lord what this looks like in a college club that loses 1/4 of its membership each year to graduation and gains a new fourth each fall. How do we manage our resources well, run an organized ministry but also genuinely care for people? How do we make sure people don’t fall through the cracks? Can we, in a world that is fallen and broken by sin, strive for Christ-like community amidst our own hurting hearts that need the Gospel every day?
Right now at CNU, God is saying “yes”. On Feb. 13-15th. we took 96 students to camp with us for a chapter retreat. We knew this was unusual from the start— we’ve taken 50 or 60 before, but nearly 100?! The Spirit was already moving. Moreover, the retreat was mostly being planned not by me and Eric, but by our Vision team—our 5 core student leaders, who were fervently praying and planning as the retreat approached. Eric and I also spoke, but the student speakers made the big difference with their peers.
The topic was “Redeeming Community”, and Saturday night’s session led up to a time where students could go talk with others with whom they needed to seek reconciliation. That night we had 2 students accept Christ for the first time, and 2 recommit their lives to Him. (The bonfire and s’mores that followed was a time of celebration!)
The difference between this retreat and others is that it has been like an earthquake. There are major after-shocks happening in our chapter. It has brought about discussion after discussion in small groups and dorm rooms on campus. It has affected who is applying for our leadership team and why they are applying (sentences like “I want to do something about our lack of community…” are a common sight on the applications).
In short, God used this one retreat to light a fire in the hearts of our students—something we’ve been trying to do for 3 years, and have been failing to do, because the only one who can do it is the Holy Spirit! So praise God with us! We have been asking, and He is now saying yes. Yes—he is changing hearts at CNU, to help students realize that they can do something to forward the Kingdom!