Monday, September 6, 2010

Colleeege! or, "I love InterVarsity"

My baby sister started college this week (!!), which means two things: 1.) that I am feeling really old and lamenting the fact that I'm NOT a college girl any longer a little more than usual, and 2.) that I'm beyond thrilled to live vicariously through her! For those of you who know sweet Taylor, she's doing great. And I'm planning a visit to Birmingham at the end of October :)

Meanwhile, I've been praising God for a full summer of exciting happenings on the New England college front! Truly, I'm just blown away by all that God has been up to. A little background is needed here:

During my senior year at Richmond, I seriously considered being on full-time staff with Greek InterVarsity. It's such an amazing ministry, and I had been so tremendously blessed by my staffworkers, Goodie and Carolyn, and by the support I received as a college girl who really wanted to see her chapter transformed by the gospel. In the end, I decided that as much as I loved college ministry, being on a college campus full time would limit my capacity to work with high school students. It was a tough choice because there is such a huge place in my heart for Greek ministry! Several of the jobs I applied for last year entailed some contact with college students--an exciting prospect. But when I took the job at Walnut Hill, I really didn't expect to be involved with college ministry beyond coordinating communications.

It's been such a huge perk of my job that I have gotten to spend time with the college crew. I love working with high school girls, but it's so refreshing to hang out with college girls. They're so wise and so much fun!

Okay, so here are the things I want to update you on:

1. Walnut Hill is partnering with IV!!
I still almost can't contain my excitement over this--a church I love (and happen to work for) is partnering with a ministry I love! It's beautiful. Our new college pastor is on full-time staff with IV, pioneering a chapter at WestConn. I just know it's going to be amazing to watch as IV lends its many resources to a ministry that has been growing in significant ways over the past few years. New England campuses are under-resourced, so it's exciting to think about how Mike's ministry at WestConn could influence other New England schools, specifically those in Connecticut!

2. Another small-world connection...
Maybe it's just because I'm such a social creature, but few things excite me more than small-world connections. I just love it when worlds collide! That happened in a really cool way this past month. Matt had mentioned a couple of months ago that one of his buddies from our church in Nashville, West End CC, was a WestConn grad. It seemed random, but I didn't think about it much beyond that conversation. More recently, he mentioned the guy again...and the following week, while our team was praying for one another, Mike shared a request for some more supporters. As I was praying for him, Matt's friend Pete came to mind and I thought, "I've really got to connect these two." I wasn't thinking of it as a financial solution so much, but more a potentially encouraging relationship for both Pete and Mike, two guys who care deeply about the spiritual condition of their alma mater's campus. So I asked Matt to help make it happen, and he called Pete almost immediately. Unbeknownst to Matt, Pete was in Connecticut at the time! And he told Matt he had planned to attend Walnut Hill that Sunday! The rest is history. We connected in the Fellowship Mall, I introduced him to Mike, and now he's on a mission to help Mike raise support for the ministry. (You can ask my sister how giddy I was on the day this all unfolded, since she was visiting that weekend.)

His plan is pretty genius: Publicize WestConn as a mission field to Southern Christians with lots of resources. It's brilliant, really. (And it's giving me some other ideas, which I'll write about in another post.) As Matt said, "there are two things the Church in the South has plenty of: people and money." And really, if there are two things the Church in New England is lacking, it's those! So we'll see what happens. But I'm overwhelmed at how good God is to arrange for these seemingly random meetings. I guess when your God is big, the world is always pretty small :)

3. Greek Conference
Last semester, I was really burdened for the many, many girls who were going to be coming home from school for the summer. I began praying about how we as a church could help them to feel connected while they were home and about how we could bridge relationships between WestConn students and Walnut Hill students from other schools. We ended up having a girls' small group at my house before the Gathering (our summer college group) every week. It was such a sweet time of eating together and building relationships--one of the highlights of my summer, for sure! There were lots of neat relationships and conversations that came out of the summer, and all my girls went back to school leaving me VERY encouraged that there are passionate, incarnational Christian women on college campuses all over the Northeast.

One especially cool thing, though, was meeting a couple of girls who are involved in the Greek system at their schools (both in AXO)! It's been awesome to connect with them over something that's been so significant in my own life...and to know that God is using them in their chapters in amazing ways! One of them had been to Greek Conference in Charlotte (the same conference I went to in college) and shared a buzz she heard about IV possibly adding a New York location this year. She told me today that the buzz is for real--Greek Conference is coming up this way in October! So, I'm hoping to rally a group of Greek girls to go--and to volunteer that weekend as a leader.

If that weren't enough, Mike shared with me that an IV couple is pioneering the ministry at UConn this year--the guy will be working primarily with the undergrad chapter, and the girl will be starting a Greek chapter! As we talked, I started to put together that I met this girl--Alyssa--three years ago when I went to Orlando for a prospective staff weekend with Greek IV (yet another small-world connection)! At the time, she was pioneering a Greek chapter at UNH. I immediately loved her for her willingness to do ministry in New England. (Of course I never dreamed that God would eventually call me here! He's funny like that, you know.) But how cool is it that we have not only two undergraduate IV chapters in Connecticut, but now a Greek chapter as well?!

God is definitely up to something around here!

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