Happy New Year! We start 2007 by highlighting STINT Leaders Joel Shibata, alumnus of the Outback Bowl Champs Penn State, and Claire Seabright, alumnus of the Gator Bowl Champs WVU, who are on their 2nd STINT year in Karaganda, Kazakhstan. Claire has some big changes as she got engaged in November - not to Borat - but Caleb Bermudez.
The movement in Karaganda is only 3 years old. Joel and Claire’s little team of 4 are focusing on meshing an existing group of believers with the new believers they have seen trust Christ in the past 3 years. They are spending most of their time (apart of Claire planning a wedding) building into the many believers they have through discipleship and through our new leadership teams: Growth, Prayer, Community, and Outreach. One of the things they want to see happen this year is for their students to own evangelism for themselves, not as something they teach them and they forget about, but something they are burdened for. They are also working on how to make the things they do transferable for their students.
Claire says she has been encouraged by how their students have been faithful to discipleship and are eager to learn. They had an Evangelistic Retreat last month and 51 students come (including both believers and nonbelievers). With the team guiding them, their student leaders prepared the whole retreat which is a big step for them in eventually taking over the ministry. They are looking forward to their Winter Believer’s Conference in February and also to sending a few students to CM 2007 this summer.
What a great place to be seeing national students begin to lead and take the baton!
I am blogging from DCC. In the main sessions yesterday, we heard from pastor Bryon Loritts in the morning. Awesome. Dong Whan Kim, head of Korea Campus Crusade in Los Angles, was our main speaker in the evening. Powerful. After Dong Whan spoke, his wife, Jung Sun, led an optional prayer time. About 200 students of the 2000 conferees came to pray for two hours. Unreal.
Bryon also spoke to our staff in the afternoon from Matthew 5:3 "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." With that and the desperate prayer in the evening, the Lord brought back to mind some of the things we talked about last summer about living and leading out of desperation. I didn’t take notes from Bryon’s talk to the staff other than mental so it’s a little sketchy. But he said something to the effect that God doesn’t need more gifted Christ-followers or leaders, gifted folks are a dime a dozen, He needs Christ-followers and leaders who are desperate, humble and dependent on him.
As we cried out to the Lord last night for Him to bring justice to our lives, our campuses, this generation, etc., I keep thinking, "This is where it happens - on our knees crying out to Him." One of the coolest things was we ended by singing I give you my heart. We sang it together. Then the guys alone sang it as we held up our hands before the Lord while the women got on their knees praying for us as men. Then the men got on their knees to pray for the women as they sang it holding their hands over their hearts.
So yesterday brought back a lot to my mind of what we talked about last summer in terms of living and leading out of desperation. I think about these young Christ-followers in Karaganda and in all of the places where you are serving. I think what Joel and Claire want to see happen for their students - that proclaiming Christ is not just some activity they learn but something they are burdened for - is a great prayer for all of our disciples. Our desire should be that our students have a burden for the lost around them. This burden and compassion for the lost can only come as they (and we) connect our hearts to God's heart. It comes as we lead our students to be poor in spirit, clinging in utter dependence to the Vine knowing that apart from Him we can do nothing.
If Christ-followers like that take up the baton and pass the same heart on the others... WOW!