I was born and raised in Alaska and this summer is my first chance to return for ministry. Kirsten and I will help lead a team of Cru staff and students to explore the university campuses in Anchorage. Our goals will be to gather information that we can pass along to a longterm team and to cultivate current and new relationships among the community.
Cru has already spent many summers in Alaska. In Anchorage, they have hosted nearly thirty men’s Summer Projects that have focused on personal growth and outdoor adventure. The same has occurred in Juneau for both men and women. There are also two Cru Military Summer Projects and another in Kake focused on Alaska Natives. Despite all of these, there has never been an established Cru campus ministry anywhere in the state.
Our work will take the Anchorage Summer Project and turn its focus toward helping to launch new spiritual movements on Alaska’s college campuses. What is a spiritual movement? It’s when God works to win people to faith in Jesus, build them in their faith through discipleship and send them to win and build others. Building spiritual movements everywhere is what Cru is all about, so that everyone knows someone who truly follows Jesus. Even in Alaska.
In working toward spiritual movements, our time will help pioneer the area for the laborers who will be moving to Anchorage, hopefully by Fall 2016. This will include asking questions and learning as much as we can about the city, its students, its ministries and everything else. This information will be vital for the future team, helping them to better understand the local context.
For the staff and students we’re bringing, possibly over twenty of us, we will learn how to look at a culture with fresh eyes. We will ask, “What is this here for?” and “Why is it done this way?” There is so much to learn in a new place, so our efforts to gather these insights will make the future team’s transition more efficient.
We will also spend time reconnecting with locals we have partnered with in the past to seek their thoughts and wisdom on all things Alaska. The information we gather will allow our future team to decide what might work best as they figure out how a typical 18-24 year old would understand the gospel message given their background and current realities.
Our Anchorage Summer Project experience will be valuable on our own campuses, in other ministries, in local churches, and in the workplace. If we learn how to read a cultural context and cultivate relationships, imagine what these skills will reveal about the places we currently live and work. It’s an indispensable step in our effort to help people move toward Jesus.
We invite you to begin praying for us, our staff team, and the students who will go with us to Alaska. We're excited to find out what God is already up to as well as the opportunities we think Cru would be suited to fill. Pray for the future team as it comes together this year. It takes surrender, sacrifice, and pure resolve to weather the journey that is Alaska.
Kirsten and I have booked flights that arrive June 10th and depart on July 23rd. Please pray for housing arrangements, scheduling, and the student acceptance process. We hope to finalize these details in the next three weeks.
Q: What’s Summer Project?
Think of a “spiritual greenhouse” where students have the opportunity to grow immensely. We provide in-depth Bible teaching to develop their understanding of God’s character and mentor them along the way to strengthen their relationship with God and their peers. This culminates in sending them back to their campuses with new skills and experiences allowing them to minister to others and share the Gospel everywhere they go.
Q: Where did you go exactly?
South Lake Tahoe, California! Cru has hosted college students from around the country at this location since 1971. The property houses up to 110 students in thirty cabins. We have our own kitchen and cooks as well as a lawn, picnic table dining area, and city bike path access.
Q: How do students decide to go?
Their local Cru Staff and friends typically invite them personally. They submit an online application and choose a location from among 200 spanning the globe. Once accepted, they invite family and friends to help send them through prayer and financial support.
Q: What makes the LTSP unique?
Students spend ten weeks working full-time at local businesses and attending local church partnerships. On nights and weekends they share meals together, study the Bible in small groups, attend teaching and training seminars from project guest speakers, and take every chance to enjoy the lake and mountains.
Q: What do they learn?
Each week is themed around specific topics. We learned about personal revival and brokenness, overcoming barriers in our ability to trust God, God’s design for sexuality, global missions opportunities, faith in the workplace, and having a role in campus ministry while still a student. In addition, we taught Bible study methods and worked through the book of Philippians together daily.
Q: What made this summer special for you?
We were Operations directors and actually began in January with the Student and Staff Development directors. Using video chats for our meetings, we helped shape the project’s structure and schedule. We provided oversight of the budget, housing, and project hiring needs, as well as managed the financial goals for students. It was a great role for us as new parents because we could set a schedule that benefitted Simon, while simultaneously using our administrative and creative skills to contribute to the project’s purposes and outcomes.
If you have, or know of, a student that might be benefit from going on a Summer Project, they can apply as early as their senior year of high school. Have them visit GoSummerProject.com to see where God might take them!
Christina is one of the students I worked with the past six weeks in Lake Tahoe. While there, she befriended a teenaged girl named Tori. Here is what Christina wrote about their time together.
“When I first met Tori, we talked for a while and made plans to meet again. A few days later, we sat at Pope Beach and she told me she hadn't heard from her real dad in two years, and that her mom physically abuses her, which was why she was staying with her grandparents in Lake Tahoe for the summer.
This is one of many encouraging stories from our Summer Project in Lake Tahoe. I’m so proud of Christina’s courage to engage in a spiritual conversation with a new friend. She just finished her freshman year of college and is already learning to share the Gospel and equip a new believer. She can now bring this passion to her campus at Eastern Washington, and anywhere she goes in the future.
For Tori’s new faith, that she would grow into a mature Christ-follower and that Christina would continue to guide and encourage her. Pray also that many freshmen at UM will hear the Gospel this August and September.
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Hello! We’ve been on Summer Project the past few weeks and God is working in, and through, our students! Christina (pictured above) has begun friendships with two of her coworkers at McDonald’s, four people she met at the beach, and one high schooler, none of whom know Jesus yet. She is actively exploring their spiritual lives and has already shared the Gospel with five of them!
In the past three weeks, twelve people have accepted Christ! Students are excited to share their faith and God is growing their hearts for those who don’t know Him.
OUR PROJECT OBJECTIVES:
Proclaiming the Gospel
Initiating spiritual conversations at work and on the beaches of Lake Tahoe.
Training our students to teach others how to grow in their faith and share about Jesus.
Each Day in God’s Word
Devotionals in 1 John and small group discussions.
Book: The Calvary Road
Learning about personal revival and the full life Jesus offers.
Ivan and Kirsten
Aaron and Jack, second and third from the right, are co-leading one of the men's Lifegroups. Every group meets each morning for devotions and weekly for in-depth Bible study. Outside of that, Jack and Aaron are meeting one-on-one with the these four students for personal discipleship and evangelism.
Summer is here, yet we’re not taking a break. The next few months are quite possibly the best time to invest in college students. It’s an opportunity for them to focus their attention and devote more energy to spiritual growth. Summer Projects build into their lives by combining this unprecedented availability with a deepening faith community.
We will be staffing the Lake Tahoe Summer Project, which has a 35 year history of developing students from around the country. 75 students will spend ten weeks growing in their relationships with God and learning skills to be effective in ministering to others. Through a variety of experiences in the city of South Lake Tahoe, this project will equip students to lead in their faith communities back on campus.
Summer Projects create a sort of “spiritual greenhouse” for students to grow deeper in their relationship with God. In just a short time, students will mature to a degree that normally requires an entire school year. They’ll receive encouragement and accountability from their peers and will apply what they’re learning at their local jobs each day.
Next week, we will be bringing five UM students with us to Lake Tahoe. Then, in the fall, each of them will be leading Bible studies in different dorms and introducing freshmen to Jesus. They are already eager to take what they learn and bring it back to our campus. Summer Project helps to fulfill The Great Commission by turning students into multiplying disciples.
For Zoe, Cally, Tess, Audrey, and Hannah going to Tahoe, that they would grow closer to God and return this fall with new ministry and leadership skills to help people at UM hear and understand the Gospel.
Ivan and Kirsten
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