Note: It is not required, but highly recommended, that you listen to this while reading this post.
There are a lot of things in the National School Project (NSP) vocabulary. Things like enthusiastic audacity, anticipated zeal, unceremonious kerfuffle, and “cool.” One word that is not in our vocabulary, however, is “impossible.”
That’s why during SLT this year we’re sending out ten mission trips to cities all over the Midwest. These mission trips, affectionately nicknamed Mission Possible, are to connect with local communities and help train students to reach their campuses for Christ. It might seem odd to have an event like this during training, but we feel the best way to train for ministry is to do ministry. That’s why each trip has two leaders: One student and one staff member, and every person on every trip has 1-2 roles. The purpose of these trips is to advance the mission of NSP in areas we’re looking to develop this year and in coming years.
We want to put our feet in the water in these new areas (Josh. 3:13) and trust the Lord to open the doors for further ministry in these areas, or perhaps to close doors if He sees fit, because we believe God wants to see students trained to reach their campuses all across the nation.
The places we’re going include: Rockton, IL; Racine, WI & Milwaukee, WI; TIU Area; Green Bay, WI; Cleveland, OH; Columbus, OH; Baltimore, MD; Palos Heights, IL; Plainfield, IL; Englewood & Austin, IL.
Since these trips are highly experimental, please support us in prayer:
For the needs of the trip
For the next steps in the city
For the community leaders we interact with
For a long-term student movement to develop in this city and state
Can I get a witness? – Student Leader Training 2016
Why does the National School Project exist? To be a witness to the life-changing message of the love of Christ! Specifically in the public high schools. But in order to be a powerful witness there, we try to always be reminding one another of the innate joy of witnessing and the love of Christ that drives us to share.
“Let us consider how to stir one another up to love and good works.”
“For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.”
2 Corinthians 5:14-15
Today, Cynthia Ramirez, a Student Leader at our BIOLA chapter, will be sharing with us about her experiences with witnessing and her growth and newfound boldness in this area:
For many Christians, once they hear the word “witnessing,” they immediately become fearful. For a very long time, I myself was terrified of coming up to a stranger to share the Gospel. I carried around the fear of possible rejection from people and the fear that I would completely mess up the conversation.
When I arrived in Chicago for Student Leader Training, I read over our schedule and saw that the whole National School Project (NSP) team would be going witnessing. Of course, I immediately became terrified! I also found out that I would be leading my team on a witnessing trip to Navy Pier. I only had previously witnessed a few times and I had never led a witnessing team, so I was no expert!
Thankfully, the NSP staff gave us the training we needed to get a better perspective on witnessing. I learned that as we speak to people about the Gospel, it isn’t about our power, but God’s. I also learned that there can be so much joy in fulfilling our part as we faithfully follow Jesus’ command. But most importantly, there’s so much joy when we see someone give their life to Jesus.
I was so encouraged by my team when I saw their boldness and heart for sharing the Gospel with strangers on the streets of Chicago.
Before heading to the pier, we prayed as a team and invited God to guide us to the people He needed us to speak to. My witnessing partner and I spoke with people and got to share the Gospel with a few who didn’t know who God is.
From all the NSP teams, three people gave their life to Christ. The amazing thing is that we all got to plant seeds, encourage other Christians, and bring people hope.
Even though it might be terrifying to witness, as children of God, we need to be obedient in sharing the Gospel and have a love so deep for people that we can’t help but share this life-changing message. All God is asking from us is to be faithful and tell people about His Son!
One of our guest speakers in our training, Pastor Moodie, shed light on relying on God’s power while witnessing “You do the natural thing, God does the supernatural.”
Let’s not be the people who miss out on sharing about the wonderful life that Christ offers! Let’s be the people who look back on to that first day when we placed our faith in Christ and were completely transformed. Let’s be people who believe God can and will speak through us when we step out in faith!
Whatever your previous experience with witnessing (or lack thereof), let us all together be followers of Christ and boldly proclaim the Gospel!
Of all the people you approach to share the Gospel, 38% are open to hearing it, and only 5% are highly resistant. With our staff and students leaders witnessing yesterday we got to see:
165 people talked to
76 Gospel presentations
19 Christians encouraged
3 first time commitments to Christ
60 Gospel tracts distributed
One of our witnessing pairs, led by Heather Barnes, actually met with two high schoolers who live in Englewood, Chicago. One of these two high schoolers initially said she wasn’t interested in talking about God, but the other said he didn’t mind. As the NSP pair started to go over their Gospel tract, the students became more and more interested and asked more and more questions until they were slowly working through the Gospel verse by verse! With this slow presentation of Bible verses, the students started answering questions for themselves. And by the time they parted ways, they said they were interested in finding out more! We introduced them to a church partner in their area, and we keep them in our prayers and leave them in the power of the Holy Spirit who has begun to work in their lives!
“So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; It will not return to Me empty, Without accomplishing what I desire, And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.”
The 30 Second “Why” – Student Leader Training 2016
The first full day of Student Leader Training (SLT) started out with a bang as we had a game of the Amazing Race to break the ice, get used to talking to strangers, and begin to get excited for being together! By the end of the day, the excitement of the first ever National School Project SLT was palpable as we got to hear stories from both the Illinois and California state teams.Also today, all the student leaders had the opportunity to inspire their peers with the vision of the National School Project by sharing their “30 second whys.” “30 second whys” are just our way of remembering why we’re doing what we’re doing. We do this so that we will:
Be able to inspire one another and our campus mentors.
Be driven to do our jobs with joy and urgency.
Be willing to invite others into the ministry.
Be willing to sacrifice for the sake of the Gospel.
A couple tidbits of why Student Leaders do what they do included:
“I want to see the shackles of the people of San Hosea broken by the relentless love of Jesus Christ.”
– Laura Bell
“I want us to actually believe God will reach every student in America.”
– Lee Vaughn
“I’ve always wanted to practice learning good witnessing skills, and see how that can lead others to Christ. I joined NSP to personally be able to watch the growth of young Christians, to see their own developed passion for Christ, and to strengthen my own relationship with the Lord.”
– Andrew Randolph
Some students even got more creative with their “whys,” like Julia Primuth, who wrote this haiku:
I cannot escape
My Lord when He calls me
to love what He loves.
These are just a few “whys” that lead Student Leaders to change students’ lives.
Today, students from all over California and Illinois are traveling to Chicago for two weeks of intensive training in leadership and sharing the Gospel, for team building and support in ministry, and for a time of growth in their faith. After many weeks of preparation, we’re ready to welcome our student leaders to Student Leader Training (SLT), August 2016!
SLT is a precious part of our ministry because of the tremendous impact Student Leaders have on high school students’ lives. They are committed and determined to reach high school students for Christ!
Student Leaders take on a part time job to:
Recruit and train college students,
Coach high school students,
Build community partnerships, and
Bring Christ to lost students.
But they’re not alone! That’s why for the next two weeks our Students Leaders from every area of our ministry undertake one of the most intensive training retreats in the country. We will all pray and seek the Lord for guidance in the year to come together. Please pray for us as we train and witness together in the coming weeks!
If you’ve been keeping up with us lately, you’ll know that we recently wrapped up our two week training for our college student leaders, and that we’re thrilled with the caliber of our team this year. During the first week of training, we all went into L.A. to share the gospel around the city. Brennan, our student director at Trinity International University in Chicago, was part of the group that went to Hollenbeck Park in East L.A. He soon struck up a conversation with Gabriel*, who was sitting near the lake that fills the park. He shared with Brennan how he had previously been following Jesus, but that for the past few years he hadn’t been doing so. The two had a fruitful conversation for some time, and before Brennan left he asked Gabriel for his phone number. He gave it willingly, saying that he wanted to discuss faith more.
Brennan (right) with the rest of the TIU leadership team.
Of course, Brennan had to return to Chicago not long after, and so he passed along the contact to Brian, one of our staff members who lives in that area. He sent Gabriel a text, and within a week the two were able to arrange to meet at the same park. Picking up where Brennan left off, the two spent an hour circling the lake in the park, delving into Gabriel’s resistance to following God and what he felt like was holding him back. The conversation led him expressing a renewed desire to seek to follow God and be supported by other Christians, knowing at least one nearby to encourage him in his faith.
Hollenbeck Park in East L.A.
Our goal at CSP is to see lives changed and people following God with their whole lives. That means sharing with as many as possible about the Lord, even if only for a short time. Our goal is always to be able to follow up with those who hear the gospel through our ministry and help them be discipled long term. We’re so grateful to have student leaders this year with that mindset. Pray with us that this will only be the first of many such stories this year.
Why do we do what we do at the National School Project? That is the question we constantly asked ourselves the past two weeks at our Student Leader Training. Why did thirty-seven student leaders and staff spend the last two weeks of their summer in meetings, focused on our vision and mission, being equipped for ministry in this coming school year?
Because Jesus is worthy. We have taken his call to make disciples of all nations seriously, believing that it starts with us, and that it starts in our own nation.
Each year millions of students are graduating high school without knowing the love of Jesus. They do not know him because they have never heard of him. They have never heard of him because no one told them. No one told them because, perhaps, they thought it was someone else’s job to do so.
But we believe that it is our job. It is the call of all believers—timid or bold, eloquent or awkward, young or old, clergy or laymen—all who call on the name of the Lord are called to be ministers of the gospel.
So we trained and commissioned twenty-four student leaders from California and Illinois to go and make disciples of other college students, so that they can go make disciples of high school students, who can make disciples of their peers—sharing the love of Jesus with everyone along the way.
We long for the Lord’s return. We long for the day when every knee bows and every tongue confesses that Jesus Christ is Lord. We long to see him in the fullness of his glory and to hear, “Well done good and faithful servant.” Just as Paul did, we want to be able to say,
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award me on that day; and not only me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.”
2 Timothy 4:7-8
We want not only to have personal assurance of salvation in Christ Jesus, but we long to bring hundreds of thousands, even millions of others with us to the throne of our King. We want to make disciples of all nations, starting with our own, reaching the vast mission field of public schools.
“This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.”
May you and I both take Jesus seriously. Let us follow the example of NSP’s passionate student leaders and give of the luxuries of our free time to the worthy mission that Jesus has called us to. Share in the joy of disciple-making. Share in the joy of leading others into the family of God.
Wednesday was our last day of student leader training and it was filled with practical tools to live a healthy ministry life. Being a student while doing ministry can become stressful as we are being pulled in many different directions. We can feel ourselves being stretched too thin, to the point of compromise in other areas of our life. Sleep, diet, exercise and even our relationship with the Lord is minimized to achieve our responsibilities. Being stressed out during ministry is unhealthy as it will affect every part of our life. The way we can live a stress-free life is by being prepared.
The majority of our stress can be controlled by being proactive and planning a head. We need to be able to set smart and reasonable goals without overworking ourselves. We cannot control every aspect of ministry and life but, we can be proactive instead of reactive.
As a past student leader, I remember being stressed out and compromising areas of my life. In my case sleep was first to go. It was hard to function and stay positive for the mission. But through the encouragement of my fellow leaders, I was reminded of the ‘why.’ I started setting real and attainable goals for myself and getting enough sleep so that I would be able to lead a healthy ministry. When life gets hard and busy we must remember why we are in this ministry. As for myself I want to see every student hear the gospel of Christ. I want every student to have the opportunity to hear about Jesus before they graduate, and for young Christian leaders to have a radical faith in Jesus. This is what motivates me to live a heathy ministry.
By reminding me of my why, I am encouraged to live a healthy life that leads to healthy ministry, because I’m being prepared and I’m looking forward to what God is going to do this year. Throughout student leader training I have learned how to be prepared (having a schedule and a to do list) and be excited for what God is going to do. As our training comes to an end I feel prepared, encouraged, and challenged to fight the good fight this year. This year is going to be fun and have hardships, but as for myself I have decided to be faithful to live a life sold out for Christ so that I may be able to pour out to everyone around me from what God has given me. I cannot wait to see campuses changed because of God’s love. Pray with me that God would change lives this year. Every school has students and those students have stories that need to be impacted by Jesus Christ.
My name is Heather Suiter. 5 years ago I was given the challenge to reach my high school for Christ in Chicagoland. The boldest mission I had ever encountered.
Through God’s strength, I said yes.
Jesus rocked my faith and moved in the lives of my peers like never before. My heart was sharpened with a deepened love for the lost. A love that desperately longed to see the eternity of America’s lost youth change.
I wouldn’t be who I am today or where I am today without the life shaping experience of sharing Christ on my high school campus. I’m so grateful for CSP and their coaching that equipped me in this bold mission.
This bold mission is BIG.
There are 225+ high schools in Chicagoland alone.
17 million high school students in America.
I stand here, 5 years later, thrilled to continue in this passion God has instilled in my heart. I will serve as the MBI and SW Suburbs Area Chapter Director this next year in Chicago!
You may be wondering: where are some of the other high school students are that were coached by CSP and led outreach on their campuses?
They still believe in the incredible mission of bringing high school students the life-changing Gospel! A few of them are now working as Student Leaders with the National School Project* in college.
HEAR FROM THEM PERSONALLY:
Q: How has your time in CSP as a high school student transformed you? How does this now motivate or effect you as a Student Leader?
Yesi, Los Angles Area Intern:
“We wanted to do something big, but we didn’t know what to do! Then, after being coached by CSP in High School and leading outreach, I realized that has really played a huge part in the leader I am today!
I saw the importance of campus mentors, so I wanted to give back and give them the opportunities I had in high school. I want them to feel like they can do it.”
Clayton, Chapter Director, Trinity International University:
“I spent most of High School not sharing my faith. Then as a senior, CSP challenged me and helped me share my faith in ways I didn’t know I could.
Since being a part of CSP, I’ve shared the Gospel way more often and I now teach college and high school students to do the same.”
Caleb, Student Leader, Kern County:
“Before CSP came my friends and I weren’t activated. We were almost sleeping when it came to witnessing. Then through being coached it really made me understand what it means to be unashamed of the Gospel and live as a light for Christ. I know there is a need for American students to hear the Gospel and I’m excited to see him move in great ways in Kern County.”
Annie, Student Leader, San Gabriel Valley:
“Being coached as a high school student was where my heart for God grew. He revealed to me my passion for youth ministry. It is this passion in me that never dies, but continues to grow. CSP’s passion and heart is for youth. It’s thrilling as a leader to work with a staff and college students who have a unified passion.”
It is amazing to see the laborers God has continued to call for the harvest. I ask you to pray as we finish out the last day of Student Leader Training today, and as we embark on a new year of ministry. We are excited to see God bring about lasting transformation in the lives of students, as students lead the way!
Thank you for your prayers & support, Heather Suiter MBI & SW Suburbs Chapter Director, Moody Bible Institute
*The new name, the National School Project, was officially announced last night at our Prayer and Partnership Meeting in La Mirada, California.
Tuesday we spent a lovely summer day at Azusa Pacific University. Even though it is my rival school, it was still awesome to see where our San Gabriel Valley chapter is operating out of. It was a packed day of photos and training in how to enroll high schools. Though I went through a similar training session last year, it was good to be reminded of the value and possibility that enrolling a school can entail. We are able to get to know these awesome middle and high school students who are on-fire for the Lord and see first-hand some of the mission field we’re undertaking.
What an amazing opportunity to see how God is working in students’ lives and being able to encourage them in their walk with the Lord. When I was in high school, I was never too sure if I was making the best decisions, so it’s wonderful to be the one to tell them to press on with the power of the Holy Spirit; to become, as Paul praises the Thessalonians,
“…an example to all the believers in Greece –throughout both Macedonia and Achaia” (Thessalonians 1:7, NLT).
I can only imagine the transformation on public school campuses if Christian students became an example to all believers by being loving, having wholesome speech, and showing righteous living as Paul charges Timothy to model (1 Timothy 4:12, NLT). How many students would come running back to God, seeing His love and compassion and mercy through these leaders? How many families would be mended when one of their children came home equipped and on fire to share the love of Jesus and His work on the cross?
In order for that dream to become a living reality, we as individuals should become a worthy model for these students to imitate. Not for the sake of our pride or our own self-righteousness, but to deepen our intimacy with our Lord and Savior and to better love and serve these students around us. If you are a middle or high school student reading this, I pray you will find someone who imitates Jesus so fully to walk beside and learn from, as Timothy did from Paul, for your own sanctification and to better shepherd the school that God has placed you in during this season. So let us be diligent in diving into who Jesus is so we can better model His perfect, atoning life to those students who are letting God use them to shine a great light on their campus.
In His strength alone,
Logistics Leader, Biola University
After long days of training and an entire first week under my belt, I can honestly say that the weekend of rest was much needed. Even though the workshops, scribbling down notes from all of the wise teaching, and chapter breakouts were put on pause, the momentum and excitement for ministry has not. On Sunday teams from every chapter were sent out to different churches in the cities of La Mirada, Bellflower, and West Covina. Every team spoke about the topic of “witnessing.” Witnessing is something all of the student leaders and staff took part in this week, along with the challenge to grow in our public speaking skills. I felt like I was in the place of loving to share the Gospel but I haven’t become comfortable with speaking in front of a crowd before. Needless to say, that morning I woke up with a bundle of nerves sitting at the forefront of my mind. It was one of those mornings where you wake up way too early and you know that caffeine actually would not help you.
Then I heard a knock on my door. It was a girl on my team to speak at the church. I instantly shared with her a little about the nerves I was feeling, hoping that I was not the only one. I was not met by my fellow student leader with judgement for having nervousness, or apathy from presenting a feeling that would not directly affect her. Instead, she utilized her ability to listen with her ears, eyes, and respond in a loving and encouraging way. On Friday our devotion was based on the character and way of mentorship Paul utilized in the way he led Timothy, with verses found in 2 Timothy. In exercising character development in unison with leadership development, the results have been immense blessings from a team with teachable hearts who long for God to use them to encourage and love those around them. Encouragement and living out a healthy team culture can be the heart beat or, if not practiced, the heart burn of a team.
Paul’s heart for Timothy incorporated affirmation, affection, and grace. In communication, Paul effectively communicates to Timothy his desire to mentor him but also shows deep developing care for him. Paul saw Timothy both in tears and in strength, and continuously pointed him back to the encouragement we find in the gospel of Jesus Christ. With Paul as a model, I experienced one of my close team members encouraging me with this same heart of reliance on the cross and a mindset to care for one another. Daily I am encouraged by those around me as they challenge me to cling to the cross for strength, and exercise the opportunities I have in ministry, knowing I am prayed for and cared for. When I ask for help, I am offered prayer. When I am nervous, I am comforted with scripture and a reminder of the “why” in all we do. When I loose sight of the importance of ministry, it is probably because I have not taken the time to look around and see the transformational work of Christ and His gospel working in and through my fellow student leaders and staff.
There is nothing sweeter than having a team of students and staff alike that do not discredit your fear of the unknown when it comes to ministry, but one that exerts the empathy of leaders such as Paul. Seeing their heart for the Lord empowers me because service and compassion is contagious. An atmosphere of freedom is cultivated because through love we are serving another in word and deed. I long for the ministry with the California School Project to continue growing in encouragement, letting the gospel impact us so deeply that even in our listening we embody the heart of Christ. I am expectant to see hearts changed by the affection that Christ stirs up within us when we encourage and develop as He did, without barrier.