On Friday March 23rd, the University of Washington Athletic Department and the Husky Crew Team honored Peter by naming their Varisty Boat after him. Peter was a loving disciple who rowed for the UW Crew Team. He lived as a faithful Christian and left many people touched and inspired by his life. Thank you to all who joined us from the church for the dedication at Conibear Shellhouse, at the University of Washington. Peter lives on in our thoughts and our prayers, and we can’t imagine a more appropriate way to honor him. His family and friends agree, it seems fitting that Peter’s memory will live on with the sport he so dearly loved.
If I told you that 5 years ago, when we didn’t have a campus presence at SPU, that it wasn’t an ideal place to begin a campus ministry, many people would have agreed. I saw many efforts made to help start a ministry there in the past and there were times when I began to doubt whether we would ever see a campus presence of disciples. It’s a small college that has deep religious traditions, which makes bringing in new ideas and approaches to Christianity difficult. Many thought it might take a full time intern on the campus to provide the students with daily leadership and direction. And most obviously, there were many complexities of starting a campus ministry in a school where many students and faculty might feel threatened or offended by the differences in our perspectives on conversion, baptism and practical Christianity.
Today there are 13 brothers and sisters at SPU (and 16 in their two bible talks), thanks to a series of little miracles that helped us see a restoration of biblical relationships and faith lived out there.
The first miracle was that we had children that grew up in our group of churches, who decide to attend school there: Ali Winje, Audrey Hoffner and Fabricio Turcious were among the first. Ali Winje was the first disciple to start attending classes at SPU. With a scholarship to play soccer, she was all alone her Freshman year and really fought hard to stay faithful, having to attend a UW Bible Talk and be a part of a ministry on the other side of Montlake. The next year, Audrey Hoffner enrolled at SPU. Fabricio enrolled the folllowing year, and brought a lot of faith and a strong desire to start a ministry. With Fabricio, Ali and Audrey together, the 3 of them formed a cohesive core group that made the Bible Talk attractive to other students. Along with Jake Tacher and Hannah Templer, who attended different schools, we finally had enough students to start an SPU Bible Talk. And if one of those pieces was missing, I doubt it would have worked.
The second miracle was the City Region purchasing the Queen Anne building. Situated less than a half mile up the hill from SPU, the Queen Anne Church building provides a very inviting and welcoming place for SPU students to worship. I think the stability and permanence of the building has made evangelism at that school a little easier because students come and see something familiar, a permanent place to worship and grow in their faith. The Queen Anne building is a place where they can have events, watch movies, hold dances, pray all night and of course, worship on Sundays. The city region of the Seattle Church sacrificed in dollars, and the SPU ministry is reaping in souls being saved.
The final miracle was the conversion of strong spiritual men: Aaron Badilla, Jens Brenestead and Brian Fisher were the first three brothers converted there, and they have all grown into faithful, spiritual leaders who have helped convert other strong men of character. They use their talents by leading Bible talks and small groups on that campus, outreach, and even singing and performing on Sundays. Those brothers have provided a sense of stability and maturity beyond their years and have opened a door that has made it safe for other students to follow.
This past week, in sub freezing temperatures, Josh Heinke was baptized into Christ at Golden Gardens. Josh was the 16th SPU baptism in the past 2 years! The whole moment was pretty overwhelming for me, so I stayed afterward and prayed. When I closed my eyes, all I could think of was Jesus’ words to his disciples, “Blessed are the eyes that see what you see.” Luke 1O. So many of us have longed to see something like this, a vibrant ministry at SPU. I believe that SPU is one of the largest campus ministries at a faith based school in our movement of churches. What an incredible blessing for us to see God working like this, and I pray that the miracles happening here can inspire faith in students on other difficult and hard to reach campuses.
The past 3 years, we’ve hosted an alumni dinner to give students who have graduated from our ministry a chance to reconnect and meet graduates from other years. The event isn’t formal, but the fellowship is always enlightening, especially when disciples are able to connect with disciples who graduated years apart, yet shared the same common experiences while a part of the Seattle Campus Ministry.
This year it was great watching Adrienne Kishimoto and Jackie Ahrens ( UW and SPU ’11) get to know Casey Scheopflin (UW ’01) and Katie Mitchell (UW ’05), meet for the first time. ”Wow, I didn’t even know they were in campus.” Adrienne confided. “This is great, I feel like I got to know people and see how similar our experiences were. It was really inspiring.”
As people dropped in an out all night, we were treated to seeing campus graduates thriving in all the different ministries in our church, singles, young marrieds and the married with kids ministry, West-side, East-side; they were all happy and faithful. At one point, there were 30 alums in our house and 15 children, or future alums, as I like to call them.
When the evening came to an end, I was exhausted, but moved by the connectivity and beauty of how strong our common bond still is. The only thing that has to change is next year, the event must be held at the Church…15 future alums are a bit too energetic for 1 house!
This morning I attended a prayer with some UW students at Luther Burbank Park. I was so excited because Justus was with me and I really was missing our ministry. We’ve had some of them over since the break, but I was really lacking something in my faith and couldn’t figure out what it was. About half way through the prayer, I was reminded of how amazing it was to listen to people pray with great passion, sincerity and faith. I was then reminded that it was Jake Tacher who organized the event on facebook. How grateful I was to see his heart and passion to meet with other Christians; so much, that he would organize a prayer because it seemed right to him. I went home thanking God that Allie, Kathyrn and Jake could inspire Justus to pray more sincerely than I ever could.
Afterwards, I dropped my son off and met with Ryan, a recent Princeton grad and Campus Minister in my hometown of New York. We talked about life, ministry and everything else under the sun. I thought of his faith, to enter the full time ministry, with an Ivy League education. I was so inspired that a young man so talented wanted to serve the Lord full time.
Tim and Jolynn Dewolf came by before lunch and we talked about starting campus ministries. To be visitng for the holidays and wanting to talk about the work they are doing at the other UW (Uiniversity of Wisconson) invigorated me. I was already planning my winter schedule before they left.
Then I met with Darius and Justin, two single brothers who used to be in our ministry, but have since graduated and moved to other cities. They are both leading in their Bible Talks and careers. Their life example and laughter kept me smiling the rest of the day.
Tonight I spoke to Andrew Hudson who is getting ready to play in the Alamo Bowl tomorrow. Funny, all he wanted to talk about was reaching out to his teammates and how excited he was to renew our athletes Bible Talk on campus next quarter. Wow! All I wanted to talk about was football. I was so encouraged by how he and Cameron were staying strong and having quiet times together!
I was so inspired today by the faith of people who were spiritually younger than me. I guess it is more cooperative than that, but they inspired me and motivate me. The lifted me up and encouraged me to keep fighting and trying. Theygot me excited about my faith. Hebrews 3 reminds us to encourage one another daily, and I got a full dose of encouragement today.
This morning I heard my 7 1/2 year old son pray to Jesus with sincerity. It was short, but sincere. I was so moved to hear him pray.
I guess Ryan, Justin and Darius are so young anymore, but they are relatively young in the faith. I suppose today I thought to myself, what a blessing the youth of our movement is to us. Maybe that’s why Jesus’let the children come to him’…perhaps he needed a little inspiration that day. I’m sure he got what he was looking for, because today, I know I did.
When I was a boy we went to St. Paul the Apostle Catholic Church on the corner of 59th street and 9th avenue. I always loved attending church for Christmas. There was something so special about the way the service seemed to honor the birth of Jesus. With a giant organ playing in the background, I grounded my faith in the birth of Christ and the stood in awe of Emmanuel, God with us.
At times in my faith, I’ve longed to connect with those feelings again, to have a special service without main points or spiritual direction. Sometimes it it just fine to be still and know that Jesus is Lord and God is God. Today my family is all dressed up and enjoying a grade a meal cooked by my wife. We are going to Church, to sit together, pray together and sing together. We don’t have the pipe organ working yet, but we do have a grand piano and plenty of talented musicians and narrators. Thank you Jay Kelly, for your inspiring leadership and insight into our needs. Thank you to the Seattle Church for it’s continual reliance on God and not man. And what a blessing it is to worship God on Christmas eve and celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
After the 2 1/2 hour drive through two mountain passes, we pulled into the beautiful town of Leavenworth with our good friends, Daren and Karla, to explore the wonderful winter village hidden there. I must admit, I’ve driven through Leavenworth before, but I’ve never had the desire to actually get out and explore. Daren was insistent that we’d love it, so we bundled up the family and made the trek. After about 10 minutes of walking around in sub freezing temperatures, I thought, why did we come here? But any doubts I had quickly went away. Daren and Karla are Leavenworth veterans. With our family in tow, we got to see all kinds of unique shops and ate in an authentic Bavarian Inn (as authentic as you can get in Washington).
We passed an ice slide that quickly caught the attention of our kids, who flung themselves down the bunny slope over and over again. Cold as I was, I became aware that this was the stuff of memories. Our kids enjoyed the time with their “friends” while Danni and I got to spend time with our friends. We talked, we ate, and filled up our camera with snapshots of the memories we were creating. Sure,they could have been made anywhere, but I won’t easily forget the freezing cold, or Justus and Hunter flying down the ice slide on their youthful knees. We won’t forget Ellie and Jael appealing to go on the carriage alone, if we didn’t want to go ourselves (we didn’t let them). Great getaways are things that help us remember what we enjoy most about life, the beautiful people and places God gives us to enjoy. What a blessing that we have so many of both here in this beautiful state.