Friday, July 24, 2009

Treking, Interns, and Secret Sauce.

From July 12th to July 20th was the Intern Trek for the Western conference of InterVarsity. There were about 35 interns from all over California, Oregon, Washington, Utah, Montana, and Colorado. We spent four days in Santa Rosa doing evangelism training, and four days in Sacramento on ethnic training/identity.
Let me tell you, O Reader, it was stinkin' fabulous!
In Santa Rosa we got to partner with the staffers at Santa Rosa Junior College
to do an outreach called the No More Secrets Campaign.During this time we spent time in the gospel of Luke, specifically in Chapter 10 when Jesus sends out the 70 followers and also their return. What an encouragement it was to us! We were most encouraged by verse 16: "He who hears you hears me, and he who rejects you rejects me, and he who rejects me rejects him who sent me." Thank Goodness that the only requirement is to preach!
After a day of training in what we were more or less going to do for the outreach, we just did it. Trial by fire. We set up three tents in high traffic areas on campus (called proxie stations) in which students could anonymously write down their secrets and slip them into a box. Then every fifteen minutes or so, the box would be opened and everything in the box would be safety pinned to the three sides of the pop-up for all to see. When we roped people in to look at the secrets, we had the chance to share with them that God desires people to have right and whole relationships with Himself and with other people, thus eliminating the need for secrets. We also invited them to a talk later on that night given by one of our ministry partners, Doug Shaupp. He shared how he found freedom in the love of God, forgiveness in the Son, and change from the Spirit. He shared a few secrets of h is own, and at the end gave a call to faith. Four people that day found the Lord, and many more have become more curious. We left the IV staff at SRJC with about 35 people to follow up with about faith conversations. What a wonderful way to help our brothers and sisters minister on the campus!
Sacramento was hot. It was nice to be back in the hometown, and some of us even got to stay at my house with Megan, my little sister. She was kind enough to make us delicious breakfast every morning and send us off happy. There we talked about how to minister to students of all ethnic and cultural backgrounds, the pros and cons of ethnic-specific branches of InterVarsity ministry, and the ways in which the Gospel transcends race, gender, and culture. What a wonderful God we serve!
Our full day was spent half in reflection, and the other half rafting down the American River. There were six boats worth of interns and staff. What I anticipated as a nice little float down the river turned into a full-out piracy expedition! No allegiances here, just war with any other boat in our group. No boat was fully capsized, but I'm pretty sure that nobody ended up in the same boat that they started out with. Many a pair of sunglasses were broken or lost, and we all came out with a bruise or injury of sorts. What a fun day!

Here we all are. I'm pretty sure I have my fake smile on.

So the secret sauce comes in last. Doug Schaupp, author and InterVarsity Staff Worker who is in charge of Chapter Planting, says that certain chapters have what he calls the secret sauce. It is something that they do related to evangelism that is special and unique to their ministry that works. I was in Doug's van on the way back up to Santa Rosa from Sacramento, and one of the other interns was asking Doug how to have a good evangelical ministry. He told her to ask me, since Sonoma State is the third most evangelistic campus in the country (according to conversion numbers in the past four years or something like that). This was new news to me, but got grilled anyway. It was a great time of questions and answers! Hara was asking me question after question about how we do ministry on campus, how we follow up with students, etc. But the way that we did things weren't too different than the things that the Occidental chapter did them, and so Doug helped us out. He said, "Now I think I have the recipe for your secret sauce, Tamsen. DO you know what it is yet?" I had no idea. We just did what everyone else did, or so I thought. "Your secret sauce is the spirit of invitation. After large groups, during Bible study, after scripture studies with non-Christians, you have trained yourselves and your leaders to invite others into the Kingdom of God."
A light bulb went off in everyone's head. Of course that was what it was! Hara had never dreamed of that before, asking people at every chance or opportunity if they wanted to live life with Jesus. And now that I think about it, it all makes so much sense! How often is it that people, by themselves and with no outside prompting, make the decision to follow Christ? How many of the conversions in the New Testament that we see are done solo? Does it not happen in pairs, or at least in groups?
This is one of the many secret sauces of following after God: community and the fellowship of believers. John Donne once wisely stated that no man has ever been alone:

"All mankind is of one author, and is one volume; when one man dies, one chapter is not torn out of the book, but translated into a better language; and every chapter must be so translated...As therefore the bell that rings to a sermon, calls not upon the preacher only, but upon the congregation to come: so this bell calls us all: but how much more me, who am brought so near the door by this sickness....No man is an island, entire of itself...any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee."

Ah, the inter-connectivity of the Body of Christ! Life is meant to be done together. Thank God for that.