In July our students will be recuperating from camp and all the others activities they have been doing. We are giving out water to the participants of the 4th of July parade. I am trying to set up an activity for just the mid-school students. Please be in prayer for all of our students the remainder of the summer, those who are traveling or will be traveling, those who are home and not able to see their friends, and those who are so busy with all of their activities.
When I open Twitter, one of my favorite things to do is to see what is trending. It is a fascinating thing to see this snapshot that summarizes the top 20 things being talked about most on Twitter in America. Sometimes they are inspiring, seeing how people want to help and love other people. Sometimes they are fueled by hate, but no matter what the heart behind them, they are constantly changing. And most of the things that are trending now, people will have completely forgotten a week from now. I see this happening quite a bit in the way that we approach our relationship with Jesus.
We want to learn what He has for us, but since there is always new information coming to us from so many sources, we focus for a very short amount of time on one thing, then move immediately to something else. Sometimes we don’t even have time to process what we are putting in our brains before we regurgitate it back out into the universe. And unfortunately, though there are things that we learn that are fueled by love, a lot of what we let influence our faith trends is fueled by hate and fear.
Another thing about internet trends is that they are usually brought to us from an outside source. Someone who has a following says or does something, and because a pseudo famous person said or did it, we want to duplicate that. So it is with many of our grand statements of faith. It’s not something that we came up with on our own, but rather something that we are sharing because someone else made a graphic that already has it written down, or someone we like said or did this thing.
Too often we take what is being said or done by someone, and because we like them or we like what they are saying, we share it not even taking time to consider its beauty or harm. There is a lot of harmful theology that floats around Facebook and Twitter, so we definitely need to take what we see and see how it lines up with what scripture has to say. But there are a lot of amazingly profound things that we share, just because they are trending, or just because a page we follow posted them first. We don’t really take the time to think about the remarkable thing that we have come across; we just hit share. After that, we forget about it completely.
There is some really fascinating science out there on the way our brain remembers certain things. When our brain encounters a negative and hateful thought or image, that stick in our brain like Velcro. But when we encounter a positive and love-filled thought, in order for our brain to really take it in, it needs to focus on it for at least 15 seconds. I certainly can’t explain why this happens, but it does seem to ring true in things that I encounter on a daily basis. It’s so easy to forget the positive things because I don’t let them sink into my brain properly. I just see something I like and tap a screen to indicate that I do in fact like that. Then I forget all about it.
There are many things that have been popular in the past few years that were huge for a couple of weeks, but then people forgot about them. The Harlem Shake, planking, ice bucket challenge, running man challenge and so many others had their time in the spotlight, and are now just a faint memory even though there is evidence of millions of people tweeting about them. Let’s not make our faith like that. Let’s make it so that the positive things that we are learning from scripture and from fellow believers aren’t just something we talk about for a minute and then immediately forget about.
Jesus gives the Great Commission in Matthew 28:19, saying, “therefore go and make disciples of all nations” (NIV). Yet oftentimes as Christians we forget that our towns, states and country count as part of “all nations.” In addition, the Bible calls Christians to “proclaim the gospel to the whole creation” in Matthew 16:15 (ESV). However, sharing the gospel and reaching our communities prove to be difficult for many Christians, myself included. As I began my first year of college, I searched for opportunities to grow, specifically in evangelism and discipleship. God blew me away with all that He did in and through me during this past year, and I want to continue to grow in Christ and develop into a spiritual leader at Davidson College.
This summer I will attend an eight-week training program called Summer Beach Project (SBP) in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, sponsored by Campus Outreach (an interdenominational college ministry). During this time, I will join over 100 college students from North Carolina and Florida schools to receive instruction in Bible study, prayer, discipleship, evangelism, and leadership. Throughout the summer we will build relationships with one another as well as with the surrounding community. Campus Outreach describes the process of building relationships with other Christians as life-on-life discipleship, or spiritual mentorship. As a community, we live together, work together, learn together, and grow in our relationships with Christ together. Obviously, life-on-life discipleship depends on doing Christianity together. Many students that come to SBP are international students from a wide range of countries. Many come as non-Christians, but leave as Christians. While at SBP, I will have the opportunity to disciple some of these individuals in unique ways.
While in Myrtle Beach, I will also be working a full-time job at Chick-fil-a to give me the opportunity to learn good stewardship and to minister in the workplace. All students work full-time minimum wage jobs throughout the summer, which provide unique opportunities to learn and serve in these intentional communities. Our co-workers will be from all over, another way to bring the nations to us. An alumnus of the program, also one of my spiritual mentors and good friends, said that working provides “a way to do missions by stacking cereal boxes at Walmart!” While working, we have the opportunity to love our co-workers so much that they notice something different about us, giving us the opportunity to tell them about Jesus. Working will also provide me with the opportunity to internalize what it means to “work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men” (Colossians 3:23, ESV). At SBP, we will also attend and partner in ministry with local Myrtle Beach churches.
Another major component of SBP is beach evangelism. Once a week we share the gospel, in small groups, on Myrtle Beach. Many students, myself included, are uncomfortable walking up to a stranger and sharing their testimony, or the gospel. This training equips us for the real task of building relationships and having deep conversations once we leave Myrtle Beach. At SBP we are placed in a Christian environment that helps us build skills and create habits in spiritual disciplines. Each day we wake up before work and read the Bible together, we practice consistent prayer, and learn what it means to truly disciple one another. However, once we leave SBP and enter the world again, these habits continue to permeate our lives.
In order to participate in SBP I must raise support from family, friends, local churches, and businesses, to cover the costs of the program. However, first and foremost, support raising consists of asking others to pray for my journey this summer. As I embark on this journey I ask that you would join my support team by praying for my spiritual growth, and for those that I might come in contact with. Then, if after prayerful consideration, you would like to monetarily contribute, please make checks payable to Linda Hamblin, and mail them to 3526 E Depot Rd, Vermont, IL 61484. If you would like to join my support team, or receive weekly updates of my trip and spiritual testimony, please send me your email at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact me at (505)-702-6813.