7.25 / PSJ Recap

We had the chance to interview our PSJ team to get a good overview of the summer! Here are some of the questions we asked and answers we received.

What was unexpected about the trip?

“This one calls for a story. Last summer, our team met a sweet boy who was in the 13+ group in the gym program. He seemed to love being mischievous and troublesome among the other boys. When we arrived this summer, we could already see how the Lord had matured him over the course of one short year. For the first few weeks, he came over every morning and afternoon to join in our worship / reading time. We have loved watching how God continues shaping him to look more like Christ. We certainly did not expect this boy from last summer to be so eager to spend time with us and learn about the Lord, but praise God for the ways He works!”

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What are some of your favorite memories?

“Body surfing the waves of St. George Island!!”

“I had left St. Joe for a quick family vacation, so I had missed a few days at the gym. Monday morning came and I walked back into the gym, and about 30 little kids came running (and screaming) to hug me and find out where I had been all that time!”

“One of my favorite memories was getting to hang out with this 8 year old boy on our field trip and listening to “church music” with him.”

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What was the hardest part of the trip?

“As a group, we think that the biggest struggle this summer was learning to balance  discipline and love for the kids in the gym program. We had to learn what it is like to lovingly discipline young kids while pointing them to Christ at the same time.”

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What are some big lessons the Lord taught you?

“Patience! We had to really practice patience with the children at the gym and with each other this summer.”

“The Lord has been teaching me that in the past, my joy came from my circumstances and people around me. But it really needs to be coming from the Lord. He taught me to pray daily for my joy to be from Him, and I can see how faithful He has been in providing me with this!”

“I’ve learned a lot about being in the present and finding my contentment in Christ.”

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What can we be praying as y’all head home?

“We would love for y’all to pray over the sweet kiddos we’ve met this summer. Please pray that they will come to have a personal relationship with Jesus.”

“Please pray that our faith will continue growing as we come back and that our community will stand firm once back in Auburn.”

“Pray that we will have the same Gospel mindset as we come home. When we were in PSJ, it seemed easy because sharing the Gospel was constantly on our minds. But since we’ve been back, it’s easy to get caught up in the little things and forget our purpose.”

Thank you for dedicating time to pray over us this summer. It meant so much to us and the Lord heard every prayer. We are sad to leave, but we also look forward to seeing everyone back home!

-St. Joes, signing off

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leaving
Back to our first picture together!

7.13 / Growth at the Port of St. Joe

As we approach our final week in Port St. Joe, we have been reflecting on the past 7 weeks. The Lord has accomplished so much in this team and through this team. We praise Him for the ways He has faithfully provided for our needs.

While our girls never found a permanent house to live in, God brought willing families into our lives that took in the girls for weeks at a time. On top of this, we just found out that the girls’ current host home is allowing them to stay for the rest of our time here! Hallelujah, this is an answered prayer. The experience of living with and getting to know these families has been so uplifting as they’ve poured into us during our stay. This is just one example of the abundant ways God has looked out for us and taken care of us.

As our summer here draws to a close, please join us in praying that we will be encouraged by our time here and encouraged to run the race to the last day. We fervently seek to spread God’s kingdom here in PSJ.

This past week, I have personally been encouraged by several events, but there is one in particular that I feel called to share with you:

Two of the high school boys I have befriended over my time in PSJ just got home from a discipleship program. They spent three weeks breaking down the Gospel and building up their faith. The boys were spilling over with all the things they learned. I asked them to tell me something that the Lord taught them at camp that changed the way they live. I could hardly believe what I heard next:

  1. “I can NOT do it alone. I thought that I had to hold onto things.. like my friends and family, but that is the easy and comfortable thing to do! All I really need in life is a relationship with Christ to satisfy me. But I haven’t been seeking Him because I guess it’s just hard and out of my comfort zone sometimes. But God told us that the path Jesus leads us on isn’t going to be easy.”
  2. “When I got to camp, I thought that I was unworthy of God’s grace, that I was too sinful to have a relationship with Him. The thing is, I am unworthy, but that’s where God’s grace comes into play! The Lord has been calling me to turn around and run to him despite my sin! That’s the beauty of the Gospel!”

I cannot describe in words how amazing it was to hear about these boys’ walks with Christ! It is amazing to watch the Lord work in them, changing their hearts to look more and more like His own. Praise the Lord!

Pray for these high school boys as they grow up in Christ.

Pray also for us. We want to keep our eyes on Jesus and faithfully run the race all the way to the end.

Thank you for your prayers this summer and we will see you all in a little over a week!

-Port St. Joes

 

 

7.5 / an afternoon with Margaret – PSJ

Our team in Port St. Joe has sent us their update from this past week. They have had a restful past couple of days! The Apalach team met up with our PSJ team for a few days this past week and they all had a blast exchanging stories and providing encouragement.

They also had a great time celebrating the 4th of July together!!
Just look at that team in their red, white, and blue!!File_000(4).jpeg

Recently, they have met and gone to visit people over the past week, and we have a quick story about one of those visits!

Here’s the story from Corey’s perspective:

“This past Monday, Matthew and I visited an 84 year old woman named Ms. Margaret. She has met students from FBCO in the past and has grown so fond of us. She hopes that we come visit her whenever we’re in town. Two summers ago, Zach and I spent an afternoon with her and she remembered us! She is a fellow believer and a really encouraging person to be around because of her faithfulness. Margaret is blind, so she listens to the Bible on a cassette tape every day. Her favorite passage of Scripture is Psalm 91. It starts out saying, “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”” So we read it and discussed it with her. We also read Hebrews 4 and Luke 2 with her. It’s amazing to see her faith in the Lord in that, even though she cannot physically see, God has given her the strength to seek after Him. She does not allow blindness to keep her from the Father. This is such an awesome testimony to the power of the Gospel and of God’s Word. Ms. Margaret asked us to come back and read with her again another time and to bring more people when we do!”

What an amazing testimony. It is so encouraging to know fellow believers in this town.

Continue praying for our team, that our purpose will be on the forefront of our minds. Pray for the people here, that they may become hungry to know God. Pray that we have opportunities to share, boldness to take those opportunities, and True words to fill our mouths. Pray that God will do some mighty works here – both in and through our team.

Thank you for your prayers, fam. We always appreciate them and God always hears them.

-Port St. Joes

6.29 / Port St. Joes

Over the past week, some exciting things have happened in PSJ!

A few days ago, LC and Katherine (who is from our Apalach team) bumped into each other at a McDonald’s in PSJ! As they were sitting in one of the booths, they pulled out their Bibles to read some Scripture. Before they knew it, two employees came over to their table. These women wanted to know if LC and Kat were believers! They had seen the Bibles out on the table and were intrigued. So our girls told them that yes, they are believers. The two employees were so excited because they were ALSO believers!! They chatted for a while and ended up exchanging their testimonies and encouraging each other. How amazing is that?! This brightened our team’s eyes because people recognize that they are different, not just because they’re Auburn college students.

Through this encounter, the girls learned that there is a Bible study that goes on at the gym they volunteer for in PSJ! So that was encouraging news to hear, and maybe our current or future teams can get involved with this.

Speaking of the gym, our team is getting more into the swing of volunteering there every day. They play games, lead group times, and push the children to learn during their tutoring lessons. This becomes pretty exhausting, but with an eternal perspective, they know that they are making an impact. Pray for the team as they try to love on and lead the children a step closer to Christ each day. Pray that they will have this mindset each and every day at the gym- that they will see the unbelieving children and workers as lost souls, longing to be found. Although there have been more biting-incidents, they are learning more about unconditional love and sacrifice.

For those who intern at one of the local churches, there have been many Vacation Bible Schools going on! They have volunteered as counselors and helped out in whatever way they can. They also help in daycare programs that some of the churches have.

When the team is hanging out, they are often at Long Avenue church. They have become really close with the pastors and other staff members. These fellow believers have demonstrated to our team what it’s like to serve the Lord after college. One area that these believers excel in is discipling and leading the youth in the community. Our team has had the blessing of helping out with the youth group and getting to know the students involved. Basketball pick-up games, Sunday mornings, and youth nights have proven to be really growing times for our team with these youth. One of the guys even woke up at 6 this morning to go play a basketball game with a group of guys from the church!

A handful of the girls in the youth group already knew one of our members who had been to PSJ in past summers, so she has been able to pour more and more into them this summer. It’s been such a sweet time of discipling them and showing them more of Jesus.

Since the guys have played a bunch of games with the boys in the youth group, friendships are forming quickly. Something about guys playing sports together..! So it’s been neat for them to form these relationships. They are hoping for an opportunity to share with these youth soon. Please join us in prayer over them that The Lord will open doors for Gospel conversations.

This past Tuesday, along with every Tuesday, the team went to a local nursing home. This experience has taught them a lot about unconditional love. Many of those in the nursing home have dementia, so it can be challenging to carry conversations. Pray for them as they fight lies that their volunteerism here is not making any difference. The ways of the Lord are sometimes unknown to us, but we can trust His intentions and plans for us!

In closing, it has been encouraging for the team to see how the Lord has used past summer projects to form doorways for solid relationships. He has truly paved the way for this summer’s team and we are excited to see how He will use this team for future summer projects.

Recap Prayer List:

  1. Gym and Church Volunteers- Pray for the team as they volunteer at the gym and at the churches each day. Ask the Lord to give them His energy, love, and joy. Pray that they will be filled with the Spirit each day.
  2. Children at the Gym and VBS- Pray for the children and youth who go to the gym each day and who attend the VBS programs. Many of them don’t know Jesus, and our team has the opportunity to freely share Truth with them. Pray that they will see Christ in our team, ask questions, and come to know Jesus as their own Lord and Savior!
  3. Youth Group- Pray for the youth group at each of the churches in PSJ, including at Long Avenue. Pray that the churches will be teaching God’s Truth and that it will impact the lives of the youth. Pray that God will open their hearts and minds to understand and choose to follow Jesus.
  4. Nursing Home- Pray for those in the nursing home, that they will see the Light in our team. Pray for the team to speak Truth, and to love unconditionally, even when it gets tough and feels pointless. Pray that they will think on things that are above.
  5. New Believers- Pray BOLDLY for people to come to know Christ. We do not underestimate God’s power, purpose, and plan in PSJ. Ask Him to move mightily in this town. Pray boldly, friends, for we have a BOLD God.

Thank you for committing to pray over this team. Each of our summer projects would fail without the Lord’s hand guiding and providing. He is mighty, worthy, and beautiful. And He hears your every prayer.

-The Port St. Joes

6.22 / Faith like a Child in the Port

Recent update from our Port St. Joe team involves a sweet story about our Father and childlike faith. Read the cute and glorifying interaction between one of our PSJ team members and a couple of kindergartners.

“It all began on a bus ride back from the movies. The 4-6 year olds at the gym we volunteer at took a field trip to see none other than Captain Underpants, and I tagged along as a chaperone. The group of us piled into the bus after the movie and I ended up sitting between Kimber and Aleah (2 ADORABLE little girls who love braiding hair, playing with my phone, and asking lots and lots of questions).

Aleah was holding my hand when she noticed the small cross tattoo on my wrist. I typically wear a watch over it, but that morning I happened to forget it at home. Aleah saw it and said, “That’s God!” And I gave her a big smile and said, “Yes, yes it is!” She immediately asked me a long string of questions about whether I went to church and if I prayed. I told her that I love gathering with the church and that I pray all the time! I asked her if she did the same. She told me she didn’t and then started talking about something else.

I was a little upset because I wanted that conversation to continue, but I figured it was best to listen to what she wanted to talk about and see if I could loop it back around to the Gospel. Time went on and the window of opportunity seemed to vanish altogether. But all of a sudden, Kimber (the other little girl) saw my T-shirt. She tried to read the words on my shirt out loud, “I… heart… adop-… adop- what does that word say?” A wave of excitement came as I told her the word, “Adoption!”

She asked me what ‘adoption’ means, and I explained that when a baby doesn’t have parents to take care of it, a family can adopt the baby and raise it as their own child. Kimber fell in love with the idea and wanted to know if I could adopt her. I laughed, “No silly! I can’t adopt you! But do you know who can?” And she wondered who so I told her, “God can!” Aleah then piped up and asked me who God was, and we talked about how He created the whole world – the grass, the trees, humans, Aleah’s hair, and even fidget spinners (which might be a bit far-fetched, but they were interested, so I was rolling with it!).

Then I tried to explain in kindergarten terms how much God loves us and that when we believe in Jesus, God can adopt us into His family, and we get to become His sons and daughters! The Holy Spirit was moving like wildfire in our row of seats. Kimber proceeded to ask me a dozen more questions about going to church and what happens when we die. One of her questions, “Why do people praise Jesus” stuck out to me the most. I started to answer her when she added, “Is it because He did everything for us?”

Yes, yes, yes. It is because King Jesus has done everything for us. My heart was so full in that moment. It’s amazing how God can take a school bus, a tattoo, and an old T-shirt to reveal His Gospel to two small children.

Aleah left for the rest of the summer after the field trip, but I look forward to following up with Kimber and seeing what other bizarre yet beautiful ways the Spirit will move through our ministry at the gym.

All glory be to His name.”

-Savannah

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Here’s a glimpse of what the gym looks like and what we do during game – time!

How sweet it is to watch God reveal Himself to even the smallest of us.
In light of this, please join the PSJ team in praying over these requests:

1. Pray for both Aleah and Kimber as they have learned more about God. Pray that they may come to know Him personally.
2. Pray for more opportunities like this one to pop up as they reach out to the children at the gym.
3. Pray for the Holy Spirit to move in the hearts of everyone the PSJ team meets.
4. Pray for the team to be filled with the Spirit each day and walk in His power.
5. Pray for God to provide living accommodations for the girls on the team.

Thank you for your prayers this week! Keep them coming, the Lord is moving!

6. 13 / PSJ at the Gym

This past week for our PSJ team was one that finally had some structure to it. It has been a challenge for the team to get in the rhythm of daily life on the coast, but they are seeing great progress!

Our team just finished their first week working at a gym. But don’t picture treadmills and weights! Children from pre-K all the way up to about 16 years old come to this gym during the summer. The kids come and have different scheduled activities during the day and our team gets to be a part of these! They have tutoring sessions, game-time, snack-time, and much more! Three of our team members are actually employed at this gym and they work all day with kids between the ages of 4 and 8.

Funny story time!!

So.. working at the gym with tons of toddlers and teens, you can imagine that a story or two will soon follow. It’s only been a week, but the team has REALLY experienced the essence of a child’s behavior. This was clearly demonstrated last week by teeth marks in one of our team member’s arm after a young child decided to take a bite..! Hopefully the marks clear up pretty soon and the child does not try again this week!! The team laughed it off and strives to avoid future markings!!

The other five team members who are not employed at the gym volunteer there when they have time. I say, “when they have time” because these five are each interning with a church down in PSJ for the summer. It has been an amazing experience for those who have spent a summer here in the past. They began building a foundation for relationships with those at the churches in past summers, and are now able to take those to a deeper level, like picking up where they left off. Those relationships are really blossoming, and for that we are so thankful!

Some of the team members who are interning at churches do not have a steady schedule with the church, but rather are called in when the church needs them. This is a neat way for the team to grow in patience, willingness, and positive attitudes, as they never know what each day will hold.

Like I said, every day is different for our PSJ team. Some days they spend 8 hours at the gym with the children. Some days they are helping one of the local churches. Some days they are meeting people as they pass by. They are in the process of figuring out their new busy schedules, but are thankful to get into a steadier rhythm as they feel more at home.

Coming into this summer trip, hardly anyone knew anyone else on the team. What a testament to how the Lord called these brothers and sisters to willingly volunteer their time to spend a summer with ‘strangers’. Those strangers they saw on week one are becoming old friends to crack jokes and share burdens with. Friendships between our group members have been forming and growing more and more. Their growth as a team has been so sweet and filled with that sense of community we all long for. These 8 different people are becoming one single team, and it’s such a blessing.

The PSJ team has some praises to share:

-Provision : It has been so amazing to see how willing the people in PSJ have been to provide for us. How humbling it is that oftentimes when we go to serve and teach others, we can be taught from their service.

-MORE Provision : One facility is allowing us to cook our meals and hang out as a team there. This has been such a gift!

-Reminders of Joy : The little ones at the gym are just little bundles of joy! They remind us of the joy we have in Christ and the purpose of our trip.

Our PSJ team has asked us to pray for the following:

-Housing : Us girls have housing for the next 2 weeks, but we do not have a place to stay after that. Please pray that we find a place to stay soon and that we will have peace and patience in the waiting. We trust that our Father is our Provider!

-Confidence : Pray that we would be confident in our abilities to lead others in the faith and be confident in going out into the community to share the Gospel.

-Unity : Pray over our team as a whole, that our unity will remain as strong as it has been. Pray that the enemy would not attack the community we have.

-Patience : Pray that we would have patience with each other and with the children. Pray that joy, contentment, and positivity would flow out from us in all of our interactions.

-Care : Pray that we would continue learning about and practicing how to love our teammates well throughout the day, caring for their souls as our Heavenly Father cares.

5.31 PSJ Praises

We are thanking our Father for some answered prayers in Port St. Joe! The team’s housing is finally locked in for the rest of the summer for both the girls and the guys. Our God is Provider! The PSJ community abundantly blessed this group while they were searching for houses. The group now has places to rest, eat together, and gather as the body.

The team is getting into a rhythm there, which is also an answer to prayer! The first week or so can be challenging for a group to settle in and feel at home. They can already see that God has some incredible plans for them this summer. They are excited to continue meeting the children, youth, and adults all over the city of Port St. Joe!

Speaking of the youth, in the past few days, a young boy has been hanging out with the group, doing everything they do! Whether the team is prayer walking, reading the Word, worshiping, or just hanging out, he has wanted to be part of it all. It has been sweet for those who already knew the boy from past summers to see him grow in eagerness to learn to follow Christ.

The team has greatly enjoyed their mornings and evenings together as the body of Christ. They wake up refreshed to read the Word each morning and after a long day, they return to worship the Lord.

Here are a few things to be praying over the PSJ team this coming week:

  1. Unity- pray that the team will be united in Christ and not allow the enemy to break their unique bond
  2. Growth- pray that this summer may be a time of personal growth for each of the team members and for the group as a whole.
  3. Boldness- pray that the team will not hold back when opportunities to share the Gospel arise
  4. Trust- pray that the team will not be afraid to pray BIG prayers and wait with great hope that the Lord will answer them in the way He sees best
  5. Focus- pray that their minds will be on things that are above and not things of this world; that they will focus on furthering the Kingdom and sharing Christ’s love without distraction