Gordon-Conwell Blog

Gordon-Conwell Welcomes Three New Professors

August 30, 2012

Have you heard? We have three new faculty members joining us this fall that we'd love for you to meet.

Dr. Eckhard J. Schnabel is our Mary F. Rockefeller Distinguished Professor of New Testament Studies. Noted New Testament scholar, Dr. Eckhard Schnabel joined us with over 30 years of extensive experience in teaching, ministry, research and scholarship.

Fluent in English and his native German, as well as six ancient languages and four research languages, Dr. Schnabel brings a global perspective to the Gordon-Conwell community. He was involved in cross-cultural missions in Latin America, Europe and Asia for over 20 years before moving to Illinois to engage in teaching and preaching ministry in various venues. Dr. Schnabel also taught at theological schools in seven foreign countries. Read more.

Rev. Dr. Jim M. Singleton, Jr. is our Associate Professor of Pastoral Leadership and Evangelism and brings many years of church leadership experience. He previously served on Gordon-Conwell’s faculty as adjunct professor in Presbyterian polity and history at the Hamilton campus in 1991.

Prior to his current post at Gordon-Conwell, Dr. Singleton served as senior pastor of churches in Texas, Washington and most recently, First Presbyterian Church in Colorado Springs, a downtown congregation of 4,200 members. He has taught at several seminaries around the world, including ones in Virginia, Texas, Washington, Moscow and Zambia. In addition to teaching and preaching, Dr. Singleton has participated in cross-cultural missions in places like Mongolia, Ecuador, Cuba, Mexico and India, to name a few. Read more.

Dr. Matthew Kim is our Assistant Professor of Preaching and Ministry. Before joining the Gordon-Conwell faculty, Dr. Kim served as an adjunct professor (2006) and the Burnett H. and Dorothy F. Sams Visiting Professor (2008) at the Hamilton campus, and mentored the Doctor of Ministry track, Pastoral Skills: The Pastor as Preacher, Caregiver and Person at the Charlotte campus.

Dr. Kim brings over 10 years of preaching and teaching experience to his role at Gordon-Conwell. Most recently, he served as senior pastor of Logos Central Chapel in Denver, CO. He was also previously an adjunct professor at Denver Seminary and the youth pastor at Korean Church of Boston in Brookline, MA. Read more.

Tags: biblically-grounded , current students , equipping leaders for the church and society , future students , globally engaged

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Really they are great professor and have a great expertise in their areas. I think that they will give an extra at your know-how. Congrats.
Productos de Tomelloso 1:11PM 05/20/13
Congratulations, three highly experienced teachers, welcome. Chris.
Comprar Bombillas Led 1:53AM 01/29/13

Morning View | Seminary Student Blogger

August 28, 2012

Kate Hightower

I'm beginning to love mornings.

I'm a Hightower. I come from a long line of 'morning people.' I may not come out of my room singing, but I'm still taking plenty of shots from my long-time roommate who was born and raised a night owl and who would just as soon sleep the day's beginning right away.

These days, that's not for me.

I wake up just to feel the air of possibility. The season change helps. The promise of cooler temperatures always makes everything pretty and sparkling. But there really is something magic about the soft silver glow seeping through the trees outside my window, up in through the blinds and into my room. I let the big smiling face of my golden retriever out of her crate and head out to the kitchen to work on breakfast. She doesn't really know what to make of my new "early-start" fascinations either. But she's proving to be far more obliging than the other occupant of the house.

My absolute favorite part of the morning is my commute to the GCTS campus downtown. Best 15 minutes of the day. Slipping into the long, winding snakes of traffic on I-95 means the one bend that gives a panoramic view of the Jacksonville skyline splashed in the brilliant orange of the new day. If I hit that bend at just the right point of a good song, my surroundings crescendo and send an electric surge of energy down my spine. This is a beginning. This is possibility at its finest.

I need these moments. They’re good moments. In the midst of overwhelming and rapid spiritual, intellectual and sometimes emotional growth, these things press in and come as delightful surprises. I would like to think it’s my body’s natural way of telling me that God is still turning the world even though He feels pretty far off these days.

One of my small group members says that feeling means He’s closer than I think. Closer than He’s probably ever been. That really got me thinking.

The noise of my day has gotten too loud. The voices are too many. The task at hand has turned into the task of all. No matter how many faces I’m around. No matter how busy I may be. I’m drying out. The King of Love is slowly putting on the brakes to the point of starvation for something more.

Something heavier.

“I will also make her like a wilderness, make her like desert land, and slay her with thirst.” (Hosea 2:3)

He’s breathtakingly explicit in Hosea 2.

He’ll get us back.

The entire passage involves a break down and a restoration in intimate detail. But that’s how He works. He gets in close and makes you shiver, even when you sometimes wish He wouldn’t.

I have to start listening. My new morning fascination makes the perfect amount of room for tuning into the Presence that calls the rain, bends the mountains and silences the lions. And praying for the grace that maybe a fraction of that Presence might seep down into my bones.

This is true beginning.

Kate Hightower is writing to you in the midst of her Master of Divinity pursuit at Gordon-Conwell—Jacksonville where she is also a Byington Scholar. She is a debilitatingly right-brained, born-in-the-wrong-century, introspective pseudo-nerd with passions that range anywhere from writing, to French cooking to Bob Dylan. These days she resides in Jacksonville with one mental foot in the GCTS Library downtown, and the other is beach-side with her Golden Retriever, Stella… the world's first dog superhero.

Tags: Author: Kate Hightower , student blogger , thoughtfully evangelical

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A wonderful description of His presence and how He weaves the beauty of His creation all around, if we will just see.
Mary Shelton 10:46AM 08/28/12

On McDonald’s and Quiet Time | Seminary Student Blogger

August 23, 2012

Tim Norton

Just a few short miles from the campus of Gordon-Conwell lies a veritable oasis. Its golden arches welcome all visitors into the land of full stomachs and empty calories, of french fries and burgers, of happy meals and one seriously creepy clown. America may run on Dunkin but it needs to run because of…you guessed it…McDonald’s. Oh yes. Mickie-D’s my friends. I’m hungry just thinking about it. Now at this point, you probably have reacted in one of two ways:

  1. Gross. McDonald’s is awful. I no longer want to listen to anything Tim has to say.
  2. McDonald’s! I may not admit it often, but I secretly love that place. I just wish I knew someone in whom I could confide, ya know someone who’s willing to split an order of fries with me.

To those of you in group 1, I ask you to indulge me for just a few minutes. Group 2 people…Hi, I’m Tim…let’s be best friends. Now, while I would love to discuss the finer points of McDonald’s cuisine, I am actually here in promotion of McDonald’s as an educational facility.

McDonald’s has been an institution of learning for me from an early age. At my 2nd birthday party (which took place at McDonald’s) I learned the value of being assertive after demanding that the employees change the rules of their scheduled game for me and my party guests. It worked and my mom blames this incident for my stubbornness. By middle school, I had learned the need for clear communication and healthy conflict management through various incorrect orders. In high school, I learned the simple truth of the importance of breath mints while failing to convince a high school teacher I did not, in fact, skip out on the cafeteria lunch to grab a double quarter-pounder off campus. Perhaps the most important lesson I’ve learned through McDonald’s, though, is in regards to relationships.

Meet my roommate Dave. Dave is definitely a fellow McDonald’s enthusiast. His favorite combo is a number 1, but he saves it for special occasions to save money. As his roommate, I have the privilege of knowing and communicating with Dave on a deeper level than your average student at Gordon-Conwell. We definitely share moments of deep conversation. But ya know what? Those moments aren’t manufactured; they are rarely planned. They usually stem from the random moments of life we share together. They are a byproduct of the car rides to church, the “how was your day?” conversations, and the trips to McDonald’s. Think about it. If I came in from class and said to Dave, “Hi Dave. I just got back from class. Please tell me your life story, hurts, hang-ups, desires, dreams, struggles, and secrets so that we can be close friends and share godly man-time/intimacy.” I would be a class-5 Creeper! But if I said “Hey Dave, let’s go grab some McDonald’s…” who knows what conversations would take place. We plan the time to spend together and let the rest stem from it. Our deep conversations branch off from “normal” conversations. Our moments of bonding grow from moments at McDonald’s. We plan for moments of quality time; however, we do not force artificial moments of deeper connection. I call this the McDonald’s Principle of Relational Interaction.

Earlier this summer, I realized I needed to apply the McDonald’s Principle to my relationship with God. I noticed I would get a little frustrated when I spent a few minutes praying and didn’t have a grand emotional catharsis of divine experience. I would be disappointed that I didn’t have anything exciting to discuss in my prayer time. I didn’t have a big crisis. I didn’t have a giant revelation. I heard other people talking about their incredible moments of intimacy with God and I wanted them too. I felt like my quiet time was a little bland, so I tried to force those moments of exceptional intimacy. I focused my mind and attempted to force my emotions into overdrive in hopes of creating what I wanted out of quiet time. I would try to manufacture these epic times of awesome prayer when all I really needed to do was honestly communicate with God and remain open to the intimacy. Ever answer the question, “How was your day?” when talking to God? Don’t you think a loving father would be interested in talking with you about just that? It might not be the most heart-pounding, awe-filled prayer you’ve ever prayed, but it just might lead to more honest communication and the intimacy you desired in the first place.

Relational interactions can’t be uniformly intense gut-wrenching, soul-piercing experiences. Those interactions are incredible and necessary and we must remain open to them, but for me at least, they aren’t the norm. I’ve found that those moments will come over time if I set aside consistent and honest quality time with the Lord. Not every prayer will be earth shattering. Some days are the equivalent to a trip to McDonald’s. And ya know what? I’ve come to love and cherish both types of interactions with my Lord and Heavenly Father.

Tim Norton is a born-and-raised, small-town Southerner with the sweet tea addiction to prove it. He comes to Gordon-Conwell as a Kern Pastor-Scholar and plans to pursue pastoral ministry in the U.S. after graduation. Tim is a big personality with a strange affinity for the color orange. Currently, he attends GENESIS Church, an Acts 29 church plant in Woburn, MA.



Tags: Author: Tim Norton , student blogger , student life , thoughtfully evangelical

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Happily I am in group 2, and yes, McDonald's is one of the reasons I exercise. Thanks for the thoughts Tim. Will be off to pray now and after that we'll have to hit up McDonald's sometime.
Erik L 4:58PM 08/30/12

The Lord's Prayer | Seminary Student Blogger

August 21, 2012

Amy Gilbaugh

Our Father who art in heaven,
Hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from the evil one. For Thine is the kingdom and the glory and the power forever and ever.

Yes, our Father who art in heaven. The familiar words come easily enough on Sabbath mornings. They roll off our tongues with tenacious ease and perhaps a touch of apathy. Many of us find these words, which were rich in our spiritual infancy, to fall stale with routine on our tongues. While others of us crave their familiarity, savoring the richness of their repetition.

Wherever we find ourselves Lord, would You teach us again how to pray?

We hallow Your name … as well as we know how and as far as our pride will allow. Indeed, we ask for Your kingdom to come. We acknowledge that we are a people preoccupied with many kingdoms, kingdoms built with borders and weapons and fear and an over-use of the word “mine”. We fixate ourselves on these kingdoms because You claim to build Your kingdom with us. And that is a frightening reality.

Indeed, hallowed Father, we ask for Your will to be done on earth as it is in heaven. I guess, perhaps we mean, do Your will so long as it is comfortable, uncomplicated, and resembles closely our own. Like your people in their wilderness wanderings, we cannot conceive that you would insist we press on, while the view of Egypt over our shoulder looks so much safer, so much greener, so much more familiar. But their witness from the other side of the desert journey tells us that hidden in Your will are Your persisting promises of a better land. They say that You are a God who wills to free, to reach, to inhabit, to heal. Your will is so unlike our own. It is holy. So reorient us to Your will. Free us from the bindings of religion, from stiff rituals we have stripped of significance. Reach into our families, those we hold are beyond Your arm’s length and those we hold at ours. Inhabit the occupied territories of our hearts, those altars to other gods mostly made of wood and stone and a few of flesh. And heal every wounded place we name, and especially those we cannot. Your holy heavenly will be done, here on this temporary turf.

Give us this day, our Daily Bread, O Lord, our Sustenance. We confess we are not among your people who have gone without bread this day. The concept is mostly foreign to us, as are those to whom it is not. And so when You said You are the bread of life, and we did not believe You. We are a content people. We are content to ask of You our daily bread without a crumb of reliance on Your giving. So, we ask for Your provision to crash against our contentment, to provoke the hungry spaces of our lives where we have traded You for turkey and Your presence for another helping of mashed potatoes. We ask for an awareness, at the end of each meal, that we remain hungry. Hungry for your touch, hungry for your presence, hungry for You. Because we have filled stomachs, Lord, and are empty still. So, create in us a craving, stir in us a starvation for You. Save us from our spiritually anemic selves. Yes, Lord, give us this day our Daily Bread. Give us Yourself.

And forgive us of our trespasses, O Lord, our Savior. We confess that we do not fully know the weight of our request because we do not know the weight of sin within our beings. We confess that when we ask You to forgive us we mostly think you should or that we only ask a small favor. Our theology knows better, but we are obstinate with self-righteousness. We think little of our sin and therefore little of your grace. We think little of your grace and therefore little of your cross. We think little of your cross and therefore little of You. We insist on bitterness towards our bothers, we hold our idols close to our chests, we convince ourselves of our own falsehoods, we do not care for Your conviction, we refuse to pardon and we notice not the ironic way we ask You for it. And for these we indeed require forgiveness.

Oh Lord. Only seconds of silent confession is all that we can bear of seeing our own sin. But out of that silence You speak Life and Hope and Freedom and we sense the great release of Your amen in our lives. And we are grateful.

Lead us not into temptation, and deliver us from the evil one. We ask You to lead and hidden in our request is a request that You would cause us to follow You out of temptation because we find that we do a fine job of leading ourselves in. More often than not, temptations hour seems to be every hour and though we know that in Your grace there is no temptation beyond our bearing, that knowledge does not prevent us from bending ourselves beneath it. And so we need You. In our temptation be in your delivering self. Deliver us from the evil one, O Lord, our Protector. Save us from the one who prowls for us like a devouring lion, and from our minds that simplify him to a safe circus attraction.

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Yes, Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, on earth just as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from the evil one. For Thine is the kingdom and the glory and the power forever and ever.


Hi, friend. I'm Amy. Mostly, I’m just another twenty-something trying to figure out the stuff of life. I am a nerdy seminary student who loves the smell of old books and early mornings in the library. I am an artist wanabee, a liberal to the conservative and conservative to the liberal, guilty social justice groupie, and a recovering Bible know-it-all with the unreal ability to put my foot in my mouth an astonishing number of times each day. I am a sister to eight of the most hysterical creatures ever created. Good theology, used book stores, and autumn make me giddy. I preach passionately, think deeply, and ask too many questions. I write prayers, poetry and prose. I write about preaching bad and good, gender roles in the Church, the sacraments, stupid things we do on Sunday, politics, and almost everything else that you are not supposed to discuss in polite company. I also blog at oneyellowbird.blogspot.com. Welcome to the journey.

Tags: Author: Amy Gilbaugh , spiritually vital , student blogger , thoughtfully evangelical

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Learn About Gordon-Conwell and Come to Our Open House!

August 16, 2012

Dive into seminary at Gordon-Conwell! Come and visit our South Hamilton campus October 18-19 or November 8-9 and experience our vibrant community. Our Fall Open Houses will introduce you to our campus, our faculty and our students.

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Learning from Our Church Fathers: Part 5

August 09, 2012

Dr. Donald Fairbairn

This is Part 5 in a series about why evangelicals should care about the early church. If you are just now joining us, you can read Part 1 here; Part 2 here; Part 3 here; Part 4 here.

Why should evangelicals care about the early church, about the first several centuries after the end of the New Testament? Another reason why we should take that period seriously is that the church fathers—at least some of them—demonstrated remarkable discernment in the midst of a very politically-charged atmosphere. Nowhere was this more true than during the fourth-century Trinitarian Controversy, and no one demonstrated more discernment than a person who is not known for discernment—Athanasius of Alexandria.

You may know the situation: A relatively small group within the church, led at first by a man named Arius (from whom we get the name “Arianism”) believed that God the Son was the first and greatest of created beings, but not equal to God or eternal as God is. What enabled them to make this claim was their belief that salvation comes as we march up to God, so the “Savior” could be a creature who himself marched up to God and blazed the trail for us to follow. In contrast, the church recognized, we cannot rise up to God, so God had to come down to us to save us. At the most fundamental level, this means that the persons who came down—the Son at the incarnation and the Holy Spirit at Pentecost—had to be just as fully God as the Father in order for us to be saved. This much was relatively clear to everyone, and so when Arius wrote openly around the year 318 that the Son was a created being—this idea was rejected fairly quickly, most notably in the year 325 at the Council of Nicaea, which we now call the First Ecumenical Council.

However, this clear rejection of Arius’s thought took place in a tumultuous political atmosphere. The Roman Empire had gone from severely persecuting Christians to regarding Christianity as its most favored religion, all in the space of less than two decades after Constantine became a Christian. The inevitable result of imperial favor toward the church was imperial involvement in the church. After Constantine died in 337, his three sons vied for control over his empire and each tried to enlist Christian bishops and Christian theological slogans on his side. The result was a bewildering proliferation of creedal statements, with various different ways of speaking of the Son’s relationship to the Father. The Council of Nicaea had declared the Son to be “of one essence with the Father,” and now other creeds called him “like the Father” or “like the Father in all respects” or “exactly like the Father” or “like the Father in essence.”

The situation rapidly became confusing, as it became harder to tell which statements were equivalent and which ones actually reflected unacceptable differences of opinion. In this confused situation, many people tended to latch onto a single statement and to insist on it in opposition to all others. Parties started to emerge based on particular slogans, and the rival claimants to the imperial throne backed one party or another, one slogan or another, by exiling bishops who held to different slogans.

This is where Athanasius’s extraordinary gift for discernment came into play. No one was ever more adamant in opposing Arianism, but if he had been equally adamant about insisting that everyone use his slogans to oppose Arianism, the controversy might never have ended, since almost everyone was distrustful of everyone else’s slogans. In the midst of the confusion and name-calling, Athanasius was uniquely able to recognize that beneath many (not all!) of the varied statements lay a consensus, shared by most of the church in opposition to Arianism. In the 350s and early 360s, he worked tirelessly to uncover the consensus that he believed lay behind the various anti-Arian statements, and in the year 362, he held a small council in Alexandria at which he was able to show the different groups that they were saying the same thing. This local council was the turning point in the Trinitarian controversy and paved the way for the church’s acceptance of the Nicene Creed (with its bold assertion that the Son is equal to the Father and that this Son “came down” for our salvation) at the Second Ecumenical Council in 381.

Times of emotionally-charged political rhetoric call for stalwart, faithful perseverance in the midst of pressure to compromise. But such times also beget confusion about who is and is not firmly standing for the faith. An important but neglected aspect of faithfulness is the biblical/theological discernment to recognize what is and is not an acceptable way of affirming the faith. In the case of Athanasius and the Arian crisis, this kind of discernment was just as important to the work of the gospel as the fortitude for which he is much more famous. In discernment as well as fortitude, he is a shining example to us of how to live Christianly in a complex, confusing world. And there are other noteworthy examples from the early church as well, examples from whom we can profit as we try to live Christianly in a similarly complex, confusing world.

Dr. Donald Fairbairn is the Robert E. Cooley Professor of Early Christianity. His responsibilities include further developing the Robert C. Cooley Center for the Study of Early Christianity at the Charlotte campus, which explores the historical foundations of the Christian faith.




Tags: Author: Donald Fairbairn , faculty blogger , thoughtfully evangelical

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I'll respond here to the questions by Riley and Abram. First Riley's: Arius's own thought was condemned very quickly and decisively at a synod in Alexandria and at the Council of Nicaea (both in 325). But the condemnation of Arius also exposed the problem of what language for describing the Father-Son relationship was the best. The controversy over that was fairly protracted. I don't think it was really true that Arianism was making inroads all over the Empire. But it is true that people who SOUND Arian by later standards were being backed by the Emperors (especially Constantius). The situation is very complicated, but what I am trying to argue in my current scholarly work is that there was more of a consensus present all along than people realized at the time. For example, I've recently finished an article arguing that Basil of Ancryra and the so-called "Semi-Arians" were actuallyc ompletely consistent with the Nicenes, even though they did not recognize this fact themselves. Regarding Abram's question, I don't think we should necessarily give the church fathers' exegeis "pride of place." They were not necessarily right just because they were closer chronologically to the NT. Sometimes distance gives one a better perspective. But it is CERTAINLY true that we should give their exegesis a place at the table, a serious hearing.
Don Fairbairn 7:47AM 08/16/12
Good insights, but is it really true that: "when Arius wrote openly around the year 318 that the Son was a created being—this idea was rejected fairly quickly" Seems Arianism was making inroads all over the Empire and beyond, which is why Athanasius was exiled several times. Hence the phrase, "Athanasius contra mundum."
Riley 11:13AM 08/11/12
Hi, Dr. Fairbairn, I just found this series; it's great! Thanks for posting it. Earlier in the series (part 2, I think?) you wrote: And this brings us to a fundamental claim that I often make: What we think the Bible means is influenced by what we think the church has said the Bible means. I love this. It's a notion that is too often overlooked. Do you think there's any merit in giving patristic/early church exegesis pride of place, since they were (historically/chronologically) closer to the text then we are?
Abram K-J 9:22AM 08/09/12

Introducing Kate Hightower: Seminary Student Blogger

August 07, 2012

We are excited to introduce you to one of our new student bloggers, Kate Hightower! Kate is an Master of Divinity student at our Jacksonville campus. Welcome to Gordon-Conwell Voices, Kate!

Name: Kate Hightower

Degree: Master of Divinity

Hometown: Ocala, FL

Where were you before seminary? Avoiding it. :) I heard whispers of getting into ministry in the latter half of my college years but the idea scared me to death. So upon graduating from the University of Central Florida, I tucked away in a little jewel of a house in Atlantic Beach, determined to give myself time to write. I had a story idea I wanted to give legs to and I wanted to regain my free-spirited ways after the drudgery of my undergraduate years. After two years of being a certifiable hermit, only coming up for air for work and church, God stepped in. He firmly informed me I was thinking too small, and shot me back into the world. When I opened my eyes after all that, all I could see was seminary and a world that needed to see Love move.

Favorite hobbies? writing, reading, painting, cooking

Favorite food? My dad makes the best fried fish sandwich on the planet. And anything at Sun Dog diner here in Neptune Beach. It’s a local legend and a place I frequented during the years I was writing pre-seminary.

Favorite hero of the Christian faith? St. Teresa of Avila and Soren Kierkegaard are my current shoulder angels. They kick me in the teeth when I get too hard on myself.

Favorite book? In no particular order: 1) Lord of the Rings trilogy (no one in the world writes like Tolkien did...that guy dove head-first into Middle Earth and managed to record his journey for us. There’s been nothing since then of that caliber.) 2) Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream. 3) The book of Isaiah. 4) Works of Love by Soren Kierkegaard, (Undeniable, unshakable brilliance.)

Interesting fact about yourself? I’m a closet comic book fan with a secret ambition to attend Comic Con someday. ;)

Issues you are passionate about? redemption, theology of creativity, hunger

Tags: Author: Kate Hightower , student blogger

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Did not know many things about you ! Well said. Look forward the blog. Cute picture :). Proud of you
Mary Shelton 3:15PM 08/08/12

Compass: Ministry Expedition | Seminary Student Blogger

August 02, 2012

This is the third installment in Dim's series chronicling his and Gayles' adventure this summer through Compass. Read Part 1 here and Part 2 here. Enjoy!

Dim Alldridge

The final part of the Compass Program, the Ministry Expedition, is a short-term overseas mission trip. This year we all headed to Managua, the capital city of Nicaragua.

After a week of preparation, the 26 teenagers from across the U.S. were ready to run three different evangelistic art projects in three different communities in and around Managua; Mural painting and t-shirt making in Los Cedros, garden planting and pavement painting in Los Brasilles, and mosaic making in La Chureca. What they weren’t ready for was discovering a world far outside their comfort zone and the enormous impact they could have in just five short days.

My group was working in La Chureca, a community who gets its name from where they live: in seven square kilometers of trash. Around 2,000 inhabitants survive in La Chureca by trawling through the mountains of trash dumped out of the city of Managua, looking for anything they can reuse or recycle. In all honesty, it is hard to imagine a more desperate place on earth and yet, as our hosts Coburn and Melissa Murray (students from the Gordon-Conwell–Charlotte campus) told us, the material poverty is not the most serious problem facing those who call La Chureca home. This community is rife with abuse, addiction and spiritual darkness.

Despite all of this, in the heart of La Chureca is a Christian school offering children a place of refuge and safety in the short-term, and a way out of this community through education in the long-term. It was here that our group along with Coburn, Melissa and some translators, ran a week of games, activities, mosaic making and story-telling.

It is hard to express in so few words what a privilege it was to work with the 23 children who came along each day. To slowly get to know them, to gently earn the trust of those who have been so hardened by life and to share with them the message of hope which comes only from knowing Jesus was one of the most challenging and humbling things I have ever done. Each one of us started the week feeling overwhelmed by the depth of the desperation we found in La Chureca; yet, just five days later, each of us had also witnessed some of the most amazing examples of hope we had ever seen. Children like Anthony, Fransisco, Franklin and Flora sharing with us how they have hope, because they are clinging to Christ.

With prayers on our lips, smiles on our faces and tears in our eyes we said our goodbyes. After a weekend of exploring Managua and the surrounding areas, we headed back to South Hamilton to debrief not only our time in Nicaragua, but also the month of Compass as a whole.

I have been involved with many summer camps before, but none of them compare to Compass. If you are 15-17 and love the Lord and are exploring the possibility of going into vocational ministry in the future, or if you know someone who is, then I urge you to sign up next year. The wilderness, theological and ministry expeditions will stretch you and challenge you and push you in ways you have never experienced before. But the friendships you make, the opportunities you will have to serve, and most of all the lessons you will learn about yourself and more importantly about the Lord, will change you forever.

It has been a long hard month but, if I could, I’d do it again tomorrow.

Dimitri (Dim for short) and his wife, Gayles, moved to the U.S. from England in 2011 to pursue a Master of Divinity degree from Gordon-Conwell. He grew up in a little town in England called Sevenoaks and completed his undergraduate degree in Automobile Design at the University of Coventry. Upon graduation, Dim spent some time as a ski instructor, a church intern and an assistant pastor. When he’s not pretending to study, he’s usually dreaming about skiing.

Tags: Author: Dim Alldridge , student blogger

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