Compass Program's One-Month Immersion Challenges Young Leaders
October 25, 2012
For high school senior Josh Lambert of Nitro, WV, this has been a summer of firsts.
Never having camped for longer than one night, flown in a plane or been on a mission trip, Josh spent a month backpacking in the Adirondack Mountains, exploring deep theological questions and ministering to the people of Nicaragua—all part of Compass, Gordon-Conwell’s youth leadership development program.
“I was scared and excited at the same time, and ready to see what would happen,” says Josh, “Compass was a month of firsts.”
Compass features an intense month-long Real Ministry Immersion (RMI) and a three-year mentoring component. Church leaders across the country nominate youth with strong leadership and ministry potential for the program.
RMI begins with a 10-day trek in the Adirondacks, challenging students to build leadership and teamwork skills. “We all came in feeling like we were leaders, we were strong and we could do this by ourselves,” says participant Cristi Martinez, of Wenham, MA, “[but the wilderness trip] really brought us together and made us realize that we had to rely on each other.”
The group returned to Gordon-Conwell for a week of classes with world-renowned theology professors. Despite the physical stress of backpacking, participant Caroline Kingsbury of Melbourne, FL, found this expedition even tougher. “The greatest joy was getting through those extremely challenging points—through theology week [and] questions that could not be answered—with a group of kids that all are so on fire for God.”
The last RMI expedition: a cross-cultural ministry trip to Nicaragua. Reflecting on her time spent with the people there, Joanna Paz of McMinnville, TN, says, “A huge epiphany I had is that if I can show them God’s love, then I can also apply it at home [and] show his love all the time.”
For many Compass participants, the program affirms their call to ministry. And if they choose to study at Gordon-Conwell in preparation, Compass alumni will receive a $5,500/year scholarship.
Josh feels called to be a pastor and plans to attend Gordon-Conwell after college. His peer, Torrey Cameron of Mount Bethel, PA, wants to open an outdoor ministry camp. “Being at Compass gave me more of an encouragement to pursue that,” he says, ”I settled that [calling] with God through prayer.”
Josh, Cristi, Caroline, Joanna, Torrey and their 21 fellow Compass participants returned home—to 15 different states—at the end of July to begin the three-year mentoring component with a leader in their church or community.
Reflecting back on the trip, Josh says, “Compass as a whole is a huge blessing.” After accomplishing many firsts this summer, Josh is going back to West Virginia a different person.