It’s about time that I talk to all of you about a little thing called Elevate…
What Is Elevate?
Here is the official definition:
Elevate is a 10-week spiritual leadership project located in beautiful San Diego, CA that provides you an amazing opportunity to explore God in community. It is a time to learn biblical truths and practical skills all in the context of missionally-living, Christian community. Elevate students will live together, learn together…and maybe even work together. Each student will work a 30-40 hour week, attend large group sessions, study the Bible in “family groups”, participate in a local church and develop lifelong relationships. If you are looking to have a life-changing summer, Elevate is the place for you.
However, I think that this just barely begins to illustrate the weight of this opportunity.
This is a summer project uniquely designed to teach the body of Christ how to live missionally and intentionally for the Kingdom. As a part of the program each of us is required to get a job in the city where we will work a minimum of 30 hours a week to bring the gospel into our work place and learn what it looks like to be a hardworking and faithful servant outside of the church. In addition to that we will spend our weekends working with local churches and inviting people into our homes for “house parties” (barbecues and hangouts) to invite those in the San Diego area into our community.
For those of us who are a part of the Project we will spend Monday-Wednesday night in classes being discipled and learning how to love bigger, better and further. This is an incredible opportunity for each of us to be discipled by those in our church, grow in community, and foster a perspective reminiscent of Romans 1:16 – it is my prayer that each and every week challenges each of us to live boldly for the gospel.
Basically, this is a ten week program designed specifically to draw near to the heart of God and experience missional living like you never have before.
Why Do I Feel Called To Be a Part of It?
To spare you all the details I’ll begin at the beginning of my Fall semester. I had this weird tugging on my heart that God was asking me to give my summer to Him; and to be honest, that is the last thing that I wanted to do. As an Arizona girl I wanted to save up all of my money to go and spend my summer back in the place that I know with my friends. I wanted to be comfortable.
Too bad God isn’t too keen on the idea of comfort when it comes to His kingdom. I often say that it makes me uncomfortable if people are comfortable following Jesus, and here I was, swallowing my own words as God continuously pressed into my heart the idea that my summer was meant to be bigger than the comfort that I craved. I wasn’t sure what it all meant, in all honesty, I was supremely confused because I had no idea where to even begin looking for a way to give my Summer to Him; and I guess – because my head is hard as brick – I sort of figured that if I didn’t find anything then I could kind of ignore what He was asking me to do in light of the summer that I could spend with my friends.
God must laugh at me a lot, thinking that I have control over things. The Big Guy has a sense of humor – in a few short weeks I sat down to coffee with a girl who I barely knew at the time, but has since become one of my most treasured friends, and she began to tell me the story of her summer … which she spent at Elevate.
It was in that moment that I began to say okay. Of course, this okay came after a lot of bargaining (too bad that that’s also a joke). I knew what God was asking me to do, and when I finally decided to let him send me I felt this sense of peace…
Which leads me to now, almost four months later. Why do I still think that I am called to be a part of this project? As the school year has gone on I have learned more about the program and found myself increasingly more invested in the idea of being sent out in a way that I never had before.
I have a heart for missions.This is no secret.
I have been so incredibly blessed to have had the opportunity to spend weeks outside of my own country (and continent) bearing the image of the Lord and carrying it to my brothers and sisters in other parts of the world. In the past few years alone, I’ve been privileged to make it to Ecuador, Mexico, and the Dominican Republic – and it was through these experiences that I began to feel the Lord’s tugging on my heart in the realm of missions.
Between my Junior and Senior year of high school I found myself fulfilling the role of “missions intern” for my home church in Arizona, and it was there that I began to really understand and investigate the merit behind missional living. I was saddened by the face that so many of my other brothers and sisters in the church approach missions with an almost careless mindset -looking to fulfill their Christian duty, throw a couple hundred dollars at a charity, take a picture with an orphan and then go on living their lives in excess, never again thinking about the people they stood alongside in other parts of the world (here’s a cool article discussing this idea).
This burdens my hearts in ways that I cannot even communicate. Throughout the summer I read countless articles, listened to stories and read numerous books discussing God’s intent for missional living and it rocked my entire world. In that same summer Arizona was struck by a series of wildfires, and one in particular left us with a staggering loss of 19 brave firemen; the majority of which came from our little town – Prescott. In the aftermath the entire town rallied together, and our missions team in particular was a central force behind the community outreach. In many ways it was here that I began to see the impact of urban missions.
What does that even mean? I’ve put a lot of thought into this and the definition that I have developed is: anything that you do in your own community to help those who need it. This may be working at the local women’s shelter, or serving at the food bank, or even mowing the lawn for your 90 year old neighbor. The possibilities are broad.
And in a way, that’s exactly what makes this kind of serving so scary. For me, since I am so passionate about it, serving outside of the country in foreign lands has become a more comfortable example of missional living than serving those in my very own town.
And that’s exactly why I need to do this. I care about the children in the Dominican as much as I care about those in San Diego, but I haven’t been given the chance to serve the people of San Diego yet. This summer is my chance to change that. It is my opportunity to take the mundane tasks and patterns of life and turn them into a testament to my faith in one of our nation’s most lost cities.
It will be challenging. It will be heart breaking. It will be terrifying. And yet, not one of those things is a deterrent for me, I’m excited to push myself to learn how to live in a way that is everyday missional. I’m excited to create relationships with the people that I will meet and walk alongside in California, and mostly I am excited to share God in a brand new way.
Some of you have already received letters from me, and for some of you this is the first time that you are hearing about this trip. Regardless, each one of you can join me in prayer as I prepare to spend my summer in California as an operative for His kingdom! This month I am praying for three things:
- An open and tender heart. A spirit of gentle vulnerability that lends itself to the molding of my heart as I learn more about my Savior and serve his children throughout the summer.
- Patience. If you know me at all then you probably already know that this is not a spiritual gift of mine. I am taking the initiative now to begin praying for patience as I am sure that I will need endless amounts of it throughout this entire project.
- Boldness. I am praying that my team is bold for the gospel and rocks the foundations of San Diego for His glory.
Please join me in praying for these things!
As of February I have raised $415.78. In order to be fully funded I need to raise $2,584.22 more to reach the program cost of $3,000.
The official website of the project:http://www.elevate2015.com
The official website of the church:http://experienceresonate.com
If you have any questions at all please, please, please don’t hesitate to ask them! Either through Facebook, twitter, commenting here – the possibilities are endless! You can find my contact info in the “About Me” tab at the top of this website if you need it 🙂
I love you all, Happy March!