Thursday, February 15, 2018

February Update


It’s week 4 of the semester, which means by the time you read these words spring semester will officially be ¼ of the way over. It’s always amazing to me just how quickly the semester slips past. It seems like just yesterday we were eagerly anticipating the start of a new semester and now we are already talking about end of year events! 

I wanted to take a moment during this update and write about impact. A lot of times when we think about the impact of a particular program, organization, or in this case ministry, we tend to miss some of the “big picture” outcomes. Let me give you an example. One indicator of impact is, of course, attendance. How many people do you have coming to your weekly worship service? Even though I’m happy to share that this number is up from previous semesters, I still struggle because it doesn’t account for the people who gather for weekly Bible studies, nor does it include our students involved in discipleship relationships (which include all of our current leaders). Furthermore, it doesn’t factor in the many students who come to the ROC house weekly just because they feel like this is a community that they belong to, even if they’ve never been a part of one of the “religious services.” As you can quickly see, impact is often hard to measure. 
ROC Students Tera Hogue and
Justis Slay serving at the OVCA
retreat. 

Or consider for example, each year ROC trains on average 4-6 new student leaders. At the end of the training we believe that these students are fully prepared for and capable of serving in a variety of leadership roles within the local church. Part of that training includes, as we’ve already mentioned, discipleship. That also means that each year every one of these students disciples, on average, 1-2 other students. I have watched our students leave our ministry and go on to serve in key roles with other ministries and continue their kingdom work all over the country, impacting countless other lives as a result. 

Even in the Director’s seat, it’s often easy to miss out on the true scope of what the ministry of ROC is accomplishing. For instance, it wasn’t until I was writing this update and thinking about the lives that our students have impacted that I began to consider the integral role that ROC students played in the recent Ohio Valley Christian Assembly Jr/Sr High Retreat. Over the course of the weekend through worship, teaching, small groups, and even personal conversations the ROC community impacted the lives of more than 40 younger students. Furthermore, during our Winter Break service trip, ROC students served and ministered to more than 200 students at the Mountain Mission school. In March our students will once again head out to serve. This time at the American Indian Christian Mission in Show Low, AZ, where students will be working with young people on the reservation and sharing Jesus love through serving and teaching. (See attached invitation for Spaghetti Dinner fundraiser). 

So why do I share these things? Firstly, because I wanted you to see the true impact that your support is achieving in the lives of our students and countless others all around Ohio, the US, and even the world. Secondly, because I want to invite you to partner with us, if you are not currently, to allow us to continue in this all-important ministry. Each year God faithfully provides for the needs of the ministry through the generosity of people just like you who see the value of investing in students! But each year we depend upon new partnerships to continue in this mission. Maybe God is calling you “for such a time as this.” 

In Christ,

-Dodger

Check out the ROC Worship team in action at the OVCA Jr/Sr High Retreat. 





Tuesday, January 23, 2018

January Update

It’s a chilly 9 degrees in Athens this morning as I write this update. Welcome to the beginning of Spring Semester at Ohio University! Even though it’s cold, we are incredibly excited for a new semester of ministry. It’s been exceptionally good to see so many familiar faces walk through the door of the ROC house this week. Additionally we have welcomed several new students just this first week alone!
 
ROC Students at the Mountain Mission
School in Grundy, VA.
 
Even though the semester just officially began this week, ROC kicked our year off the week before by serving on the mission field. January 7th through the 11th a group of 15 from ROC traveled to the Mountain Mission School in Grundy, VA. Our students were blessed to serve in a variety of ways while there. From assisting in the classrooms, to leading chapel services, to fixing bicycles, to sorting food donations, to leading small group devotions, our students were being used by God in incredible ways.

I’ve shared with you before how amazing it has been to be able to watch God work through our students, and the week at MMS was certainly no exception. It wasn’t merely the work that they were doing but also the joy in which they approached each task they were assigned that demonstrated their love for the MMS students / faculty and Jesus.

ROC Student Luke Fredricks instructs
a student how to weld.
One ambition that we have for trips like these is to encourage students to see each day as an opportunity to serve, and to view their time at OU as a call to missions on their very own campus. Every trip we take we spend time breaking down what we’ve learned through serving and how we can apply those principles to our own context. I’ve told our group many times that they will always be the most effective missionaries to the campus of Ohio University, and that changing the campus will require them to demonstrate Jesus’ love through BOTH their words and their actions. Trips like the one to MMS help to reinforce this.

Speaking of being blessed by our ongoing relationships with the mission fields we serve, we are very excited to have ROC intern Noah Mulvaney with us this semester. Noah is the second intern we have welcome from Crossroads Missions in New Orleans. If you haven’t already, please take time out to read his interview in this month’s spotlight.

With almost the entire semester still before us, we couldn’t be more excited about what God has been doing within the ROC community, and where he will be leading us over the course of the next 15 ½ weeks! Between now and the end of the semester we look forward to more opportunities to serve together, more opportunities to grow together, and more opportunities to worship together.

As always, thanks for being an integral part of bringing the kingdom of God close to Ohio University. Your prayers and faithful support provide for the needs of the ministry and allow for these incredible experiences that so richly impact the lives of our students. For that, I am eternally grateful.

In Christ,

-Dodger

Monday, December 18, 2017

December Update

Merry Christmas from all of the staff, students and board members of Reach Out on Campus! We pray that your Christmas is filled with the blessings and awe of the Christmas season. 

As I write this letter our students are busy finishing up final projects and preparing for exams next week. It’s funny how sometimes it seems like the semester is creeping by and at other times like it is flying past at a dizzying pace. From November on it has definitely seemed like the latter here.

ROC Students Luke Fredricks,
Blayne Smith, and Jessica
Brantmeier with local high
school and middle school
students during ROC's
Student Ministry Day
One reason is that the past month been a busy one for ROC. Lots of church visits, outings, and events have made the time fly by. One such event was our annual student ministry day at OU. For the second year in a row we invited students from around the area to join us in a day of fellowship, worship, and teaching. This year we had students from 6 local churches / youth groups in attendance. It truly was a wonderful day. The best part was that it was 100% organized and led by our ROC Students. They really did a phenomenal job, and I couldn’t be more proud of them and their efforts.

One big “job” that our ROC Student leaders have each year is calendar planning. During the month of November our students sat down to plan out the direction of the ministry for spring semester. Every idea is ultimately tested against ROC’s 3 core values of “Belonging, Becoming, and Being Sent” before being placed on the calendar. As I’ve said before, the ROC community and calendar are ultimately a reflection of the students and what they are passionate about.

As we wrap up things here and prepare for a new year of ministry I am reminded of how faithful God has been. We’ve been so blessed and encouraged to see our community grow, both in numbers as well as in faith. We’ve been equally fortunate to begin new friendships with churches and individuals as well as maintain relationships with some of our long time supporters including our amazing ROC alumni! These relationships are the backbone of ROC and we are so grateful for them.

As we prepare for this Christmas I have been dwelling on John 1:14 “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” I pray that we never cease to be amazed by the fact that God put on flesh and made His dwelling amongst us in the most humble manner, in the form of a child. How amazing indeed!

Merry Christmas


Dodger

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

November Update

Happy Thanksgiving from the staff and students at Reach Out on Campus! As I write this update our students are busily finishing up last minute assignments and exams before they leave for Thanksgiving break. The semester really is flying past. When our students return from break we will be down to 2 weeks of classes and a week of finals.

As I reflect back upon the semester I am encouraged by the ways that God has been at work through our students. One example of this was our Halloween Hot Dog outreach event. Through your prayers and generosity our students gave out 1,000 hotdogs during the annual Block Party. That’s exciting to me because it means that 1,000 people heard, possibly some for the first time, that Jesus loves them. It was a simple and very practical expression of love, but for many people it was both unexpected and deeply appreciated.

ROC Students at the Hotdog Outreach
We deeply appreciate all who helped to make this event an overwhelming success. So many of you reached out to us to encourage us, pray for us, and even give to make the outreach happen. Additionally we were blessed by many who came to lend a hand in preparing the hot dogs as well as helping out on the front lines. What awesome supporters we have!

Another event that we are hosting is the Student Ministry Day on December 2nd. In case you haven’t already heard, in just a few short weeks we are inviting youth groups from the area to join us on campus for a day of worship, teaching, and fun. Everything is being planned and carried out by our ROC students in an effort to invest in local high school and middle school students. This will be our second year for this event and we are looking forward to welcoming some new groups as well as reconnecting with others!

What outreach would be complete
without a dancing hotdog?
Finally, I just wanted to share how excited we are about ROC’s winter break service trip. From January 7th to 11th we will be serving with the Mountain Mission School in Grundy, VA. We have a group of 15 that will be working in classrooms at the school, leading devotions and worship at Chapel, participating in work projects, and loving on kids in Jesus’ name. This is our second time serving with MMS and we are looking forward to continuing that relationship for years to come.

Developing and sustaining relationships with the mission fields we serve is one of our key strategic goals for missions at ROC. This is why you will see us continue to return to many of the same fields over and over again. Relational ministry is such an important component of what we do within ROC that it only makes sense that our missions program would be relational as well.


As we approach the end of another year at Ohio University we are reminded of how grateful we are for so many of you who help provide for the needs of the ministry. As always your faithfulness and generosity continue to humble and amaze us. Thank you for choosing to partner with us as we seek to glorify God at Ohio University and around the world!

Many Thanks,

-Dodger

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

October Update

ROC Students at Mill Creek Trail in
Ansted, WV during fall retreat.
It is a picturesque fall day in Athens! Many of our ROC alumni have fond memories of being in Athens during this time of year as the trees on campus start to change colors, the weather cools down, and signs of fall seem to be everywhere. It really is hard to beat autumn at OU!

One sure sign of fall (at least within the ROC community) is fall retreat. Each year the ROC staff and students get away for the weekend to connect with Christ and one another. This year was no exception as we made our way back to New River Gorge in Fayetteville, WV. This year’s fall retreat was exceptionally special for me. First, it was an awesome time of worship, learning, and bonding. Seriously, worship on top of a mountain cannot be beat. Second, it marked my 4th fall retreat with Reach Out on Campus. And finally, I got to celebrate my 40th birthday (ouch it hurts to even type that) with some of my favorite people. 

Fall retreat is one of the events that tend to solidify new students’ places within the community. While weekly meetings like Crosswalk, Bible Studies, and service events are all vital parts of ROC life, special events like retreats, mission trips, and even the occasional lock-in help students to find a deeper sense of belonging and community. I am incredibly thankful to be able to serve with an organization like ROC that sees the value in fostering spiritual growth through Christian community.

Speaking of the ROC community, I have been overwhelmed by the number of people who have recently approached me asking about practical ways that they can serve and show love to students at OU. If you have wondered the same, here is your chance! This year will be ROC’s second annual Halloween Block Party outreach. The ROC community and friends will once again take to the streets to give out 1,000 hotdogs to students and partygoers. Our aim here is to simply reach out to people with a practical expression of love and to let them know that Jesus loves and cares about them. If you would like more information about how you can assist with this outreach, don’t hesitate to contact us at reachohio@gmail.com.


The beautiful New River Gorge!
Another event that I am very excited about is ROC’s Student Ministry Day at OU. It’s no surprise that after 9 years of ministry to high school and junior high students, I enjoy any opportunity I have to interact with them. Moreover, I love getting to see our ROC students invest in younger students as well. This year ROC’s Student Ministry Day will be held on Saturday afternoon December 2nd. We will have food, teaching, small groups, worship, and games, all in an effort to bless local students and student ministries. This year’s theme is “Letters to Live By” and will focus on some of the Apostle Paul’s writings to the church about how to live lives that please God and impact the world. This event is organized and led entirely by ROC students, and will certainly be an event that will encourage local youth groups and students. We will be sending out additional information and invitations soon, but feel free to contact us directly with any questions.

Guys, God is so good, and it’s abundantly evident as I watch Him work in the lives of students. I hope that the pictures and words that I share give you just a small glimpse of the impact that your prayers and support are making in the ROC community. Additionally, make sure you check out this month’s Student Spotlight feature to hear about the difference that the ROC community is making in the life of our friend Christina Hemsath. For a closer look I’d encourage you to come visit us and see for yourself. Seriously, the ROC door is open to you at any time. We’d love to have you join us.

Many Blessings,

-Dodger

Thursday, September 21, 2017

September Update

Let me begin this update with an expression of gratefulness for the many churches and individuals who supported ROC’s cookie outreach. Because of your generosity we were able to give out more than 1,400 bags of cookies during OU’s move-in weekend. That is incredible! It’s also the most cookies we’ve given away since I’ve been with ROC. This gave us the opportunity to have some great conversations, to make meaningful connections with new students, and to glorify Jesus by sharing a simple expression of love.  

ROC Students at the annual Cookie
Outreach during move-in weekend. 
I’ve shared before that I’m always amazed at how many of our students’ ROC stories begin with “I first heard of ROC when someone handed me a bag of cookies.” It’s such a simple, yet powerful, way to let people know that they are loved; and it’s one that I hope we continue for many years to come. In this month’s Student Update you will get to hear from Blayne. Blayne’s ROC story begins with a bag of cookies as well. I hope that you are encouraged in hearing how God is blessing this outreach!

As excited as I am about how well the cookie outreach went, I am even more excited to be a part of a community where outreach isn’t just something we do, but a part of who we are. It’s amazing to me to see students reaching out to other students and inviting them into community and encouraging them to grow in their walk with Christ.

Speaking of outreach, one of the reasons I truly love fall semester is because of the many opportunities we have to invite our supporters to help us reach out to the community of Ohio University. Baking cookies is just the beginning! This year we have scheduled our second annual Halloween Block Party Outreach. Last year, because of your faithfulness and prayers, we were able to give away over 1,000 hotdogs during this event. We were blessed by so many who gave financially as well as numerous others who joined us that evening to serve on the front lines.

ROC's Bowling Party during week 1
With this in mind, we want to ask you for a couple things as we prepare for this year’s outreach. First, please join us in praying that God would bless this event. We know that a huge reason for the success of the cookie outreach centered on the many people, including supporters like you, who prayed over this outreach. Second, please consider joining us either in person to serve or sending a monetary gift to purchase hotdogs and supplies. In October we will be providing more details for those interested in joining us that evening. In the meantime should you have any questions about this outreach, please do not hesitate to contact us at (740) 592-1086 or reachohio@gmail.com.

One final thing we would love for you to join us in praying over and possibly helping us promote is ROC’s Student Ministry Day on campus. Last year we invited youth groups from our supporting churches and surrounding areas to join us for an afternoon of worship, teaching, small groups, and fun. This year the event is scheduled for Saturday December 2nd. We will be releasing more details about this event as the time draws closer. Encourage your church’s youth to join us!


Thank you for the integral role you play in the ministry of ROC. Our community is both blessed and strengthened by the support that you continue to show us.

In Christian Love,

-Dodger