Thursday, March 21, 2019

March Update

I can’t wrap my mind around the fact that although last week was Spring Break, I still wake up to frost on my windshield in the morning. Actually, I can’t complain because today is a beautiful sunny day in Athens, and the ROC community is still buzzing from an incredible mission trip to Wallace, North Carolina last week. 

Last week we packed a van full of ROC staff and students and began the eight-hour drive to North Carolina’s coastal region. We then spent the rest of the week helping with the rebuilding process for homeowners who had been impacted by Hurricane Florence. The ROC crew was blessed to be able to serve four different homeowners throughout the week. Our students did everything from wiring outlets, to framing, to drywall, to building steps, and even cleaning. It was awesome to see them learn new skills while serving the homeowners with joy. 
ROC's 2019 NC Mission Team and
homeowner Steve and family. 

We were blessed to be able to serve with a disaster relief ministry called “Helping His Hands.” HHH has been on the ground serving in disasters all over the United States including Hurricane Harvey in Houston, Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, and the EF-5 tornado that struck Alabama in 2011 just to name a few. HHH’s Director, Scott Shipman, says "For these people this is the worst day of their life and it is for that reason we want to bring hope and a hand of service to those in need." That is precisely what I got to witness our students do this past week. I watched the way they loved on and cared for each homeowner and how their presence and willingness to help made an impact in the lives of the people they were serving. 

Our team enjoyed being able to serve alongside one of our sister campus ministries from Vincennes University in Indiana (Christian Campus Fellowship). I always enjoy watching our teams bond with other mission teams and groups. One special moment was observing the two groups come together in a special unplanned time of worship on one of the first nights of the trip. I think this truly set a tone for the week and helped the two groups deepen their bonds in Christ. 

ROC students Noelle and Sara with
homeowner Melba.
As terrific as spring break was, we are already looking forward to everything that the second half of the semester brings. This weekend we are taking a group of current and incoming leaders on our annual leadership retreat where we will be doing a Room Escape adventure. This will be the first time that our incoming leaders will be working alongside our existing leaders and it’s always an incredible bonding and learning experience. Also, Ohio Teens for Christ is exactly one month away as I write these words. The ROC community always loves being able to serve at the convention even as we enjoy the teaching and worship. Will we see your high school and middle school students there? I hope so! Come find our table at the convention and we will hook you up with some ROC Swag. 

Finally, we want to make a special invitation to you! Each year ROC holds its annual appreciation dinner where we get to celebrate with you all of the things that God has done in our community throughout the year. We would be honored if you would make plans to join us on Saturday evening April 13thfrom 6 to 8pm at Athens Church of Christ (785 West Union Street, Athens, OH). There is no cost associated with this event, as we truly just want to share with you what your love, prayers, and partnership are accomplishing for the kingdom. If you would like to come we simply just ask that you RSVP using the enclosed form or email us at jeandifilippo@yahoo.comwith the number of people you are bringing with you. We hope to see you there!

Blessings,

-Dodger 

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

February Update

Greetings from 50 South Court Street! It’s week 5 of the 16-week semester as I write these words, and wow, what a crazy 5 weeks it’s been so far. If you read the last update, you know we kicked off a new year of ministry with our winter break trip to the Dominican Republic. This trip really propelled the community into the semester with a lot of energy. 

Dodger and Tony in the
Dominican 
Last week our friend and trip interpreter from the Dominican Republic, Tony Batista, was able to video chat with us at Crosswalk. Tony blessed us by sharing his testimony with the ROC community and encouraged us to look at the ways that God has changed our lives and to be willing to share that good news with other people. 

We also started a new semester of leadership training last week as well. This semester we have 6 students going through leadership training. For ROC students, leadership training begins with 5 weeks of Discovery training which essentially covers the basics of our faith. After spring break these same students will transition into leadership training, which will run an additional 5 weeks and will cover topics such as what it looks like to be a leader in a faith community, servant leadership, and practical training in the tasks they will be assigned as leaders in the ROC community. Please join me in praying for this group of leaders. 

On Saturday, February 2nd, we spent the evening reaching out to the crowds that had gathered for SIBS Weekend at OU. We had an incredible time preparing and handing out over 300 hotdogs. Amazingly, we gave out all 300 hotdogs in less than an hour! While it’s hard to have meaningful conversations with every person crowded around our small table, each hotdog came with a label that explained who we were as a community and why they were receiving a free hotdog. We did, however, have many good conversations with people. Additionally, it is always encouraging to see how grateful people truly are to receive such a small act of kindness. 

The weekend before the hotdog outreach, ROC’s leaders and worship team assisted with the OVCA Jr/Sr High Retreat. We had an awesome time at the retreat where our ROC worship team led those in attendance through some remarkable times of praise. ROC students also led small groups, taught workshops, and supervised the dorms at night. I’m exceedingly grateful to have a group of students who see the value of investing in the lives of younger students. One of the highlights of the weekend was seeing our friend Maggie Hoover immersed in Christ! 
Pictures from the Hotdog Outreach!

This coming weekend ROC will be joining our friends from Student Christian Fellowship at Ohio State and Active Christians Today at Bowling Green and University of Toledo for our annual Ohio Campus Ministries Winter Retreat. This year will be special for us because it’s the first year that the event will be held in the southern part of the state at Ohio Valley Christian Assembly. The theme for the retreat is “Relationships: Knowing, Finding, and Being the One” and is based upon 1 John 4:16 which says “And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.” The community always looks forward to this event, as it is a great time of fellowship and growing together with our brothers and sisters from all around the state. 

Lastly, I wanted to mention that ROC’s 2ndannual prayer marathon is coming up at the end of this month. For the next couple weeks ROC will be collecting prayer requests from our community, friends, supporters, and mission partners in order for us to lift them up all day long on Thursday February 28th. Along those lines, we’d love to be praying for you and your prayer request. If you’d like to include your prayer request in our prayer marathon simply email it us at reachohio@gmail.comand there will be people lifting you and your request up all day long on the 28th! Seriously, we’d love to hear from you! 

Thanks for taking the time to read about what is happening in our community and for praying for us. 

Blessings,

-Dodger

Thursday, January 17, 2019

January Update

What an exciting start to the semester! I don’t know that there is a much better way to begin a new semester and a new year of ministry than with a week of serving. Our team of ROC students, staff, and friends spent the week of January 4-11thin the Dominican Republic worshipping alongside our brothers and sisters in Christ at the church in Moca. This is ROC’s second time serving alongside this body of believers as we first met up with them in January of 2016. It was a lot like a joyful family reunion in many ways as we were able to pick back up where we left off with our friends.
ROC Student Leader Dava Clark and
one of her friends she made in the D.R.

Our week was full of leading worship, running Vacation Bible School for about 80 kids, sharing testimonies of what God was doing in our lives, visiting a nursing home (whose residents loved to dance), and playing games and loving on children at an orphanage. It was certainly a week of incredible blessings. 

Throughout the week I kept thinking of the following verse from Romans… “so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others” (Romans 12:5 NIV). It really is hard to put into words what it’s like to get the chance to experience the “bigness” of the body of Christ until you step outside of your normal context and experience the Church in other areas and within other cultures. Even with differences in language, styles of worship, and cultural norms there is this underlying reality that we belong to one another. Bottom line, I miss my Dominican Church family and cannot wait to return and see them again in a couple years. 

Dodger entertaining the VBS crowd with some silly songs
Another exciting development within the ROC community is the arrival of our new Associate Campus Minister, Noah Mulvaney. Some of you may recognize Noah from his time as an intern with ROC last year. Prior to coming to ROC, he spent time serving with Crossoads Missions in both New Orleans and Piedras Negras, Mexico. Noah originally hales from west Tennessee near Memphis. He officially started his tenure with ROC with us in the Dominican Republic last week. We are certainly happy to have him back with us once again and we look forward to the impact that he will be making within the ROC community in the coming years. 

With all these exciting things happening, I nearly forgot to mention that it’s the second day of a new semester here in Athens. It’s been so good to catch back up with our students and hear how their time away from campus has been. We’ve definitely missed each of them over break. We have a great semester planned out for them, full of Bible Studies, Crosswalks, retreats, and even more service trips! There is anticipation in the air here within the ROC community. 

As always, I’m incredibly grateful for each of you who take the time to read about what is happening in our community and have committed to praying for us. We appreciate you more than you could ever know and recognize the important role that you play in the lives of the college students that we have the privilege of ministering to. 

Blessings,

-Dodger

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

November Update

ROC Students during the HallOUween
Hotdog Outreach
It’s currently week 12 of the semester, which means that we are officially ¾ of the way through another academic calendar here at Reach Out on Campus. It’s honestly surreal to put that in writing because it seems like just yesterday we were handing out cookies and meeting new students during move-in weekend. It really has been a terrific semester so far, and it’s been incredible to see the ways that God has been moving the hearts and minds of students in our community.

As many of you know, at the end of October ROC held its 3rdannual HallOUween Block Party outreach. It was a wonderful night and despite being a lot of work and planning, it really was a joy to be a part of the event. Our ROC students showed up in record numbers to reach out to their community and share Jesus through a small practical act of love. Despite attendance for the event being down due to rainy, cold weather and Homecoming falling the weekend before, we gave out all the hotdogs in less than an hour! It was incredible. 

In the midst of the chaos that is the Block Party I was encouraged to watch our students lovingly engage each person who walked by that night. Nearly as awesome to witness were the reactions of sincere appreciation and gratitude. Several times that night our students had to turn down offers of money, and even explain in detail why they were giving away free hotdogs. 

With just a few weeks left in the semester we are still looking forward to a busy couple of weeks. This coming weekend (November 16-17) several of our students will be attending the International Conference on Missions in Cincinnati. Many of them are eager to catch up with friends they have made on the mission field, find out about ministries they can serve with, and even be encouraged through worship and teaching. This year at ICOM the Association of Campus Ministries will be putting a spotlight on our Ohio Ministries since the convention is being held in our home state. We are eager to share about the ways that God has been working through our students here at OU. 


Once we return from Thanksgiving Break we will have just two short weeks of classes before finals. OU’s finals week is December 10-14ththis year. Each year during finals, we try to show our students a little extra love by having food, coffee, and a place to relax at the ROC House. Once again, it’s just a small act of love during a stressful time in their lives, but it is greatly appreciated. 

As we wrap this semester up, I want to say that I’m excited about the things that our student leaders have planned for Spring Semester. The calendar is chock-full of great things like Bible Studies, mission trips, retreats and more! One of the cool parts of the ministry of ROC is that even as we wrap up a great fall semester; plans are already in place for amazing things to happen in the spring. Please join me in praying that God would bless these events and multiply our efforts. 

As Thanksgiving approaches we are mindful of the many ways that God continues to bless our faith community. Certainly, your ongoing support and prayers are among the most incredible. For that we are grateful. 

Blessings,

-Dodger

ROC Students at the ROC Halloween Party

Thursday, October 25, 2018

October Update

Well my thermometer showed a brisk 31 degrees this morning, which can only mean that summer is officially over and we are now well into fall. One of our favorite parts of fall within the ROC community is Fall Retreat. This past weekend (October 12-14) we took a group of 22 to West Virginia's amazingly beautiful New River Gorge. 


The theme for retreat this year was “Restore” and centered around Psalm 23:1-3. “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake” (NASB). This messages was an incredibly relevant and timely one for our group as this year’s retreat coincided with mid-terms. And seriously, what better location to allow God to restore us than surrounded by His creation? 

We spent the weekend hiking, fellowshipping, worshipping God, and learning together. My favorite part of the weekend was literally a mountain top worship experience. Our worship team carried in their instruments and led us in worship on top of an outcropping of rocks overlooking the gorge. It was incredible! 

Fall is also an exciting time within the ROC community because each October ROC hosts our annual Halloween Hotdog Outreach. Once again this year we hope to give away over 1,000 hotdogs during the Athens Block Party. As always our goal is not to glorify what happens during the Block Party, but rather to meet people where they are and let them know that they are loved by Jesus. Each hotdog will come with a card that explains why they are receiving the hotdog (it’s expression of Jesus’ love) and our contact numbers. 

ROC's Fall Retreat group at New River
Gorge's "Endless Wall" trail.
As we prepare for the outreach, would you please commit to joining us in praying for the event? If so, please pray for safety for our group, for meaningful connections to be made, and for God to develop the seeds that we plant that evening. Additionally, would please be praying for our students who will be involved in this event. Pray that this would be an event that would stretch them and encourage them to be bold in their faith. 

As always, thank you for the important role that you play in our community. I share with the students all the time about the amazing individuals and churches who prayerfully support us. They know that if it wasn’t for the generosity and love of people just like you that ROC couldn’t do the things that make our community a place where people want to come, belong, and grow in their faith. 

Many Blessings,

-Dodger

Thursday, September 20, 2018

September Update

ROC and friends from SCF at Lifeline
Christian Mission for the ROC
Service Day.
Things are in full swing at Reach Out on Campus and Ohio University. As I write to you, we are officially 4 weeks into the semester. The past month has literally been a blur of activities such as church visits, outreach events, service days, and of course Crosswalk (our weekly worship gathering). One of the most exciting parts of this semester has been seeing the way our community has grown. Although we’ve definitely grown in numbers this year, it’s also been encouraging to see the ways that our community has grown together and grown deeper in their faith. It’s certainly an exciting time to sit in the Director’s seat to watch our students embrace the mission of ROC. 

With the present growth in the ministry, it has become abundantly clear that in order for ROC to continue to grow, our ministry staff needs to grow as well. That’s why I am excited to announce that at the encouragement of the ROC Board of Directors we are welcoming back former ROC intern Noah Mulvaney who will be joining us at the beginning of spring semester to serve as ROC’s Associate Campus Minister. Noah was a huge blessing to the community during the semester that he served here with us, and when the reality set in that we needed another staff member to meet the ever-increasing needs of the community, it became clear that Noah was a natural fit. 

Make sure you take a moment to read about Noah and his heart for the ministry of ROC in this month’s Spotlight feature. Noah will initially be working with ROC part time while we continue to work on support raising for this position. We are incredibly excited about bringing Noah back to serve with us, and I personally can’t wait to see the ways that God will be using him to continue to grow and bless our community. 

Last month's update was brought to
you in part by Jean's grandkids Ella
and Livie. Future ROC'ers? 
Speaking of other exciting things, I can’t believe that we are already planning for ROC’s annual Halloween Hotdog Outreach. If you’ve been following the ministry of ROC, you’re likely aware that each year for the past 3 years, ROC students and volunteers from the local churches have endeavored to reach students during the Athens Block Party. This year we are once again planning to invade the Block Party to let people know that they are loved by Jesus. Our goal is to once again hand out 1,000 hotdogs; each wrapped with a card that explains why the hotdog is free and also contains our contact information.

Here is where you come in… this is a MAJOR undertaking, so we can’t do this alone. Would you consider helping us love on people in Jesus’ name, by first and foremost praying for the outreach? We want to assemble a team of people from all over the state and country who would be praying that God would bless this event and allow the seeds that we sow to take root. Second, consider donating toward the cost of the hotdogs and supplies. Perhaps your church’s youth group or Sunday school class could even make this an offering. Finally, we are on the hunt for some of the larger chest coolers. You’d be surprised how many coolers we need to transport the hotdogs and keep them warm. If you have one we can borrow or know where we can find some, please contact us and let us know! 

God is so good! I see Him at work every day in the lives of our students, but know that I also see His goodness as it shines through each and every one of you who pray for us, encourage us, and help provide for the needs of the ministry. Thank you for your integral role in the ministry.

Blessings,

-Dodger

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

August Update

It’s almost time!! That’s right… as I write these words thousands of new students and their parents are preparing to journey to Athens, Ohio for move-in weekend. This is such an incredibly exciting time for the ROC community as this is our first opportunity to meet the students who will shape and lead the ROC community for years to come. Our current students have done a fantastic job planning a host of outreach events and social gatherings all geared toward meeting new students and welcoming them to our community. 

ROC was blessed by the generosity of
several  local churches this summer
who chose us to be the mission for VBS
One such event is our annual cookie outreach. Each year we are amazed at the love and generosity of ROC’s extended family of alumni, churches, and individuals who bake cookies for this event. I really do look forward to these busy couple days because it’s always a blessing to get to see students’ faces light up when they are offered free cookies. I say this every year, but I’ve always been amazed at how many of our current ROC students’ stories start with “I first heard about ROC when someone offered me free cookies during move-in.” It’s such a simple, yet powerful expression of love. 

It’s also an thrilling time of year for us because we are ready to welcome back so many of our students who have been out serving, working, and traveling this summer. Speaking of which, please take some time to read this month’s Student Spotlight featuring ROC’s own Abby Cohen. Abby was blessed with some amazing opportunities this summer, and I hope her interview is an encouragement and a blessing to you as well. 

All summer long we’ve been sharing stories just like Abby’s with you in hopes that you see and are encouraged by the ways that God has been using our ROC students. Now as new students begin arriving in Athens, our prayer is that God continues to use our students right here on their own campus in the same amazing ways He has used them throughout the summer. This has always been the secret to our success; equipping and encouraging students to be used by God in order to reach out abroad and back home. 

ROC student leader Blayne Smith,
pictured center, helped plan his home
church's youth revival in addition to
leading worship and preaching
But we are incredibly thankful that we are not in this alone. If cookie outreach reminds us of anything, it’s that there are hundreds of people just like you who love our students and want to see the campus of Ohio University transformed by the message of the Gospel. Without this type of support as well as your encouragement, prayers, and financial gifts, ROC simply would not exist. But because you do what you do, we are able to do what we do! 

Please be in prayer for us and all of our new student outreach events as well as the prayer requests included in this update. Also, if there are any ways we can be praying for you, we’d love to hear your requests. The ROC staff prays for the needs of the ROC community and others during staff meeting each week. We’d be pleased to add your needs to our list as well. 


In Christian Love,

-Dodger Vaughan

*Just a quick update on ROC's summer fundraising drive. ROC's friends have been incredibly generous in stepping up to meet the needs of the ministry. While we still have some ways to go, God has been blessing us through your generosity. Thank you so much. If you want to know more about how to give to ROC contact us or click on the "Ways to Give" link above.