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

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

August Update

We are just a few short weeks away from move-in at Ohio University, and the staff and students at ROC are eagerly anticipating this exciting opportunity to meet new students. Along with a new year of ministry (ROC’s 42nd and the beginning of my 4th) comes a rush of outreach events, social gatherings, and pizza parties all planned in an effort to connect with students as they arrive on campus for the first time.

Dodger with students from Ripley
Church of Christ (Mani & Franki Harrah
and Shelby Anderson) who were part of
ROC summer mission team. 
I’m asking all of our supporters and ministry partners to pray for our staff and student leaders during this very important time. Please pray for meaningful connections to be made and for God to be glorified through our outreach efforts. While our outreach never stops, the first few weeks after students arrive on campus tend to be some of the most fruitful.

From my time with ROC, I’ve observed that the ebb and flow of students entering and leaving the ministry is one of the most bittersweet parts of the job. Each year we say good-bye to students who have been influential parts of the community, while preparing to meet those who will shape the face of the ministry for the next several years. We prayerfully watch those who depart, excited to see where God leads them, even as we eagerly anticipate the students we will be investing in over the course of the coming years. This cycle is repeated year after year. Thankfully, the constant is, and has always been, God’s faithfulness.

Sometimes we are blessed to walk alongside students for four or more years, sometimes the blessing comes in knowing them for just a season. In this month’s student spotlight, you’ll hear about the latter. Reagan entered Ohio University as a freshman last year and got involved with ROC very early on. During her second semester at OU she went through ROC’s leadership training in preparation to serve the community this fall. But God had something different planned for Reagan. Reagan spent the summer serving at a church camp in Idaho. While there she made the decision to transfer to Lincoln Christian University this fall. As I mentioned before, while we are sad to see our friend go, we are excited to see what God is doing in and through her life, and are blessed to know that ROC played a role in God’s design for her.
2017 Adventure Camp students with ROC Students at Old Man's Cave 
In the coming weeks I am certain that we will be meeting the students who will be helping us carry out our mission of impacting the campus of Ohio University in the name of Jesus Christ for a new generation. Our supporters have always played an all-important role in this process. First, as many of you are aware, our cookie outreach is one of the most successful outreach events we hold each year. Because of your commitment to this event in baking and supplying cookies, we have been affectionately named “the cookie people” on campus. It’s amazing to see what a homemade cookie (something familiar) can mean to students during an overwhelmingly hectic time like move-in (something unfamiliar). It’s equally remarkable to hear how many of our current students’ ROC stories begin with “well I first heard about ROC when someone gave me a bag of cookies.”

Secondly, our supporters provide for the needs of the ministry both prayerfully and financially. There would be no outreach, no student org, and no ROC community without people just like you. For this reason, each month we include a student spotlight like Reagan’s so you can see the real impact that your support is making in the individual lives of our community members. I am eternally grateful for your encouragement, prayers, and commitment to seeing lives changed. Thank you!

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

July Update

2017 New Orleans Mission Team
Well 2,000 miles, a busted tire, a bad alternator, and plenty of laughter and tears later, we are back from our summer mission trip. It never ceases to amaze me at what a week of service can mean to a group of people. This past week was no exception.  We took a group of 37 people, ranging in age from 13 to 50, representing 7 different churches, with students from 5 different schools all the way to New Orleans and back. On paper this may sound like a recipe for a bad reality TV show, but in actuality, one of the biggest blessings of the trip was to see 37 individuals come together to form one team with a common purpose.

I have to admit that I love any opportunity I have to take students out on mission, but summer trips are special to me in that it’s a chance to see our ROC students serving alongside a multi-generational team. Providing ROC students with the opportunity to serve, worship, and learn alongside folks from our supporting churches has been a goal of the ROC staff the past few years. Affording students these experiences allows them to recognize the diversity within the Body of Christ as well as better understand their importance and place within the Church.

Another reason this past week was so special to me was because it was an opportunity for me to see two of my students serving in their official capacity as Interns for Crossroads Missions. Aerin Hemsath (ROC’s incoming President) and Sara Schenkelberg (a former student of mine from Middleport) have both been serving in New Orleans since late May this year.  Aerin has carved out some time to share about her experiences this summer with us in the attached Student Update. Make sure you check that out.
Dodger with Crossroads Interns
Aerin Hemsath (left) and
Sara Schenkelberg (right)

I’m not sure if it was the mission trip, ROC students serving all over the country this summer, or maybe just the excitement that comes with a new academic year fast approaching, but I truly believe that God has big things in store for the ministry of ROC this fall. There is a “buzz” of excitement within the group for the upcoming year that is contagious. God is definitely on the move in the lives of those within our community as well as in the lives of the people that we have come in contact with lately. I can tell you that I’m not ordinarily an overly emotional person, but hearing stories last week of the good that God was working in the lives of our mission team moved me to tears multiple times.

I am so incredibly thankful for the many rich bonds and friendships that we share with supporters and partners just like you, which are making an eternal impact in the lives of our students. Thank you once again for many prayers lifted up on our behalf and for the continued faithful partnership with our community. I appreciate each one of you more than you will ever know.

Blessings,

-Dodger

PS Check out the video from our week in New Orleans in the link below.