Greenhouse Growth - Garrett Craig

 
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A common analogy used to describe STP is one identifying it as a “greenhouse growth of faith”, and I agree wholeheartedly with this description. Just like a flower benefits from the climate, surroundings, soil, and water utilized in a greenhouse to cultivate its growth, students at STP are able to benefit from the environment, staff, students, and culture of the program to cultivate and enhance their own personal growth. STP puts you in a community of fellow students who are all seeking deeper relationships with Jesus, and with this common goal in mind the opportunity for growth is incredible.

Personally, I experienced STP following my freshman year, and I returned in 2017 following my junior year to be a team leader. Though I had many fears about
returning a second time (leading others, missing summer work, anxiety) I took a step of faith and God met me there and allowed me to be used by Him. In both of my years I was able to create relationships with others from my own campus and campuses across the region, learn more about the character of God and His intimate love for me, and learn practical truths to apply to my life following the program.


One of these truths that I learned is the reliability of God’s promises in the Bible. Ever since STP 2017, I have found myself praying over and claiming various promises in Scripture that God has placed on my heart in different seasons of life. Through experiences at STP, I have been able to learn more about the reliability of God’s Word and continuously grow in the trust I have in His unfailing character.


Numbers 23:19 says
“God is not human, that he should lie,
    not a human being, that he should change his mind.
Does he speak and then not act?
    Does he promise and not fulfill?” (NIV)


This verse is one that really began to stick in my heart during my time at STP, and seeing the ways I have grown to trust this verse and rely on the Word of God in all seasons of life begins with my time spent with Him there. STP is not simply a great experience to be part of for three weeks. Rather, it is an environment that stimulates growth to propel you forward into a lifelong relationship with God, equipped to continue pursuing Him and seeking out the lost in your own personal circle of influence wherever you end up in life.

Summer Adventures || Darren Svitko

Evangelism.  We are all called to share our faith. Mark 16:15 says, “He said to them, 'Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation'”, however, for some people it is absolutely excruciating due to the nerves.  I was one of those people. Prior to going to STP, the thought of sharing my faith was almost sickening.  Not because I didn’t want to, but because I am extremely introverted.  You can probably imagine why it would be almost sickening for me.  Talking with people that I don’t know is sometimes nerve wracking, especially when talking to random people about the Gospel.  All of the possibilities of what could go wrong would rush through my head in the moment. I am sure for most of you, the same can be said.  Thankfully, The Lord granted me the opportunity to go to STP this summer.  At the time I was not too sure why The Lord was leading me to STP, but then after it was said and done, I realized that it was for the bigger picture.  “What is the bigger picture?”  Well, the bigger picture is simply advancing God’s kingdom.  I was taught how to share my faith efficiently and The Lord opened my eyes to many opportunities to evangelize and plant many seeds for The Lord to grow.  STP not only prepared me to share efficiently, but it taught me how to be confident in my faith and confident in being a servant.  If anyone has any questions regarding how to overcome the rushing thoughts of possible failure or is interested in evangelism or information on STP, I would encourage you to contact me.  I would love to share and help out in any way that I can. You can contact me @dasvitko@bsu.edu

Summer Adventures || Mackenzie Denny

My STP experience is one I will never forget. I like to classify it as a beautiful GODcidence.

STP was pushed very heavily mid spring semester. I did not understand why it was so important that I go. I had been on several church trips before and done the summer camp experience many times. I had doubts about how STP would differ from anything I had already done in the past. However, a girl named Sam, encouraged me to simply apply by the deadline, and continue to think about going seriously. I remember having a half hour until I needed to be at class. I opened my laptop and planned to whip out the application quickly even though I was sure I wasn’t going to go.  Little did I know, the application was more than your name, grade, and T-shirt size. In that moment, I felt the Spirit leading me to go to STP. I ended up spending a lot of time filling out the application because it served as such a sweet time to personally reflect on my walk with the Lord.  From the moment I sent the application in, to the day I left for STP, I prayed that Jesus would work in huge ways within my heart and the others attending.

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I arrived at Lake Geneva full of excitement and a limited amount of nerves. The campground was absolutely beautiful and I knew that the next three weeks were going to be moving. What I didn’t know, was that I was going to have a hard time hearing and feeling the presence of the Lord.  I was spending so much time in the Word, drowning myself in deep Christ-centered conversations and had given God three weeks of my summer to grow deeper with him. With all of this, I still was feeling so distant from the Lord. It was discouraging and a difficult time. However, I was grateful to have walked through these feelings at STP, surrounded by such a deep sea of fellowship, being able to be encouraged that though, I may not be feeling the presence of the Lord, it does not mean that He is not working. With this statement resting on my heart, I begun to dig deep to find how the Lord was working in me.

As soon as I started to let the Lord reveal to me how he was working in me, I was flooded with answers. The Lord presented me with the three things he was doing within me.

The first is teaching me how to be a true servant for his Kingdom. Working for Covenant Harbor Bible Camp was such a powerful thing. The more I think about it, the more I am in awe of how much the Navigators accomplished while being at STP.  We worked 20 hours a week, and through all different weather conditions. With this, the amount of complaints were slim to none. All of the Navigators were so encouraging and beyond willing to keep working until the job was completely finished, even if it meant being late to dinner. Working this diligently, and with such great attitudes, it helped me to see what being a true servant looks like. I realized that I needed to demonstrate that more within my life outside of STP.

Secondly, God taught me the importance of being still. A woman named Margo spoke at STP, and gave a beautiful message about the importance of reading the Word and being intimate with God. She described an analogy of a mason jar filled with rocks and sandy lake water. Over time, if you don’t shake the mason jar, all the “stuff” will settle to the bottom and the water will become clear. In contrast, if you shake the mason jar then everything becomes fuzzy and unclear. The question she left us with was: When you are having a quiet time with the Lord, what does your mason jar look like? I wrestled with that question for several days because I think it has a lot of truth behind it, and reflects greatly on one's walk with the Lord. From that time forward, I tried to come to the Lord being still. When doing that, it is amazing to see how differently He works, and how more meaningful my times with him were.

Lastly, another powerful thing I learned was that God finds joy in hearing my voice. Within my own life, the time given in a single day goes very quickly, and when I come to the Lord, it is still difficult for me to tell God everything, the happy and the sad, and the good and the bad. It is easier to think that God knows my thoughts and my actions and He doesn’t need to hear everything again. However, the Father wants to hear my voice. This statement tugged on my heart, and I felt challenged because for such a long time I had assumed that the Lord didn’t need to hear my day to day tasks, conflicts, and praises.  It is the Father’s love and it brings great joy to my soul knowing and fully believing that He finds pure delight in hearing my voice.  

God works for the good.

I didn’t go to STP because someone told me to, I went because I felt called to by the Lord. It was a true moment for me to walk by Faith. It was not a coincidence, but a Godcidence. I am forever grateful for what I learned, and the friendships I formed. Everything that happened at STP was for a purpose and that was to help me dive deeper in my walk with the Lord.

Summer Adventures || Emily Mack

One of our tour guides shared with us that his favorite part of Irish history is the ability to touch it with your own two hands.  During my three weeks in Dublin for a literature and gender class, I absorbed more history than I ever thought possible.  Being able to visit a place I’d just read about hours before was a learning experience unlike anything I’ve ever done, and unlike anything I’ll ever get to do again.  Everything in Europe is so old.  I saw a play in a theatre built in the 1662, and ate at a pub that’s been in operation since 1198.  

Ireland is 85% Roman Catholic. The history, literature, culture, and modern politics of Ireland are heavily shaped by missionaries, Church teaching, sometimes misguided legalism, and ultimately the Spirit of God.  

The base of the Wicklow Mountains is home to one of the oldest Catholic monasteries in Ireland, with stonework roughly 1000 years old. The entry arch is still perfectly intact--no glue, no cement, no nails--just blocks of stone carefully, painstakingly filed down until they fit together. As early as 900, monks or priests returning from a mission would touch the archway to say that they’ve returned, thanking God for a safe, successful trip and asking for His blessing as they come home.  We took turns touching that very same arch.

We stood inside the remains of a 1200 year old church. 

A couple weeks later, I got to see the Book of Kells.  In the 8th century monks in Kells, a town near Dublin, slowly and carefully transcribed the Gospels in Latin, adding elaborate illustrations and designs in the margins, and painting pictures of Jesus, Mary, and the four Gospel writers. The Book of Kells was so large and ornate, it was most likely intended for display on holidays only. There were also smaller Gaelic prayer books and Latin Bibles used for personal devos and evangelism.

We toured Christchurch Cathedral, built in 1030, walking in the footsteps of knights and musicians, tourists and schoolgirls, nuns and artists.

As I breathed in the history of these places, just a few of many, many incredible sights we got to see,  I was struck with a simple, but important truth.  

My faith isn’t young.

Christianity isn’t an American thing.  Or a 20th century thing. Or a white thing.  Or an English speaking thing.  

God is outside of space and time.  As if that wasn’t enough, Jesus Himself is our peace and unites us in the Spirit with believers across all barriers, differences, and time periods.  

 Cultures change. Languages change. Technology changes. Relationships change.

But Truth doesn’t change. The character of God doesn’t change. And if we’re being honest, neither does the character of people. Sin takes many different forms, but it’s there in all people and all cultures.

The very same faithfulness, love, grace, justice, and compassion promised to those 8th century monks chanting their Gaelic prayer books is also mine and yours, through Jesus who never changes.

 I don’t know about you, but at a time in my life with so much rapid change, it’s deeply comforting to be reminded in such a powerful, personal way that some things will always stay the same.