Monday, January 30, 2006

Picking Up Where I Left Off...

Seeing as how I left a few topics untouched last time, I'll start with those. (Most of you are already up to date on most of these from conversing with me, but there are a few who aren't)

For those of you unfamiliar with the concept of a summer project, it's a 6-10 week trip somewhere in the world (either in the US or elsewhere) for college students to spend their summer in ministry with Campus Crusade for Christ. For a couple of years, I've wanted to go on a project, but never had the opportunity because I had to work to pay for school during the summer and other things like my CFI training got in the way. This year I decided that I'd finally go for it.

When I first started seriously thinking about it, I knew that I wanted to do an international project rather than a domestic one, but I didn't have any idea where I wanted to go. Over the last couple of months I've been spending time talking with my friends Adam and Chip about where each of them went and found both trips were very attractive to me. It was a very difficult choice to make because both projects appealed to me a lot and God didn't seem to be strongly calling me to one over the other. The decision eventually came down to a bunch of small factors adding up to me being about 80% confident that I wanted to put Desert Rivers (Adam's project) as my first choice and Acts 29 (Chip's) as my second. Both are to the Middle East, but I'm afraid I can't say any more specifically than that.

Filling out the application was a very long process and they ask a lot of in-depth questions, but over the course of about a week I was able to get everything answered. Chip was willing to be my peer reference, but I was having trouble finding someone on staff to be my staff reference because I have very little interaction with Cru staff due to the way that ministry at the Quad is organized. Eventually Ryan Speicher agreed and at the last minute (he's been extremely busy lately) he was able to interview me over the phone on the couple of things he didn't already know for his reference and finish it right before the deadline. One major problem I was facing was that the website they were using to submit project applications was having serious problems on the day of the deadline because of how much traffic they were getting (and part of a certain question was broken so that I lost a lot of time trying to figure out a way to circumvent the problem), so the website frequently wouldn't load at all and even once you could get a logon screen it would randomly drop you without saving the changes I made. I decided that I wasn't going to go to the AFTERdark event the night of the deadline until the project was done and submitted (I only had that one problem question left to deal with and to hit the "Submit" button), but the problems with the website were so bad that I didn't get to AFTERdark until the very end (several hours later). Then, of course, they chose to extend the deadline so that it wouldn't have been an issue at all. I just wish they would have made that decision earlier so that I could go to the event.

AFTERdark was a combination concert/speaker sponsored by Athletes In Action and held in Elliot Hall. The band was Tait (led by a former member of dcTalk) and the speaker was a guy named Joe White who was the former football coach of Texas A&M and put on a dramatic presentation where he took on the role of a Roman cross builder and was pondering who Jesus really was while actually building a cross onstage.

The campus was blitzed with advertising for it on an absolutely massive scale. I really question their advertising tactics because all the promotional materials were worded very carefully to leave out just about any clue that it was a Christian event and promote it just as a "free concert." I'm not exactly comfortable with the idea of tricking people into hearing the gospel. How is using deception, even through omission, a Christ-like way to act? I'm also a little hesitant with presenting the gospel in such an emotionally charged (a certain friend who feels more strongly about it called it "emotionally manipulative") way because we want people to truly accept the gospel and not fall away when their emotions change. Granted, God can and does work in such events, and good follow-up with people who indicated decisions goes a long way to help (and it appears they are making a lot of effort to follow up on a timely basis with everyone who indicated a decision for Christ or a recommitment of their life), but I still question if it's the best way to go about things.

All of that being said, I wasn't able to be there for anything but the very tail end of the event, so I don't actually know what it was like. I'm just going on my thoughts from the extensive advertising and what people have told me. Please feel free to add your thoughts on my musings above via comments (yep, that was yet another shameless plug for comments). I did get to stop by Elliot that afternoon while Tait was doing a sound check and that was pretty cool (and I found out that the first thing Josh Weis did when he met Tait was teach him a bad Chuck Norris joke).

Chalk up one for the "Wall of Weird" (not really weird, just unusual):
Friday night I was supposed to go to a big concert down in Indy featuring Newsboys, TobyMac, Newsong, Zoegirl, and a couple others, all for $10 at the door, but that didn't exactly happen. I had found out about it a few days before and was having a hard time deciding between the concert and Cru, but figured that I'd go to the concert because it was such a good deal and Newsboys are one of my all-time favorite bands (and I could get a free ride down there with a group of guys going from the Quad). Friday evening at 5 I went to get some dinner before we hit the road at 5:45 and was having a really uneasy feeling about the whole thing. It was weird to have such a strong uneasiness about it because I was looking forward to the concert and all the details were coming together nicely, so there was no rational reason not to go as planned. So I decided to eat dinner by myself rather than with some guys from my floor and spend the time praying about it. The general gist of my prayers were asking that God would take away the strong uneasy feeling and give me peace about it if He wanted me to go to the concert. Well, He didn't, so I didn't. I still have no good ideas why He decided to tell me not to go to the concert, but that's how things go sometimes. I did find out later that there was a big accident on 65 on the way to Indy (2 semi's went off the road), so they were an hour late and decided to skip the concert and go go-carting and bowling instead, but another guy from my floor showed up at the same time they did and still managed to see Newsboys and TobyMac perform. Like I said, I still don't know why He said not to go, but I'm just trusting Him with it and glad that it was a strong enough feeling that I couldn't easily ignore it.

On a side note, the girls put together a really awesome/hilarious video advertising Women's Retreat this weekend and showed it at Cru. I especially have to thank them on behalf of the Cary guys because they included a special segment that was a nod specifically to our tradition of duct taping people. To the readers who were involved with that: is there any chance I could get a copy to post on here?

After Cru on Friday a bunch of us went over to Mer'dith to play cards and hang out. Eventually Shane decided he wanted to go hang out at Steak 'n Shake, but he realized that he needed some leverage to convince most of the group to come instead of dropping out on us. After talking with Kim, he concocted a plan to duct tape someone and use the hostage as a way of getting people to come (don't ask how the logic of that works: it does, but I don't want to dig into it enough to try to explain it right now). Then he consulted me, we talked for a few minutes about the intentions of the plot, and then I decided we should get Mike Papaik and proceeded to make it happen (and, in typical fashion, it worked just as I planned). In short order, Mike was very securely tied up and in Chip's truck on the way to SNS with the majority of the group following in various other cars. It was only after we'd been there about an hour that we let him have a dull knife from the SNS silverware to cut himself loose (took about a half hour). A few pics:
Getting tied up:

Standing outside waiting to be loaded into the truck:
One of our tables at SNS:
The table Mike was at:
We had one more table (the one I was at), but I'm afraid I didn't get any pictures of us. Sorry guys.

I think this should about cover it for now. I still have two or three things to talk about (mainly just pictures of two of them), but I'm going to be getting off work soon and I've given you plenty to read already.

Ok, fine, I'll give you a link as a parting gift for getting this far. This is a commercial in the UK for the new Honda Civic. Click on the link, skip the intro, click on the "Watch Civic" link on the upper left, and finally click the "Watch the Film" link if it doesn't start playing automatically. For the maximum experience, pause the clip until it finishes downloading (as signified by the colored bar filling in above the play controls) and make sure your volume is up. Oh, and one more thing: keep in mind as you watch it that EVERY sound you hear is made by the choir:


At 11:55 AM, Anonymous Rebecca said...

"I'm also a little hesitant with presenting the gospel in such an emotionally charged (a certain friend who feels more strongly about it called it "emotionally manipulative")"

Agreed. I mentioned it to two people without saying that it was a Christian thing and I felt a little bad once I was actually there because it seemed a tad forceful to me (I am a big fan of Ray Comfort for not allowing people to play music when he has an altar call because it's a very coercive medium. Yet when I've saw him speak a LOT of people stood up and accepted Christ). On the other hand, I think the usual skeptics had a fair number of outs. Some people got up and left before the end. I wouldn't put it past a solid atheist to think past a lot of what he said. And I still saw a lot of marks on people's cards that they had made decisions. Meh, I don't think there's any way to judge it on this earth, so I guess I will leave it at that.


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