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A GCF Update
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"Graduate Christian Fellowship just wrapped up its series on sharing stories about God's grace. One of the main takeaways for the group: People may look fine on the outside but they are usually struggling, no, fighting intense battles in an invisible realm. Whether they shared or not, everyone in this room with me just became a little more real, and a lot more human. God's grace, what a thing to contemplate. Kudos to those who were bold enough to tell stories that even now remain very much unfinished!" --Mimi Cagaitan 


Stories of Grace

A snapshot from Winter Quarter, by Pastor Ashley 

It’s a pretty imperfect photo. I took it and the caption above from a student’s Facebook page. But It’s become one of my favorites. Here’s why.
 
This past winter quarter we took a risk. There was a group in our church, Bellevue CRC, that decided to share stories of grace from their personal lives. This sounded to us like a great idea, so we brought the idea to our student leadership team as something we might do with the GCF community. Pretty much every student leader shot it down.
 
We don't know each other well enough.
What if someone shares something that none of us are prepared to deal with?
The stories of students of color or international students might be too unrelatable.
What if not enough people are willing to share?


And the list of valid concerns went on and on…
 
But in a move Geoff and I are rarely making as pastors of this group, we went against the judgment of students. And we invited (read: very strongly encouraged) students to share their stories of God’s grace in their lives. And we committed to taking time to do this for five weeks.
 
We started with a discussion of how to listen and receive people's stories well. And then we prayed. And then God showed up…more powerfully than we’ve experienced in this group before, which is weird to write because, well, God has really worked in this ministry.
 
Over the course of five weeks, we heard the stories of fifteen individuals. And with each story told, sincerely and thoughtfully (most students took the time to write out their stories), God became bigger and bigger. And the people sharing became bigger and bigger as we heard about their struggles, their triumphs, their faith.
 
Mimi took this photo on the last night of sharing stories. Students surprised us with a formal thank-you. They invited our little family forward, gave us flowers and prayed for us.
 
You can’t see me in the photo but I’m up there and there are tears in my eyes. And there were tears in Geoff’s eyes, and Abraham’s and Dorothy’s and Mimi’s and even though Yixin has a big smile on her face, she was misty eyed too. We all were a little emotional. And it wasn’t because of the thank-you. It was because we all recognized what a big deal these weeks had been for this community.
 
In ministry with grad students, we spend a lot of time focusing on the mind but this quarter we brought the heart front and center.
 
And it was powerful because here were a bunch of academics telling other academics of the times when God showed up to heal them, rescue them, redirect them, speak to them, and convict them.
 
And in telling these stories, they often lost their words, and control of their tear ducts wavered. And it wasn’t weird or out of control...just tremendously beautiful, impactful and encouraging.
 
This photo, to me, captures, albeit imperfectly, what this group is becoming: more raw, more real, bigger in the best of ways. And it’s because God is active, moving among us, and we have new stories of his grace to tell all the time. Thanks be to God!
           

Over the course of Lent, we kept with the theme of telling stories. We’ve had mid-week meditations on passages from Scripture that, though heavy (Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane, Peter’s denials, Jesus before Pilate, etc.), point so strongly to God’s grace in the world and his endless graciousness with us. 
 
This past fall, we started a new thing. For twenty minutes every Wednesday morning students gather for morning prayer. There's a reflection on Scripture or on a theological truth. And then prayer. We write them. Students write them. It's been the highlight of my (Ashley) week. Sometimes we remember to post these prayers online for students who miss the prayer. You can check them out too: GCF's Blog.
As we continue to journey toward to cross this week, we're praying for several things. Join us:
  • Pray that this Easter Sunday students would experience and believe in the grace that comes to us through a risen Jesus.
  • Pray that ministry in this upcoming spring quarter might be as meaningful as it was last quarter.
  • Pray that this ministry would bear the fruit of faithfulness and joy so that students who do not yet know Jesus might be inspired by their peers to think again on the person and work of Christ.

 

Make a Gift to GCF: 


The work and ministry of GCF is made possible by supporters like yourselves!

If you would like to make a tax-deductible gift toward the work of Graduate Christian Fellowship, you can give online through Bellevue Christian Reformed Church. Go to 
www.bellevuecrc.org and click on “Donate Online.” From there, you can choose to give a quick gift or you can register and set up regular monthly gifts. Just be sure to choose Graduate Christian Fellowship in the drop down menu.

You can also make out a check to Bellevue CRC with “Graduate Christian Fellowship” in the memo line and mail your support to:

Bellevue CRC

1221 148th Avenue NE
Bellevue, WA 98007

If you want to donate online to ministry program support (Bible study materials, speaker honorariums, etc.) you can go to 
https://donate.intervarsity.org/donate#15528.

Thank YOU for all of your prayers and support!


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