The Kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into about thirty kilograms of flour until it worked all through the dough. . . Matthew 13:33
In various settings I’ve been considering this and some of the surrounding parables–about mustard, treasure, pearls. It seems that there is an invitation to consider the gradual, permeating way that God brings his kingdom to bear on the world. And the power is in the yeast, not the baker, though it must be mixed in. This reminder seems timely as we enter into the 7th year of planting the work among international students at the University of Calgary. Read on to see how the yeast of the good news is spreading and, we trust, having its effect in lives and in our world.
Giving thanks with new friends. . .
Probably you’ve all experienced that hilarious moment when your realize that your plans were ok, but God’s were truly excellent???Well this was our experience of inviting to our small, physically distanced Thanksgiving Camp at Alberta Pioneer Camp. One by one, we received No’s from those we thought were most in need of a break and most likely to come. And suddenly, miraculously, we found ourselves with only 3 students we knew and 7 we had never or barely met! And to be honest, we had more or less given up hope of meeting more than the occasional “new” student, so having 7 dropped into our community simultaneously was both a delight and a surprise! More than this fact, among those who came there was such a lovely desire to talk and discuss, to share about each other’s cultures, and to learn from one another. With some volunteers in their 50s and 60s, one child of 8, and a bunch of us in the middle, it really felt like a family gathering. It felt like a really good foundation of trust was built by both the program, the pacing, and the authentic conversations which there was space for. About half of the group came to our morning Christian Thanksgiving reflection, and we continue to pray that we could follow up over the next year on the thoughts we shared there and elsewhere during the weekend.
New Opportunities in Virtual Spaces
GRADUATE STUDENTS: In recent years, we’ve been gathering a growing number of graduate students, and this year, when very few new undergraduate international students have made it to Canada, grad students are an even greater proportion of our demographic. So, together with some colleagues from across the province, we thought we’d take advantage of the need to engage students primarily online and partner together in endeavouring to go deeper with the kind of topics that might act as a bridge to deeper conversation with our non-believing graduate students as well as serve to disciple Christian graduate students. Topics thus far have included Worldview and Culture as well as The Pandemic and a Christian Understanding of Suffering. INTEGRATION OF FAITH & ACADEMICS: One of our colleagues Susan Norman is hosting interviews and Q & A’s with Christian faculty from across Canada and from different disciplines, engaging students around how to integrate their faith and their academic disciplines. STUDENT LEADERS: Meanwhile, we are taking advantage of restrictions on in-person-gatherings by hosting provincial student leadership training monthly by Zoom. 20+ students from across the province and the different campus ministries (high school, international, graduate and international) have been gathering to learn about topics like servant leadership, authority and power, and stewardship.
Left: Sophia Cliplef, Student Leader with our International Friendship Group Right: Zoom call, October Leadership Forum
ADVENT & CHRISTMAS Celebrations
In a particular way this year of Covid, the season of longing and anticipation seem to meet us where we are at. Everyone is tired, and we wait with hope for the time when we will be able to gather again. So we are curious how Advent might be used of God to connect with students’ longing for release and rescue, for freedom and wholeness, and for justice and peace. Sunday nights at 8 pm we gather with internationals online for Advent Reflections. Friday December 4th we meet for a virtual party, including a live Nativity play, music, gingerbread house competition, etc. Olds College students will skate and have a bonfire on Thursday October 10th to celebrate Christmas together. Weather permitting, some outdoor gatherings (bonfires, snowshoeing, etc) in the city may also be possible over the Christmas break.
God is (always) doing a new thing: Workplace Ministry Groups
Mindy Lau (pictured here with her husband Andrew) has joined us in Calgary as a Volunteer Staff member, focused on gathering and hosting a workplace ministry group for recent alumni who are keen to be part of a community exploring God’s intention for their work and for them within their workplace. This is part of a pilot project InterVarsity has started, aimed at helping students with their transition into and discipleship in the marketplace. I am the one who will be supervising and providing local support to Mindy, and am excited both to come alongside her and to see how God might shape and grow this ministry.
Thank you so much to those of you who continue to give financially–it is such a gift to not worry about stable finances in this tumultuous time. Although my current monthly and yearly pledges equal about 65% of my annual budget, I presently have extra in my account from past unexpected gifts and unused ministry expense funds. Without additional gifts this extra will likely be used up in the next 8-12 months. If you wish to partner with me in student ministry by giving a one-time or monthly gift you can do so here, by following the link below typing SARA LEGGETT in the “designation” space.
Asking especially for: innovative ways to offer hospitality and invitations to explore Jesus during Advent and Christmas encouragement and perseverance for students who are “hitting the wall” in terms of online studies and leadership roles the mental and emotional health of students at Olds College and U of Calgary, especially in a time of isolation and much loneliness open doors with the university to bless and serve international students who remain in the residences over Christmas holidays creativity as we keep inviting students to choose in to virtual gatherings of different kinds Giving thanks for: the hope and power of prayer, in the midst of limited access staff partnership and friendship a church family that continues to pursue God together warm daytimes for outdoor physically distanced meet-ups
To follow InterVarsity’s Advent Reflections, click below.