For any of you unclear on what Big Oak is, check out www.bigoaksite.com. To catch the passion you really need to buy my husband an americano and let him tell you. Even though I'm obviously living and breathing the vision for it every day, watching his presentation at the board meeting made me excited all over again. Big Oak encompasses preaching and teaching (camps, classes for students, filling pulpits), developing a;life (a devotional/video/interactive study for a leader and student to go through together, specifically when a student commits their life to Christ), and mentoring/equipping youth pastors and leadership.
S. has already been doing all of these things in the past few months and we have seen some amazing things; he's adapted and taught curriculum on spiritual gifts to students, preached to over 1000 students, seen over 130 first time commitments to Christ, worked on a;life, mentored a handful of pastors who are getting youth ministries off the ground, and on and on.
We were extremely encouraged at the board meeting. After a lot of prayer and conversations, S. sought out six board members. They are stellar. Most are financial minded, ministry minded, and from all different churches and areas. Most are older and much more experienced so we left breathing easier- thank you God for a safety net. They won't tell us what we want to hear, they will tell us what we need to hear.
We have had some amazing surprises of people sending checks to Big Oak this week. Perhaps the most overwhelming was from a former student, a young man fresh out of high school. I am including a couple excerpts from a letter he included,
"I believe in what Big Oak is. I believe that God is in the process of redemption, the process of healing and mending and fixing what is broken, even that which we think if unfixable...For the times you feel overwhelmed, and for the times you feel like you don't know what you've gotten yourself into, I tell you this: God knows what He has gotten you into...
I whole-heartedly believe that God's promises are kept through other people, by His hand and His providence. Life is not meant to be lived alone, and the Church is proof of that. Enclosed is a gift...it isn't much but God does indeed do big things with small amounts (bread and fish, anyone?). After putting aside my own desires and trusting in God's will, it became clear to me that this life is not my own and everything I have belongs to God. So here, take what belongs to God and do His work with it."
In the envelope was $500.
There is nothing I can say to articulate what it is to have our own students pray for us, support us, stand behind us, and even teach us a thing or two.
For the next couple months we are doing a (gulp) fundraising push. I'm learning not to cringe at the idea. It's taken some faithful friends and former students to show me that it isn't about feeling sorry for us or obligated, it's about each person being individually obedient to what God speaks to their heart.
For those of you who are interested in any type of financial giving; once, monthly, or have any services or products that you think would be beneficial to donate, we would love to hear from you.
Our big fundraiser (Big Jokes for Big Oak!) is November 5, 7pm at Bellingham Christ the King. The Panic Squad (which is an amazing, clean, and entertaining improv group) is donating a show to Big Oak. In another fun twist, my little brother Elijah is part of the Panic Squad and will be performing in the show. Tickets are $12 ($10 for kids) and there will be a chance to give at the event, also. All proceeds go to Big Oak. There are great deals for youth groups. (Youth pastors and their families get in free!)
Thank you all for accompanying us in this journey and providing support and encouragement that is propelling us forward...
S & S