Near the end of August I ran into a difficult ministry decision. Each year I have helped coordinate [alt], which is a Christian alternative event to the partying, drunkenness, and violence that occurs each year in Hays after the local Oktoberfest celebration. [alt] provides a Christian concert that starts right after Oktoberfest and ends around midnight. Then later night alternatives are provided by local ministries (including Unite—our game night and coffee house run all night that evening). The lead coordinator for [alt] stepped down from his ministry position at his church near the end of August, and the other coordinator and I weren’t sure if we could do the event without him in such a short period of time. The bands hadn’t been locked down and the money was partly tied to the lead coordinator and his church, which was understandably unwilling to route the funds through their nonprofit accounts without his involvement. Everyone indicated that if I could get it all organized through Unite’s nonprofit accounts, could get good enough bands locked down and money to pay them, and if I could keep the whole event at least as high quality as last year that we could go ahead and do it. We all agreed that was a long shot. We also needed to know within a week to get advertising out OR to get out the word that [alt] would be coming back bigger and better next year. It left a very short time window, but I felt like I should definitely pray about it to see what God wanted me to do and to look into the possibilities to see where we were really at.
As I prayed and looked into it, I didn’t really feel like I was hearing any answer or getting any inclination about whether to proceed or not. Several doors opened up—I found some leads to different bands that might be able to perform for the event, and I was able to get permission to use our nonprofit accounts for [alt]. Also, some of our old partners were up to the task of helping out, and I had already done some work earlier this year in getting new partners to help with the event. We didn’t have any god leads to indicate how much financial backing we could expect from old community partners, but at least one indicated that they would provide something if we could get the event to work out.
It was an odd contradiction for me, because as I prayed and meditated, I felt slightly inclined to hold off until next year, but as the more I looked into it, the more doors seemed to open and the more it looked feasible with God’s providence and with a titanic amount of effort (which I was willing to provide).
My meditations brought me back to an interesting moment from the week before. Unite had a table at Fort Hays State’s event ‘Picnic in the Quad’ along with the dojo and our Godly Warrior and early church prayer meditation ministries. Right after the event I had to run to Trinity Lutheran church for a meeting, so I shoved all of the contents of the tables (including some syrup for the coffee house and some candy) into my car. When I came back to unload it for the coffee house, I grabbed the candy first and then the syrups. I had to set one of them up on the roof of my car before I could grab the next, so I made sure it was secure and then reached in for the next one. To my surprise I heard the wobbling sound of the glass bottle ‘walking’ down the roof of my car. I popped my head out and shot my hand forward to catch it, but with the other full of candy I couldn’t support it very well. I readjusted but ended up dropping the bottle, and it shattered and spilled lovely smelling syrup all over the ground. Needless to say I was upset—in hindsight I should have dropped the candy and let it spill all over the ground to catch the breakable syrup bottle; then I could have picked up the candy and put it back in the bag. Unfortunately, it was now too late.
The whole picture was a good analogy for my life at the end of August. I was so busy during the first week of school between promoting the different ministry opportunities at ‘Picnic in the Quad’ and other events, organizing and running ‘Get Plugged In’, and preparing for the grand back-to-school-opening of Unite Game Night/Common Grounds Coffee House that I literally felt unable to breathe at times. I was also still running the small groups, leading prayer meditation, and doing the various dojo ministries. My hands were quite full.
I spent a few days trying to figure that analogy out (I didn’t want to drop the syrup—whatever that meant). Then the next week the [alt] decision came up. At first my meditations just let me to different Bible verses and ideas, but then they also showed me how those verses related to the situation with the syrup. It struck me that the candy I had held onto was somewhat similar to [alt]. If we dropped it this year, we could always put it back in the bag and make it even bigger and better next year. The syrup was more similar to my life in ministry at this time: the small groups I lead, the one-on-one meetings with college students, the Unite Game Nights/Common Grounds Coffee House, my relationship with my girlfriend and friends and family, writing down some of what God is teaching me, and the unforeseen Kingdom Work that pops up in front of me from time to time (from preaching at different churches to helping make Hispanic ministry connections). Though those things wouldn’t necessarily shatter never to return if I devoted less time to them, they also represent the heart and soul of what I do. Would it be right to drop those to catch [alt]?
Even then, I still wasn’t sure, because more doors were opening even as the deadline to decide approached. Finally, in meditation, I realized that it was much like the story of Mary and Martha in the Bible. I could choose to run around and do very real and necessary work (like what I would have to do for [alt] to be possible), OR I could choose to slow down and devote time to listening to Jesus and relationships. In prayer I honestly believed that God would open the doors to make [alt] possible if that is the road I picked AND that it would be good and would be a God-thing that it happened. I also believed that He would help me slow down and listen and love even better in what I was doing if that is what I chose. It really felt like He was asking me ‘which road do you want to follow?’ I picked the listening and relational one.
As such, we won’t be having the concert portion of [alt] this year. We WILL be asking all of the ministries (including our very own Unite Game Night/Common Grounds Coffee House) to step it up this year and offer alternatives that start even earlier and are even bigger to pick up the slack, and we also plan-Lord willing-to have [alt] again next year even bigger and better.
I am personally excited for the opportunity this gives some of the leaders for Unite Game Night/Common Grounds Coffee House and I. We have a chance to come up with some really fun stuff to do outreach for the Kingdom this Oktoberfest night. Please be in prayers with us as we see what God may have for us to do! I also personally request prayers for God’s continued financial providence. He has gotten me through the most difficult first two years of being an in-state missionary, and now I am excited to see how He will continue to provide for this Kingdom Work. I have not received any additional supporters at this time, so I am still earning $907 per month. However, I have received at least two one-time donations, and I am hopeful that a few additional individuals will prayerfully join in supporting me as a missionary. Thank you again for your prayers! --Brandon