Beginning of Semester News!
Hello everyone! It’s been a great start to the semester, and I am very excited to see what the rest of this school year will hold! We had a good first week; Unite/Common Grounds (the name of our Unite Coffee House) and the dojo were at the FHSU ‘Picnic in the Quad’ (picture to the left: One of our students at the Unite/Common Grounds Coffee House Table at Picnic in the Quad). This is an event where local businesses, nonprofits, and student groups are allowed to show up to campus to distribute information about themselves. We gave out quite a few coupons for potential free coffees and had a couple of students sign up for small groups, but this event is a veritable madhouse as people run everywhere and give away big prizes and free things to get students’ attention. As such, there is really no way to know for sure how many connections were made.
Get Plugged In
Later in the week, Unite hosted ‘Get Plugged In’ on campus—during which we invite all local churches and college ministries to the quad to serve students for the day from 9:00 a.m. until about 2:00 p.m. It’s hard to tell how many students came by—I know that one church gave out about 200 meals even though they were only there from 11:00 am until about 1:00 pm. I do know that I, personally, had more quality conversations that day than I did at ‘Picnic in the Quad.’ I also know some of the churches were able to serve quite a few students. New Life Assemblies of God brought their mobile coffee house (picture above left) and gave out a ton of free products, North Oak brought dinner (picture above right), the United Methodist Church and Student Center served watermelon, First Presbyterian served cookies, Unite gave out regular coffee and did pour-overs, Renew showed up with some drinks, the dojo gave out a little info about our Godly Warriors class, Perspectives gave out info, St. Joseph’s coffee house ‘Cup O’ Joe’s’ gave out cookies, and Messiah Lutheran gave out Ramen and invited students to sign up for an English-Chinese Bible study.
I know that there were some very valuable student conversations—I got connected with one young lady who had been looking for a church all last semester but who didn’t know where to start. I also overheard other students connecting with various ministries. Beyond that, though,
there were some VERY good ministry connections and conversations. Numerous pastors and lay-people from different churches intermingled and talked about what they were doing and sometimes even about working together. One cool example was that Messiah Lutheran Church had been trying to contact the United Methodist Student Center to see about having their Chinese-English Bible studies there (since it is much closer to campus). I was able to wave Steve (the gentleman in charge of the UMSC) over so that they could directly arrange it. If I saw the list right, more than a dozen and possibly up to a few dozen Chinese students had signed up for the study! All in all, it was a great day and a good event with very positive feedback from those who had attended.
Unite Game Night and Common Grounds Coffee House
That Friday we had the opening back-to-school night for Unite Game Night and Common Grounds Coffee House (picture left). There were many returning faces, and it seems that quite a few people liked the fact that we were able to not just serve coffee but could also serve foods and a much greater variety of coffee drinks. Though only a few people participated in Crosswalk’s faith discussion at 6:30 p.m. and in our devotion time at 12:01 a.m., I felt like both of those things went well, too. More exciting than that, though, are some of the changes in Unite Game Night this year!
One of the most enjoyable changes, as far as I am concerned, is that I now have leaders and student leaders who work JUST with Unite Game Night and Common Grounds. Instead of having student leaders who have to help oversee everything, they can focus in on that which they are passionate about. As a result, the three gals and one guy who help me out with that have had some excellent ideas, and we have been able to do some fun and interesting things. One of the new things is that we bought out Semolino’s syrups when they went out of business, so we can now serve literally hundreds of combinations of lattes and cappuccinos. We also have begun experimenting with new drink types (like Italian Cream Sodas) and other specialties weekly, which we add to the menu if they go over well. We have additionally created menus, bought a bell that students can ring if they want a drink, and bought aprons for ourselves so that they can identify people who can assist them with food or drink orders when we are all out playing games or chatting.
Equally exciting is that we have partnered with Trinity Lutheran, who hosts ‘Crosswalk’ (which is a faith discussion over coffee) at our coffee house at 6:30 p.m. on Fridays. This gives students a chance to discuss serious faith things right before and at the beginning of game night. It also lets those who come from Trinity stick around and meet students. Additionally, we began our own devotion set at 12:01 a.m. to give students another chance to interact with God at Unite Game Night. Only a few have taken that up since it is in the chapel, so we are already switching gears to have a video series in the main room, though no one is required to join in; we feel that
this will allow students who have some interest but who don’t want to go so far as to enter a separate room a chance to just sit at their tables and watch and listen to the discussion after video while they play their games, while others may opt to actually just watch the videos or just play their games. We are also considering starting the video earlier than 12:01 a.m. All in all, I feel that dropping to just Fridays for Unite Game Night and extending the hours has been great for the quality of everything and has made it much more of a night to look forward to!
Our small groups are also off to a great start. To my extreme surprise, one of the summer small groups chose to change its time to 7:30 a.m. at Cup of Joe’s Coffee House! The other switched to Sunday afternoon, and we are trying to pin down some times for either a large third or a third and a fourth small group, too. The Sunday group continues to be very deep—it is guys only and allows men to share very openly about very private and difficult matters. I love the accountability and community in that group. Monday morning is an excellent group because of Martha and Sister Janet, who occasionally stops in for the prayer time and discussions. Both lend a very unique perspective and bring substantial experience to many of the discussion that come up as we read scripture. That particular group also has a very great combination of backgrounds—from Catholic and United Methodist to Baptist, Mennonite Brethren, and Non-denominational; I love the way that the different backgrounds tend to lead to an excellent depth during our discussions and surprising insight. The Spirit is very palpably present in that group in a great way. Please continue to keep the small groups in your prayers!
Mexico and Website
We’ve also made some progress in trying to plan the next Mexico trip a year in advance. If I can lock down dates with the children’s home and Joe’s in Oklahoma, I think that we can try to rally better community involvement and support. In previous years our trips have been small—five to seven people. Way back in the day we were able to take trips with thirty or more and provide more tangible help and support to the home through work projects that only bigger groups could do. I would love to see us be able to reach out and do that again! Please pray that the right doors open in this arena and that we follow God in them!
I also want to make you aware of a website update. Our old website www.unite-haysks.com is migrating to www.unitehays.com. I am still in the middle of programming the new site, so there are likely several link errors and it needs quite a few pictures programmed in, but once it is fully up and running in a month or so, I think it will be MUCH better, more modifiable, and it is also much cheaper. What’s more exciting is that we can add custom information and pages (without any limits to how many pages we use) to list such things as our coffee house menu and mission trip details. I am very excited for the change!
Finally, though the dojo, Aikido of Northwest Kansas, is not a part of Unite and is a separate part of the outreach ministry that I do as an in-state missionary, I want to tell you a bit about it, since
many of the students in our small groups and at game night actually come from the dojo and the connections to the college and community that it gives me.
Though the actual numbers of students who come to our early church prayer meditation program in the mornings are small, I feel that it has been one of the mightiest parts of our outreach. It has provided powerful connections and deep community in the Spirit. I am very excited for some of the people who have been able to make it and be involved. We have also been able to take the prayer meditations out to at least one college ministry (by request) and lead their students through lectio divina and parts of examen. Both early church prayer meditations can greatly open our eyes to the hand of God in our lives and in the Word.
Our Godly Warriors outreach has been even bigger (though attendance at the actual classes is even smaller!) Though only two students actively tend to make Godly Warriors classes, we have done Godly Warriors demos for several youth groups (picture left), a couple of college ministries, a boy scout camp (picture right), and a fifth quarter in LaCrosse (a nearby town). Each time the lessons have been very well received by the adults present, and the kids have enjoyed the martial arts aspect and also seem to enjoy the lessons. It is extremely exciting to be able to use Aikido to discuss Godly peace-making and other principles of Godly living. I pray that God continues to use this for great outreach AND that He has more people regularly become part of the classes!
Closing Prayer Requests
In closing, the semester is off to a truly exciting start! I plan to continue to release quarterly Unite Updates and monthly ‘Brandon’s Updates’ about my in-state missionary work. I want to thank you all again SINCERELY for your prayers and financial support. Both prayers and finances are tangibly a part of the Kingdom Work here, and both help it succeed at even greater levels than what it could otherwise. If you or someone you know is interested in signing up for this prayer newsletter OR if you or someone you know is interested in tax-deductibly supporting an in-state missionary, please don’t hesitate to contact me at Brandon.Nimz@gmail.com, 785-259-2539, or Brandon Nimz, PO Box 1264 Hays, KS 67601! May God bless you through hearing about the Kingdom Work that your prayers and finances help make happen!