Yesterday on the way to the Goodwill Store, my Pakistani friend Zharguna mentioned that her son joined the high school wrestling team. Coming from a country where physical danger is a daily reality, she orients her life around the safety of her four children, even here. “They hit each other. Is it dangerous?” she wanted to know. I assured her that, contrary to how it may appear, wrestling does not involve trying to hurt the opponent, much less punch him. Of course, there will always be risk of injury, but the risk of a lifetime of inactivity often outweighs the risk involved in any high school sport.
Maybe that is what Jacob realized in Genesis 32, as he wrestled with a physical manifestation of God – that to disengage is more dangerous in the long term than any injury he could possibly sustain. Even limping as he was, as he walked away from that encounter, you can’t help but think that trading in his old name for one given by God himself was more than a trip to the thrift store.
Last month, that’s what we had in mind for with our first city-wide large group meeting when we named it “Peniel” – students weighing the risk and choosing to keep wrestling with God, rather than the countless ways they could disengage. And, by God’s grace it came together! Jayson got to exercise his teaching and public speaking with a very relatable message on Genesis 32 and some challenging discussion questions, as about 30 students from several schools considered what names them, and what it would be like if their identity was rooted in the reputation of Christ instead, the One who is what we aren’t and did what we couldn’t.
December 1 – World AIDS Day
Speaking of wrestling, some of my own this month was over an invitation to participate in the last hurrah of a non-religious student group at Prince George’s Community College – a World AIDS Day panel discussion on sex and relationships. What a great opportunity! But what do I speak into a group of students from DC and Maryland whose states rank 1st and 2nd for AIDS rates in the US (barring the territories)? How do I articulate grace AND honesty on this loaded topic in such a fragmented format?
As questions regarding “The Power of Sex” and “Cycles in Relationships” were posed to the panel of six (the psychologist, the professor, the AIDS expert, two students, and myself), it was interesting to note the two main tactics of the enemy in this area, denial and despair, and how they surfaced even in the nature of the questions asked.
Please continue to pray with me that both the words of warning and hope from that day would resonate loudly in the minds of these young people, many of whom have been dealt a hand of complex generational sin and brokenness. Pray for those who have or know someone with the virus, and that those playing with fire would not deny the power of sexual decisions and not despair when things catch up to them. Pray that they would trust a God who wants their best and offers resurrecting power.
Events and Effects
As you can see, the past month or two have been centered mainly around a few bigger events, a reality that can be hard on a ministry that has not quite seen the tip into student leadership. Add in a staff team for whom event planning is not a strength, and you can bet we are worn out! Over the next term, there are a number of upcoming events (hopefully three more “Peniel” nights, spring breaks, a fundraising dinner…) Please pray that the effect of our hard work this term and these events would be students who are excited and equipped to run point with some things, and that the movements would start to be more self-sustaining!
Grace & Peace,
Jayson & Carrie
Please Pray For
New teammates! – Rebecca & Tom Flack have finished fundraising and reported to our team! Pray for smooth transition, and a clear vision for how they will fit here.
Rest! – There can be a huge difference between resting and just vacating. Pray for students as they travel home for the break that they would take time to hear from the Lord. Pray for our staff to know how to use their time well, when to work and when to rest.