I don’t consider myself an adrenaline junkie or a daredevil, but I can testify that, after jumping off a bungee bridge and plunging 216m down, I crave more experiences that take courage and boldness to feel alive and face my fears.
As I watched my friends jump off this bridge one-by-one, I felt a wave of fear and hesitation. I told myself they must be crazy and that I must be as well to trust this rope and have faith that it will keep me from plummeting to the ground below. However, as more and more people shared in the amazing and unexplainable feeling of freefalling, I knew I had to experience this for myself. They called my jump number and before I knew it, I was strapped by the ankles and waddling to the edge of the platform. At that point there were no excuses and no turning back; all it took was a split second of courage to jump. I could try to explain the feeling, but it is hard to find the words for an overwhelming feeling of excitement, fear, and stillness all at the same time.
Once we had all finished our jump and hopped back on the bus, I finally had time to let the experience settle in. With a little reflection I could very quickly identify where my faith fit into all of this. Much like my faith in Christ, I oftentimes find it hard to stir up the boldness and courage to trust God fully with my life. This year, through other people’s testimonies and stories of unexplainable and radical faith, I knew these were things I had to experience for myself! Like the freefall, the indescribable feeling of God is an overwhelming feeling of excitement, fear, and stillness. God makes us feel alive if we take a leap of faith and trust he will keep us safe.
“But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved” – Ephesians 2:4-5
“Jumping, falling, not falling, rising, not rising, falling, not falling, rising, not rising, falling, stillness.”
– Kaitlyn Shuart, Site 2 South Africa student, 2018-19
“Change is good, Donkey…..if you manage change properly” is one of the top quotes from the popular movie, Shrek. I must admit, sometimes I feel like the donkey who needs to be prodded into accepting change. I like familiarity, I like control, and sometimes I need time to catch up to progress. I sometimes think about changes that my parents’ generation has experienced. My Dad farmed with his Dad–they ploughed fields with horses and transportation was not yet motorized. You can imagine the changes and, shall we say, progress he experienced in his lifetime.
But change IS good. I remember September 2018 when 41 Outtatown students started out on what is probably the most life-changing adventure they have yet experienced. Most students come on the program not knowing who else will be with them. They know that their Site Leaders will provide leadership and will walk with them, but the rest is trekking into the unknown. “What am I doing here?” is in most students’ minds as they headed off in a very large van full of mostly strangers to a lake in Northwestern Ontario.
As Outtatown Program Assistant, I have the pleasure of reading student comments at the end of each semester. It is very rewarding and emphasizes for me why I work here. I am quite certain that the students are not the same now as when they left the CMU campus in September. They’ve been changed. Some have met Jesus in a very real way and others have strengthened their relationship with God. They’ve been stretched in ways that I’m sure they didn’t realize they would be stretched. They have matured. Families and communities that are receiving them back may see very real differences.
Philippians 1:6 says, “Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” This verse gives me such hope that the Outtatown Grads of 2018-19 will continue to change, grow, and mature in their faith as they continue longing to follow Jesus. I hope that, many years from now, these changed people can stop and take inventory and realize that change is good and that the good work that has started in their lives now has and will be carried on to completion one day.
– Joyce Friesen, Outtatown Program Assistant