I've been meaning to share a little about our story and our ministry, EngageJSU.

In August 2011, Will and I moved to Jacksonville, Alabama to serve the church and to begin a college ministry targeting students from Jacksonville State University, a small public school. It was the first time our church really had an intentional approach to college ministry, and we were to begin a ministry from scratch. 2011 was a tough year. Will and I were adjusting to life away from our beloved former church. We were in the thick of our adoption, waiting for Israel to come home. Will was finishing his master's and ministry was slow going. We were able to make some deep relationships with students, but it seemed that we were having to say "grace! grace!" over and over again without really making an impact. The most students we ever had to an event was 25ish, and many events were held in our living room. We often questioned ourselves, "why are we here? what are we doing?" and just trusted that God was working even though we weren't sure that we were seeing fruit. At the end of the year, Will took a team to Haiti for missions.

The second year was a little different. Israel was home. Our ministry was growing, and we had some awesome leaders that really stepped up. We saw our numbers grow and students lives change - at the end of the year, we had around 75 students attending our worship gathering. More and more small groups were needed! I had a hard time figuring out my purpose in the ministry, as holding events in our house became more complicated, and being a stay at home mom with a special needs child meant limited availability and flexibility. A lot of good things happened in this year though. Our relationships with students deepened, and we saw some amazing transformations of some students. The gospel was taking root, people were really getting the gospel! We saw the effects of prayer and saw how God was specifically answering prayers for salvation of students. Our international ministry was really happening, and at the end of the year, Will took a team to Baltimore to work with church planters.

{Video from summer 2013 after 2nd year at EngageJSU}

EngageJSU from engageJSU on Vimeo.

The third year we went in with big expectations. We hoped for 200 students to come the first night, and we were amazed when even more than 200 showed up. Our band was/is amazing. They were/are writing their own music based on what God was teaching them, and our students really bought into the vision of "at JSU as it is in heaven." Our small groups were serving missionally in the community, and our church was supporting the ministry as it grew. Students were trusting Christ and believing that Jesus is worthy to be Lord of their lives. At the end of the year, we had the "Engagies" - a banquet for our volunteers, and Will took a team to NYC to do outreach in Harlem with Muslims. We finished the year with full hearts and a sense of gratitude at what the Lord had done.

{Baptism Recap of 2013-2014 year}

Engage Baptisms from engageJSU on Vimeo.

{Summer 2014 video}

Engage 2014 from engageJSU on Vimeo.

So now, we're in year four. Leading up to the year, we had a leader's retreat that was so special to us. The year has started out with a bang - close to 400 students at our first event. We have more small groups than ever, and people keep coming back each week hungry to hear the word. It's humbling. We are thankful to have been called here, to see fruit and know that it wasn't easy and it wasn't our doing. If anything, we have seen that God works in His way and His timing. There's much more work left to be done, but we are excited to have seen transformations in college students. We're seeing relationships form that will be godly, solid marriages. There are students who pitch in each week to serve and we know that they are going to be ready to serve the local church as adults. People are choosing their college majors based on how they can be strategically placed to share the gospel according to their gifting and God's word. Will has grown as a teacher and pastor.

{EngageJSU 2014 documentary (15 min long but worth watching!) }

engageJSU Documentary from engageJSU on Vimeo.

I'm thankful for this season. I encourage you to follow along to the #EngageJSU hashtag every Monday night and see how excited our students are about the gospel. Check the vimeo page for updates on sermons.

If I could sum up our time the past 3+ years, it would be a lot of little moments that have made a big impact. The biggest impacts haven't been the nights of 400 students coming to an event, but over lunches, walks, coffee dates, dinners, meeting students where they are and hearing them. Speaking "grace! grace!" over and over until it makes sense. Speaking it over ourselves. Reading scriptures with students and seeing lightbulbs go off. What a privilege it is to have these opportunities!