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Students Prepare for Annual CRM Spring Break Mission Trip

The work of the Center for Rural Ministry to connect the College to local churches always takes on a vividly real picture this time of year as Grove City College students prepare to spend a week visiting a collection of pastors and their congregations.  From February 24th to the 29th, sixteen Grove City College students will be spending their Spring Break listening to and serving a handful of Churches who are partnered with the Center for Rural Ministry (CRM).  This group includes students from all four years of college and a mosaic of majors ranging from Mechanical Engineering to Biblical and Religious Studies. Led by Evan Cousins, JD Minor, and Nevada Pacifico, this group includes eleven returning members and five first time participants.

Laying the Groundwork for a Meaningful Week

Since last semester, the group has met weekly to pray, plan, bond, and reflect on the mission of the CRM in preparation for this trip.  To deepen friendships and cultivate a team vision, the group spent last weekend on a spiritual retreat.  From gathering around campfires and competing in snowball fights to participating in prayer and worship and dwelling in Hebrews 4 to study it as a model for how they might orient their hearts for the upcoming trip, team members were excited to share the rich spiritual nourishment and encouragement that they were grateful to glean from the weekend.

The team enjoyed a beautiful winter retreat at a camp owned by GCC alums Tom and Lila Riley.

Three Main Objectives

When asked about the hope and vision for this Spring Break trip, Evan Cousins, a senior Biblical and Religious studies major and leader for the trip, remarked, “The trip has three main objectives. One, we want to learn from these rural ministries. They’ve been doing ministry for decades now, so it’s our job to come in with a posture of humility and learning. Also, we want to network with these pastors. We want to connect them with other ministries in the program and in their respective areas. Lastly, we want to, humbly, serve these ministries. If there’s some way we can help, then we’d love to. That might be serving at their youth group, listening to their stories, or cleaning their church.”

Over the course of the trip, the team will divide their time between three churches.  They have the opportunity to visit Christ United Church in New Castle, First Methodist Church of Marion Center, and Mosaic Community Church in Jeannette.  But what makes this trip unique is not where they go or how they serve, it is far more about what they see and hear.  Cousins shared, “We often find ourselves listening to stories” and from these stories flow a wholistic, immersive education in and exposure to what it looks like to faithfully serve a church as a pastor or layperson. During this week, the students will glimpse and taste what it looks like to put church consumerism to death and be steadfastly committed to the Body of Christ. They get to see and learn from people who are committed to staying, loving, and participating in the church even in the midst of unglamorous, boring times and hard, exhausting times.  Furthermore, these students will get to witness the joy that these same people receive from being knit into a Spiritual family whose love and support goes far beyond a friendly wave on Sunday morning.

How to Pray for the Group

As they prepared for the trip, Cousins expressed that the team has “been leaning into the mission statement, praying for mutually beneficial encounters with the churches so that we may [all] build them up in Christ.”  As these students interact with the congregations and pastors, the team asks that those connected to the work of the Center for Rural Minister would pray “that the Holy Spirit would teach us and grow us in Christ in life-changing ways!” shares Grace Anne Shaw. Shaw, a three-year member of the team, continues, “Pray that we would overflow with the love of Christ and the aroma of heaven, joyful in all the tasks the Lord gives us, that we would not grow weary or get distracted. Also pray for our spiritual protection, against every scheme of the adversary who hates what we are doing.”

For some students, this Spring Break trip will be the first time they truly get to witness the hardships and blessings of rural ministry. For other students, this kind of church ministry is what they’ve known their whole lives. But all members of the team are stepping into the week hungry to learn, excited to serve, and ready to listen; and they’re praying this week would be a ministry of encouraging presence to the churches that they step into.

Emma Ruby, raised in central PA, is a writing intern for the PRM and a senior studying English, Christian Ministries, and Redemptive Entrepreneurship with the hope of spending a lifetime doing vocational ministry.