Anthony LaRose Week 6 Update                                                         July 29, 2017

From: “LaRose, Anthony Kevin” 
Subject: Week 6 Update
Date: July 29, 2017 at 12:51:16 AM EDT
To: Joel Greenwood 
Hello Again,
            It’s been too long since I’ve given you all an update. I apologize for that. A demanding schedule mixed with tiredness and laziness leads to my update being about 4 weeks late. So much has happened in the past few weeks. I will try my best to remember it all. As always, I won’t be able to explain everything in depth as I’d like to. So, continue to call and message me for more info. I love talking about all the crazy ways God is working in Ocean City.
            Let’s go back four weeks ago. One of the most physically and spiritually demanding weeks of summer mission. It’s called “Killing the Giants” week. This week is all about stretching our abilities and efforts in evangelism. By evangelism, I mean going out and sharing our faith, the Christian Gospel, with strangers out on the beach & boardwalk. We set faith steps, goals, for ourselves in order to tangibly see the Spirit working in us that week. We were told to set a specific number of conversations we were trusting God to provide for us that week. I chose a number way out of my comfort zone. The staff encouraged us to go share our faith every day that week and put our all into it. Our overall goal we set for ourselves was 3177 spiritual conversations (where we talk about God, Jesus, or the Holy Spirit). That week was draining for each and every one of us. People were continuously going out and sharing their faith. I was encouraged by seeing all the other students and staff going out so often. I was often tired and stressed. I didn’t want to go out as often as I did. Throughout the week, we heard talks about the Lost and people in far off countries that have never heard the Gospel or name of Jesus. What a privilege we have in America, where we can so freely and openly discuss Christianity and have conversations with strangers about Jesus. I truly saw this week change my view on evangelism just two summers ago. This year, it really refreshed my mind and soul to proclaim the good news to others. I began to really enjoy going and sharing my faith, even though I was probably tired and lazy most of the time. The Spirit worked in my life that week. But he didn’t stop there. He not only worked in the hearts of all the students and staff on mission, but in thousands of people’s hearts and minds on the boardwalk. We ended up beating our goal of 3177 spiritual conversations by 420 conversations. We spoke about God with 3597 people that week. 3597 souls heard the Word of God clearly and out of love. Nobody paid us to go out and share. We didn’t have a bonus or prize coming our way if we got our quota. We went out and simply spoke truth into people’s lives because Jesus commands us to. We left the results up to God and went out with faith that the Holy Spirit would be knocking on the door of people’s lives (Revelation 3:20). On top of all that, we were blessed and had the opportunity to see 111 people transition from spiritual death to eternal life with Christ on the throne of their life. Praise to God. 111 new brothers and sisters in Christ. 111 accepting Jesus into their lives. Some of the people many not have been presented with that opportunity if it weren’t for your support and prayers, so THANK YOU! The celebration that followed was tremendous. The day after we finished, we all went to the beach and got to relax, play volleyball, eat frozen grapes, and bond in sweet, sweet community.
            The next week was titled “Family Week”. As brothers and sisters in Christ, we are called to love one another, confess to one another, and to pray for one another. This week pinned us against the staff in order that we grow closer together in community. Each morning we were given clues and rules to follow. We couldn’t communicate the rules or clues to each other by any sort of technology, notes, posters, etc. The only way to let others know was by word of mouth. We had dozens of these to follow. Many of which were dependent on relying on others for help. Without giving too much info away for possible future Ocean City attendees (I pray for so many of you to go). We had to trust our brothers/sisters in a way that made a lot of people anxious. Everybody put their full trust into one another and we successfully completed one of our toughest challenges that week. That week was filled with a lot of time to get to know one another on deeper levels. Getting us Millennials off of our cellular devices and Tweeters forced us to bond in more natural modes. We had our separate Men’s and Women’s Conferences that week. I will definitely not spoil this for future Ocean City attendees, but our Men’s Conference was a super influential night. Guys had to rely on each other that night. It was sweet seeing everyone bond together so deeply. I have so much more to say about that night, but some secrets aren’t meant to be shared :). Find out for yourself at OCSM ’18. We also looked into the topic of sexual purity and Godly relationships that week. I had plenty of opportunities to share with younger guys my experiences and prior relationship mistakes. It is so important for guys to connect with other God-fearing men in their pursuit of sexual wholeness. Obviously, there is a lot to talk about on this subject, and I’d love to talk to anybody further if their interested. Family week ended with us going against the staff in a competition. As a group of students, we were able to get behind each other and cheer on one another throughout the night. If we weren’t a family before, we were definitely one after. Everybody keeps telling me that they have never had a community quite like this. One that continuously points them to Christ in times of celebration and in times of mourning. One that loves without seeking anything in return. One that accepts people as they are, not one waiting for them to change before showing them kindness, love, and compassion. God has used all of these people to love one another in a way that they’ve never experienced before. 88 students that didn’t know each other 2 months ago, are now forming friendships that will not only last a lifetime, but an eternity. I’m eternally thankful for God placing me here for a second summer.
            Our last week with staff had finally arrived. For those that don’t know, our staff leave halfway through the summer. We students take over the mission, literally. We are assigned project roles in order to play a part in the mission functioning properly. I’m getting ahead of myself. That will be explained more later, in my next update. This final week with staff was Titled “World Vision” Week. The focus was on informing us of the desperate need that the world has for a Lord and Savior. We, in America, experience the Gospel, Church, or Christianity so much it sort of becomes second nature. Christ can become just a normality, or mundane part of the American experience. The staff taught us a lot about International Missions and the condition, both physically and spiritually, some of these countries experience. Christ and his Gospel message have never been spoken in so many languages and cultures. Unfathomable amounts of cultures and tribes have no way of experiencing Christ’s forgiveness as thing stand right now. Matthew 28:19 tells us to “make disciples of all nations.” Revelation 7:9 says “from every nation, tribe, people, and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb.” These verses, and many others, very clearly tell us that every people group will be represented in heaven. Thus, the Great Commission I mentioned earlier. We are called to go and make disciples of all nations and tell people of the Gospel’s power. We had one really impactful night that week that reminded me how hard it is to bring the Gospel to some of the countries in the world. Millions of people are limited in their understanding of Christianity because of cultural limitations, government interference or restrictions, or the lack of a missionary presence in the area. It was an eye opening event for sure. God calls all of us, ALL OF US, to serve him in some way. That doesn’t mean everybody has to go live missionally in a closed off country or move their family into a foreign tribe in the middle of Southeast Asia or Northern Africa. What the Bible does command us is to Live on Mission. We do that by: 1) Seeing God for who he is, 2) seeing the nations central to God’s heart, 3) seeing people as Christ sees them, 4) seeing stewardship as being valuable, and 5) seeing yourself as one WHO IS CALLED. 2 Corinthians 5:14-20 explain this last one really well, and I’ll allow to read it and ponder it on your own. A lot of the other students here have come to a realization that God may very well be calling a lot of them to full-time ministry after school. International Ministry is also a realistic option for many of them. With how much the Bible and Jesus talk about sharing to the Lost, why wouldn’t we go share the good news of eternal life with Christ that the Gospel provides to all who believe. God calls us all to serve missionally. That can look very different, but also very similar. Some may go on mission abroad. Others may minister domestically with a Christian organization or Church. Groups of people may be called to be a light in the workforce and start bible studies with their coworkers and disciple their younger coworkers and employees. The Lord may place on other’s hearts to financially and prayerfully support those going on mission and serving in that way. All of these look a little different, but one thing is the same. The heart and prayers for the world and all of the Lost people on this Earth should be the same. In every situation, the true and obedient Christian will speak to God with open hands, allowing his plans to take over and to wreck our own plans. Continue, or start, praying for those currently in mission and fulfilling the Great Commission. Continue to pray for all of those that have never heard the name of Jesus or oh his resurrecting power that lives through the Holy Spirit and all those whom believe. A great read about the finishing the Great Commission is called The Finishers, by Cru staff member, Roger Hershey.
            Thank you all for your patience in waiting for this update. Life has been absolutely wild this past month. My next update should come no later than this next Wednesday (but, obviously no promises). This next update will inform you all about when staff left and the first three weeks of just us students in charge. Thank you all for your prayers and many God bless you in all of your endeavors this summer.
            In Christ,
                          Tony LaRose