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April 27, 2018

Student Blog: CRUX Serving in Houston Part 1

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CRUX in Houston: “Eager and Ready to Serve”

During Spring Break 2018, the CRUX discipleship group went to Houston, TX, to volunteer for a week.  CRUX is a residential cohort at North Park University, in which a group of first-year students follow Christ together by living together, taking classes together, serving in the city together, and more.  As service is a key part of the program, the CRUX group decided together to assist in relief work in Houston, after the devastation of Hurricane Harvey in 2017.

On March 10, 2018, all ten students, the two seminary mentors, and the co-directors of CRUX traveled to Houston for a week of service.  They were accompanied by a carpenter and contractor, Jehan Bourne (father of co-director Emily Wickstrom) who facilitated the construction work.  The group was hosted by Life Church Fort Bend and partnered with the work of a community development organization named Attack Poverty.  Life Church had hosted a group of volunteers from North Park University last October, and wanted to extend the same hospitality to another NPU group.  The church partners with Attack Poverty as well, so they directed NPU to connect with the organization as well.

The trip was also organized through a partnership between North Park’s University Ministries and Merge Ministries of the Evangelical Covenant Church.

Keep reading to learn more about the experience, what happened, and what impact it made in the community of North Rosenberg and for the North Park team.

A group of adults, college students, children, and a dog pose for a group photo outside.
NPU working with Attack Poverty

Saturday, 3/10/18

It is great to finally be in Houston!  After many, many months of preparation and coordination, the CRUX team has finally arrived.  We are eager and ready to serve, and look forward to how God is going to work during this trip.  Even though we do not know the details or extent of our work, nor are we familiar with the organization that we are partnering with, we trust that God will use us and work in us during this week.

One thing that stood out to me this first day is the testimony of the members of Life Church Fort Bend.  We have the privilege and honor of being hosted in the homes of members of Life Church and working with Attack Poverty, a Houston-based organization with whom the church often partners.  But more meaningful is why the congregation has offered to host us.  For the past twelve years, members of Life Church have traveled to Guatemala on service trips, but this past summer was different for them.  They worked with Merge Ministries (a ministry of the ECC), and instead of sleeping in a hotel, they stayed in homes of Guatemalan people.  The hospitality received and the relationships formed in Guatemala had such an impact on the group that when Hurricane Harvey hit their own city, the congregation decided to offer the same hospitality to people who travel to Houston to help rebuild.

Having experienced similar fellowship and hospitality on past trips, I was encouraged to hear the transformation that has taken place in Life Church.  And it is humbling to be the recipient of such hospitality this week.  Even the first evening has been rewarding, and I have had many good conversations with people from the church and community.  I look forward to what this week will bring!  No matter what work we accomplish, we are blessed and excited to build relationships here in Houston as well.

– Ben Wickstrom (Interim Co-Director)

A young woman and young man stand outside and laugh, both wearing blue t-shirts printed with "CRUX"
Emily Ostercamp and Joshua Crozier

Sunday, 3/11/18

The biggest area I saw Jesus today was in his people.  I have been learning through our CRUX community over the last few weeks about how big and how complex our God is; I have found the complexity of the God we serve to be such a gift.  How wonderful is it that we cannot fully understand or know how vast God is?  So wonderful, because through the essence of his creation – people – we are able to discover pieces of him.  There will always be more to know, not in a way that defines God and puts us in power, but in a way that expresses even more fully how great he is and how small we are.  Today, we went to church and then to the Houston Rodeo, and were able to be a part of—and see—cultures very different than my own.  It was beautiful to be around new people, stories, and traditions.  All of which, at some level, portray who God is differently than the next. – Emily Ostercamp

So the first day we got here I realized what a good and united community we have here in CRUX. We had a blast playing spike ball in the airport, the weather was a little muggy so I felt right at home. We got back to our host house, the main base. We ate burgers and hotdogs with pastor Mike and Katy (our host). The next morning we went to church in Sally and had a good time. I got to work with the kids (5th and 6th graders). Later we got to go to a burger place (can’t remember the name…) and finally had a fun time with our hosts at the end of the day. – Zach Peterson

To read the rest of the student blog posts in the CRUX in Houston Spring Break blog series, click the links below or head back to the stories page.

Part 2

Part 3

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