2023: Challenges Ahead

Central Area Team – April 2022

Upon returning from Urbana and rebooting everything, look what happened! Another new year is upon us. I thought to kick-start 2023 at the Perry Boiler Room, I’d give you a run down on my team mates and some of what each is facing this year. There are 12 of us. You’re kidding me, Tim. Yup, just like the disciples. But they’re not all men. Maybe you can skim this for now and come back to pray for each of us later. We’d love your prayers. Here goes:

Sarah – Wash U, Grad students,

Is a mom of three kids, currently lives in Pittsburg, PA and is on staff at Washington University in St. Louis! Sarah’s husband Kaleb is wrapping up a year-long law clerkship with a federal judge in Pittsburg and is searching for a job with a firm in the St. Louis area. Pray for God to provide for their family as they return “home” to St. Louis in August. Sarah is also working on reaching full budget for her first ministry assignment (Grad Student Fellowship at Wash-U). This year has been a whirl-wind of displacement, but Sarah has made the best of it as she builds her young family and follows her call to ministry in the university. Pray for the endless list of details – job hunting for Kaleb, house hunting back in St. Louis and caring for their kids through all the transition.

Carrie – Assoc Regional Director,

Was joining our team retreat here in the photo. She’s one of our Regional leaders, but not a regular part of our team. You’re welcome to pray for her, but since she’s not on my team I’m gonna skip her! Sorry Carrie. We love you, though!

Josh – Wash U, Grad Students,

Works for Bayer in St. Louis, is a volunteer staff member for the grad chapter, recently married to Bethany. Josh and Linda (below) are the current local staff for Wash-U and are leading the chapter into an exciting phase of it’s history. They have been helping students get official recognition as a Registered Student Organization on Wash-U’s campus (no small feat). The group is regaining momentum in the wake of the pandemic. A leadership team is re-forming. Roles are getting clarified. And the group is working its way back to in-person gatherings. Pray for momentum and guidance for the student leaders. Pray for God to bless Josh’s investment in and care for students. Pray for Josh and Bethany as they journey through their first year of married life!

Kevin – Univ of Iowa, Grad Students,

Is approaching his 43rd year of student ministry, lives with his wife Maria in Iowa City and leads a very international Graduate Student Fellowship on campus. In addition to the grad group, Kevin leads a weekly zoom prayer gathering focusing on the war in Ukraine and its impact on IFES student ministry in the region. He is also serves with the Association of Campus Ministers at Univ of Iowa. One significant goal I’ll be working with Kevin on in 2023 is planning a sabbatical to happen in 2024. Kevin would like to build a sabbatical experience that involves international travel and connection with IFES student movements. Pray for us in the months ahead as we wade into the details and discern specific directions.

Tom – Iowa State, Faculty Fellowship,

As a retired faculty member at Iowa State, Tom has given himself to InterVarsity as a part-time GFM staff member. He leads the Iowa State Christian Faculty and Staff Fellowship – a group that meets twice monthly. This spring the group will be hosting a Veritas Forum featuring Wash-U professor Joshua Swamidass. Pray for Tom, his teammate Chad and his leadership team as they work on finding funding for the event and promote it on campus. Two addition challenges for Tom. Each year for the past 23 years Tom has taught a class at ISU called Faith and Science. It’s a half-semester honor’s seminar exploring the relationship between Christianity and Science. His class begins next week! Second challenge, pray for Tom’s wife Denise who has major health needs and spent about 9 weeks in the hospital in November and December.

Linda – Wash-U, Grad Students,

Joined our team a number of years ago now as a volunteer staff. The wife of a Wash-U law professor and as an alum of GFM ministry in Boston during her PhD years, she brings incredible coaching and leadership to the student fellowship. Everything I mentioned about Josh is also on Linda’s list. Student leadership development, coaching the chapter, serving and caring for students. Please also pray for Linda this year as she is caring for a close friend who is journeying through major health issues as well as supporting her husband’s family in their experience with similar medical needs. In both cases those in medical care are many hours away via air travel. Pray for Linda’s travel and her interaction with students which is often via zoom.

Mark – Kansas State, Faculty Fellowship,

This year will be Mark’s 20th year in campus ministry – about 14 of that with InterVarsity and 6 of that with Cru. Like Kevin, we’ll be working this year on framing up a sabbatical for Mark to begin in about year. Mark works with several faculty groups in Manhattan and stays connected with faculty at Emporia State and a little bit at University of Nebraska, Lincoln. The biggest reason Mark could use a sabbatical leave is to work on a book he’s authoring. Pray for us as we work on his sabbatical in the coming months, connections we need to make to sustain his ministry while he detaches, and for the longest period of time we can manage so he can complete his book!

Jake – University of Kansas, Grad students.

Jake and Chad are bi-vocational, part-time staff. Jake works as a chaplain in hospice care as his other job. Working two jobs always sounds “doable” on paper, but it more than doubles some aspects of time management and a divided focus. It always adds up to way more than a full-time experience. Pray for Jake and Chad both as they are constantly switching back and forth between work environments. Jake is rebuilding his grad student work at KU. Pray for fruitful results as he is connecting with new students – he is especially focusing on involving International Students.

Chad – Iowa State University, Faculty and Grad students,

Chad is the guy whose back-yard I camped in back in October! Chad’s other-job is organic farming. If I had a prize for the most number of moving parts in a staff worker’s family, Church and work world, I’d have to give it Chad. His kids are like a nest of bees coming and going in warp-drive. Farming is not the kind of work that stays in its margins, let’s say. And a trip to campus or church from his farm takes 38 minutes (one-way). Pray for Chad and Tom as they ramp up this spring for the Veritas Forum. This will be potentially a huge, very well attended event. Chad and Tom are working on funding, promotion and follow-up. Pray for all the networking that needs to happen. Pray for Chad as he sinks further into GFM work at ISU – Chad just joined our team this past year!

George Stulac – St. Louis Faculty Ministry,

This George leads several faculty groups at Wash-U, Wash-U Medical, Forrest Park Community College and Lindenwood University. George does a full and fruitful work and is at a stage in his ministry career where leadership succession is of vital importance. Pray for faculty ministry leadership in the St. Louis area. Pray for God to raise up more staff to run along side George in this season of ministry. Pray also for George’s role at Wash-U in particular as it relates to the Carver Project, a strategic faculty ministry InterVarsity partners closely with. God has been providing several significant volunteer leaders and workers in George’s orbit. Pray for more. Pray for discernment about how to best use who he is providing.

George Gardner – Kansas State, International Students,

This George leads GFM’s student ministry in Manhattan, KS. Volunteer Teams and partnerships with churches and other ministries are a big part of George’s strategy. Students are weekly engaged in bible study. Several of George’s students are Christian, but the majority are not. Pray for George and his teams to effectively befriend and witness to the vast potential represented by thousands of K-State internationals from all over the world. George has also been taking groups of students to Bear Trap Ranch for a week of fun in the Colorado Rockies as they also encounter Jesus in scripture and friendship with Christians.

Ben – Wash-U, Faculty Ministry Advisor.

Ben is one of many answers to prayer for God to raise up leadership for faculty ministry in St. Louis. As a new faculty member in Mathematics, Ben is a strategic volunteer in George Stulac’s ministry. He’s an informal member of our area team (ha! but not in the photo above) which frees him up to serve with George on Wash-U’s campus. Ben’s life as a Christ follower has a constant undercurrent of spiritual formation that shows itself in Rule of Life thinking and practice. George will be leading a couple of the Wash-U groups with Ben this spring. It will be a unique opportunity for Ben to learn ministry from George while bringing his gifts and passions for discipleship.

Moi – GFM Area Team Leader

I have just decided this post is quite long enough. Now and then it’s ok to not say much about yourself! More on me in other posts. I’d love your prayers this week as I get my Creighton/UNO Grad Student brunches started up again.

Thanks for reading. Thanks even more for praying!

tim.perry@intervarsity.org

Click here to let me know your 2023 support plans. Thanks!

Just another day at Urbana

https://urbana.org/

Wake up. Shower. Breakfast with other IV staff in the hotel next door. Morning plenary – lots of worship songs that I wish I could sing better, but glad there’s a playlist. Incredible stories of God bringing hope to human trafficking victims. Students testimonies about rekindled hope for the broken-hearted and depressed. Prayer. Lunch. Workshops on Loneliness, Men and Women in Ministry, LGBTQ+, and reaching the intensely secular and skeptical. Wei Ramen for dinner. Evening plenary – more worship, Bishop Claude Alexander. Catch details on the schedule, speakers and when you can find plenary sessions being streamed (Eastern Time Zone).

We have one more full day of events extending into the night tomorrow. We’ll ring in the new year with a communion celebration! Pray for God to connect with students! My job at Urbana has been hosting afternoon workshops. It’s been a fun place to serve as I’ve watched so many different ministry leaders interact with students, hungry to learn. Here’s a small sample of Better Together: Women and Men Partnering to Advance God’s Mission.

Feel free to catch a live stream of one of the sessions at the above link. If you’re curious about the worship being shared, here’s a Spotify Play-list where you’ll find the songs we’ve been learning this week. It’s really cool to experience the way the circular stage is set so that the crowd is surrounding the speakers, and musicians. It’s been festive and upbeat!

Thanks for your prayers!

Click here to let me know your 2023 support plans 

Click here to be taken to Tim’s donation page at InterVarsity 

tim.perry@intervarsity.org

Made it!

https://urbana.org/

You’ve probably notice we’ve been having horrendous weather here at the close of 2022. Did all that vicious snow wind and cold kill your conference, Tim? NO. We are off to a terrific start. YES, weather was a huge challenge. A faculty member from one of my campuses could not attend because he couldn’t get back to his hometown before leaving to come here to Indy. We also have heard story after story of upended travel plans. A group of three of my GFM colleagues were trying to leave Raleigh-Durham two days ago. At the airport at 5 in the morning they discovered their flights had been cancelled. Solution: they rented a car and safely drove 9 hours to Indianapolis! Another staff member I talked to yesterday left FROM BUFFALO, NEW YORK (again, driving instead of flying – no car rentals were even open). His wife and three children got in their own vehicle and DROVE to Urbana 22!

At last night’s first session there was heavy atmosphere of “God got you here and has something good to give you!” How many students are attending? There are about 5,700 here. Actually the smallest Urbana I have ever attended (my first Urbana was 1984). Would you pray for us this week – that God would meet students powerfully and give them good things? I’ll check in with you several times during the week. Use the link above to learn more about the speakers and link to a live-stream of the plenary events! Hope you can sample some of Urbana this week!

As the year comes to the end, I’d still love to hear from you about your ministry partnership plans for 2022. The following links are here to help you with any year end giving you may be waiting to do. Thank you so much for your partnership!

Click here to let me know your 2023 support plans via a short google form.

Click here to be taken to Tim’s donation page at InterVarsity if you have a year end gift you’d like to give.

tim.perry@intervarsity.org

URBANA 22 at Indy!

Tim, Katelyn, Mara, Claire, Abby, Sarah, Bayode

Last weekend, InterVarsity in Omaha hosted its annual progressive Christmas dinner party. After a two year break due to Covid it was wonderful to be together again and especially great to bring grad students! Our group has been growing this fall as we’ve focused on developing Spiritual Friendships. You’ve heard lots of reports about Syntrek coming together as a spiritual formation strategy. Check out the latest Syntrek article here from the front page of the fledgling website. In addition to building spiritual friendship pairs, we’ve enjoyed monthly brunch with local faculty guest mentors. It was also a nice surprise to discover another small group of Creighton Pharmacy students at the event we were completely unaware of on campus! We got a chance to meet them and extend an invitation to our events next spring!

Please take a minute to let me know your 2023 ministry support plans. Thank you!

Thanks for helping pray this group into existence! The students in the picture with me above represent about half the group. As we head into next semester, we’d love your prayers for involving more students as well as mapping out more brunch conversations. Students are just now finishing up exams and many are heading home for the holidays. I’ll be spending the next couple of weeks with our family here in Omaha, then heading out to Urbana the day after Christmas!

Urbana 22 – Rise Up!

We’d appreciate your prayers as thousands of students get registered to attend. Most Urbana delegates are undergraduate students, but the triennial missions convention is hosted by the entire InterVarsity staff team nationwide. This year we’ll be in the book of Acts exploring the theme: You shall be my Witnesses. I’ll be coming to you with live updates from the gathering, but if you’d like to see the entire convention program including featured speakers here’s a great place to explore:

Click here to see the full Urbana program, schedule and platform speakers.

Thanks so much for your prayers and support of the Perry family. Thank you for your prayers for my students, faculty and staff team. It’s been a full and rewarding Fall semester with a lot to look back on and celebrate. I hope you are enjoying a terrific Advent Season!

tim.perry@intervarsity.org

Click here to be taken to Tim’s donation page at InterVarsity

No Free-Solo!

Black Mountain Overlook

I hope you had a great time over the Thanksgiving holiday. Cheryl and I got to drive with our Omaha kids to see our Tennessee kids. I think it was one of the best Thanksgiving days ever. No football. No turkey. No cooking! And a nice hike to Black Mountain Look-Out not far from Crossville, TN. My son, his wife and his four year old daughter are all getting into Bouldering! Well, actually top-rope climbing. We drove to the trail. Hiked to the look-out. Then spent a couple hours with a giant boulder!

People who are really experienced, really well equipped and in great shape, could scale a boulder like this no sweat. Not Tim. I was fortunate that Aaron had some climbing harnesses, rope, and a GRIGRI (a cam operated block device for top-roping). Aaron, Savannah and even Poppy all went the entire 50 feet up the face of a massive boulder. Tim went about 20 feet and had to turn around.

Thank You!

Top rope bouldering is a little like ministry. I can only get so far without some focused help to make it safe, productive and fun. I hope you realize that there’s absolutely nothing I can do to reach grad students and faculty members without a ministry that is anchored in prayer. The belay is that person on the bottom holding the rope and GRIGRI. It would just be insane to attempt building fellowships without your attentive contribution making it productive! Every prayer. Every donation. Every time you read perryboilerroom.com, you’re helping me inch my way to accomplish InterVarsity’s mission in the university.

Thank you for letting me know your 2023 support plans.

If you have a quick minute, please swing by the link above and let me know your 2023 plans. I’ve been starting to hear back from supporters and it’s been a huge encouragement. Since I’m working on finding not only repeating gifts from 2022, but also new support that is yet to be given or pledged. Click here to see the details. If you haven’t given to my ministry budget or would like to send a year-end gift, you can use the link below to go to my donation page at InterVarsity.

Click here to be taken to my donation page at InterVarsity.

Have a blessed Advent Season!

tim.perry@intervarsity.org

More Chads, please!

Another great moment in my local ministry this fall. Last weekend was our last monthly brunch for my professional student group at Creighton. Chad was our guest faculty mentor this month. I first met Chad a number of years ago. Job transition stress drove me to seek help with debilitating shoulder pain. My daughter Phoebe had seen Chad earlier that year (ballet injury). It was an easy recommendation to pursue not only because Chad helped Phoebe get straightened out, but the ATI clinic Chad was in charge of is located less than football field from my house!

Please take a minute and let me know your support plans for 2023. Thanks!

I could tell Chad was a person of faith right away. It came up naturally and easily in conversations about why an unemployed pastor might be in need of therapy to fix frozen shoulder. I was also genuinely impressed with how I saw Chad interacting with other patients in his clinic. “At some point, I should tell this guy what is going on with my transition to IV staff and see if he’d be able to help me.”

The shoulder got fixed in about 2 months. I went on into GFM ministry with a group of PT and OT students at Creighton. I mentioned to Chad that I’d like to have him speak to my students – that is once we started meeting in person again. Saturday’s brunch you might say was 2 years in the making! The best part of the occasion was the way students latched onto EVERYTHING Chad said to them.

We usually spend a few minutes getting settled as we pass brunch dishes around and start downing coffee. These monthly gatherings have worked so well BECAUSE I’ve sought to bring mentors students can converse with (and not experts who lecture to them on Christianity and Medicine). Chad shared about his journey of getting through his DPT program and finding his first few jobs after graduation. He spoke pretty candidly about how his work took on more meaning as he connected it with his faith and “whole life calling.” He talked about how much pressure there was to “bill more, bill more, bill more” in the clinical jobs he had. He contrasted that with the freedom he now feels to work his practice with God’s purposes as the driver.

After we’ve let the guest mentor talk about their faith and practice connection, we just turn students loose on them in a Q/A free for all. No shortage of questions! You can just feel the energy in the room ratchet up. Last Saturday there were mostly first year PT students. They grilled Chad for 45 minutes and seemed to want more when our time ran out.

Help me find more Chads!

Not only did the students savor the open-ended dialogue, Chad also mentioned more than once how much HE needed interaction like this. “This does my faith good. This helps me revisit why my faith matters to my work. It blesses me to see Christian students and get focused time with them.” Chad would come back any time again to keep the conversation going because he could tell it was helping students AND it refreshed him in the process. I think that’s what you’d call a WIN-WIN. Or a slam dunk – pick your sports metaphor. Pray for me to keep this kind of dialogue happening monthly for these professional students. Pray for me to be effective in my networking. Pray for me as I keep taking initiative with students to help them connect and grow spiritually with each other. It’s been a fun season of work right here in my back yard.

As usual, my November and December are strategic months for firming up ministry partnership with friends and donors. If you haven’t yet had a chance to hop on that link above please let me know how you’d like to partner in the coming year. The link ABOVE takes you to my google response form. The link BELOW takes you directly to my donation page at InterVarsity. If you need a refresher about my need, be sure to back up and read my Financial Update Post from November 4th.

Thanks so much!

Our awesome daughter-in-law Haleigh being inducted into the honors society for her program at UNO.

tim.perry@intervarsity.org

Random.

Could everyone please take a seat so we can get started…

Just a few pics from random, recent happenings. I usually don’t do this to my readers, but I thought the pictures would be fun! Last week I spent four days in Colorado at a staff development event called Cultivate. Staff Managers with InterVarsity attend these meetings each fall where we get to connect with all of InterVarsity’s supervisory staff, across the country, no matter what ministry division they serve. The conference was in Denver, but we got to hang out an extra day for team-building in Boulder. I will say the architecture in Boulder was way more interesting than Denver!

2023 Ministry Partnership Form

The track I signed up for was called Chapter Turn Around. We spent our time considering how to help shrinking fellowships revitalize and get on a growth track. Several chapters in my area experienced significant decline during the covid years. Leaders in InterVarsity’s department of Learning and Talent have identified several key strategies including prayer, engaging volunteers, outreach and evangelism and developing student leaders. Sound familiar? It is really an exciting time to be in GFM ministry because there is a definite sense of post-pandemic thaw in the air. Pray for my staff team and I as we lead student and faculty groups into a new season.

If you haven’t had a chance to do so yet, please make your way over to my Ministry Partnership form and let me know how you’d like to be involved in the coming calendar year. Just scroll down to the previous post for the details. Thanks so much!

tim.perry@intervarsity.org

PS – the bike-seat art display was one of the more interesting features of the Renaissance Hotel in Denver. The incredible hotel I’m pictured at with the staff above is the Boulderado Hotel in Boulder! Incredible woodwork, tile, stained glass. And no bicycle seats!

Your Ministry Partnership

Wait, where have I seen this before, Tim?

Tis the season for Tim’s financial updates. I’ll give you the skinny here at the top of my post. The details down below are pretty similar to last year. So if you’re new to my team, please feel free to read to the end. If you know where this is headed already, save yourself the time and hop on the Ministry Partnership Form immediately below. I’ll keep the link to the form and my donation page handy in the rest of my 2022 posts. Thanks so much for your partnership!

This takes about 3 minutes

Once you’ve had a chance to think about your partnership with me, the following link will take you to a short form I’d like to have everyone fill out. I’ll be in touch with you based on your response. Here’s what the form looks like:

https://forms.gle/CBVqJ8qPCMNkmpJ27

Donuts have replaced Pies!

Take that news however you want, but pie-charts are just not as cool as donut-charts. Everything that used to be a pie is now a donut (it’s about time, I say). Let me break it down for you. Hopefully this will make sense right from the start and you’ll forever be able to recognize Tim’s special Green, Gold, Blue donut-chart.

If you’re a Green…

Each year my ministry account gets reset on July 1st. The clock starts over! You are in the green part of the donut chart above most likely if you are a regular giver who contributes monthly. Greens are great because every month I get to see the results of your partnership with me. Thank you! Thank you for working me into your monthly giving budget. Most greens give not only to me, but several other causes as well. The consistency of your gifts helps me know I can keep doing this from year to year! Go Green!

If you’re a Gold…

Alert readers will realize that some Golds are just Greens as their gifts keep coming into the account. Fair enough. But you could also make the gold part of the donut by being an annual donor. Golds like to give in larger amounts – usually once a year. Many golds give around this time of year because they plan their giving around the calendar year-end. If you’re gold, it’s helpful to receive a reminder around now so you can transact your gift before the end of the year. Just hop on that link above and you’ll be taken to my donation page at InterVarsity. Thank you Gold!

Now, about that Blue…

Why does it seem like EVERY faith-ministry donut has a blue chunk? I long for the day when all I have is a Green-Gold donut to talk about in November. Not sure that will ever actually happen. The blue chunk represents new support dollars I need to find before the end of my fiscal year- June 2023. Two things are always happening that lead to the need for blue. My budget gets an upgrade each year that reflects cost of living adjustments and increases in ministry expenses (like rental cars). The other reality is that some supporters just can’t maintain their previous giving levels. Job loss, changes in giving ability or priorities among other factors mean that people sometimes have to cut back.

Can I help you with your Blue?

If you are a current donor and would like to increase your giving amount, that would be a terrific way to help me beat the blue! Consider a percentage bump of somewhere between 5 to 10 percent. If everyone in green/gold bumped their giving by even 5 percent, I’d be able to cover about half my funding gap.

If you haven’t been able to give to my budget, maybe you could start as a new donor in the coming calendar year. You can use that same link above to jump on my donation page and get started. I’ll also be working over the coming months to find new supporters. If you’re a Green/Gold and you know someone who might like to partner with InterVarsity by all means introduce me! I’d be happy to buy us all lunch and talk about it!

Thanks so much for your prayers and for your giving! I hope you’ll catch some terrific time with your family over Thanksgiving. If we haven’t caught up in a while, drop me an email. Let me know how I can encourage you and pray for you!

tim.perry@intervarsity.org

Syntrek.blog is up!

https://syntrek.blog/

Wow, this semester has just flown by! Bet you’ve told yourself something like that recently. But it’s so true. The other day I was looking back at my boilerroom post from Aug 13 – My Hope for Grad Students and it hit me “my vision for my local grad student group, is actually materializing.” Have you ever had an idea you’ve invested time and resources in actually lift off the ground as you watch it move down the runway? It’s so gratifying! Syntrek is like an experimental aircraft achieving sustained flight! Thanks so much for standing out in the cold near the airstrip with me this fall to see if this thing can fly.

Syntrek is a new strategy for one on one discipleship that explores the benefits of Spiritual Friendship. This fall I’ve intentionally networked all my contacts into pairs of students who are exploring themes of soul-care. If you have a minute, hop on the link and check out the blog. Its definitely under-construction at the moment, but we’re building the home-page around a series of 9 foundations. Blog posts will follow. I’m especially excited about the most recent article a member of my team wrote, Am I Safe? My dream is that over time we’ll grow a list of contributors and flesh out the web-site with tools and stories. If you find it helpful, feel free to subscribe. I’m currently using it with students by sending them a link when a new story is posted.

A Medical-Physics master’s student got to meet Megan at brunch yesterday!

The monthly brunch has also been a big hit this Fall. When you host events with food, it’s just the best when people actually show up! (And it’s just the worst when they don’t.) Beyond that it was so fun to overhear the chit-chat among students when they’re together, off-campus, with each other, and able to enjoy some decompressed company with each other. Megan Hyun is an incredible resource for students. She teaches at UNMC in radiology and oncology. She was in GCF at UW Madison during the years she worked on her PhD in Medical Physics. She’s also a leader in the local GFM Faculty Ministry we’ve been trying to build for the past 5 years. At the monthly brunches I’m trying to bring in guest faculty mentors like Megan to join us. Over brunch she encouraged the group around our theme of Spiritual Friendship as well as shared about how she connects her faith with her teaching and leadership. Students LOVED the chance to ask her questions. I could feel the chemistry she struck with these students. That’s GFM and Graduate Christian Fellowship at it’s best! Pray for us as we continue to grow this group. We’re currently a group of about 12 students. We have another brunch and a holiday party remaining on the calendar for 2022.

Thanks for your prayers! They’ve been impactful for my work these days. Thanks also for your giving to my work. My team and I have been looking at our finances as we head into the second quarter of our fiscal year. I’ll be writing about that in a future post, but it looks like I have some significant work to do before the calendar year wraps up.

tim.perry@intervarsity.org

Iowa Wind-Turbine Camping

The supervisor who dares make pizza for your teenagers!

There’s nothing quite like staying overnight at someone’s place. When you’re a staff director with InterVarsity who is trying not to kill your budget visiting 10 staff in 4 states, you get creative. At the risk of having your car stolen, you spend the night with your staff members near campus. When you visit a young family of 6 who lives on a farm in the middle of Iowa, there are other hazards to contend with. And you still have to be creative! I had a blast last week on my Iowa State visit.

One of the best culinary reviews I could ever receive for my pizza came from Levi, son of Chad Britten, bi-vocational GFM staff member and organic crop farmer. Chad told me Levi said to him, “Dad, that was the best pizza I think we have ever had.” Think of it. A teenager’s body is like a pizza super-highway with more traffic per year in pizza pies than at any other time in one’s life. Of course the average teen palate is not fully developed all the way up the nutritional pyramid, let’s say. But as regards pizza – I think this young man might just know what he’s talking about.

Fun pics around the Britten’s farm.

Staff families are a wonder to behold up close and personal. God’s faithfulness shines out from them. They are among the most resourceful, close-nit and intelligent eco-systems you’ll find anywhere on the planet. The Brittens farm. They have four very good looking, very above average kids active in everything from jazz to soccer. When you enter the foyer of their home, you’ll pass what looks like a church-pew (no kidding) PERFECT for sitting down and taking your muddy shoes off. OR, as the case was when I visited, perfect for about a dozen plastic Walmart shopping bags each with a dozen tomatoes in it. “You should take several with you, Tim, on your way home. We had to pick the last of them the other day. Cold weather is coming – we’ve got to bring them indoors. We’ll be eating these till Thanksgiving (even though we’re giving them away as fast as we can).”

I dared not displace a single person in this household from their bed. They live in a pretty small farm house with one bathroom. So I asked the Brittens something unthinkable to most of my readers. “Would it be ok if I camp in my tent somewhere out in your 5 acre yard?” I nestled in north of the house within ear-shot of one of those wind-turbine generators. Whoosh. Whoosh. Whoosh. Not an abundance of sleep that night, but it was so fun to hang out at the Britten farm and make two of my best pizzas so their busy family could eat in shifts around soccer practice and a school concert. I enjoyed a stroll around the property seeing if I could find anything interesting to shoot as the sun went down. It was honestly one of the best staff visits I think I’ve ever had!

After spending the next day with Chad and Tom at ISU, I zoomed back home in the Black Pearl (our 2014 Honda Pilot). The next three days I spent down in Kansas visiting staff at KU in Lawrence and at K-State over in Manhattan. One highlight of my time in Manhattan was meeting a student in George Gardner’s ministry with Internationals. I’ve heard George talk about this guy for three years now and the unusual circumstances surrounding his arrival at K-State. In his home country Christians are the vast minority – and it was there that he actually had completed some biblical studies! As he wraps up his PhD in Chemistry, he explained to me how he longs to locate with his first job near a place where he can attend a seminary! He’d like to land a teaching post so he can at the same time complete a Theological Masters degree from a seminary! He’s interested in a top-shelf program as well – hopefully at a place like Trinity Evangelical Divinity or Dallas Theological Seminary.

Pray for George and this incredible PhD student. He’ll be defending his dissertation (on some variation of organic compound synthesis related to cancer treatment). He’s been such a terrific part of the International fellowship George works with. He and another student from his country are a source of vibrant witness in their department. Pray for God to bless George’s leadership. George and Sharon are wonderful models of servant evangelism. The event in the pics above is Brunch and Bible every Saturday morning. Sharon, George’s wife, recently retired from a career in food service. She does in fact cook many of the worlds greatest dishes (including the best cinnamon rolls I’ve ever eaten). My cinnamon roll palate IS quite refined I’ll have you know.

Thanks for your prayers! Please keep my local GSCF group in mind. We have our second brunch gathering of the semester tomorrow at my home!

tim.perry@intervarstiy.org