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City Challenge: Crossroads

By Brittany Troyer

Crossroads. We all experience these in our lives.
Some may seem small and insignificant and others seem overwhelming and life-altering.

As we in the SEND Department were developing the theme of “Crossroads” for City Challenge, we were thinking about all the decisions a young person makes during their high school years. I remember in high school, especially as a senior, feeling stressed out anytime someone would ask me, “What are you going to do after you graduate?” Up until that point, my life had pretty much been decided for me. Now I suddenly needed to have a plan for my life. Was I going to go to college and get a degree? Continue at my job? Go on a missions trip? There are so many opportunities out there that it can be overwhelming to try and pick just one!

During this year’s City Challenge, we wanted to take some time to talk through how we make these decisions—not just the big ones like figuring out what to do for the rest of your life but also talking about the smaller choices. Every day decisions like who do we hang out with? How we spend our time or money? Are we going to God for guidance and involving him in these decisions, or is it all about us and what we want?

We focused on three things during the sessions throughout the week: choices, priorities, and desires. In the end, how we choose to act is an overflow of what our priorities and desires are. As Christians, our underlying desire should be to follow Jesus.

This summer we had the privilege of working with 252 young people and youth leaders. There’s something about working with young people that refreshes and revives you, even if you’ve been going for a few days straight without much sleep! Some of the highlights of our summer were: seeing young people overcome their fears of talking to strangers, praying out loud in front of their peers for the first time, seeing God answer their prayers, declaring the truth of who God is, and getting excited about reaching out in their home communities.

When I think about some of the things City Challengers “took home” this year, I think most would fall under the category of loving the people around us; specifically people that we may not know or people who are very different from us. The City Challengers were sent into the city of Columbus quite a few times throughout their five days with us. "When I think about some of the things City Challengers 'took home' this year, I think most would fall under the category of loving the people around us..."Sometimes they were helping with a specific need but mostly they were sent out with the goal of going out, meeting people, listening to their stories, praying for them, and loving them. City Challengers often seemed surprised about how many people appreciated that someone just came up and talked to them. Sure, there were times when they were rejected or ignored, but for the most part their small acts of kindness were widely appreciated by those they met. The youth realized the importance of being aware of the people around them, how God is already working and moving, and looking for ways to encourage people wherever they’re at—even at the grocery store. They talked about the fact that a lot of times we’re all in our own little worlds with our own agendas and we’re too busy to see that there are others out there who may be hurting and who might need someone who is willing to listen.

I remember one City Challenger sharing a story from her experience during our Wednesday night outreach. She was serving dinner to the homeless at a soup kitchen downtown and one of the men came back for seconds and thanked her for her smile. The man told her that her smile encouraged him so much. Often we think we have to come up with an extravagant plan to reach out to people, but sometimes something as simple as a smile can make somebody’s day. I challenge you to be on the lookout for where God is already moving and to be more aware of the people around you and what their needs might be.

All in all, we had an awesome summer. We are so thankful for the ways the Lord showed up this summer during City Challenge. He is good and faithful. We’re already looking forward to next year!

Brittany and her husband, Brian, are serving a three-year term as SEND Ministries program facilitators. They oversee the staff internships and City Challenge program and are also involved in the day-to-day activities for REACH. They live in an apartment at the Rosedale International Center in Columbus. Brittany has served on two REACH teams to Thailand, and Brian was on a REACH team to Spain. They both served as Community Outreach Coordinator staff interns. The most rewarding part of their job is getting to see young people grow in their understanding of who Jesus is and how to be a light to others around them. In their free time they enjoy playing games and drinking good coffee with good people.