Spring Break Missions Trip Update

Over Spring Break, I had the opportunity to lead a team of students to the neighboring city of Richmond. Our team prayed for the city, picked up trash in the community, served in the church food pantry, prayed with individuals as they left the pantry, helped organize the church’s thrift store, volunteered at an elementary school, handed out sack lunches/prayed with several homeless who were on the street and finally (my favorite) was getting to talk with individuals who are in the year long rehab program. One guy I met was 3 months in and ready to give up, but through conversation and prayer I was able to encourage him. This guy’s day was turned around and we both left encouraged. God is so GOOD!! I can’t express how much fun it is to journey with college students on a spring break trip. We stayed up late, had deep conversations and I had the opportunity to answer some of the typical questions college students have about God, the bible and their walk with Christ.

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March Madness

Every year, Chi Alpha at UVA does a March Madness tournament. This year once again core groups came up with team names and played one another tournament style. However, this year a new element was added and the girls had their own bracket and a girls staff team was birthed and challenged. Paige actually got to show her skills on the court, be a part of the team, and have some fun with the students. We won’t talk about whether the girls staff team won or lost. Go PAIGE!!!

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International Super Bowl Party

In the campus ministry world we are always trying to find ways to love and welcome those who come from other countries. This year we had a Chi Alpha International Super Bowl party at our house and the turnout was incredible!

The night was full of laughter, explanations of the game of football, prizes, LOTS of food and we had 5 new people from Singapore show up because I met one of their friends while out tabling. The neat thing is that one of the guys from Singapore who is not a Christian is meeting with me today for lunch and one of the girls has been coming to our large group gathering weekly.

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Engaging Students With Questions & Opportunities

During this time of the year I am always reminded of and amazed by the fact that our God chose to come and live among us – that the awaited hope was found in a baby named Jesus, Emmanuel, “God with us.” What a beautiful step of love and hope for not just Mary and Joseph, but for all humanity and for all time.

We have found this hope in Jesus, but not all know of this great love that has come.  Jesus knew this and told us to proclaim the good news in Matthew 9:35-38:

35 Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. 36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. 38 Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”

Knowing that Christ has come and that the harvest is plentiful, we feel an urgency in telling those on the university campus about this Great Shepherd. So, for the first time in Chi Alpha at UVA history, I (Tyler) organized and led a week of focused evangelism called Engage:UVA.

Over 150 students signed up at Monday Night Live to participate in the outreach events. We handed out 20 gallons of water and over 20 pounds of pancake mix at tables, set up for the purpose of showing love to the party- and frat-goers. We handed out s’mores by international and first-year dorms and played pick-up sports. We built a plywood Conversation Wall with a question across the top to engage students in the areas they (and we) care about, and what difference the Gospel makes.

One night during Engage:UVA, I was handing out water to those bouncing between house parties and connected with a guy. This young man used to be a Christian and wasn’t sure how to choose between a life with God and a life lived for himself. We chatted, prayed together and agreed to continue our conversation. During the same night many Chi Alpha students also connected with friends out partying, talked with them and prayed with them. It was an incredible night!

At the heart of every Engage:UVA event were encounters to provide a listening ear, to remember a specific student’s name in a sea of thousands, to make a connection, and to show up as representatives of Christ.

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So…where are you going next?

This is the question we have gotten quite often from all of our friends and family as our Campus Missionary in Training (CMIT) year ends.  We have been praying and making plans for what comes next for our family and we are so excited to share our next steps with all of you!

LONG TERM PLANS

We have been offered and accepted the Chi Alpha director position at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas! We will relocate to Dallas next Summer (2018) and begin the path to re-pioneering Chi Alpha at this campus.

IMMEDIATE PLANS

For the 2017-2018 school year we will stay in Charlottesville at the University of Virginia as we focus on three key elements before pioneering at SMU:

  1. Recruiting a team of full-time staff to go with us to SMU.
  2. Focusing on learning a few more key items here at UVA – specifically reaching out to Fraternities/Sororities and evangelism.
  3. Raising support – our budget will increase as we take on a Director position and we will also be applying for National Appointment as U.S. Missionaries with the Assemblies of God.

Why SMU?

We are excited about the potential to reach students who are on the trajectory to be national and world leaders. Also, we hope to target and engage students in the Greek Life system.   According to USA Today, all but two U.S. Presidents and Vice Presidents, 75% of U.S. Congressmen and Senators, and 86% of Fortune 500 executives came out of a fraternity. What an incredibly strategic mission field!

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One Year Later

It’s been one year since we said good-bye to our fourth son, Tobias.

One year since I labored in the hospital and delivered a tiny little baby who would never get to meet his incredible brothers.

Having never lost anyone really close, I never quite understood why people always remember the anniversary of someone’s death each year. However, what I’ve realized now is that you can’t forget that date. It’s seared into your memory and you see it coming on the calendar each day that it approaches. September 7th. I saw it in my planner last month when I was penciling in dates and knew it was looming on the horizon.

I wasn’t quite sure what emotions this day was going to bring – I’ve never done this before. It’s been such a whirlwind year, that it’s easy to push that part of our life aside and just look to the future. I’d be lying, though, if I said that a single day goes by without a shadow of fear as I worry about our fifth son due in October. Every cramp or pain causes pause. Each day, we pray for a healthy baby and mark the days until he gets here.

We still wonder why we had to go through this, we don’t have any answers about that and probably never will. We know that God has continued to care for us by putting such an circle of support around us and it has definitely opened up conversations with others who have experienced similar loss.

It’s been a year and as I look back and see this picture I posted last September 7th – it still rings true.

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Baby Boy Staton Update

This week we had an anatomy scan for our new baby boy. The ultrasound was mostly very positive, but the doctor did find that one concerning complication with the baby’s umbilical cord. Normally, the cord should have 3 blood vessels bringing blood to and from the baby. His cord, however, only has 2 blood vessels. This happens in about 1% of pregnancies and can be a sign of serious problems in the heart or kidneys. He is measuring right on size and they were able to see the chambers of the heart clearly. The doctor did not think it was necessary to go to specialist and recommends that we wait and have ultrasounds often to monitor baby’s size. They predict that I will need to deliver early as this happens in many cases of Single Umbilical Artery.

Please be in prayer for our baby boy! We believe that God can heal the cord and provide all of the nourishment that he needs! Also, be in prayer for our insurance as we move states and there might be a lapse in coverage while we get things transferred.

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Strength When There is None

So here we are facing a moment we never thought would happen to us.  Many unanswered questions fill our minds, confusion of unexpected and uncharted waters are before us, watery eyes and hearts that ache are inevitable.  After having three boys and expecting our fourth we found out Friday Sept. 4th during a routine doctor visit that Paige had miscarried at almost 16 weeks.  The doctor explained to us that there was nothing we could have done to change it.  Because of it being the holiday weekend we were not able to schedule a hospital induction till today (Sunday evening).  Your prayers for Paige would be much appreciated as the induction can take up to 2 days for the delivery to happen.  We are praying for a speedy induction process and quick physical healing upon Paige’s body as she recovers over the next several weeks.

We are thankful for friends, family, ministry partners, and a church that has extended their love in so many ways (prayers, food, hugs, texts, etc.) to help us through this hard season of life that has blindsided us.  Honestly, we feel very broken right now and know in time He will bring restoration and purpose to this part of our story.  Till then we will lean on His perfect strength and will place our trust in Him.  We don’t know what the next few days, weeks, months or even years will hold, but we know that this is part of His plan and that it is greater than ours.  Thanks friends for walking with us, being there to ask “how are you doing?” even months from now, and willing to check-in and bring a cup of coffee unannounced.  We can’t do this without you and we are thankful for the community God has given us to make it through a moment like this.

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?…
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

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