Now this one is hard for me to write. Where do I even begin? How to I accurately capture all that Stillwater has meant to us in a short blog? I'll do my best....
Many of you already know, but for those of you that don't, Jen and I are moving to Austin, Texas as I have taken the Area Director job in NW Austin. July 1st will be our last official day in Stillwater and are hearts are certainly full with an array of emotions. We made Stillwater our home almost 5 years ago in August 2008 and started our five year journey with Young Life Stillwater. In our naive minds, we had no idea what the next five years had in store, but we knew this is where the Lord wanted us. So we went and we have never regretted it.
We have certainly had our ups and downs here (like anyone else) but what a gift the community of Stillwater and the people that live here have been to us. We make the transition to Austin only with thankful hearts for this opportunity. We are sad to leave our Stillwater family as so many of you have loved Jen, Riggins, and me so well. There are literally a hundred names that Jen and I could write to say "thank you" and "we'll miss you", but I'm trusting that each of you hear that from us. Thank you for opening your homes, your hearts, and for all you done for us. We will be eternally grateful.
Jen and I came here because we believe in the mission of Young Life Stillwater and the impact it can have on this community. Along side our volunteer leaders, we have spent hundreds of hours with high school, junior high, and college kids and there is no doubt that the mission of Young Life has a place here. There will always be kids and adults who deserve to hear the Gospel. They deserve to KNOW. They deserve to know that God loves them deeply, just as they are, and wants nothing more than to be in relationship with them. We believe that is the deep longing of each of our hearts and we love telling people that unmatched and life changing truth. Just as we knew that Stillwater is where the Lord had us in 2008, we believe that Austin is where he has us in July 2013. We are starting our next journey there but there is no doubt that we will never forget Stillwater.
How could we forget? How could we forget the late nights laughing with our college friends? The leader meetings where we prayed for kids by name. The trips to Frontier Ranch and Crooked Creek where we saw our high school friends accept the great love that their heavenly father offers. The times where we wondered where our funding would come from and caring adults gave generously. So many memories that we will cherish for a life time.
The comfort we have is that the Lord has always been in control of Young Life here, and He won't stop now. The region is searching for my replacement and we're hopeful to have someone here by August to lead the next chapter of Stillwater Young Life. We have 40 incredible college leaders, a great staff, and supporting adults who will continue to tell the Gospel. They will continue to chase after the disinterested, broken hearted, and searching kids of this community. I truly believe that Stillwater's best YL years are still to come, and we're trusting the Lord had us here for this part of the story. The greatest gift that you can give Jen and I is to continue to share the Gospel and your lives with kids throughout Stillwater. After all, it's the greatest thing we can do as believers.
Thank you again. You all have meant so much to Jen and I and while we won't be living here, Stillwater will always be on our minds & hearts. Please know our house is always open in Austin for our Stillwater friends.
With thankful hearts & Go Pokes,
JD, Jen, & Riggins Dillender
Clear Water Cove - Work Week 2013
This past week 30 Oklahoma State Students, Katelin (YLC Director), and myself went to Clear Water Cove for Work Week 2013! Clear Water Cove is a Wildlife and Small Towns camp in Missouri that needed some help getting ready for the summer.
We painted, mowed, and built trying to make Clear Water Cove the best that we could for the many kids that would come there this summer for "the best week of their lives." We had a incredible week together as we worked throughout the day, prayed over the camp, and each night talked about how we set our hearts in line with Jesus in college. While Clear Water Cove certainly looks better, I always believe that the best "work" that is done is what Jesus does in each of our hearts throughout the week.
Thanks for your support and making trips like Work Week 2013 possible!
What does is take to start Junior High Young Life?
People who will give their lives away.
You're looking at those people in the picture on the left. They are Kaci, Abby, Carlee, Kendra, Ellen, Chris, and Autry. Students at Oklahoma State that are not content knowing that there are kids at the Jr. High who don't know Jesus. They don't just want to "go through" their time at OSU, but want to invest their lives into something life changing, Christ centered, and eternal.....this is Young Life.
They are my heroes, and I know that they will quickly become your's as well. These seven faithful college students spent their Friday night at a Junior High semi-formal this weekend. Yeah, you heard me right, a Junior High semi-formal on a Friday night! Why would they do this? What would motivate and drive them to help jr. high kids get ready for the dance, run the concession stand, and awkwardly encourage them to not dance so inappropriately? (Yeah it's awkward)
ONE reason: They believe that Jr. High kids in Stillwater deserve to hear about Jesus and His great love for them. Any other reason would simply not make sense.
In Isaiah 6 the Lord comes and takes away Isaiah's guilt and sin and then ask the question:
"Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?"
Isaiah, knowing the gift that God had just given him, naturally responds with:
"Here I am! Send me."
This is a moment that every Young Life leader shares with Isaiah. At one point in our lives, we realized the gift God gave us in his son Jesus, how much God loves us, and what that means for our lives now. When you know a love like this, it makes things like "giving up" a Friday night that much easier and we cannot help but talk about it. It's a love we believe cannot be found anywhere else and for that reason, we believe our Jr. High friends deserve to hear about it.
These seven college kids are spending hours throughout the week befriending and caring for Jr. High kids, with the hopes of one day, in an authentic setting, getting to share about this great love that they have come to know. Would you join with me in praying for them and their pursuit of these kids. Would you write their name in your journal or bible and remember them?
We need your prayers. We need your help. We need your financial assistance to make Jr. High Young Life a possibility. Be a part of what God is doing through Stillwater Jr. High Young Life.
Be part of the story.
I told you that they would become your heroes......
The voice for the heroes of Young Life Stillwater,
- Josh "JD" Dillender
Last Wednesday night at Young Life College we did an event called Pizza Olympics. I'm not sure where Pizza Olympics originated from, but it's always a home run. Over 60+ college students gathered to hang out, play games, and put on the first every Pizza Olympics.
The rules are simple, call three different pizza companies at the same time and order a large pizza. The pizza drivers don't know it but they are in a race against each other to see who gets there first. We had a ribbon and certificate for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd. Once the driver gets there, everyone gets quiet and when the door opens, everyone goes nuts. They form a line so the pizza driver is ushered up front to be interviewed, receive his trophy, and his arm is lifted in victory!
The first and second place drivers were a little taken back (understandable), but nonetheless, enjoyed it. Then came the third place driver. A older gentleman that had a melancholy look on his face, but that quickly changed when he was hit with a burst of cheers from the 60+ college kids that were waiting. He didn't wait for his arm to be raised but threw it in the air and began high fiving every person along the way. You would have thought he just won American Idol season 65. We gave him his 3rd place trophy and he left with the biggest grin his face could possibly muster.
That next day we received a email from Brian (3rd place Pizza guy) that gave us a glimpse into what happened in his heart on this seemingly routine pizza delivery.
"Never in my 4 years of delivering pizzas had I have such a delivery. I realize it was just a fun
game but you did much more."
"What did your group do that was "much more"? You made me feel good and happy once again.
I've had some "low days" here recently."
We have included the full email (just click the picture) above if you want to read it. I promise it will make your day.
I saw this as a reminder of the impact Young Life can have in someone's life. I don't know who Brian's YL leader was and how much work it took to get him to Frontier, but I bet it's a great story. I believe Brian saw Jesus in the people at Frontier, his YL leader, and in the experience itself. I often get caught up in trying to put into a formula what we do, but this was a welcomed reminder that LOVING people is what it's all about. To care for people without judgement or restrictions the way Jesus did and the way he has asked us to do.
This is what we do in Young Life. We love kids for who they are no matter where they come from, color of their skin, or economic status. We just love them for who they are.
Welcome to the new "BE PART OF THE STORY" Blog where you can find quick and informative stories that are happening within Stillwater Young Life.
We also want to invite YOU to "BE A PART OF THE STORY". We are always looking for people to help us create these stories through prayer, financial help, adult help, etc. If you would like to help, go to the "Contact Us" in the top right hand corner and fill out the form. We would love to hear from you.
Looking forward to sharing the stories along the way and continue to reach kids for Christ through the wonderful ministry of Young Life. If you would like to share our blog or any stories we post we have provided Facebook and Twitter options above.
- Josh "JD" Dillender