Internship Essentials - Liminality

All our sites are under way!  

QuadW Missional Interns in Opelika at welcome dinner on their behalf as they begin their summer of living and serving together

QuadW Missional Interns in Opelika at welcome dinner on their behalf as they begin their summer of living and serving together

One of the things that happens to each team as they begin to get to know one another and jump into the opportunities set before them to get know and serve among those in need is that our interns find themselves placed in situations that are a stretch to them, uncomfortable to them, new to them.  Sometimes this has as its focus the ministry sites, sometimes it centers around the experience of living w/ a handful of other people from various backgrounds... Sometimes its BOTH of those things at once!  

But this experience of being pulled outside our depth is essential to what we hope for each of our QuadW Missional Interns.  We call it liminality.  When we are moved out of what we have known and where we are comfortable and where we feel like we know how it all works and begin to venture into something new and different... that space is liminal space.  And we think that it is THE context that God uses, again and again, to call forth new faith, hope and love in us.

The image that the word liminal evokes is one of moving from one room or space, through a door way into another, new and further room or space... its moving from what has been into what will be, from who you have been to who you will be.  And while it hopefully stirs in you a sense of hope and excitement for what may be, it will for sure feel disorienting and like those growing pains you had when you were 12 years old.  

We want each of our interns to know that this is an essential part of following the way of Jesus... not just once... but again and again in our lives.  And the eight weeks of the internship works as a kind of catalyst to opening us up to this part of life w/ Jesus.  If that can happen in the lives of each intern, we are very grateful and feel they will move on from QuadW mi w/ eyes and ears and hearts all the more attuned to how God is at work in and around them, how they are called and sent to be a part of God's work of making all things new!  

 

Summer 2017 is HERE!

Our Pine Bluff site is off and running.  Elkhart starts today, a few others will be rolling by the end of the week and then by the end of the first full week in June we'll have around 80 young adults living and serving in 10 communities across the US.  

Please join us in praying for the intern teams as they come together... that  they would be one w/ Christ, one w/ each other, and one in mission and ministry in and among their communities and neighbors.  

Pine Bluff QuadW mi 2017 Team - Getting started w/ a weekend away for team building and sharing w/ one another as they begin a summer of living and serving!  Thankful for Pastor Natasha's leadership and deep investment!! 

Pine Bluff QuadW mi 2017 Team - Getting started w/ a weekend away for team building and sharing w/ one another as they begin a summer of living and serving!  Thankful for Pastor Natasha's leadership and deep investment!! 

Intern Interview - Braxton Bush

We'll have a new edition of the QuadW mi Newsletter rolling out in just a few days!  In the meantime here's an interview conversation Tony had w/ QuadW mi Dallas Intern - Braxton Bush.  Check it out... 

Braxton Bush is 22 years old and a Senior at Tuskegee University studying Psychology.  He served in QuadW Dallas last summer and will be returning to serve there again this summer.  We’re grateful for Braxton’s leadership and passion to serve… and that he took time to do this interview with Tony!  

Braxton Bush is 22 years old and a Senior at Tuskegee University studying Psychology.  He served in QuadW Dallas last summer and will be returning to serve there again this summer.  We’re grateful for Braxton’s leadership and passion to serve… and that he took time to do this interview with Tony!  

T: Share a story of an interaction or conversation that has stuck with you. 

B: Getting to know the kids over the summer, I gave them nick-names based on the best parts of their character and the potential I saw in them.  I wanted to help them to see that in themselves and to know how God saw them and loved them.  Seeing the way this made them so happy - this really sticks with me, how I can make a difference.   

T: What would you say was the hardest but most rewarding part of the QuadW mi experience?  

B: Coming together and living together with interns from all over with different backgrounds and experiences and having to learn how to let the mission and gaol of sharing God’s love with the kids.  That was challenging, but really powerful to get to see how we could come together.   

T: During the summer that you were together we witnessed the shooting of several African American men across the country and the shooting of police officers right there in Dallas.  What was it like for you to experience that together as an intern team? 

B: For me personally - as an African American, and as a human being, it was something where I felt like, even though I wasn’t there for the civil rights movement, it was like we continue to experience the strife of that and I feel how important it is for me and for all of us. 

T: How has QuadW mi helped to shape your understanding of what it means to be the church or to be a Christian? 

B: It’s about going out, discipling people where they are.  We ARE the church!  We have to build the bridge to the community.  I think I just saw how big that is for so many churches - to remember that!  The church is the people who go out, not the building.   

T: What is something you took with you from your summer with QuadW mi? 

B: A spirit of humbleness.  To learn not to judge a book by its cover, not to judge too quickly just when a situation doesn’t look like you thought it would.  Don’t doubt God just cause something is different than you thought it would be.  Look for God’s purpose right there.  Look for God’s meaning in it.  And this helps you to be able to live and enjoy life now and the people God puts around you.  

T: How has the QuadW mi helped you with your sense of calling?  

B: I’ve been doing youth ministry for about 6 years now.  Through the summer I gained more passion and energy for sharing the gospel and for wanting to be in people’s lives to make a difference.  Once this summer I was given the chance to preach in front of the Spanish speaking congregation there in Dallas.  I don’t speak Spanish, so I was nervous about how people would receive the message, receive the words God had given me.  But afterwards this guy, I’d say he was in his 50’s, came up to me and told me that he was really grateful for the word and that when he grew up he wanted to be like me.  And that just blew me away.  Here’s this guy twice my age and he saw in me wisdom and maturity that he wanted. And so I think for me its really about getting beyond my place of comfort and letting God keep doing work in new areas of my life.    

Moving Into the Neighborhood

Our QuadW mi partners in Elkhart, IN at Lifeline Youth Ministries shares the story of how they continue the long, slow, difficult and beautifully transformative work of seeing the gospel be embodied and take root in a place.  We are so thankful for Darrell and Caleb and their team there... it's a gift to have such good friends and partners as we bear witness to God's work of making all things new!  

http://www.elkharttruth.com/hometown/elkhart/lifeline-youth-ministries-director-starts-transitional-housing-initiative-in-elkhart/article_e0691bd1-cc7c-56c6-be8c-267aca5c9b98.html  

New QuadW Site - Riverside, CA

We are excited for the beginning of a new partnership and a new QuadW mi site for the summer of 2017 - Riverside, CA.  Riverside is located outside of LA.  Our partners there are Alfredo and Carrie Cesar. They met in Dallas atPerkins School of Theology over 30 years ago and are now Pastors at Arlington United Methodist Church, in the Riverside community.  

Carrie & Alfredo Cesar  - QuadW Riverside Site Directors

Carrie & Alfredo Cesar  - QuadW Riverside
Site Directors

They have a long history of working with families, blending missional style, spiritual growth and community development.  Their call to be a part of God's mission in the world has led them to serve in Mexico, Denver, Phoenix, Long Beach, Garden Grove, and now Riverside.  They have been in ministry in a variety of different ways!  The Cesars are dedicated to helping families in the Riverside-Arlington community to practice Christ’s teachings of loving God and loving others. They have helped the Arlington UMC turn an old but charming education building into a second home for the neighborhood. It is a community family center called “The Heart & Soul House”. 

The family center hosts events and classes for all ages.  This will be the primary place of mission and ministry for the QuadW interns serving there this summer.  

We are filled with gratitude for the ways God lets us partner with such gifted and passionate disciples of Jesus as the Cesars!

QuadW 9 Month Residency in KC

Here, Josh Shepherd, QuadW KC Site Director shares about the development and goals of the 9 month residency opportunity that he and his wife Tricia lead...

QuadW KC Residency Team - minus Josh :) 

QuadW KC Residency Team - minus Josh :) 

At Mission House in Kansas City, we started out in 2013 with the idea that we are to be a little Christian community, frequently inviting young people to come learn with us for a season about following Jesus in mission. Shortly afterwards, we hosted our first QuadW Summer Internship, and began experiencing firsthand how rewarding — and challenging — this work can be. At the same time and because of our situation as a permanent Christian community in a large urban house, we knew this would be a year-round cause for us, including the internship and extending beyond it.

So we began the concept of a 9-month residential training program following the shape and purpose of the 8-week internships. Now in our 4th year, we have partnered with and are receiving all kinds of wonderful support from the QuadW Foundation, so that what was once the Mission House Residency has been re-dubbed as the QuadW Residency. This re-naming is appropriate in several ways. For one thing, it calls attention to how the purposes of the Residency mirror the purposes of the Internship. For another, it continues to honor the legacy of Willie and the Tichenor family, who have gone to such incredible lengths to ensure opportunities for young adults to learn and be formed through an extended and dedicated time of Christian missional service.

This year, we are working closely with Don Woolley to build a Residency with appropriate structure and intentionality, so that everyone is on the same page about the different expectations and roles of our Residents and long-term community members. The basic requirement of the Residency is for everyone to live together in Christian community while committing a portion of our weekly hours (15-20) to local mission. Our goal is for this local mission to always be incarnational and vocational. Incarnational means that it responds to the actual situation around us in culturally and socially appropriate ways. Vocational means that we help our Residents go beyond volunteerism to find their own true calling from the Lord, and how this calling intersects with the gifts and needs of our actual neighbors.

One of our Residents, Morgan, is working with local leaders of color and police officers to understand the unique racial challenges present in our community. Her own experience as a young Black woman raised in a rural community has prompted her to seek out a deeper understanding of racial reconciliation and to apply it to her everyday life. Another Resident, Katie, recently finished an undergraduate degree in Cross-Cultural Studies, and has begun working with a local legal aid office to learn how to support immigrants and refugees in tangible, practical ways. She recently completed a certificate program allowing her to offer limited legal advice and assistance to immigrants in need. And there are many of those in our neighborhood and community.

These are just two concrete examples of the kinds of work our Residents pursue, while we make it our business to contribute to their ongoing formation as disciples of Jesus Christ. Together as a house, we worship, pray, and do other spiritual rhythms together, as we go about the often counter-cultural challenges of living as a Christian community. It is our hope that as we seek to be a powerful witness to our neighborhood that we will also continue to have many opportunities to invite young adults into this work. For it is only in the course of missional action that we learn what is really means to be sent as missionaries to wherever we are.

Written by Josh Shepherd.  Josh and Tricia live in the Mission House and are the site leaders of QuadW KC and lead the 9 mo. residency

Written by Josh Shepherd.  Josh and Tricia live in the Mission House and are the site leaders of QuadW KC and lead the 9 mo. residency

Gratitude + Mission

Don Woolley - Founder and National Director of the QuadW Missional Internship - reflects on summer 2016 with Gratitude for all God is doing... 

By the grace of God, the QuadW Missional Internship continues to grow across the country.  This summer, 86 interns served in nine sites, partnering with 63 different churches and organizations to serve over 2700 people. Wow!  In every way, it was an amazing year.
While I’m pleased with these numbers, what excites me most is the depth of transformation that happens in the lives of interns and those with whom they worked and served. Through this challenging experience, interns begin to see themselves and others in a new way. They come to understand their faith and the Church in terms of God’s mission in the world. And along the way, friendships are formed that will last a lifetime. None of this would have happened without the faithful perseverance of interns, strong leadership at each Site, and the generosity of those who gave of their resources and time.  

We are especially grateful for the QuadW Foundation of Dallas. They took a chance on us nine years ago, and continue to encourage us with their ongoing support.

 Thank you to everyone who worked so hard, and gave so much to make 2016 our best year yet!  

We are so grateful for Don's leadership and vision!  And now we join him in turning our attention toward what is out ahead of us!  The mission continues to develop, take root, reach further and deeper.  We have opportunities for more than 100 college-age young adults to live and serve in our 10 sites across the US.  And our 2017 APPS ARE NOW AVAILABLE!  

Join in God's mission of making ALL things NEW! 

SUMMER SHARE - QUADW KANSAS CITY

Today's post comes from QuadW Kansas City intern, Lexi Smith.  Lexi is a sophomore at Auburn University, from Wichita, KS.  I asked her to share a mid-way point reflection on her time serving in KC & living in the Mission House.  Check it out... 

A little more than halfway through the internship- it’s been quite the adventure.

During our week we primarily work with two organizations: Avenue of Life and The Urban Farming Guys. Tuesdays and Thursdays we are leading a kids’ camp. We are split up with different subjects and age groups- I am with about ten children aged 8-12. We eat our meals with the kids, we do projects with them, encourage them to memorize Scripture, and love on them in any way we can. The other days we are working at an urban farm. A lot of our work consists of harvesting various vegetables and fruits, weeding, planting, watering, washing, weighing, and bagging produce. We get to be outside and get our hands dirty and bless the farm manager, Anna (who is 6 months pregnant).

Urban Farming Guys Garden

Urban Farming Guys Garden

On the weekends, we have a group discussion about our Gospel readings for the week, and on Mondays we meet with our accountability and mentor groups, as well as reflect over our online content and week. I absolutely love that everything we do here is focused on living in community. It’s been challenging in ways I expected as well as ways I didn’t expect, but it’s pushed me to love in the face of annoyances, growth through discomfort and stretching, and closer to the heart of God. I love that I get to interact with a diverse group of people, hear different opinions, learn from other’s experiences, and do life with some awesome people who are pursuing God in ways that make me long to deepen my own relationship with Him. It’s certainly not easy or always fun, but it’s been challenging in ways that draw me into a better understanding of others and myself. I’ve learned how God feels about me, how He is at work, and what it means to pursue Him.

KC Mission House - where interns live & serve together

KC Mission House - where interns live & serve together

By this point in the internship, the glamour of my expectations for the summer have definitely worn off, but I feel like I’m in a place where though I feel incredibly challenged and oftentimes exhausted, God is working in me.   

- Lexi Smith

Lexi Smith - and some tomatoes from the garden

Lexi Smith - and some tomatoes from the garden

Summer Share - QuadW Opelika

QuadW Opelika Team - gathered at Hosanna House

QuadW Opelika Team - gathered at Hosanna House

Throughout the summer we'll bring you updates from some of our interns and site leaders from our nine sites across the US.

Today Anne Louise Pass shares w/ us.  Anne Louise is one of the QuadW Opelika interns.  She's blogging about her experience of being on mission w/ God and you can read about it here...  

Front Porch Talks and All the Children

Spotlight on a QuadW Partner - Kansas City, Kansas Mission House

[Over the next few posts you'll hear from Josh Shepherd, who leads our QuadW Kansas City efforts and who, along with his wife, Tricia, lives in Christian community WITH our QuadW interns and others who are involved in the work God is doing in and through the Mission House.  Listen to Josh share the story of God weaving together this beautiful Kingdom work....] 

Our Story & The Mission House Story: The Intersection

The house that is now Mission House was built in 1910 near downtown Kansas City, Kansas. Today, the surrounding community is multi-cultural, consisting mostly of a Hispanic/Latino population. Next is a large African-American community, while several blocks away are large clusters of refugee communities, mostly from Bhutan and Burma. Many refugees also live close to the Mission House, and their presence is a welcome and vibrant contribution to the recently-waning vitality of our neighborhood. I want to share a little about how we came to live here, at an address that often elicits puzzled looks from locals in-the-know, but one in which we happily call home.

I always start with Sam McCord, because it all was started by Sam McCord. By the time Sam, a fellow white guy in his early 30s like me, stepped inside the house ten years ago, it had been abandoned for years and was a home for raccoons. A KCK resident by birth, Sam first had the dream of opening a Mission House as a training center for young people to come and live together and serve the local community. So he bought the house for $30,000 and with the support of a large suburban congregation called Westside Family Church, he invested $90,000 in the renovation with the conviction that it would one day be filled by young people on a transformational journey together. Before that dream could be realized, Sam and his new wife had to move out for reasons beyond their control. The house sat empty once again, and the Mission House vision was in peril.

This was in 2012. At that time, I didn’t know what was next for me, having recently transitioned from my work on staff at a large suburban Methodist church. My mandate there had been to “reach young adults”, a task that I pursued wholeheartedly at a time when my generation was leaving the church in droves. This effort meant trying to understand what exactly it would mean to reach a younger generation, and why exactly they were leaving. Did reaching them mean convincing them to attend our weekly worship gatherings, or was there something much deeper at the heart of their departure? Through sustained observation and careful reading, I began to suspect that trendy buildings and better coffee were not the answer to the question that I now knew would be central to my life’s work.

During that time, I had the opportunity to lead many “mission trips” to places ranging from Galveston to Guatemala. On these trips, I saw first-hand how action and service made young people come alive in ways I had never witnessed in the events and classes it was my job to promote. I, too, was changed — especially by Guatemala — and began learning Spanish after realizing the tragedy of not being able to communicate with Guatemalans or the millions of Spanish-speakers back home.

Of course, my wife, Tricia was already way ahead of me. She had earned a Spanish degree in college long before she met me, and was already working exclusively with Spanish-speaking families in the Parents as Teachers program. Her cross-cultural passion and enthusiasm for this work was something I’d always admired about her, but it was only when I took to learning Spanish that I began to understand the nature of our shared call. Now, Tricia and I both love and live for engaging with the many cultures of Latin American and Hispanic people. I realize the danger of such a broad comment, but it’s the only way I know to speak of this cross-cultural passion that seems to have emerged from our relationship together. We see this passion as the work of God in our lives, and now seek actively to embody it in the concrete reality of our daily lives together.

Josh & Tricia Shepherd - Mission House Leaders & QuadW KC Site Directors

Josh & Tricia Shepherd - Mission House Leaders & QuadW KC Site Directors

Eventually, we joined a Spanish-speaking Methodist congregation, which is our church to this day. And we began exploring more and more the nature of our shared vocation and where that might lead us. One night in particular in 2012, we sat at the table for a serious conversation. Our suburban apartment lease would be up soon, and we wanted to be as thoughtful and specific as possible about where we should live. Before us was the simple question of where our combined gifts, talents, and passions would most align with the community around us. We knew there was important work to be done in the suburbs, but acknowledged that we were not naturally suited to it. So at that table we began to articulate with specificity what such a place might look like — agreeing that it would ideally be urban, economically poor, and mostly Hispanic. Knowing many neighborhoods like that around Kansas City, but not sure which specific one was for us, we said a prayer and left it at that.

One week later, two mentors of mine, who now serve on our board, shared with me about the Mission House vacancy. They sensed it might be a perfect fit for Tricia and I, and encouraged us to consider moving in and continuing Sam’s work there. I immediately agreed, and after 5 minutes on the phone with Tricia, so did she. As a result, we moved to the Mission House in September, 2012, not exactly sure what would happen, but committing to take one step at a time together in our new place.

It is now three years later, and we have since lived with around 50 college-aged and other assorted folks, for as little as 8 weeks and as long as 2 1/2 years. Our housemates have been White, Black, Hispanic, Bhutanese refugees, African students, Brazilian, Trinidadian, and Asian-American. Much of this diversity is largely thanks to our partnership with QuadW, which began about 6 months after we moved into the Mission House. I cannot stress enough how providentially aligned our lives and our callings now seem to be. It is not easy by any means, but living with and seeking personally transformational opportunities for such a diverse and international group of young people is simply our sweet spot together.

And because of this, what we are doing has never been just about the summers. Where we live, there are year-round opportunities for mutually-transformational service work, and we have structured our lives and the Mission House organization around this permanent endeavor. In addition to the incredibly fruitful 8-week summer internships, we offer a 9-month residential program with content mirroring that of the internships, as well as opportunities for the right people to commit even longer-term.

Where Are They Now... (part 3 of 3)

Earlier this month we heard from Wes & Charsy Anderson about their personal experience serving as QuadW (3.0) interns.  First we heard from Charsy, then from Wes.  Today they share w/ us, in their own words, a bit about what's happening with them now & how what began w/ QuadW continues to play out in their lives and ministries...  

On June 29, 2013 we got married. It was in my 3rd summer (Wes), and my 1st summer (Charsy) at Quad W that we had met. We now live in DeFuniak Springs, FL where I (Wes) serve as Student Minister at First Methodist Church, and where I (Charsy) serve as a reading tutor at West DeFuniak Elementary school. We have just moved into our first home, and are expecting the arrival of Laila Grace Anderson in early April.

Our lives were turned upside down by the Quad W internship, and not just because we met each other, although we definitely feel like that was a plus! The relationships that we built while serving as interns have lasted the test of time. Half of our wedding party was made up of interns, all of our mentors were at the wedding, and two of them officiated the ceremony. We still keep in contact with some of the kids we served, and have seen some of them go on to go to college, have babies, and get jobs serving others in Jesus' name.

The Quad W internship has been the single most transformative experience of our lives. Because of our 5 summers serving as interns (combined), our theology, perspective, and understanding of different cultures has been reshaped and informed. Through our experiences as a part of the program we were both recalibrated around the person of Jesus, and the life that he call us to live, and are doing our best to live in the messiness of that calling each day. The challenges of being an intern caused our faiths to grow like never before, and there is no experience we would recommend to college students more highly. Above, Charsy wrote that she applied to be an intern with Quad W because she “wanted to do something that mattered”. Because of Quad W, we did, we have, and we are.

Where Are They Now... (part 2 of 3)

Earlier this week we began sharing the stories of Wes & Charsy Anderson.  We started with Charsy sharing how the experience of being a QuadW intern impacted her life with God's grace and love and mission. Today we continue by letting Wes share, in his own words, what QuadW means to him... 

hereyagotonyjeck.jpg

As the son of a United Methodist pastor, I grew up in church. From the time I was teething, I was there every time the doors were open. At the age of seven, I repeated a prayer inviting Jesus to come into my heart and be my personal Lord and Savior. I also did so at 9, and at 10, then once again at 13 just to be extra sure I wouldn't spend eternity burning in Hell. From what I had heard, Hell sounded pretty lame. I was born in Pensacola, FL but moved around a bit. The summer before my freshman year in high school, my family moved to Clanton, AL. It was later that summer while on a youth retreat that I heard the Gospel explained in a new way. I had always known and believed that Jesus died on the cross for my sins and had risen from the dead so that I could have eternal life. What I hadn't always understood was that the eternal life he died and rose to grant me wasn't just about Heaven and Hell. Though I had prayed to accept Jesus, that prayer alone hadn't resulted in me looking or acting a whole lot more like Jesus than I did before. I certainly believed in the work Jesus had done on my behalf, but in truth, could hardly say that I was actively following him, or that I understood what it meant to allow the Holy Spirit to make me a new creation. After that retreat, God had my attention. Not only did I profess him with my lips, but I began to seek his face, to listen for his voice, and to act on what I heard. No longer was my life compartmentalized. I didn't have a “spiritual life” and a school/social/academic/family life anymore. I just had a life, one that was given by Christ, transformed by the Holy Spirit, and that sought to bring glory to my heavenly Father. Throughout high school, my faith continued to grow.

During my freshman year at Huntingdon College in Montgomery, AL while on a beach retreat with our campus ministry, I heard Rev. Don Woolley talk about what it meant to be the church. He spoke of being Jesus' hands and feet in the world, and about how the church was created by Jesus to accomplish his mission in the world. He said that he would be starting an internship for college students the upcoming summer in which they would get to study what it means to be the church while carrying out Jesus' mission in the world, living in community with one another and serving in areas of extreme poverty. Something within me came alive as he talked, and I knew that Quad W was where I wanted to be. 

For the next three summers I had the pleasure of living and serving in the Whistler neighborhood of Prichard, AL, one of the poorest areas in Alabama, and one that is marked by crime and drugs. Along with a few others on my team, I helped run a day camp for kids and another for youth, in which young people were encouraged, loved, taught scripture, fed, tutored, given self-esteem, equipped with life skills, and mentored. The children and youth we served each had a story, and many of them faced hardships on a daily basis that most don't face in a lifetime. We used our day camp as a home base from which to integrate ourselves into the community in which we lived, and as a tool to help the United Methodist Church we were serving reconnect with their neighborhood.

When asked to describe my time at Quad W, I can only say that it scarred me.

The relationships I built with those whom I served and served alongside, as well as with my mentors, the intense study of God's Word, the late nights and early mornings, the tears, the hard conversations, the moments of elation and great joy, the revelation of who I was created to be, the community, the accountability, and the communion with God's Spirit all served to leave an indelible mark on my soul that will never go away.

It is because of my time at Quad W that I understand what it looks like to live in a fallen world as a member of God's holy church. It's because of Quad W that I have such a clear image of who Jesus is, and of what it means to participate with him in carrying out his mission in the world. It's because of Quad W that I have a holy discontent for a church who has become self-centered and forgotten the very reason that she was created, and it's because of Quad W that I've made my life about partnering with folks who share this in common and trying to inspire others to come awake to this beautiful reality. When I returned to school after my first summer at the internship, I did so a different man. I felt as though I was returning from war as, for me everything had changed, but few around me saw what I now saw or understood what I had experienced.

Quad W without a doubt changed my life, and I have never been the same.

Where Are They Now...

From time to time we'll get to hear from former QuadW (3.0) interns, in their own words, about their experience as interns, what it meant to them, how it has formed and shaped the way they practice their faith and live as missionaries in their current context.  We begin with a two-for-one deal - Wes & Charsy Anderson. We are so grateful for their willingness to let us share their story and the way we continue to see Christ formed deeply in them.  

Former QuadW (3.0) Interns - Mr. & Mrs. Wes & Charsy Anderson

First, we'll let Charsy tell her story -  

I was born on a little island in Micronesia. My family moved to the United States when I was about four years old. We lived in Pensacola, Florida for most of my childhood. Growing up, life was pretty hard. My parents fought a lot, and eventually got divorced. When I was 14, my mom left without notice and moved to Hawaii. I didn't see her again or speak to her often until she moved back to Pensacola ten months later. My dad was an alcoholic. He was a good father and a good man when sober, but throughout his life, he struggled to stay on the right path. For my brothers and I there was little stability at home, and for all intents and purposes, far too often I wound up playing the role of mom for brothers. I would go to church every now and then with family, but I never really understood what it meant or what the point of all of it was. When I was in high school, I began attending a small Southern Baptist Church where my dad worked as a building superintendent. I remember asking him if I “had to go.” He told me I didn't, but soon I started going anyway. I was drawn in by the love and kindness of the church. In high school, I made the decision to follow Jesus. But, it wasn't until I got to college that I started to understand what following Jesus was really all about. As my first year of college was coming to an end, I really didn't want to go home for the summer. Honestly, I didn't have a whole lot to go home to, and though I missed my brothers, I had enjoyed being away from the chaos and drama while at school. I wanted to spend my summer doing something that mattered. I heard about the Quad W internship from my best friend, and decided to apply at the last minute. Unbelievably, I got accepted! 

 

I don't think I really understood at that point exactly what the summer would hold. Upon arriving at Quad W, I found myself on a team with 3 other college students serving at a local church in Mobile, Alabama. At New Life United Methodist, we planned, coordinated, and ran a kid's summer camp. When registration day for camp came, my team members and I had no idea that by the end of the day we would have over 100 children signed up to attend our camp. Throughout the summer we taught the children about Jesus, took them on field trips, and got to know them. With so many children and so few of us interns to go around, the summer definitely held its challenges, but even through the tough moments, we saw God working in the children , the community, and in our team. I applied to be an intern with Quad W because I wanted to do something that mattered, but I really had no idea how God would grow and transform me over those two summers. I had no idea that in those days, God would restore some brokenness in me, and that he would draw me closer to Him. I had no idea that my whole world would be turned upside down by living a new, messy, and inconvenient life that is only found in Jesus. I never knew that the world I had lived in was so small until I experienced Quad W. I never realized that a room full of 5 and 6 year olds could capture my heart. I never realized that people who had absolutely nothing in common, other than loving Jesus, could become such great friends. It wasn't just a summer experience, it was a defining moment in my faith; one that will always stay with me as a reminder of the beauty of a messy life lived for Jesus.

(Stay Tuned for Part 2 of the Wes & Charsy Story...) 

 

Relationally Serve

Tis the season before the season of celebrating God's coming to us in Jesus.  Advent.  That's the four weeks that lead us to Christmas.  Advent is important, for several reasons, one of which is to name for us the significance of being people who wait well for God's coming to us.  Advent, well attended to, isn't just about baby Jesus born long ago.  Advent means coming.  And we are called to live as those who anticipate and prepare the way for Christ's coming again.  

But we do this, in large part, by walking carefully through the Scriptures that have to do with the longing, hope, failure, waiting, preparation of Christ's first coming to us.  

Again and again, as I give attention to these Scriptures, I am amazed at the way that God has come to us in Jesus.  That God's salvation, rescue, restoration of humanity could not, or at least would not, be accomplished at arm's length.  But in flesh and blood and by entering deeply into the life and experience and culture of a particular people in a particular place and time.

This is what we mean when we say "incarnation."  And it is to this that we are called, again and again, as we try to determine faithful ways to live as disciples of this same Jesus who put on flesh and lived among us.  This is what we are talking about when we use the word "incarnational."  We're saying that our best clue as to how to join in God's work in the world is by entering deeply into the lives and needs and situations and hurts and joys of others.  

This is what we invite our interns into.  This is what we mean when we say, "relationally serve."  And so it can be slow and messy and complicated and difficult work.  But because this is God's way among us in Jesus it is also, at the very same time, beautiful, life-giving, creative, restorative, & joyful work.  

And it is to this work that we invite you!  If you're a college-age student and are interested in relationally serving as an intern w/ us, you can find out more info HERE.  Or you can find the summer 2016 application HERE

QuadW Intern Spotlight - Ashley Tippit

Ashley is a  sophomore at Birmingham Southern.  She served w/ our QuadW Portland Team this last summer.  She shares, in her own words, some of what being a QuadW intern has meant to her.  Check it out... 

My experience with QuadW taught me to rely on my faith as my cornerstone and trained me for a life of service with Christ. On a daily basis I was asked to keep scripture in mind when I interacted with kids, adults that I worked with, and my fellow interns. The work I did at my site challenged me to focus on outreach and being adaptable to the needs of others. Frequently I was asked to reflect the love of God, but more frequently I received God’s love through others. Specifically, my experience with the Portland site was enriching due to the nature and abundant space to meditate on scripture. QuadW molded me throughout the summer and prepared me for a freed life of obedience to God.

            Upon my arrival in Portland, I was dropped off in the basement of a church where I was joined by eight other interns. This would be our summer home. Immediately the conversations were open and full of laughter. We wanted to know each other and further our ability to communicate. The space the interns created together was homely and, though living in close quarters led us to occasionally stepping on each other’s toes, we were pushed by each other to discuss our similarities and differences through love. Living in a Christian community requires sacrifice, but the rewards of feeling loved and communicating with others openly are worth the small space.

            The site I was at was called Art in the Park and it was divided into two parts. For part of our time at this site, students came to a church where they were exposed to classical music, multimedia and professional artistic materials. At this site I spent one-on-one time assisting these students with expressing themselves and learned a lot through their reflections. The other aspect of this site was going out to parks and doing crafts with the children there. Through the site I learned many leadership skills and the importance of a servant heart.

Ashley Tippit (standing directly to the right of the sign) and the rest of the QuadW Portland team on one of their Spiritual Retreat Fridays

Ashley Tippit (standing directly to the right of the sign) and the rest of the QuadW Portland team on one of their Spiritual Retreat Fridays

            Portland, OR as a site made an impact on my QuadW experience and enriched my understanding of scripture. Our Fridays were spent out in nature, reflecting on passages of the Bible and our interpretations based on our experiences. Through these days I not only was able to see the beauties of the Columbia River Gorge, Cannon Beach and Mount Hood, but I saw the spirit of God in my surroundings. These invaluable days encouraged me to spend quiet time alone with God and through these moments I learned many things about scripture and about myself.

            My summer of working with QuadW was an incredible experience. I learned a great deal through living in a Christian community, leading children at my site and reflecting on scripture through nature. QuadW was more than just an internship to me, it was a time to step away from where I was comfortable and to be challenged daily to serve God and show love. I am so grateful for my experience with QuadW and I appreciate the time spent in the Christian community, at my site and in nature. God used this experience to teach me many things and to train me on how to follow God’s will and reach out to others.

 If you're a college-age young adult interested in serving as a QuadW intern in one of our 9 different sites you can start the application process HERE

Summer 2016 Apps NOW Available!

As you're considering what you'll do this coming summer and wondering what God is up to in your life - what it looks like to let God's work, God's mission give fuller form and shape to the trajectory of your life - you're invited to give the QuadW Missional Internship a serious look.  QuadW mi (Missional Internship) is an 8 week paid summer internship, located in nine cities across the US.  The internship places young adults in the context of intentional Christian community and invites them (through rhythms of action and reflection) to learn to live as missionaries in the ordinary, everyday places they find themselves.  That missionary work looks different in each city, but often finds us coming along side children & their families in underserved communities meeting needs and extending the love, compassion and good news of Jesus!  

If you have the sense that God's work and call in your life is stirring in you to reach out beyond what you've known and experienced to this point, we think you'll want to check the QuadW Missional Internship out... 

Here's some more details about the internship.

Here's a link to the 2016 application.  

Help us spread the word!

Pine Bluff & Little Rock Sites Tell the Story...

QuadW interns provide summer enrichment

POSTED ON AUG 31, 2015 on the Arkansas UMC Conference Website - shared with permission by Rev. Natasha Murray-Norman.

By Martha Taylor
Special Contributor

It was Willie’s legacy that brought them here.

Willie Tichenor, a young man from Texas struck down at age 19 by cancer. And because Willie was passionate about missions, two Arkansas communities, Pine Bluff and Little Rock, have experienced new vitality this summer through the transformational missional internships established in Willie’s memory.

Since 2009, the What Would Willie Want (QuadW) Foundation, administered by Tichenor’s family and friends, has funded missional internships for young college students.

The internships are unique in that they pair young adults, churches and community partners in a cooperative effort to meet a need of the community in which the interns serve. The 13 interns serving this summer in Arkansas were partnered with four churches: First UMC and St. Luke UMC, both in Pine Bluff, and Oak Forest UMC and Geyer Springs UMC in Little Rock.

Hakeem Wortham, 21, a sophomore math major at Philander Smith College, served as a QuadW intern at Oak Forest UMC Little Rock.  PHOTO BY JANA GREEN

The Rev. Natasha Murray-Norman has administered the internship program for two years, with this being the second year for Pine Bluff and the first for Little Rock. The Little Rock sites also benefit from the assistance of the Rev. Jana Green, director of the Wesley Foundation at the University of Arkansas Little Rock.

“The interns experience living and working together, creating programs that benefit the community and learning how each of their gifts and graces can be used for the Kingdom of God,” said Murray-Norman. “They connect with one another and the people in the community and they are in relationship with the churches in which they live and work.”

Three sites served children in kindergarten to sixth grade; one site served children up to ninth grade. Murray-Norman estimated that the four sites saw an average of 100 children per day.

Interns’ tasks

All QuadW interns are responsible for developing, promoting and implementing their programs based on the needs of the communities in which they are placed. The Arkansas interns chose to focus their efforts on providing summer enrichment for children living in the neighborhoods around each of the four churches.

The interns at First UMC Pine Bluff joined forces with an existing program at the church, the Boys and Girls Club of Jefferson County, while the other three locations created stand-alone summer programs.

“It’s been a perfect partnership,” said Nyeshia Aldridge, CEO of the Boys and Girls Club of Jefferson County. “They have never worked with kids but you’d never be able to tell. I wish I had them year-round.”

A QuadW intern is expected to participate in four key areas: contextual living, where the interns live in the same communities in which they serve; reconnecting the local church to its mission field; participating in Christian community, where students from diverse backgrounds do the hard work of self-discovery and challenge assumptions and stereoptypes; and leadership. The internship expands the students’ leadership skills through one-on-one mentoring, group worship, small group participation and journaling.

While this was the first summer for the program in Little Rock, First UMC Pine Bluff was happy to repeat their 2014 experience hosting the interns by providing housing on the top floor of the church, where an unused portion of the building was converted into living quarters. Church members provide meals, or the interns go to various other churches to eat meals provided for them. Little Rock interns were housed next door to Oak Forest UMC in a home owned by the church.

“I was a little shaky living with the other interns,” said Hakeem Wortham, a sophomore student from Philander Smith College. “You know sometimes people clash, but this has been one of the best summers of my life.”

Looking to the future

The Rev. Don Woolley, director of the QuadW Summer Missional Internship program and a United Methodist elder, couldn’t be more pleased with having QuadW interns in Arkansas. Having spent his youth in and around Pine Bluff, he recognized the potential for involving young adults in service to the community. He was grateful when his grandmother, a member at First UMC Pine Bluff and “number one fan of Rev. Murray-Norman” introduced them.

“It’s been a win for everyone,” said Woolley. “The work that the interns are doing is exactly the kind we want them to have. All the goals we have for a site, we have more than met those. Everything has gone very, very well.”

Funding for the internships was provided by the Arkansas Conference and the Southeast District as well as the QuadW Foundation. Murray-Norman says the partnership has been invaluable in helping the interns make the most of their experience.

Both Murray-Norman and Woolley expressed their shared desire for the QuadW internship program to expand in 2016, with additional interns and locations.

“Arkansas has been one of our strongest partners,” Woolley said. “The buy-in from the churches and the Conference reflect the kind of partnerships that make the program work. I would like to see it grow and expand.”

“I’d like to include more churches and do more for the children,” said Murray-Norman. “I hope we can seek other ways to partner with more campus ministries and recruit top-notch students like we had this summer, who have made a difference in the lives of their students as well as the lives of their churches."