January Update

H2O Cincinnati's Staff Team. From left to right is Cassi Rohlfer, myself, Grant Rohlfer, Rob Furia, Daniel Pirkle, Laura Joy, Sarah Howard, Ben Howard, Kyle Barta, Lindsay Barta

When I left Cincinnati at the beginning of last May to support raise I had no idea what the process would look like and was rather ignorant of the things God could do with the such a short amount of time. I did not go into support raising with the mindset that God had total control over the process and what it would lead me to. In short, I was rather prideful that support raising would be fairly easy (news flash, it wasn't) and I didn't mentally nor spiritually give God the space to move during the process until he forcibly shoved his way in. And, as I mentioned in my last update, this change eventually led him to call me both to ministry and to education, which was a field I had long ago dismissed due to almost all of my mom's side of the family being in education.

So, I did not return to Cincinnati the way I expected to return; being full-time staff and able to contribute all of my time to H2O. Taking classes and only being part-time staff greatly hindered those plans, but I think that's for the best, which, of course, is evidence to it not being my plan but His. On top of that, returning to Cincy was not easy. After living in Ashland for eight months surrounded by family and being out of the college bubble, I had grown accustomed to life in a small town. While this probably doesn't need to be stated, Cincinnati is vastly different than Ashland and jumping straight back into classes, ministry, and the hectic lifestyle of living in a big city was a shock for the first week until I was able to settle in.

As for the ministry, the first two weeks were less than ideal, but seeing how God worked through them was incredible. With winter finally deciding to show itself, the past two Sunday's have been inflicted with snow and ice, making driving on Sunday morning almost impossible in Cincy due to the hills and the fact that the city of Cincinnati responds to winter storms about as well as Texas would. H2O, however, chose to not cancel service either week for two main reasons. The first of which is that being a campus church most of our attendees are students who walk anyhow. Secondly, as a staff team, we feel like safety is prioritized way too much in the American church, leaving us with the mentality that we'll do anything God calls us to as long as it's safe, which is drastically different from the actual way we're called to follow Christ. God calls us to be bold and walking through the cold in order to worship the King of the Universe is such a small and insignificant sacrifice for an infinite God. Not being able to drive, though, led us to go without our usual sound equipment for worship forcing us to go with full acoustic sets. And while I wasn't able to be there for the first service of the semester, the one I was able to make it to was incredible and had roughly 126 people

Picture taken during the first service of the year, when we had no sound equipment and students had to trudge through snow to attend (we usually don't have the overhead lights on, but on top of not having sound equipment we also had no stage lights).

attend, which is nowhere near how many we usually get for Sunday's but with the weather was rather incredible. God used that service to impact lives. We could have had no instruments and he would have used it to impact lives, which just goes to speak how incredible our God is. Looking to the future, I honestly see these first two services impacting us as a church and how we approach worship. Our worship team is incredible, anyone who has ever attended one our services can attest to this and the sheer quality of musicians. But this quality has led to us placing a value on production, and with some of our worship team being students and others working full-time it's simply not feasible to keep up the large sets (two electric guitars, full drum kit, keyboard, bass guitar, vocalists, and the occasional cello). While this used to be more do able since we had a house we used for practices, we have since lost that house, which requires the worship team setting up every week and sound checking to even practice; making what used to be a three hour practice a five hour practice. These past two Sunday's have proven that we don't need that to have a quality H2O service, which I think was a fear of the worship leaders. A church service is about God and worshiping him. Nothing else.

Outside of church service, I have resumed my role of heading up the Men's Ministry, which I am praying will start out strongly on February 7th. I'll share more about how the meeting went in my next update, but please be praying for both the men's and the women's ministry meeting on that date. In addition, I have been assigned to the Marian-Spencer Lifegroup. All of our Lifegroups are named based on the dorm hall they take place in, so this Lifegroup is the one that encompasses Marian-Spencer and Scioto dorm halls. Already this Lifegroup has presented me with challenges that I have never before faced in ministry due to it being such a diverse Lifegroup in terms of spiritual knowledge. The best analogy I can think of to describe it is a teacher having to write lesson plans for a class at every level.

In addition we have also started advertising for our annual spring break trips. This year, we are having four distinct trips.

1) Beach Reach - This is a trip we do every year to Panama City Beach to share the gospel with the spring breakers who head there for alternative reasons.

2) Service Project - The location of this trip changes every year depending on where the need is the greatest. Last year, for instance, we went to Houston, Texas and the year before that to South Carolina for disaster relief. This year, ironically, the service project team is also headed to Panama City Beach to provide disaster relief.

3) Cincinnati Trip - While going on trips across the country are fun, they simply aren't feasible for everyone. Therefore, we always provide an opportunity in Cincinnati for students to take a part of that choose to (or have to because of their job/co-op) remain in the city.

4) Church Planting - The last option we have this year is one that is limited to a smaller group of people and also just happens to be the trip I will be attending. H2O Cincinnati is currently in the process of developing a team to send out for a church plant within the next couple of years. With this process, however, we also need a location. So, the purpose of the church planting trip is to visit a few campuses that have been on our hearts and pray about each one. As far as I know, we will be visiting The University of Kentucky, Louisville University, and Purdue University.

Prayer Requests: Adjusting to life back in Cincinnati, men's and women's times, Lifegroup, the guidance of the staff team (click the link for a detailed list of everyone on staff).

What I'm currently reading (outside of the Bible): The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss and The Bluest Eyes by Toni Morrison

Once again, I want to thank all of you who are supporting me either financially or via prayer through all of this as you are making it possible for me and the rest of H2O Cincinnati's staff team to reach the students at the University of Cincinnati. If you are not a part of my financial support team, I ask that you prayerfully consider joining me and my mission with H2O Cincinnati at a monthly amount by clicking on the "give now" button on the top right of your screen.

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