A Volunteer-led Ministry in ND

I love passing on practices and resources others find helpful through these weekly Coaching Tips. Here is the last week’s tip on Summer Survival.

Last Fall I heard what Jason Skjervem, MTL, Northern North Dakota Cru, was doing with a little school up near the Canadian border. I told the story in a Coaching Tip in December. Since it incorporates great strategic thinking, I thought it worth re-telling.

Read on for a great example of finding the right long-term indigenous leader and how Jason resourced him as he lives out the vision God gave him for his campus. Empowering such missional volunteers often means that others follow their example. That is definitely true here.

At Dakota College at Bottineau, in Bottineau, ND, population just over 6,000 and a stones throw away from Canada, there is a ministry that we partner with led by the DCB Assistant Athletic Director, who is also a football coach. Andre’ Mooney moved his family to  Bottineau from Phoenix to be closer to his wife’s family. According to Andre’, he was THE ethnic diversity in Bottineau as an African American man. He is an ordained minister, and a reserve chaplain for the United States Air Force as well. God obviously was moving a guy like him with his skill sets for a reason.

When he moved there 4 year ago, he looked at the 2 year college across the street from his house and thought “there has to be students there who need to hear about Jesus”. Being a pastor and with his skill sets for ministry, he decided to volunteer as an assistant football coach to build relationships with the students hoping to start a Bible study. The study started slow for the first two years, about 5-10 students, but last year God really launched it into a driving force on the campus.

Last fall, the school offered Andre’ the Assistant Athletic Director’s role. This is huge because any athletes at the school go through him. They also started a partnership with a football program in Miami, FL that allows many students who may not have a shot at “college ball” the chance to come to Bottineau and play for their 2 year program. Needless to say, Andre’ isn’t the only ethnic diversity anymore! His position has allowed him to have numerous conversations with these Miami students who are clearly out of their element in ND. He is also there for them when they are having problems, and has had many Gospel conversations. So much so, that last year, the weekly Bible study grew to over 50 students, and 13 of those were brand new Christians who heard the Gospel from “Coach”. Andre’ had the honor of baptizing 7 of them last spring at a local church. He will baptize 7 more guys this year. One of them is a football coach who moved from Miami to Bottinea to join their coaching squad.

Their ministry was already called “Elevate One” when I first met him 3 years ago. Not wanting to stop what they had going, I offered to come along side him and their ministry and equip and coach them with Cru materials. Having access to AIA Bible study material, CruPressGreen training and equipping articles and strategies, and access to our conferences and retreats has made a world of difference for them. Andre’ feels way more connected to collegiate ministry, and doesn’t feel alone knowing that we Cru staff are here for him. He and I Skype once a week, and talk via email and phone often as we have linked arms in ministry to students in Northern ND.

Finally, Elevate One caught the eye of a friend of Andre’s who is a pastor in Missouri. There is a small school in his town and he asked  Andre’ if he could model the Elevate One ministry on that campus. In September, they launched “Elevate One Fulton” and are excited for what is ahead. I am in contact with this new and excited college ministry leader in Missouri and he is more than thrilled to have access to the same Cru resources that Andre’ has in ND.

The Way Forward is messy at times. But when we see God doing stuff like this, it’s totally worth it!

Jason

I checked with Jason to find out how things have gone since I posted this the first time. He told me that they had a great Spring semester. André is moving this summer. So things will look different next year. Jason met with the student leadership team recently and they are ready for the year ahead.

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