Wednesday, February 27, 2013

...and after Winterfest!


Thank you for your support!  We had a great weekend and a surprise that built our faith and encouraged us more than we could have imagined!  Check it out!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Winterfest, 400+Students, Jesus Speaking!

I'm (Erin) leaving for our annual Spring Conference, Winterfest, tomorrow morning!
At Winterfest we will be training and equipping 400+ college students in Northern Illinois / Northwest Indiana. We provide nine different training modules that students select to attend for the weekend. Each year, this has been a powerful time for God to speak to students, for students to feel more connected to their fellowships, for some to make a life-time decision for follow Jesus, and for others commit to serving in leadership with InterVarsity.
Please join us in praying for Winterfest, February 22-24, 2013 
and the 400 plus students who will be attending.
Pray that the students would
  • have a transformational experience with God
  • be equipped to serve the Lord
  • commit to advancing the gospel on campus 
 Please also pray for:
  • the staff and volunteers who are teaching the tracks and leading small groups.
  • the administrative, teaching and technical preparations.
  • the Worship Team as they lead our corporate worship times.
  • our speaker, Dave Choi,that the Lord will speak powerfully through him.
And please pray especially that: 
  • the students who arrive as non-Christians would leave taking significant steps closer to Jesus.  
Many of our students need last minute financial help to get to Winterfest.  Would you consider giving a scholarship to cover the needs of these students?  The cost for one student is $120 - perhaps you could sponsor one or two students or a portion of one scholarship!  Click here to give!

We are eager to see what God will do this weekend. 
Thanks for praying and supporting our ministry.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

A Bigger Picture!

In addition to our primary role as campus staff at School of the Art Institute Chicago, part of our work has been with InterVarsity's National Arts Ministry! We wanted to share with you a story from the bigger picture of our work with InterVarsity, the artists we find across the country and the kind of transformation stories we pray for!

Jomar came to Carroll University this fall as an aspiring rapper sharing his life of alcohol, drugs, and partying through his music. He joined a Bible study with his fraternity brothers, and had an encounter with Jesus that forever transformed his life. He connected his rapping to his life of partying though, and decided that he couldn't continue writing music.

His friends from the study encouraged him to attend Cross Training and consider taking the track called God at Work in the Arts. He spent the weekend immersed in Scripture discussing why the arts are important and discussing what it would mean to use our artistic gifts to serve Jesus on campus. It was after the Saturday evening worship time that Jomar felt like God was calling him to put pen to paper and began to write.

On Sunday morning, he came ready to share the words God had inspired in him and drew a wall-sized version for the group to see! Jomar shared that he felt like God was saying that his art for rapping can now be used as something to bring glory to Him, and that he was excited to get back to writing even more to share.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Hi friends! 
Just wanted to send you all a brief hello and update before we head into a full summer of ministry at InterVarsity's Leadership Institute at Cedar Campus!  Thanks for your prayers for our family and our students and the other 125 students we will be ministering to over the month of July!
Summer Update from the Fosters from Dave and Erin Foster on Vimeo.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Jesus is Alive
He’s not in the tomb…He’s on the beach at Spring Break!
We brought Jesus to the same bar that would host MTV’s beach bash of 100 kegs, 500 gallons of mixed drinks, and 1,000 pizzas the next day.  This approach led to spiritual conversations with people who typically wouldn’t go near a church. This is a scene mostly missed by Christians, and our students reached out within it! This was a great example of what incarnational ministry can look like.
Back row, third from the left...that's Me!
Many college students’ spring breaks include road trips, sunburns and partying on the beach. This year I was part of a team of InterVarsity students and staff that experienced all of those. We participated in Soul Surf, an InterVarsity trip focused on equipping students in evangelism and sending them out to practice on the white sands of Panama City Beach, Florida. The beach was filled with beer pong tables dug into the sand, plenty of skin showing, and a house party atmosphere. This reputation made it a primary spring break destination and the perfect spot for our trip.

We creatively engaged those on the beach by giving away free pancakes, throwing pool parties and even hosting a live band playing at a bar. We used the “The Red Cup” proxĂ© display on spiritual thirsts to connect with the thousands of red cups on the beach. We tried to “go and be” instead of inviting the people to “come and see.” 

Supernatural Encounters
One night as we gave away free pancakes, two girls (I’ll call them Beth and Anna) walked by us barefoot in their bikinis, stumbling dangerously near the street.  After much coaxing, one of our partners got them to take our free pancakes. I grabbed some drinks for them and invited them to sit with me.  We had some conversations (that they talked thru drunk) about their lives and their backgrounds.  I discovered, like most of the people I met on the beach, they had a very churched background, but it was just motions.  During the conversation I learned that they had been walking for several miles already and after they told me where their hotel was, I knew they had a couple more miles to go.  I felt the nudge to offer them a ride home using one of the cars from our group.  I grabbed another student to go with me, Samantha from Northern Illinois University.  As we walked to the car, Anna tripped and fell into my arms.  We got them safely to the car and I decided to take the slow route to their hotel.  Samantha took over conversation and found some common ground in their upbringings and church backgrounds, particularly with Beth. 

When I finally pulled into their hotel’s roundabout, they both thanked us profusely for the ride.  Sensing that I couldn’t take the conversation anywhere else effective given how drunk they were, I asked if I could pray for them before they left.  They agreed and upon saying ‘Amen’ Beth had her door open, one foot out the door and tears streaming down her face.  I reached out for her from the drivers seat, “Are you crying?” I asked.  She wiped her nose and shook her head and as she leaned further out the door I felt the Holy Spirit remind me of the scripture from Luke 14 that we had been studying as a group that morning.  “Compel,” is all I heard and in that moment I became more bold than I normally am.  With some force I told her, “get back in the car and sit down!”  I still laugh at myself as I share this story…but she did! 

More quickly then she was headed out of the car she sat back down and looked at my eyes.  I asked her what her tears meant and she began to cry even more.  She poured out her heart with questions, “What are you doing here?  Why did you drive us home?  I didn’t expect this on my spring break trip. Who are you?”  I shared with her that I felt it was obvious God was trying to get her attention.  She told me she had just been in church on Wednesday before spring break and she simply cried through the service.  She had pushed that out of her mind determined to forget it in the fun of spring break.  But to me it was obvious that God was trying to get her attention and our meeting and his promptings on my heart to care for her were from His heart of compassion and love for her!  As I shared this with her, she asked me what she should do and I asked her if I could share the gospel with her again.  I knew she had heard it as a kid and even received Jesus as young child, yet it was clear she needed to hear it from where she sat now.  She needed to hear again of his love for her but also the reality of what separated her (what has separated all of us) from him in the first place.  She needed to hear about transferring her trust over to him.  She was eager to say yes again…she was convinced the God was pursuing her especially since he showed up on the beach, interrupting her spring break, when she thought she left him waiting at church just days before.  But I cautioned her eagerness.  I wanted to help her see that it wasn’t just another prayer and everything would be different…I trusted that she was indeed saved as a child but she hadn’t seen the life transformation because there wasn’t a life of discipleship after that.  Whatever it was in her story, the things of the world, her own choices, etc. had choked that out.  But Jesus was calling her back…not just for a momentary yes, but for a daily yes to follow him.  After more tear filled conversation about what that meant, Beth told God she was coming back to Him.  She could barely speak, whispering her prayers to him.

I’m not sure exactly when it happened, but it was as she prayed that I realized it--Beth was sober.  I was suddenly aware that my entire conversation with her was not with the drunk girl that entered the car…that girl needed at least the whole night, part of the next day, lots of water and food to sober up.  I can only give witness to the fact that the power of Jesus brought her to a place of sobriety to speak with her, to give her understanding and to draw her back to him.  Given Anna’s comforting and supportive presence I could only think he had done the same for her, making space for what He was doing in Beth’s life.

As we finished praying together, I felt the Holy Spirit speak to me again. “Shame,” he impressed on my heart.  Being a bit more bold, I simply told her, “Beth, I feel like God is telling me you still feel ashamed.”  Beth crumpled in tears, putting her head between her legs.  I made her look me in the eyes as I shared with her the heart of the Father, the one that has already received her and even pursued her until she came back despite what she had done.  She didn’t need to tell me what was weighing on her heart and her mind; as I shared with her the depth of God’s compassion for her and the reality of Jesus’ open arms to her with all the weight and shame she carried, I saw the burden lift from her shoulders and she sat a bit taller.  I warned her of our enemy who I have known all too well as my great accuser, a professional heaper of shame and she nodded as if truly recognizing him for the first time...he has a name, “liar.”   Samantha and I prayed over her again to be filled with the Holy Spirit, to be armed with the spiritual armor of God and for the strength to stand firm in the battle.

As she left our car for a final time Samantha and I sat in awe of the tangible presence of God in our car.  He had met Beth in a supernatural way and even had her friend Anna be a supportive presence!  I had had other conversation that week that were so discouraging because despite the hunger of the one friend, the other friend would mock our discussion and pull the friend away.  We watched Beth and Anna walk straight as an arrow back into their hotel, arms around one another.

Losing Control
I will likely never see Beth or Anna again in this life.  I have struggled to believe what happened in their lives and the lives of others on that beach was real.  I have felt like I needed to be in their lives – to walk this new reality out with them.  Yet, God has reminded me again and again that I was faithful for what He brought me to do in that time, bringing to mind the fact that he was pursuing them long before I was brought into the story and he will continue to nurture them long after I am out of their stories.  Don’t you wonder what heaven will be like?  Will I get to hear about the rest of Beth’s life?  How her college years may be lived differently?  How her new view of herself in God’s Kingdom influenced her choice of a spouse and how she raised her kids?  Or how in trusting God, she followed him into great opportunities for influence in business, education, politics or some other adventures?  Or maybe there will be more stories of struggle and hardship before the reality of her salvation impacts the way she lives her life here.

Whatever the case may be, my heart must rest in the goodness and sovereignty of my God.  I know that I followed my master’s instructions as the servant did in Luke 14 after the invited guests had not come to his great banquet.

‘Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.’ 22 “‘Sir,’ the servant said, ‘what you ordered has been done, but there is still room.’  23 “Then the master told his servant, ‘Go out to the roads and country lanes and compel them to come in, so that my house will be full.’

I, of course, have been impacted by our time on that beach.  I have already seen a new heart of compassion come to bear on the campuses I minister to and the neighbor kids we live among.  I have heard the now familiar call to compel them to come to the great banquet waiting for them more frequently and have seen the truth of Jesus’ words to his disciples in new light, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.  Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Winterfest Report!

To All the People Who Provided Scholarships for Winterfest
To All the People Who Partner Prayerfully and Financially so that We are Equipped and Available to Disciple Students...

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

  • Celebrate with us as you read the following snapshots from the weekend:
  • At least 25 students made a first time commitment to Jesus as Lord and Savior.
  • God has pushed me to get out of my comfort zone even further by being a better witness on campus for people. This weekend helped me better develop skills to spread the Word of Jesus.
  • God has spoken to my heart to let go of my bitterness.
  • God is creative, because He created everything. God delights in us when we use our creativity and we can use our creativity to serve Him. I am excited to use my creativity on campus!
  • I committed my life to Him.
  • He has shown me to let go of my fears and take a leap of faith and become a stronger leader even when I don't feel equipped.
  • God showed me He wants good for me, so I can trust Him. A lot of healing has taken place, with laying down burdens, and picking up what He has to offer instead.
  • He talked to me for the first time, it was amazing!
  • God showed me that I need to change my priorities, and stop being so busy, spend more time with God.
  • He reminded me that I need to be more open and willing to talk about my faith.
  • I learned that God is enough and I am perfectly made in his image!
  • Worship was amazing! It was wonderful to have the Urbana worship team. To have 600+ people leaned into worship, and worshiping with many different cultural styles was really a blessing.
  • The Large Group talk really helped me see the connection between the Old Testament and New Testament.

God met and transformed students at Winterfest! Their growth, in part, is due to your generosity; we could not have sponsored the conference without your help. Even more importantly, we’re grateful for the way that people like you – and hundreds of others around the country prayed for us this past weekend. Please continue praying for students to keep growing in what they learned during Winterfest.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Merry Christmas!

2011 Christmas Thank You from Dave and Erin Foster on Vimeo.

A personal message from our family to yours! Thank you for your care, support and partnership with our ministry and family!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Following God's Lead

We thought we'd share the following story with you. Jessica is a part of her InterVarsity chapter at Northwestern University. God used her leadership through the arts to bring a message of reconciliation and beauty in partnership with a program in our Chicago neighborhood. For us, its incredibly encouraging to see God bringing together our calling to the artist, the artist's unique ability to bring reconciliation and hope AND the very neighborhood we live in, Lawndale! God is doing increasingly awesome things through artists!!

Following God's Lead
written by: Jessica Sun, Violin major, Senior, Northwestern University

On November 13th, Sunday afternoon at 4 pm, my heart was racing. The orchestra was in place, the guest artists from Lawndale had arrived, there was pretty large audience seated in the chapel, and the microphone was on. All that was left to do was walk up to the front of the stage and say “Welcome to this afternoon’s concert: A Fundraiser for the Firehouse.” Two months of hard work and God’s provision had led me and a few of my peers to this moment, this realization of a vision of music and social justice coming together to advance God’s kingdom. Our God is one “who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us” (Ephesians 3:20), and this event was proof of that truth.

At the start of the school year, my friend Chris, an aspiring conductor, and I, a senior studying violin at Northwestern, decided to put on an orchestral benefit concert on campus. We had no program, no musicians, no venue, and no beneficiary, but I knew, by God’s hand, things would fall in to place. And sure enough, they did. He brought us the Chicago Urban Program Team, a group of students, many of whom were my friends from InterVarsity, that spent their summer in Lawndale, an underserved and poverty stricken community in the southwest side of Chicago. They had grown to love the community and to question their own responsibility for the huge disparities they saw. He brought us Pastor Phil Jackson, one of the pastors of Lawndale Community Church and The House, a hip hop church, as well as the head of the in-progress Firehouse Community Arts Center. He brought us a group of close to 50 volunteer music students who were willing to give their time and talent to this endeavor. He brought us a venue in the form of a chapel in a seminary right in the middle of campus. He brought us my violin professor, a world-renowned violinist and pedagogue, who was eager to play a solo with us. And he brought lots of help, encouragement, and prayers along the way. Piece by piece, God made his agenda very clear and by simply following his plan, we put together a concert of classical music, hip hop, and a call for social justice.

As wonderful as the event itself was, the most amazing part was the privilege of working with God, of being in his presence throughout and following as he led. So many times, it seemed as if doors were closing and the whole concert would fall through, but every closed door simply led to another open one. At every discouragement, there was someone or something to encourage. At every desperate moment, there was someone to lend a hand or a prayer. At every unsolvable problem, there was a solution. God literally carried it through. All we were asked to do was trust and follow. God is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us. And within the arts, this truth is not an exception. The arts are such a powerful force – how much more so when God is in the center, as He was intended to be? As artists that trust and follow Him with the talents and the experiences that he has given us, there is no end, no limitation, to the amazing things that He will accomplish through us and through our art.

Please pray that God would continue to use Jessica to bless her colleagues and community through her leadership and talent. Pray that those around her might encounter God through her. Please pray that artists around the nation that have similar dreams and visions would be encouraged to step out in faith and trust that Jesus wants and can use artists to serve the poor.