Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Merry Christmas from the Kertsons

Monday, August 5, 2013

July Newsletter

Kertson July Newsletter

We hope your summer is going well. Ours has been full of ministry trips to Virginia, Los Angles, and Mexico, on campus ministry, and a family vacation to Tahoe. We are so thankful to have your partnership with us in prayer. Know that your prayers make all the difference in the ministry we do. Here are some of the things God has been doing this summer. First an amazing life change story about a student in our ministry, then some of the details of what we’ve been doing this summer. Finally, there are some prayer points at the bottom. Please e-mail us back or communicate with us on Facebook if you need prayer or God speaks anything to you as you are praying for us. We’d love to hear from you!

Student Snapshot - Chelsea

I shared a little bit of Chelsea’s story in a past newsletter. Just to remind you, or if you didn’t get to read it. Chelsea came to know Christ back in February when I first arrived at Stanford. She then had an impromptu baptism on Easter Sunday in her Easter dress when God put it on her heart to be baptized for the first time while watching another Chi Alphan get baptized. Just this last Wednesday, Chelsea told a story about how God used her to be salt and light (something I had given a sermon on a few weeks earlier). Here’s the story she told.

Chelsea arrived at the house where she is staying for the summer to find a party going on with about 50 underage teenagers drinking and getting high. Apparently, the daughter of her landlord had decided to throw a party while her parents were gone. Chelsea was frustrated and tired from a long day of work. As she sat in her room, all she could hear was loud music and yelling outside of her room. She shared that in the midst of her frustration, she began to think, “What would Chi Alpha do? How would Chi Alpha people be salt and light to a bunch of drunk people?” Then God brought to her mind the monthly pancake outreach we do where on a Friday night we make and hand out pancakes to people coming out of frat parities who are often drunk and high. Chelsea went down and started making as many pancakes as she could. She said that as people would come up and ask what she was doing. She would tell them she was making pancakes for them because Jesus loved them. Soon she had a line of 20 people waiting for pancakes and letting her tell them about how Jesus loved them and had a better plan for their lives than what they were living. Talk about being salt and light! This from someone who came to Christ just 5 or 6 months ago. How have you been salt and light in our your community, workplace, or family lately? Post your story on our Facebook page.

Summer Sermons and Worship


This summer, with many of our student leaders gone doing internships and working around the globe, I have had the opportunity to use some of my other gifts within our Chi Alpha community. I have led worship just about every week of the summer so far. After spending most of the year mentoring worship team members, it has been fun to play music with them and to help lead them in worship. I’ve tried to add my own flavor while still maintaining the AWESOME worship Chi Alpha is known for.

I also had the opportunity to speak for the first time back at the beginning of July. (you can listen to the message here). I talked about Salt and Light (Matthew 5:13-16). It went really well. I received great feedback and got to pray for a number of students who have a deep passion to be greater salt and light to our campus. In fact, one girl gave a testimony about how God used that sermon to help her be Salt and Light just this last week where she is living. Check it out in the student snapshot above! I will also be giving August 7 on Matthew 7:7-12 (Ask, Seek, Knock) and on August 14 on Matthew 7:13-29 (Living for Eternity).

Prayer Points

 

  • Strong Finish to the summer Chi Alpha meetings
     
  • $300 more in monthly commitments by the time school starts in September
     
  • Preparations we are doing for the Fall kickoff (marketing, training students, planning trips, etc.)
     
  • Health for our family as we are all recovering for a summer bug that went through the house.
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Southwest Leaders Conference


At the end of July, Kendra and I had the awesome opportunity to attend our first Chi Alpha leadership gathering for the Southwest area. This included schools from Arizona, Nevada, California and Hawaii. (Check out where there are Chi Alphas here). Here are a couple of highlights we found particularly encourage
             
Meeting other leaders: The conference had about 125 staff and student leaders from these various schools. This was just about the right size for us to be able to meet and have meaningful conversations with each of the different Chi Alpha directors during the three-day conference. Each school shared a testimony sometime during the weekend and it was exciting to hear how much God was at work at all of our different campuses. It was also encouraging to share stories and get to meet families who look a lot like ours and are doing amazing things for God. It is possible to have three little kids and be used by God!

Freedom: The theme of the conference was freedom. We talked a lot about how to lead out the freedom God has given us and how to lead our students into freedom. One great line from our speakerCurt Harlow was, “Prisoners can’t set prisoners free. Only free people can set prisoners free.” Kendra, I, and our Stanford team all experienced greater freedom in God as well as some practical tools on how to share that freedom with both Christians and non-Christians.

Looking toward the future: There were some awesome opportunities at this conference to dream toward the future. As many of you know, Kendra and I are praying toward pioneering a new Chi Alpha at a campus after our time of learning from the Stanford team. We were able to dream some about what that might look like and get some concrete details about possible campuses that would be good fits for us. Even though we still have a lot of ministry left to do at Stanford, it is always exciting to dream about the future too.

         
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Friday, May 17, 2013

Prayer Produces Fruit

It is amazing to see God grab the heart of the a student making them want nothing more than to be used by God. I have been praying with one of the students I meet with on a regular basis 1) that he would learn to make himself to be available to be used by God in any way at any time, even if it means doing a little less school work (a hard proposition for many Stanford students and something he wanted prayer for) and 2) that God would particularly use him to reach his roommates.

As we've met together this student has seemed to share a new story each week of how God has used him at his church, with other Chi Alpha students, and with his roommates. Two weeks ago he shared that he had a lot of homework on a Saturday night that he didn't want to do on Sunday which he sets aside for his Sabbath. He felt like God was leading him to talk to one of his roommates that he perceives as far from God. God totally blessed the long, late night conversation and they even talked about Jesus some. He then got a great grade on the assignment he had put off even though he didn't put as much into it as he'd planned.

Last night at Chi Alpha, after our continuing to pray for his roommate and some more conversations, that roommate came to our gathering for the first time! I got to talk to him a little bit and heard him say at one point to the student I disciple, "This place is really cool, I see why you hang out with these people so much. Maybe I'll hang around more too." I believe it won't be long before this student gives himself fully to following Jesus.

Students at Stanford want to be used by God. Pray with me that he'll continue to give them passion and boldness to have God conversations with their friends. The fruit is ripe for the harvest.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

42 & Unity


Last Thursday I went and saw a special screen on "42" the new Jackie Robinson movie. First of all, the movie was great. The script, acting, etc., was all good. The character development was great and very redemptive on the whole. You get to see the journey a number of characters take toward being stronger proponents of equality and unity among the races in Baseball. I am always up for a good baseball movie.

The movie really centers around two characters, however. Jackie Robinson, the first African American to play Major League Baseball, and Branch Rickey, the owner of the Brooklyn dodgers who really made this a reality. Neither of these individuals could have made such a monumental shift in culture a reality on their own. Rather, it took them being united around a common purpose. Rickey needed Jackie, an African American ballplayer with amazing talent and a strong will, but enough self-control and thick skin to withstand the abuses he would take in order to evoke a response. Jackie also needed Rickey. He needed him for the opportunity, and he also needed him during his times of weakness for support and for the larger vision he had for the small battles they fought together on a daily basis. They leaned on each other and (surprisingly for a Hollywood movie to include) their faith in God and the intrinsic value of every human being to make a legendary change in our world.

I am so grateful for the partners that we have in our ministry. I'm grateful for those who pray for us on a regular basis. For those who give monthly so that we can spend our full efforts discipling students and reaching out to knew one's on the Stanford campus. For the staff I get to work with who have a similar heart to see Students, Stanford, and our world changed. I am so grateful for the students at Stanford who unite under our vision to make reaching their friends and their campus a reality through the lives that they live for Christ each and every day. There has been more talk among the students I meet with about unity to reach the campus for Christ. I am excited for the unifying work God is doing because it is through our love for one another that the world understands God. It will also take unity, common purpose and leaning on one another to see legendary change in the life of our campus. Your prayers only add to that unity and the power of the ministry going on at Stanford. Thank you.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Calling all prayer support!

As some of you know Brandon's mentally disabled Aunt has been living with us for the past 7 years. She has been a wonderful addition to our family and the money we have received from the state for taking care of her has allowed Kendra to be able to be a stay at home mom, not to mention the multiple opportunities it has allowed for us talk to our children about handicapped people and how God has called us to love and take care of them. Since our move to San Diego, the county ruled to cut the amount of money we receive for her in half. We have appealed this decision through the courts and Brandon has a court date tomorrow at 1:30 p.m. Please pray that God would work and the judge would make a favorable decision to restore all of  our hours. Pray that Brandon would have just the right words to say to show Laurie's need for full-time care. This money we were expecting to receive is a huge part of our budget. The judge will have a couple of weeks to make a decision, so keep the prayers coming! Thank you.

The Kertsons

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

What's going on under the surface?

I talked with one student, who I won't name here. After a while he had finally let me in and shared that he'd been struggling with balancing school work and God. He didn't feel like he had the time to excel in both, but that whichever one he chose over the other he felt guilty. If he chose God, he felt like he was squandering the gift of intellect and the gift of being at Stanford that God had given him. If he chose school, he felt like he was less of a Christian, or doing the "less important" things for God. I got the chance to pray with this young man and I simply asked him what he believed God had for him in his future. He said he really wanted to make a difference in the market and work place where God would put him as an engineer. So I encouraged him to, get to that, and to gain the best voice possible in that place, he should use this time of preparation to its fullness and it would be worship to God. Also, he should set aside a certain amount of time with God every day that seemed reasonable to just spend with God and that if he is really that busy, God would understand and even see him setting apart that time as worship. Finally, I encouraged him that there is no condemnation in Christ Jesus. There are also seasons in life, and this is one where studies are important and intense. If his relationship with God went completely to the wind, that would be a problem, but I assured him, based on the questions he was asking, it was far from that. Also, there will be different seasons with different amounts of expendable time, though we still always have to make the decision each day to choose God as there will always be things warring for our time.

I have spent most of the first month on the Stanford campus just trying to understand the ethos of a Stanford student. As I have talked with students like this friend, m they have shared this metaphor with me about a Stanford student being like a duck swimming on water. If all you can see is the duck above the surface, the duck seems calm and serene. It appears to float effortlessly wherever it goes with what appears to be no motion or work at all. If you get a glimpse of what is going on below the surface, however (like the video below), you see that the duck is constantly working hard to get where it is going, it just isn't as apparent to everyone else. In fact, you'll notice it even has to continue to work if it wants to stay the same place,otherwise it gets carried away with the current in a direction it doesn't want to go.




This metaphor has rung true as I have continued to meet and learn the stories of more and more students. Stanford, as you are just hanging out around campus, at the student union, or outside of the library, appears to be a very chill place. It definitely has the west coast vibe all my classmates in the PhD program tell me I have being from California. No one really dresses up, many of the professors even dress up less. As you hear the stories of what is going on in their lives, however, you learn that inside, they are hurting. They are struggling to survive. They feel inadequate in an environment where every one else is beyond competent (even though everyone feels that way about everyone else).   

 As I was sharing my observations with my ministry mentor at Stanford, he shared that he thinks the metaphor is very true, but that he sees it more like water polo. Water Polo captures the atmosphere of competition, often cutthroat, that is in play everywhere and all the times whether you want it to be or not. You can even observe it among Christians at times who (probably unconsciously) compare their spiritual effectiveness or fervency to others.





Stanford students always seem like they have it all together. All that means is that when they do crash, they crash from a higher place, and they crash harder. Luckily the student I was meeting with has already been asking the right questions and making sure he has been attending to his soul as well as his mind. 

What has been going on under the surface of your life that you haven't been letting anyone else see? I would love to pray for you personally that God would give you the discernment and the breakthrough that you need in that area of your life. Feel free to email me anytime at brandon.servant@gmail.com

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Where do I fit?

Many times during our support raising journey I was asked "Kendra, where is your place in this chi alpha thing?" I always hesitated a bit before answering not because I had any question in my heart that I fit, it was more just hard to explain exactly how I fit. For the past 8 years Brandon has been in full time ministry working in churches and for the better part of those years I was a stay at home mom. My main job was keeping the house in order, raising good kids and being a support system to Brandon as well as filling in and attending ministry events when I could get away (I even got to go on a few mission trips to Mexico and winter camps) But, to be honest I struggled with not being in "full time ministry" early on in my motherhood. I felt called to ministry just as much as Brandon and I often felt frustrated with how little ministry I was able to do. I spent a few years feeling lost, not knowing what my calling was or even why God called me in the first place, until one day God literally gave me a wake up call. It happened in a very personal way during a morning at women's Bible study, it came in the form of a sweet whisper that only the holy spirit can give: "Kendra, I called you to be a World Changer and I am going to change the world thru your children" Everything changed for me in that moment. My stay at home mom status became my ministry and once I embraced it as such I began to bear fruit in other areas of my life, such as connecting with students in the youth group in a deeper way, leading a mom that I met at play group into a deeper relationship with Christ and of course above all else I began to gain confidence in my motherhood as I watched my children grow and flourish in all areas of life.
So where do I fit in with Chi Alpha? The same way I have always fit... Tonight Brandon is out late at a Chi Alpha meeting and I spent the evening with the kids at home. We played with the Indian neighbor kids (who I feel may be the beginning of a new ministry for the kids and I) We cooked dinner, played with our bunny, watched the fish, talked about the new chore charts and snuggled before bed. As we were snuggling Amber asked me where daddy was. I told her he was at his new job and Peyton said "I know, telling people about Jesus." Tonight wasn't anything special, just an ordinary night at home but gosh I can't help but feel blessed. Tonight I have an overwhelming sense of peace that we are going to be alright, despite the finances, despite the crazy schedules and the adjustments that come with living in a new place we all fit into this calling together as a family, and who knows maybe one day Peyton's job will be telling people about Jesus just like her daddy does.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

First Week at Stanford

Well, I just logged my first week working with Chi Alpha at Stanford. Here are a few highlights:

Monday I went to my first staff meeting. The staff is awesome. They have an amazing heart for the students and even though they are mostly volunteer spend a good deal of time outside of the "official" meetings with the students.

The rest of Tuesday and Wednesday we spent getting unpacked and organized at the house. Good news!: We're pretty much done except for pictures to hang up.

Wednesday night I went to the Chi Alpha gathering. I am always amazed at the passion the students bring to worship. Later in the week I also heard Glen (the Chi Alpha leader at Stanford) mention to some students that if he were to rate Chi Alpha on what is was good at, worship would be first. I agree wholeheartedly. Glen also gave an awesome message about the book of Philemon about slavery.

Thursday and Friday were full of getting acquainted with the campus, the students, and some of what I will be doing in the next year+. For the most part, I walked around campus trying to see every building, learning what was there and what it was used for. Stanford is a huge campus. I probably walked around for 3-4 each day and have maybe seen half the campus so far. I'll continue to get acquainted with everything next week.

This next week I am going to get the chance to shadow a couple of students. I will basically follow them around all day learning the rhythms of the campus and seeing it from a student's perspective for the first time. I'm excited to get to spend more time with these students as well as see the campus through some different lenses.

PRAYER:

  • Pray for Peyton as she starts school tomorrow morning
  • Pray for all of our insurance stuff to transfer over well for the kids, we've had some obstacles.
  • Pray for all of the benefits for my aunt to transfer her well also, again some obstacles.
  • Pray for Kendra as I will be gone more this week than last.
  • Pray for me that God would give me discernment and insight into the Stanford campus as well as that I would simply be learning all that God has for me.
Here's a picture of one thing I did not know was at Stanford, but is pretty cool: The Taube Family Tennis Stadium



Tuesday, January 22, 2013

We're Moving to Stanford!

We have had an amazing time living back in Southern California for the last six months. We've been able to spend a great deal of time with family, reconnect with friends, and make new ones. We've gotten to minister in and visit churches. Peyton started Kindergarten. We have seen God's faithfulness over and over again as we meet with people inviting them into partnership to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ to university campuses in California.

We' are extremely excited that the time has come to move on to the next chapter of the journey. February 2nd, 2013 we'll be moving up to begin training and serving at Stanford University with Chi Alpha campus ministries. We found a 3 bedroom apartment that was bigger than our mobile home in Santa Cruz, is a reasonable price for the area and has amenities like pools, a park, a theater room, and a kid's play room that our kids are excited about, there is also a gym that the adult kids are excited about. Below are some pictures from the apartment complex's website

Our new address will be
353 Kiely Blvd E113
San Jose, CA 95129

We are hoping to be ready to unpack our truck at about 3:00 p.m. that Saturday if anyone is available to help.

Most of all we are excited to begin connecting with the students at Stanford, visiting and finding a church in the area, and reconnecting with friends we already have up there.

Thank you so much for your prayers that have helped lead to this over the past months.

Continued prayer needs:

  • Our appeal concerning the hours we receive from San Diego county for taking care of my aunt.
  • The assessment process for my aunt in Santa Clara county to go smoothly and us to receive the full hours there.
  • The transition for the kids, particularly Peyton as she starts a new school
  • Grace for Kendra as I will not be at home as much as I have been the past 6 months including a 2 week trip to Regent University in VA at the end of February.
  • The remaining $1000 in monthly commitments to come in over the next months
  • Safety and health as we move and for all those that help us.








Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Living By Faith


I've heard the term before. Faith. I’ve said phrases like living by faith or walking by faith. I've even sang songs about it. There have been times in my life when I have exercised faith. I've believed for some big things, some miracles, and seen them happen. There have even been extended times like mission trips where I've walked by faith for a season, or a year in ministry that was particularly difficult and I had to have faith that God had me there for a reason. None of those has prepared me for this.

I have never been the greatest fan of spiritual gift tests. I usually score high on a majority of gifts having practiced and experienced them in ministry. Interestingly, I have never scored well on faith. Now I know why. When it comes down to it, my trust in God is fickle. My ability to let go of everything and surrender it to God has been tested these last months. I have had to trust him with everything and it has been a painful yet rewarding journey. We have been trusting God to bring alongside partners and we have seen amazing grace as God has been faithful to do just that. Still, I personally question every day if we'll ever truly get there. San Diego County approved my aunt for only 41% of the hours she has received the last seven years in two other counties. I don't know why. I don't know why they gave her so little and I don't know why God let it happen, but my faith was shaken and I again I felt like we'd never make it.

We will appeal their decision. We still have one month left of fundraising that will hopefully put us over the top. We will be moving to a new county that will reassess my aunt and make their own decision about her hours. Things seem like they can only go up, but what if they don't? Still, we are moving forward. We know God has called us. Things will be tight but we know we will make it. I still have more questions than answers, but I think I am starting to learn that living by faith doesn't always mean being comfortable or sure, but moving forward and following God anyway.