Why “Back to School? Isn’t it a little late for that? I mean, this is November — you know, pumpkins, cornucopias, Thanksgiving dinner, right? Yes, that’s true, but for me, November also means back to school, because that’s when I help train Keynote’s new interns and new staff members. We have four new interns, six new staff and one international staff member in training this time! Classes started on Thursday, November 3 and continue until the day before Thanksgiving.

My role in all this includes planning the class schedule, finding teachers, and teaching several sessions myself. I teach four sessions on the verbal content of public speaking, two on understanding your audience, three on practical Bible study methods and finally a couple sessions of tech stuff (how to use Keynote’s computer network and software).

This fall has meant “Back to School” in another way. I’m in the midst of taking a theology class at a local extension site of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. I’ve always enjoyed learning, and since I train missionaries it’s important to stay theologically sharp. This class is a lot of work, but it’s been fun to stretch my brain!

I have a new temporary roommate! Joy Tan from ForeRunner, our sister music ministry in Singapore. We’ve had a wonderful partnership over many years with this Campus Crusade ministry halfway across the globe. Joy is here to learn about several different aspects of our Human Resources department, including our training and ongoing development of staff. She’ll be living with me until early January when she returns home.

Changed Lives

Music is a unique and powerful medium of communication. When Spirit-filled musicians express God’s unchanging truth through the music of the culture, God uses it to change lives. That was evident in the email updates the Keynote Summer Project bands sent to each other (and those of us who stayed home) during their tours. Here are two of the more striking stories they shared.

Proof of Purchase led 430 teenagers in worship twice a day at a conference run by Student Venture, Campus Crusade’s high school ministry. Band member Christy wrote:

It’s hard to put into words, but God was there in a powerful way. Looking out over the crowd we saw kids dancing, weeping, shouting, lifting their hands, jumping up and down, kneeling before the stage, and just totally lost in their Jesus…After we were done many kids began coming up to us and telling us how much our leading had meant to them. One girl told Kristen the worship had changed her life…

Captain Oblivious went to Sydney, Australia, where they presented the gospel in high schools. The local Campus Crusade staff organized a 24-hour prayer chain that ran though the entire tour. God answered their prayers in a dramatic way: in 10 days the band performed 18 concerts for more than 2700 people; 279 wanted to talk to someone about God, and 271 indicated decisions for Christ!

Team from Kazakhstan with me.

Personally, the most memorable part of the project was working with the band from Kazakhstan called Osoboe Mneniye (which means “Minority Report” or “Special Opinion”). I helped coach them in stage communication and got to know them (especially the two women) as friends. It’s incredibly rewarding to know that their time with Keynote increased both their confidence and their vision for using music to reach their culture for Christ!

Thank you for helping to change lives this summer through your partnership with me!

Prayer Update

It’s the second full week of our Keynote Summer Project, and things are really hopping! Please pray that God would give me wisdom in my coaching responsibilities.

  • Teacher Coaching: During morning classes I make note of what the teachers are doing well and where they can improve; I’ll later share these thoughts with them.
  • Communication Coaching: Each afternoon I observe staff coaching students in communication; then it’s my turn to coach the team from Kazakhstan. It’s a joy to work with them and help them sharpen their public speaking skills.

Thank you for praying!

Keynote Worldwide

How Keynote is Helping Campus Crusade for Christ Around the World:

  • As I’m writing this, a Keynote team is in Jamaica teaching worship seminars.
  • A student from Mexico will join us for this year’s Summer Project.
  • Janiê Sucupira is continuing her Keynote training in preparation for starting a music ministry in Brazil.
  • A staff member from a Muslim country in Central Asia (formerly in the USSR) will join us for this year’s Summer Project.
  • A six-person music team from Kazakhstan will go through the training portion of our Summer Project.
  • A Keynote staff couple is helping the music ministry in Singapore start other music ministries in Thailand and Mongolia.
  • A Keynote staff couple just returned from a year in Australia helping their Creative Arts Ministries. One of our Summer Project bands will tour there performing in public high schools.

(To see maps of these countries, go to my April Gallery.)

What’s On Your Plate?

In Connecticut they’re called potlucks, in Indiana they’re pitch-ins, and down south they’re covered dish dinners. But the result is the same: a plate full (and sometimes overflowing!) with a wonderful assortment of yummy morsels. That full plate also happens to be a fitting metaphor for the variety of responsibilities and activities I have in my life right now. Here are some of the “tasty” items that have been on my plate since I last wrote (not in any particular order):

  • Teaching a Program Development class (i.e., how to plan a concert program) to the program committees for the six summer project bands
  • Sending monthly emails to remind staff of training they still need to complete (it’s not as time-consuming as it sounds – the process is automated, thanks to my computer whiz teammate Mike)
  • Attending weekly meetings with the rest of the Staff Development team
  • Participating on the Senior Pastor Search Committee for my church, which includes meeting once or twice a week, reading resumes and references, listening to sermons, and planning & conducting preliminary interviews with candidates
  • Planning the class calendar for the summer, which includes classes for our summer project students, additional classes for the new staff who arrive before the students, and upper level classes for our senior staff to prepare them for summer project responsibilities
  • Making weekly phone calls to coach one of our new staff through her initial support raising time
  • Coordinating a small cell group at church (I’m the point person, but everyone in the group takes turns leading)
  • Attending weekly prayer & business meeting with all the Keynote staff
  • Participating on a committee to give input to Keynote’s Graphics Department as they revamp Keynote’s web site
  • Singing at church with the regular worship team and with a special small choir for Good Friday & Easter services
  • Recording training-related information in Keynote’s Human Resources database (for example., which training modules people want to be enrolled in and which ones they have finished)
  • Scheduling the four classes that make up our Office Track Module
  • Writing this prayer letter! :-)
  • And fun things, too, like attending a birthday dinner for my favorite 12-year-old, working on my hobby (my web site) and watching videos with friends :-)

Well, that’s what’s on my plate – what’s on yours? I can guess one item: your partnership with me in ministry! Thank you for keeping ME on your plate through your gifts and prayers!

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