Sonday in the Valley
Updated: Apr 10, 2019
Like it or not, Sunday's in America are the cliche "go to church" day. It's not a cliche because everyone does it and according to some metrics the number is decreasing but it's still widely considered the Sunday thing. For a little more than the last 24 hours, it's been more than a cliche for people on both sides of the river and in different organizations.
It started on Sunday afternoon as the Fellowship of Christian Athletes had their "Celebration Dessert" social. Lead by former Bison Football player Nate Safe, those in attendance heard from a current leader from an area high school as well as several current and former athletes from the collegiate and high school levels. Jeff Curtis talked about the work that FCA is doing on campus at NDSU and how it has begun to branch out, impacting more than 100 athletes from several regional campuses. They also were given the idea to take a mission trip to Haiti by Carson Wentz. Due to factors beyond their control they ended up going to the Dominican Republic instead in partnership with Mission of Hope.
Following that were testimonies by a couple more athletes and current staff as well. The sharing time of the event concluded with mention of a free breakfast that was put on for North Dakota's state playoff teams over the winter and how even that opened up opportunities that weren't expected.
A couple hours later, and across the river, another athletics focused ministry was putting their faith into action as Athletes in Action had a 24 hour prayer time. The composition of those in attendance couldn't have been much more different at the second event but the conversations and community was similarly evident from the first moments after I walked in. The expressions on the faces of many of the young men & women in the room is best described as joy. They engaged in conversations with each other and genuinely seemed to like the people they were with. That may not seem like it should be some big revelation but with the isolationism that can come due to technology, I appreciated the warmth that was so readily on display.
So the evening started with a few songs and then some directions about how the leadership wanted the event to go.
My primary goal was to be an observer, a fly on the wall as it were but the best way to see things happen is to get involved. After the long day's and short night's thanks to the Final Four I wasn't about to push through for the all night portion but I returned in the morning for the first hand experience. It was a return to the sort of thing I did while living the Twin Cities but with the added benefit of local impact. So after an hour of walking the campus I returned to the sign in table and had a conversation with a couple of the people stationed there. Several of the same things that I had noticed on Sunday evening were again evident. I couldn't stay long because of other commitments but had already decided that I wanted to be there for the finish of the 24 event.
So I returned to campus a little after six and was there til 8:15. The first part of the time was spent in more walking of campus while the final hour plus was similar to how the first hour had gone. Some time spent in song then a sharing time. Unbeknownst to me at the time, some of what I focused on during my morning walk was exactly what the leadership had meant to be a focus of the event.
After the big group share time they had everyone get into smaller groups for a few minutes before concluding. So it was officially over but many of the students continued to stay and talk with each other, laughing and genuinely appreciating each others company. While that was going on I slipped out but didn't get more than a few feet down the hall before a trio of the groups members caught up and thanked me for participating. They wouldn't have had to make that extra effort but it did go along with everything else I had seen from them in just the brief times.
So it was another Sunday into Monday that for many may have been go to church then do whatever and then work on Monday. But I saw and heard much more than those tired cliche's from young and experienced alike over a little more than a day's time. It was a snap shot of what can be, even as we seem to get more divided by the day by technology or politics or fandom (✋), to name a few.
Sorry if any of my vagary bothers you, I just didn't want to step over any boundaries. I just also didn't want to waste the opportunity to once again highlight some of the special things that are happening beyond the playing surfaces in our little slice of rural America!
Thanks for reading!