As you walk into the dark room, and the only thing you see is light from the projector, you can feel the Spirit knock you off your feet. You have just entered Reach Out.
Reach Out is a student-led ministry that focuses on an atmosphere where the students that walk through the doors can connect to the Holy Spirit. Not only that, but Reach Out is a chance for students at ENC to take a break from their day and have one-on-one time with God. The room is filled with an ambiance that gives everyone there a sense of peace and quiet. The ministry is ever-growing, and has branched out from where it once began. In order to see where Reach Out is headed, let’s take a look back from where it all started.
In fall of 2011, Andrew Littauer, a freshman at the time, wanted to have a student-led ministry involving prayer, where it’s all about the students’ walk with God. Resident Director Jay Govoni along with Chaplain Corey MacPherson and a few others reached out to Littauer to make this idea a reality. One month later, Littauer was ready to start this ministry with additional help from Hannah Dawber. The two chose the name Reach Out. While that name does have a catchy ring to it, there is symbolism behind the name.
“The name [Reach Out] came from the passage Matthew 14: 22-33,” Littauer said.
This passage of scripture refers to the story when Jesus walks on water, and He calls Peter to walk on the water to Him. Littauer’s intention with making that verse Reach Out’s name is because he believes Jesus is always calling us into a deeper invitation to life.
“Sometimes, invitation from Jesus is most evident during the exact moment when we begin to doubt. Just as Peter began to doubt, Jesus reached out His hand,” Littauer continued, “By calling Peter out of the boat, Jesus was transforming and pushing Peter out of a comfortable place, into a life of abundance with Him.”
While this is a fantastic way to incorporate an invitation from Jesus into a name, the name Reach Out can be interpreted in another light.
“We are called to reach out with love to people around us, whether they are in need or not,” Littauer said.
Since 2011, Reach Out has experienced growth and change. The ministry has added new verse and prayer exercises over the years, along with worship songs and student testimonies. Even within the first year, the entire structure of the service changed. Instead of having student testimonies each Wednesday, Littauer and Dawber incorporated prayer every other Wednesday.
“From the start of Reach Out, I wanted to focus on only having a prayer night without student testimonies. But, as I am constantly reminded that Reach Out is God’s ministry, the plans changed. Now that I look back, God had a much better plan for the ministry than I ever did,” Littauer said.
Even though there have been changes to the structure of the ministry, there have not been complaints from students. They enjoy the distinguishability that Reach Out has, compared to other student-led events.
Reach Out has many regular attendees. One is sophomore Shelby Hedlund.
“It’s different because it’s a place where you go to focus on God,” Hedlund said, “No one is there to hangout with friends, or have fun or anything. You go for that one-on-one time with God.”
She continued, “[Reach Out is a place] where you can really seek and worship God, in any way that you want, without feeling like you are being judged. You are free to worship however you want.”
By the beginning of the 2014 fall semester, Reach Out took a shift in place, time, and order. Dawber, now the Director of Spiritual Life for executive SGA, decided to make Reach Out the new name for the formerly known SGA event Kingdom Experience.
Kingdom Experience was held once a month on either a Tuesday or a Thursday. Students would meet, worship together, and congregate in small groups to discuss a passage of scripture alongside a few questions.
Since Dawber was already running Reach Out with Littauer, and it was something she was used to, she chose to keep the Kingdom Experience structure being once a month instead of Reach Out’s time, which was once a week. She didn’t take away the structure of Kingdom Experience, but fused the two ministries together.
The number of students who have attended Reach Out the past two months have varied.
“The first [event] was around 30 [people], and the second event we had only 7 [people],” Dawber said.
Despite the scale of attendance teetering back and forth, Dawber isn’t worried.
“I really believe that God brings the right people at the right times,” she said.
With Dawber and Littauer both graduating this year, it is unclear as to where Reach Out will head next year.
“Hopefully, a pair of new leaders will take over Reach Out in the fall of 2015. We are still in prayer and speaking to a few students about the matter,” Littauer said.
Regardless of where the future of the ministry lies, Reach Out has been a consistent four-year ministry at ENC that has become a regular service for many students and has touched many lives along the way.