During the holiday season, it’s easy to get caught up in all that has to be done. We have gifts to buy, parties to attend, finals to complete, and other year-end duties. Sometimes all we each need is just a breather. A moment where we aren’t required to do anything and can just be.

In the midst of Advent, my mind keeps returning to the theme of light birthed in the darkness. Hope arrives not on fairy dust and wings, but through weeping, loss and pain—through childbirth, of all things—excruciating and beautiful at the same time.

Drew Smith

You learn a lot about yourself when your circumstances change. I’ve been in transition of late, and even though it was planned and typical in many ways, change often brings disorientation and tumult. And as I’ve lived this personally, I’ve also been connected to other overlapping stories filled with anxiety about the future in the places I work and across the country. Like storms that drive long-lost debris to the shore, these uncertain times have brought to the surface of my soul things that might have stayed otherwise hidden.

International student ministry presents unique opportunities to reach the world for Christ. In my last blog post, I wrote that developing internationals as leaders is critical. Yet there are many obstacles they need to overcome in order to lead well within their strengths and weaknesses.

Have you ever wished you could turn off the noise of life? I did, so I took a break recently, or a “stay away” as a friend of mine called it. This year has been incredibly trying, confusing, frustrating and full of heartache. I just had to get away to process, gain clarity, and get insight from outsiders I trusted.

Bobby Gross

I write this on November 1, All Saints Day. We all know about Halloween, that crazy day in our culture when little kids trick-or-treat for candy and college kids revel in costumes for fun. We imagine creatures of darkness, spoof the realm of the dead and maybe even scare ourselves silly watching horror flicks. All in good fun. But we have lost sight (if we ever had it) of the actual meaning of the day, originally known as All Hallows Eve because it precedes All Hallows Day. All hallows as in holy, “hallowed be thy name,” holy ones, saints.

“If the Bible is true, shouldn’t it always be the same and not change with context? Shouldn’t it be obvious to everyone everywhere, all the time?” This was the earnest question of a Stanford graduate student in our apologetics small group.

Technological advancements will bring the most monumental shift to missions since Jesus sent out the twelve disciples. The question is, “Is the church and the mission community ready for the change?”

I am convinced human beings are not primarily designed for productivity—at least not in the way the world defines it. By my rough calculation, we only have about 50% of our lives available to “get stuff done.” We are not God’s work horses designed for efficient productivity.

How would you define a leader? Think of three important characteristics and compare your answers with the responses from internationals we polled. You might see some differences.

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