The Student Leadership Project (or SLP), the 8 year Lilly Endowment-funded partnership of Young Life and Fuller Seminary. 37 high school rising seniors from across the country, hand-picked, personally chosen and nominated for leadership gifts and calling.
Tuesday, Day Nine
Last night was one of the highlights of the entire SLP experience. After our day of rest and play, and conversation and reflection, we gathered for our last Young Life club where we sang with such gusto the camp staff came sneaking into the back trying to get a glimpse at the “choir”. Our crescendo moment came when several of our African-American student leaders taught us the song We are blessed that they had learned at a YL urban camp the year before. We sang and sang like it was our last night on earth. Following club, we ended our last night in the southern California mountains with an old-fashioned camp fire and “Say so” gathering where most of our community shared what God had been doing in their lives since they had arrived. There was laughter, and tears, but mostly sober expressions of honesty and pain and hope and gratitude. A powerful reminder of why we do this program: kids need a safe place to be real, to go deep, and to bring the package of where they have been and who they are to the Lord. In community, where there is love and faith, hope reigns.
Tuesday was our last time in the mountains, and after breakfast and devotional reflections and prayer triads, the student leaders filled out their end-of-experience surveys (that we use as a pre- and post-test instrument to get one slice of outcome data as we seek to improve our work). Following this, one of our young women shared an original song, others taught us a song, we heard from a leader (most of the in-room leaders had shared their story at our gatherings along the way), and received a wrap-up message on going home from Dr. Cliff Anderson.
Late Tuesday afternoon we returned to Pasadena for our last night. Beginning with a banquet meal at Twin Palms, we finished our night with an interactive worship/community time where we first reflected on Hebrews 11, sang a few songs, and then had the opportunity for the next hour and a half to move in and out of five “stations”: communion (or “community meal” for some of the traditions represented), private confession with a symbolic cleansing of their hands, the lighting of a candle of dedication and the giving of a personal blessing, being sent out with the anointing of oil, and an art station where the student leaders could express themselves through a variety of artistic modes. This lasted deep into the night, and following our closing song at 12:20 or so, we took the next 45 minutes to clean up and say our goodbyes.
On Wednesday, the Day Ten of this report, but actually our eleventh day together, the SLP student leaders and staff headed home to begin the next phase of the project: to carry on in mostly virtual community while being mentored and cared for along the next five years. We hope to see each and every one take at least one Fuller class, but our greatest goal is that they would know what it means to follow Christ and live for him, leaning forward into his kingdom, and trust him to lead, shape, forgive, and guide them along the journey. That’s SLP, 2009.