The Hartford Project Reflections 2016

The Hartford Project is an urban ministry immersion experience for teenagers from New England. We come together each summer to experience Jesus’ love personally and within the local body of Christ, and share His love in Hartford in practical and tangible ways. From my vantage point, there is a pivotal shift occurring. While our students grow in how they experience the Lord personally, corporately and with others what has changed is that they hunger to minister to each other and the world around them like never before. As a leader, sometimes our role is to set the example in guiding students to take risks with the Lord and each other by stepping out first ourselves. Instead, our students took risks in dramatic ways—ministering with each other in love, through prayer and the prophetic and also boldly sharing with anyone and everyone the good news, offering words of encouragement and praying with deeper levels of depth for their neighbors in Hartford.

During our corporate testimony time in the evenings, we often found that the youngest of the students were leading the way in boldness and courage. The risks that they took multiplied as we watched even the more reserved among us join alongside the momentum of the rising tide of Kingdom increase in Hartford.

One of the key values of The Hartford Project, is deepening relationships with the wider body of believers. One of the ways this is done is through pairing a small group of students and a leader from one church with counterparts from another church. While this can certainly provide students with the opportunity to form relational depth with others from another church this doesn’t always lend itself to this happening. However, this year’s pairings were a wonderful picture of the body of Christ doing what we’ve been called to do—love each other, serve, grow in community and share all of these gems with those who have yet to experience this. We continued to hear testimony, and experience within our own mixed teams the body doing what it was designed to do for the glory of God.

An anchor in our schedule for the week is a Love Wins Festival. We partner with local churches in the community to put together a family friendly street festival with bounce houses, free food, gifts of clothing and other goods and services, and prayer ministry all as an expression of the Lord’s love to people and as a connecting point to a local church. Our students who ministered in prayer shared example after example of praying for others for physical healing, the person receiving prayer seeing breakthrough in their bodies and that person becoming empowered to go and do the same for another! Lord, we ask you for increase!

Our Wellspring team hosted a small group of students from a church in Hartford on our teams during the week to allow them to participate this year and pave the way for more participation in future years. I was left speechless and overwhelmed at times to bear witness to the way that they loved each other, prayed over one another, cared and shared life together regardless of differences. Their multi-cultural expression of the Kingdom of God was beautiful, and an example for the body of Christ to follow.

One of the joys that I experience with each years team is a new flavor that emerges. One of the flavors or marks of our students is a growing depth of relationship and honor that permeates their relationships. In corporate ministry times, they prophetically spoke over each other, pressed into the Lord for breakthrough and stood in love and faith for the Lord to meet needs. What an honor to lead them and watch them soar in the process.

We say yes and more to all that the Lord is doing in our city and region and within each of us, as we share the hope that is within us with those near us.

– Kirstin St. Jean

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