I love my Alma Mater. I love how the Lord brought Northland into existence and expanded the ministry far beyond what anyone would have envisioned. I love the spirit of selfless ministry that the staff taught and exemplified through the camp and the college. I love the heart of life-touching-life discipleship that characterized my training there. I love the conservative balance, theologically and philosophically, that I saw practiced while I was a student (from 2002-2006).
I even love the weather. I don’t know which is crazier, that, or the fact that I had no issue with the institutional demerit system that was in place at the time. Sure I received my share of demerits, some that may have been unnecessary, but certainly more well deserved than I’d like to admit. In my experience the system worked because it was not about the system, it was about individuals being trained for Great Commission living. And there were countless faculty and staff (many in the Student Life office) who graciously corrected me and directed me back to the real point, how to have a right view of my God so that I would live my life out of a motivation of loving response rather than dutiful obedience.
I walked away from Northland closer to God than when I arrived, and equipped with an excellent training for ministry. That training has been honed over the years as I went on to complete my seminary studies with a Master of Divinity. I would never change the undergrad training I received or the time and place that I received it. Those were incredibly formidable years of instruction in God’s Word as well as building relationships with fellow believers, many of whom I have been blessed to stay in contact with as they are now in ministry all over the world.
During the last few years of traveling and raising support among churches one of the great joys has been seeing and hearing the impact that Northland has had on people all across the country. Not just through fellow alumni, but pastors and churches who have been blessed by the conferences, the school, the camp and the testimony of this small facility in the remote north woods of WI! The impact of the “Northland Heart” has been a wonderful point of connection with like-minded churches as we develop long term missions partnerships.
Along with that though has been the sadness of the turbulent journey Northland took in recent years. In Feb. 2013 I went back to Heart Conference to see these changes first hand. I followed that up with an article regretfully expressing my concern over the direction of my school. I would never have predicted the divided response that article set off (still the single most visited post on our site!). There is no need to relive the past again. Many of us could not remain silent then, and we must not remain silent now. Northland International University was forced to close it’s doors this past spring and by all accounts the Camp ministry would follow suit this summer. Through much prayer and effort a plan has emerged to restart Northland Mission through Project 14! (You can view P14's plan for Northland HERE).
I believe there is still a strong constituency of fellow Alumni, pastors and churches who can, and must get behind this new endeavor. It’s these people that I want to challenge to put into practice the Northland servant spirit and join me in giving back to a ministry that I believe can continue to have an role in training the next generation of servant leaders for great commission living!
I do not consider myself to have much of a voice or audience, certainly not a blogger following, but I can appeal to the dozens of churches and thousands of people we have personally met in the course of our travels and I hope to at least make them aware of this need and the exciting prospect it affords. If you’re one of those people, please share this with your pastor and friends!
I first attended Northland Camp as a junior in high school. It was truly the best camp experience of my life; the beautiful facilities, the excellent program, the dedicated staff, the Word-centered preaching and a team of counselors who were genuine, passionate followers of Christ. I was already planning on coming to Northland Baptist Bible College and that summer cemented my decision as a no-brainer.
During college I had the chance to work winter camps, and various teen rallies at Northland. I also had the privilege of working one summer of camp, though not at Northland. Since there were no other counseling positions needed at Northland I signed up to work for the former Northland Camp director who then had just taken over as director at Camp CoBeAc in Michigan.
What a unique summer, to be a part of starting the vision that Jeff Kahl had for the camp that I grew up attending. We worked like crazy clearing trees, raking leaves, spreading mulch, building and painting to start the transformation process. Today I hardly recognize the place! It went from being a rustic (think gang showers) camp to a full fledged up-to-date facility (they even call their new cabins Chalets!) That kind of change takes a visionary, and that’s the kind of man Jeff Kahl is. We didn’t always understand where or how things would get done, but Jeff surrounded himself with organizational type leaders to help accomplish what he envisioned!
Jeff Kahl has a heart for missions and as a result the Lord lead him to start a new ministry training international students through Project 14 Global Missions. That ministry now converges with his love for camp ministry, a combination that I believe will result in even more exciting endeavors down the road!
If you’re like me you have held off jumping on the bandwagon until you’ve done your research. Maybe the possibility of prolonging “Northland’s funeral” has been a subconscious reason to hesitate. I’m thankful that two weeks ago I had the opportunity to visit Northland’s campus again, and I appreciate the number of Northland alumni and friends that I have discussed this opportunity with over the past few weeks, many of whom are very close to the situation, many of them having legitimate concerns about what a Northland restart would look like. I personally don’t prefer the name “save Northland” for a campaign. But in all reality, can we predict the future of any institution or control the direction of those we currently align the closest with today? So if a campaign name is your concern, or if your first question has to do with which English translation will be used in the future ministry then let me implore you to think beyond that!
I believe Jeff Kahl and P14 will make great use of the facilities in getting the camp ministry rolling right away. You can and should read through their short /long term plan. Available HERE. I’m excited at how the facilities can be further used for training purposes, particularly related to missions. There may never be a Bible College restarted, but in this day and age we need ministries to think outside the box related to education and training models. I believe Northland Mission is ideally suited to do just that by starting from scratch and finding ways to creatively and uniquely prepare another generation of people who believe that greatness is only defined by servanthood, and that is something I want to have a hand in! Would you please pray, research, talk to others, and then put that “Servant Heart” and “Life-touching-Life spirit" into practice by donating before Thursday July 24th! Click HERE to go to the P14 donation page.