Meet six young disciples setting a year apart in Lansing, Michigan for a lifetime set apart.
The GAP Program allows young people from all over the world to be on the front lines of the Kairos mission. Gappers take a year off of school or work to move to a new city, live in Christian households, and serve in a variety of ways. If you want to keep up with what this year's GAP class is doing, make sure to like and follow their page Kairos GAP North America!
Hello! My name is Marie DeMarais, and I am from St. Paul, Minnesota. I enjoy runs and good conversation. When not adventuring in the realm of community-building in Lansing, I can be found hiking along mountains with my rapidly-expanding family. From the short time that I have been here, I have already experienced a grace in finding a new “home away from home” and the goodness of ecumenical living. I have been amazed how totally different people from different states and countries can find themselves within a neighborhood block of each other for the sake of the kingdom of God. I am excited to see how the Lord continues to work this year in the GAP program!
Hey, I am Esa ("ee-suh") Vance and I hail from the cold doldrums of St. Paul, Minnesota which contrary to popular belief does not mean I like or tolerate the cold so just my luck I ended up in the most similar place to Minnesota. I am a summer baby through and through and enjoy many laughs with good company under the quickly fading summer sun or just a good book in hand with a puppy in my lap. I believe this year will increase my capacity for peace, joy, and hope through the people I meet and the experiences I journey through. I never knew how stagnate the life I had built for myself was until I allowed it to be flooded with movement. So thank you Kairos North America GAP Program for moving me!
Hello, my name is Cecilia Harvey, I am from Spring Lake, Michigan, and I love to watercolor, listen to old jazz music, sing, and play my ukulele. I came on this GAP year because God called me, and opened so many doors for me to have this opportunity. I hope to get to know Christ more this year by imitating Him in the small ways that I can, through serving others as He served us, as well as to grow and push myself, and to take on challenges with a willing heart.
Hi guys! I’m Lizzie from London, England. I’m super pumped for this year and am especially excited to serve those from different walks of life to my own. My loves in life are snails, drinking herbal tea and spontaneous dance parties!!
I am from West St. Paul Minnesota, and I love to rock climb, swim, play ultimate frisbee, and play almost any card game. What I hope to get out of this year is really turning my focus in life completely to the Lord and learning how to serve His people better.
I spend my winters skiing and my summers fishing. My three favorite movies are, in order, Napoleon Dynamite, The Dark Knight, and another movie. I like to make people laugh, usually, this means I end up making a lot of jokes. Oh, and by the way, my name is Sam.
We had two trips this Summer. A big trip out to Wyoming had 14 9th graders and a 7th grade trip that had 13 guys adventuring in Virginia. Both trips were a huge success! The guys formed new friendships, persevered through adversity, and most importantly were challenged to cultivate and deepen a personal relationship with their Creator.
“One Kairos Fellowship tradition is to swim in a river on our final day of backpacking. This year, we went on quite the expedition to reach our water. After trekking down a small stream and fighting through thick brush, we reached a point in the river where the water was teeming with life as it rushed over the river bed (invigorating us all as it washed off our trip grime). This adventure that strayed us from the trail was a highlight for all the guys on the trip. We’re hoping to get these fresh trail blazers back for a trip next summer!”
-Brian LaLonde, Kairos Fellowship Director
2017 Kairos Fellowship Blessings
- Our “Men’s Campfire” (Dads) was rich on June 2 in Chelsea, MI
- The van, “Red Justice” did its job for the second summer
- Joe Dubois brought walkie-talkies for our WY driving
- Stunning Sunsets and Countless Stars
- Three guys were lost for almost an hour but then found (of course!)
- A lost wallet was recovered at Wendy’s
- Deep Staff testimonies around the campfire
- The (new to us) 4-H camp in Virginia was great
- We found excellent new campsites in Wyoming
- Our group unity was strong and enjoyable
We gathered in Columbus, Ohio for this year’s Legacy Conference and here’s what people had to say about it:
“I loved getting together with the workers from other Kairos university outreaches. I really did not know many of my counterparts in the Saint Paul’s Outreaches. There was a lot of camaraderie between the SPO missionaries and UCO missionaries because of our common service. That was great to see. I also loved seeing old friends who are now all over the country. It was refreshing to catch up with many of them. At times it felt like a giant think tank to answer the question, ‘how do we really be on mission in the professional setting?’ It was encouraging to see so many young professionals sharing their experiences of intentional outreach in their work places. I also experienced a richness in the worship. The Lord was present there. I left encouraged and refocused.”
-Clara, Mission Director for University Christian Outreach Lansing
“I thought the highlight of the conference was the fellowship and worship times. Dave Hughes gave an awesome talk about ‘proverbs’ for us young Christians who are trying to rise in the world professionally, but who are also trying to establish our lives in Christ. Bonus: we also stayed in a pretty nice hotel!”
-Michael, PhD Candidate at Michigan State University
“This was my first time attending the Legacy Conference,” said Claire, who works for a large hospital system. “I enjoyed the chance to meet other young professionals striving to live for the Lord. We had a lot of time to socialize and meet people from different places. The talks we heard were geared towards our demographic and were helpful to me as a person trying to figure out how to navigate Christian life in the secular working world. I particularly enjoyed the talk about how to live out a ‘bi-vocational life’: a life where you have a vocation to live and serve in a Christian community or church setting and also a vocation to work at a secular job. Dave Hughes shared wisdom that he has gained from living out this kind of life as a member of a Sword of the Spirit community and a GM executive. We also broke into small groups to discuss the talks. It was a good opportunity to meet other people my age and hear about how they are living as Christians post-college.”
-Claire, Human Resources Specialist at a large hospital system
“My favorite thing about the Legacy Conference is that we come together with young professionals from outreaches and communities we don’t often see. I mainly see people from other UCOs we are working with, so it was awesome to get to know people coming out of SPO as well. The fellowship and worship were spot on!”
-Rebekah, Mission Leader for University Christian Outreach Lansing, originally from Costa Rica
“The Legacy conference was indeed a Legacy. It served as a great reminder that the Lord deserves all our time and lives. It was a great opportunity to enjoy His goodness, sit in His presence and relax! Spending the weekend with people from different cities, states, and countries demonstrated the wonderful blessing of being part of a community of communities. Personally, Dave Hughes’ talk was very inspiring, mainly the part where he talked about the fact that God loves success. He’s not asking us to choose between being Christians or being successful at work; He loves to see us successful in everything we do.”
-Daisy, staff worker for Ignite Youth Group in Ann Arbor, originally from Lebanon
Stephen Giles shares his experience about travelling to India and learning to deal with discomfort.
“James Munk (Director of Kairos North America) shared what he does in India. He spoke of the challenges in working with college and high school young people in India and about the mission there. He said that one way we could serve the mission in India was to participate in the May households he was organizing. It sounded like a real adventure; it hit at something within me. I thought about it and then called James and said, ‘I’d like to go.’ Within about 10 minutes, James was saying, ‘when you are in India…’ ‘Wow,’ I thought, ‘I’m really going; I’m on the team!’
“I was looking for adventure, which I thought maybe that wasn’t a ‘spiritual’ enough reason to go. James said no, it is good for young men to crave adventure.
“Soon, I was on my way to Bangalore, the capitol of the state of Karnataka . It is an enormous city by my standards (8.42 million). Besides James and me, our household included 12 Indian guys, one Filipino, and one American doing a GAP Year in the Philippines.
“My first impressions of India: it was warm (even at 1:00 in the morning) and there was not much night traffic. Then morning came. There are too many cars for the roads; it is hot and noisy with scooters and motorcycles everywhere. We walked around the neighborhood which was really helpful for seeing Indian street life. There are lots of street vendor stands with fruits and other foods. You can buy a fresh coconut, for example, cut the top, drink the milk, scoop out the wonderful flesh.
“Living in India made me re-evaluate distance and speed. Driving an hour and a half would be normal coming back from an evening activity. 30 mph would be very fast (I don’t think I ever achieved that on a scooter). Driving in the U.S. is so easy in comparison: a two-lane road in India would have three cars and a truck across the same two lanes.
“My role was mainly to be part of the small group, be a solid member of the household, and be a witness of a man ‘fired up’ for the Lord. I also did the morning prayer meditations. James told us on the team that we were an ‘authority’ just because we were there on behalf of the Sword of the Spirit and knew how to apply the talks we were hearing in our lives.
“Our household did ‘memory-making trips.’ We traveled to national parks and had adventures together. We grew in trying new things. In our household talk series, we heard about not making decisions based on fear of discomfort or pain.
“We took bucket ‘showers,’ had six guys sleeping on the floor as well as three each in the two bedrooms, and ate off our laps because we had no table. Personal space was lacking so it was a stretch for us all. I learned that it is OK to be uncomfortable and that we have a very easy life in the U.S. I learned what I actually need and what I just want. We all learned to do dishes, cook, and work on a task together (and stay until the job is done). There were no moms to do stuff for us!
“Looking back at my time in India, I can see that I grew in an attitude of ‘gameness’: being willing to do things outside my comfort zone. It was a lot more fun when I was willing to try new things, new foods, and be uncomfortable. Embracing that attitude allowed me to take on more responsibilities and do things that were ‘out there,’ rather than sitting safely at home in the air conditioning.
“I grew as a disciple – I did things a little ‘unsafe’ like sharing the Gospel with someone. I saw that being afraid or uncomfortable keeps me from doing things for the Lord – not really good reasons. I learned lessons by ‘doing,’ not just from hearing a teaching.
“I am moving on to a mission year in Detroit this fall. I’ll be an employee of YouthWorks-Detroit, working with Detroit youth. However, since I didn’t get sick in India and I got a 10-year visa, James said I am coming back!”
Peter Galer, a freshman at Lansing Community College, shares about going on a Kairos Mission Trip to Agua Prieta.
“Mike Kramer (Kairos Mission Trips Director) came and did a presentation at our youth group. Last year was my senior year of high school and I had never gone on a mission trip, even though I had heard the ‘mission trip pitch’ many times. That day, some buddies in the youth group and I just looked at each other and it was, ‘Yup, we’re going.’
“Our trip had 14 guys and 3 staff participating. When we got out of the bus in Douglas, Arizona, it was like being hit with a heat wave for this boy from Michigan. Wow.
“We walked over the border into Mexico pushing wheel chairs, needed by a mission group. It was pretty amazing and random. Obviously, getting into Mexico is a lot easier than getting back! Douglas is a normal U.S. city. Over the border, a couple of miles away, is Agua Prieta. The difference is night and day. At first I thought that someone had ‘pranked’ the town of Agua Prieta; trash was EVERYWHERE. I soon learned that dealing with trash is not a priority; there are many other needs.
“Our days began and ended with prayer together. The consistency was great and praying with the guys was really good and uniting for us. It strengthened our relationships and made us feel like a real community of Christians living mission.
“At the worksite, we did various jobs. We started a house by digging the foundation and then pouring the cement, preparing it so the girls mission trip after ours could build the walls. A lot of the time before that was spent working on bricks. They are made of horse manure – really. The bricks would be too brittle in the sun, so we mixed dirt and rocks from the desert with concrete and mortar and then plastered this on the walls (stucco) over the bricks. You have to cover every bit of the walls.
“We dug the latrine for the house (four feet across, four feet wide, and nine feet down). We also dug the piping for the PVC vent and covered the hole with a thicker concrete mix. All this was a lot harder than we thought it would be.
“Working together allowed me to see the strengths and gifts of the different guys. Some of these guys were as young as 14; I was really struck by their Christian maturity. I would not have been where they were on a mission trip at 14 (I’m 18). Some of us were more used to manual labor. Some guys were incredibly smart, as in ‘you have to do the formula conversion to fluid ounces’ when we were trying to figure out how to build a latrine. Everyone brought something to the table.
“We also spent time with orphans who lived about half an hour away in a city called Naco. We played games with them and went swimming with them – the kids would be really excited and talk and talk. Only a few of us spoke Spanish. They probably couldn’t figure out how guys as old as we were didn’t know how to speak!
“During this trip, I learned some things about myself. I realized that I was not a very sympathetic person to those in need. My view was that they should just work hard and push through. But, being in a place with such poverty, seeing people working 12-14 hours every day and being happy they have work at all, caused me to reevaluate. For example, there was a 74-year-old guy there who arrived in the morning before us, worked longer than we did, and never took a lunch break. He always acted happy and grateful. I saw that I complain WAY more than they do. I learned how difficult other people’s lives are and how good I have it. I also learned that if you are on kitchen duty, you keep working even if you are dead tired!
“Even though it was tough, I would love to be there on mission longer than the 10 days we had.”