When I moved into an SPO Household at Ohio State at the end of my sophomore year, Christ started working in me right away. As I grew more committed to God, He asked more of me. I asked the Lord, “What do you want me to do?” and He responded by asking me, “Who do you want to be?” Looking around at the faithful men who surrounded me in SPO, I knew I wanted to be like them: a committed disciple who works to build the Kingdom of Heaven on earth.
I knew that I needed more formation to be the kind of disciple God was calling me to be, so I postponed my career in agriculture to serve full-time with Saint Paul’s Outreach. This year as an Outreach Leader in St. Paul, MN has given me invaluable formation for the future. Working alongside other committed young adults to bring about a conversion of heart for students, I have been challenged to discover what it really means to “love your neighbor as yourself.” Jimmy Abreu, a friend and fellow Mission Leader, has been a constant witness of Christ’s unconditional love. He serves the men in his Household and the outreach with a zeal I had not seen before. He has gone to great lengths to support me during difficult times, and I know he does the same for others. His example has inspired me to give more of myself to those around me.
I have also been able to love my neighbor in more practical ways. Working to renovate the kitchen in the UST Men’s Household and completing the Women’s Household “Honey-Do” list has not just developed my skills as a handyman. This service has been one expression of my love for neighbor, and it has shown me that the love Christ asks of us comes in many forms.
As I finish this year with SPO, I look forward to using the skills I have developed during my time in graduate school at the University of Minnesota next year. Eventually, I hope to be a professional scientist, asking questions about the sustainability of our food production practices. Because of my time as an SPO Missionary, I’ll be equipped to bring a Christ-centered perspective to my studies and my future career.
I also look forward to eventually serving SPO as one of the many donors whose generosity sustains this ministry. My life has been changed by this ministry, and this year I was blessed to have been supported by friends and family. The humbling experience of personal support raising has helped me be a better steward of the resources I have and has shown me the importance of supporting other missionaries!
Nick Weidenbenner was a member of SPO at the Ohio State University before coming to serve as a Mission Leader on the Minnesota Missionary Corps. He will begin graduate studies in Plant Pathology at the University of Minnesota this fall.