The best summer of your life…

by Ben Doster

College students (especially college guys), what will you be doing this summer? How will you be leveraging your life for the Kingdom of God and his Gospel? Why not do the City Project? “Why not?” That’s the question I was forced to ask myself spring semester of my senior year of college in 2011. “Why not do the City Project, Ben?” I encourage you to ask yourself the same question, and you’ll be hard-pressed to think of a legitimate reason not to.

Let’s rewind to January 2011 when I was not walking with the Lord. It was a Sunday morning when by God’s grace and sovereignty I was sitting in the Summit Church (probably after a crazy night of poor decisions) when one of the pastors made an announcement about the City Project, which immediately sparked my interest mostly for selfish reasons though.

I had not traveled much, and I was excited about the opportunities to go to New York City and Kenya. I applied, interviewed and was accepted; however, I lacked the faith to commit.

It was about two weeks away from our final meeting where I had to put down a $200 deposit as a sign of my commitment. Money was not the reason I was afraid to commit, but I thought I was doing myself a disservice by not getting a job like a normal college graduate. I could not have been more wrong.

You see Satan preys on our fears and anxieties, and he is the father of lies (John 8:44 ESV). Thankfully God is a God of grace and truth, who has our lives in his sovereign hands. He used my friends Courtney and Perry to challenge me. Courtney said Satan would love nothing more than for me not to do the City Project, while Perry encouraged me to at least go to the meeting.

I went to the meeting, but was still on the fence. I sat down with Summit’s newly hired college pastor, Dave Turner, who had just flown in from California and was sick. I asked him to tell me why I should do the City Project. I can’t remember what he said, but it convinced me to do it.

From the end of May till early August of that summer the City Project immersed me into Christian community and pushed me out of comfort zone.

I interned with the church and a local ministry, sat in on a seminary class, spent time with pastors and their families, was discipled, evangelized to Muslims in Jamaica Queens where God broke my heart for lost people, and spent time with HIV and AIDS victims in Kenya. I was blown away by a man named Ali, who was once a successful businessman, but had his life turned upside when he, his wife and son were diagnosed with AIDS. God used what many would view as a death sentence to draw Ali to himself, save him and give him new life. Ali told me if it was not for AIDS he would not know Jesus.

I was also invited to join a group of people known then as the Greensboro Church-plant (now Mercy Hill Church) that summer. Similar to my approach to the City Project I did not immediately commit to the Greensboro Church-plant. I was in the hiring process with a company in the Northeast part of the country and thought I was headed there, but the question Pastor Andrew, Pastor Bobby and Pastor Jeremy asked was, “Why not?” and I could not think of a good reason not to join them and knew I needed to be in a strong community of Believers.

I received confirmation from the Lord that he wanted me in Greensboro two weeks before I left for Kenya when I was offered a job and my soon-to-be employer told me I would need to live in between Winston-Salem and Chapel Hill.

I remember sitting down in Pastor Jeremy’s living room with Pastor Andrew and him Thursday, July 7 when I committed to join the Greensboro Church-plant launch team.

No telling where I would be if I did not listen to the wise counsel of my friends, Courtney and Perry. You may not have a Courtney and Perry, but God speaks to us in a myriad of ways and he wants you to be a part of his story.

Let me challenge you to listen to the Holy Spirit, take a dare on God and do the City Project. You see, Jesus told us to go and that he would be with us … even to the end of the age (Matthew 28:16-20 ESV). No telling what God will do in your life or how he will use you, but it will be for his glory and your good (Romans 8:28 ESV). Whatever it is it will be life-changing, so why not?

Ben is a covenant member of Mercy Hill Church who participated in the City Project (2011) as a student at UNC and a member of the Summit Church.


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