It’s been almost a month since the Summer Leadership Institute. That’s pretty nuts.

SLI was an opportunity for the entire Student Leadership Board to come together for a few days in fellowship, education, worship, and service. Our Media Student Leader, Dan Bein, actually just posted this video of your SLB members sharing what they’ve learned, and for what they’re excited. Check it out:

Now, a month removed from the retreat, embroiled in my new position in OCF, I wanted to ask myself the very same questions: what have I learned so far? And for what am I excited?

SLI was really one of my first ever OCF experiences. I don’t have an active chapter at my university (if you’re in Chicago, hit me up!), and I wasn’t able to attend my regional retreat last year. I attended College Conference East solely off of the insistence of my sister, and it was awesome, but that was really it for me and big OCF events. Coming in, I didn’t know what to expect.

I learned that taking that leap of faith, going and spending time with a bunch of collegiate Orthodox Christians, is worth the risk. And don’t get it twisted, it is a risk. Attending that first OCF meeting is a risk, going to that district/regional retreat is a risk, because there are a lot of unknowns. There are a lot of variables out of your control, and I’m not going to lie to you, it could get uncomfortable, and it could be kinda…meh.

14034767_10154429058764244_3095396681683311344_nBut it’s worth the risk.

The potential value you can receive–in support from your peers, in education from their vast bases of experience and knowledge, in bonds of fellowship and worship–is invaluable. Every time you meet an Orthodox Christian college student, it gives you permission to be one as well. Every time you meet someone struggling in the same struggles you experience at college, it assures you that you’re not alone, and validates your struggle as one being undertaken by many. Every time you meet someone who has overcome the struggle with which you currently struggle, it proves to you that it’s possible.

One Christian is no Christian; there is no such thing as a Christian alone. The OCF is a fellowship, it is an Orthodox Christian fellowship, and strengthening that fellowship, adding another bond to the unbelievably expansive and interwoven web of Orthodox Christians across the globe, will always be worth the effort, the energy, and the risk.

One Christian is no Christian; there is no such thing as a Christian alone.

 – Tweet this!

And I’m really excited to take that risk. I am totally stoked to spend the rest of the year putting myself out on a line for my brothers and sisters in Christ. Great things never came from comfort zones; nothing happens to the man who stays in place. I am so excited to get uncomfortable for every member of the OCF, friend or stranger, knowingly or unknowingly.

How much does a polar bear weigh? Enough to break the ice, and I’m gonna break as much ice as I possibly can, that everyone can experience the power of the Orthodox Christian relationships I grew over the span of two, three days.

SLI 2016 was electrifying. I can feel the energy buzzing in my veins every time I write a post, and I can still feel it after while I’m typing another stinkin’ e-mail. I can hear that same lightning crackling in my comrades from SLI, when I interact with them, when I ask them about their programs/regions–their zeal, their fervor, their love dances across their countenance and illumines the work they painstakingly do. SLI 2016 was electrifying, but don’t miss it: it wasn’t so galvanizing for our sakes. It was galvanizing for yours.

So take the risk, take the plunge. Take yourself out of your comfort zone for the young man on your left, the young woman on your right, and the Christ in all three of you. Go that extra mile, take that extra step–the value is there, I promise you, it’s there waiting for you. You just have to go out and get it.