Student Leadership Board Applications | Knock And The Door Will Be Opened

Student Leadership Board Applications | Knock And The Door Will Be Opened

Wow. I can’t believe it.

It seems like just yesterday–last week, max–that my sister was the chairman-elect of OCF, Skyping me from Pittsburgh and encouraging me to apply for the Student Leadership Board (SLB). For an organization about which I knew virtually nothing, whose chapters were not present at the University of Chicago. Okay.

The more she spoke to me about the position, the more I warmed to the prospect of applying for it. The passion with which she spoke of the mission of OCF, of the four pillars of OCF, of the distinct change and goodness I could enact…it galvanized me to join the ranks. To step forward and ask what I could do to serve. To take my God-given talents and gear them, directly, to His glory.

This post will not be about that.

Most of you don’t, I think, have a sister to help pave your way to the SLB. If you do, love her and buy her cool Christmas presents (hi Emma). Most of you didn’t spend your freshman year longing to get involved with the OCF in some capacity. Most of you found occupation with other, incredibly worthy extracurriculars and organizations, while I just kinda…dawdled.

I mean, if any of those things apply to you, awesome–trust me, you’re well on your way to joining the district, regional, or national level of OCF. But it is far likely that most of those things don’t apply to you, and as such, this post will not be about those things.

Don’t worry, the rousing motivation to apply is gonna come. Trust me on that one. Applications don’t open until the 20th. We’re gonna get you. We’re very persistent. Very.

But I don’t want to talk to you about this great and unique mission that the OCF certainly has; these unimaginable and special people it undoubtedly works with; these fantastic and electrifying heights it has indubitably reached over these past years. Nope.

I want to talk to you about how regular it is.

Never convince yourself the power of the OCF is at the national level–it’s not. It’s at the chapter level. OCF is about infusing college campus with Orthodox love and wisdom and forgiveness and joy. All of our energies push to the chapter, to the individual, to the Orthodox Christian college student–you. You, your growth, your security, and your realization in Christ–these are the goals toward which the OCF was geared and formed.

And, to be honest with you, you’re pretty regular.

I mean, don’t get me wrong, you’re special. But I don’t want you to think that the SLB doesn’t belong to you, that it’s somehow outside of your capacities. My sister is the chairwoman of the OCF, and I could rattle off thirty of her skills right now that I wish I could emulate in my life, but at no point during our entire childhood together did my parents look at each other and say “Honey, I really think little Emmy’s going to be the chairwoman of a 300-chapter Orthodox organization someday.”

I’ve known Rachel Howanetz, our Mid-Atlantic Regional Student Leader, for almost seven (don’t yell at me if I got that wrong Rach, I’m sorry) years, and never did I think to myself “Man, everyone is exceptional in their own way, but Rachel is just so much more exceptional than all of the others. They couldn’t cut it as a Regional Student Leader, but she could.”

Again, if there was a “List Reasons Why Rachel Howanetz Is Exceptional” game show, I’d win a million dollars–I love each and every member of this Board and couldn’t have a greater appreciation for the individual, incredible work they do. But the OCF–and I can’t have you miss this–isn’t an organization comprised of the people at the chapter level, and then the people at the district level, and then the regional, and then the national. We’re all just people. You are just as powerful as I am–and personally, I would argue more so. We’re doing the same thing–serving God–just manifested differently. Your work, your service to the Lord, came from reading this blog. Mine was writing it. Every SLB member is doing just that: a job they were given.

Isabella Calpakis, your Public Relations Student Leader, and Niko Wilk, your Southeast Student Leader, helped start a chapter in North Carolina, loved the impact it had, and decided they wanted to do more–heck, Isabella’s position was hardly even real last year. All she did was show up and ask how best to serve, and OCF is better off for it. That’s what I’m talking about right there: she saw a need and she filled it. She added value to the organization.

Nora Haddad served in her second year as College Conference West Student Leader this year, because she found something she loves doing and is sticking to it–value, added. Peter Savas was asked to be the first ever College Conference Midwest Student Leader and simply took an opportunity to help bring people together–value, added. Mark Sultani really loved College Conference East and wanted to help improve it even further, so he just did–value, added.

Perhaps what we do is purified, sanctified, and made exceptional through Jesus Christ, but I really want to impress upon you the fact that all of us (save for me, because of nepotism) just wanted to add value. We had talents, and we wanted to serve the Lord, so we did a job that maximized our talents and glorified God. That’s it, and that’s all we continue to do. Literally every single person reading this post falls into that same category we fell in, one inexplicably short year ago. Not a single one of you is without talent; not a single one of you doesn’t want to serve the Lord.

Will the Student Leadership Board be your avenue for that service? I don’t know. I hope so. But whether or not it is, leave here with no doubt: you belong on the Student Leadership Board. Seek, and you shall find. Ask, and you shall receive. Knock, and the door shall be opened to you.

Student Leadership Board applications will be released on Monday, February 20th. Be sure to follow OCF Ministry on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram–or check the website–to be notified when the applications become available.


Student Leadership Board Applications | Knock And The Door Will Be Opened

SLI 2016 | Take the Risk

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.