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Compass Program Encourages Youth in Leadership Development

August 16, 2011

For one month this summer, 27 high school students explored the Adirondack Mountains, learned from seminary professors and ministered cross-culturally in Costa Rica as part of Compass, Gordon-Conwell’s leadership development program for youth.

Compass works with church leaders across the country to identify young people with leadership gifts and encourage them to consider using those gifts in ministry. Through a one-month Real Ministry Immersion (RMI) experience, students attend a wilderness camp, take seminary classes and go on a short-term missions trip to explore how God might be calling them to serve Him.

“I felt like coming here would help me decide about my future and whether to do ministry,” said Karim Ghobrial, a 17-year-old from Mansfield, MA. “I wanted to grow in my faith and get closer to God. It’s been life-changing for sure.”

For Emily Sargent, also 17, Compass has given her a chance to connect with Christians her own age, which she says growing up in Vermont hasn’t enabled her to do.

“It’s been really cool to be with a group of people as dedicated to seeking God as I am,” she said.

The outdoor education component and the missions trip allow participants to build leadership skills and work together in teams. The seminary classes give students a taste of an academic realm they could explore in the future.

Karim used to think that asking too many questions amounted to doubting God, but the classes at Gordon-Conwell taught him that asking questions doesn’t signal a lack of faith.

“I learned a lot more than I thought was possible to know about God,” Karim said.

“My mind has been stretched so much,” Emily added. “The professors are amazing. I loved seeing the big picture of salvation.”

After they return home in late July, Compass students arrange for a mentor to meet with them regularly for the next three years, a crucial time when many of them will be entering college and making decisions about their lives as adults.

Now in its tenth year, the program has alumni serving in ministry all over the country, many of whom are recommending students in their own congregations to Compass.

Though graduate school may seem a long way off to these students, Compass alumni are also offered a $5,500/year scholarship (renewable for three years) to study at Gordon-Conwell and continue the education they sampled during RMI.

“I thought it was going to be like normal camp: make friends for a week, play sports, hear a little lesson,” said Karim. “It’s been so much more than that.”

The 2012 RMI will be June 27 to July 26, and applications are available now. Find out more about the Compass Program.