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 Jacque Smith, Director of Public Relations
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 jasmith@ucollege.edu

Outlook - March 2006

MatchBox ignites new ministry opportunities for Union students

MatchBox is run by student leaders Jeff Moore, Jessica Tunnell and Michael Polite (not pictured).

by Laura Poblete
        
John Wesley said, “Catch on fire with enthusiasm and people will come from miles to watch you burn. This idea is the driving force behind MatchBox, a new student-run ministry and recruiting effort at Union College. Co-led by Union students Jeff Moore, Jessica Tunnell and Michael Polite, MatchBox regularly sends student teams to churches and academies across the United States to share their enthusiasm for Jesus Christ through testimony, music, drama and community outreach.
         “The number one purpose of MatchBox is to share our enthusiasm and faith in Christ at any opportunity we receive. Additionally, we promote Union College and give Union students an opportunity to be involved in outreach,” Moore said.
         “The best recruiting tool we know is Union students sharing what they have experienced and how they feel about Union,” Tunnell said. “We seek to bring the atmosphere of Union to churches and academies through music, testimony, drama and just our presence.”
         Newly branded as MatchBox this year, the ministry has been functioning out of the Enrollment Services office under the name Church Ministries for several years. The group consists of approximately 40 Union students divided into four traveling teams. Union’s gospel choir, Exalted Praise, also tours as a MatchBox team. 
         As of January this year, MatchBox teams have traveled to 18 locations including churches, schools or youth rallies as well as three Lincoln sites. While a majority of the destinations are within the Mid-America Union,  MatchBox teams have also traveled to farther states such as Virginia, Arkansas, Oregon and Washington.
         Participation is open to all Union College students and they are encouraged to share their talents in whatever area fits them best: teaching a Sabbath school lesson, giving a testimony, providing technical support, performing in a short drama, preaching a sermon, providing special music or leading out in song service.
         “My vision was for students to have the opportunity to share their talents and faith in ways they may not feel comfortable doing at a large church such as College View or in front of their peers,” said Paula Remmers, MatchBox supervisor and communications manager for Enrollment Services. “Jeff, Jessica and Michael have taken that vision and developed it beyond all my expectations.”
         Moore and Tunnell are responsible for marketing MatchBox to churches and academies, scheduling and organizing visits, holding group practices, and promoting student involvement on campus. Polite oversees trips to churches in the Central States Conference and is the choir director for Exalted Praise. In addition, they all travel with various teams.
         “I chose to be a part of the group because I saw the teams coming back and how excited and blessed they were from going on a trip,” Tunnell said.  “I just had to experience it for myself. Sharing my love for Jesus and Union both together is awesome.”
         Moore enjoys having the opportunity to use his talents to minister to others. “Union is a great place for people to use their talents to praise God, and MatchBox is just another way for people to do this,” Moore said.
         Polite seeks to share the spirit of Union. “My goal is to help bring Union College into the homes, schools and churches of our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ who may not have the privilege of experiencing Union College on a day-to-day basis as I do,” Polite said.
         “It is so neat to see students’ faces light up when they come into my office after a weekend and tell me how they were the ones that were blessed,” Remmers said. “I have never had a student say they didn’t want to go out again. They seem to develop a passion for wanting to go more.”
         This enthusiasm is not limited to the members of MatchBox. As with a real match that ignites a spark, their passion for Union and Christ spreads to the youth to which they minister.
         In February 2005, a team of Union students traveled to Shenandoah Valley Academy (SVA) in Virginia as part of a special youth weekend. They provided worship programs and joined a group of students on Sabbath afternoon to be a part of the academy’s homeless ministry in Washington, D.C.
        
“The six young people that came to SVA had a tremendous impact on the academy youth,” said Pastor Tim Harley, SVA chaplain. “They performed music the students loved and gave some excellent talks that had the students laughing, crying, applauding and in silence. Union College will definitely have students from SVA as a result of the team being here and ministering to us.”
 

“Each team that goes out to schools and churches is a matchbox—an aid to getting something started. The team contributes with an enthusiastic service, and then it is up to the audience members to keep the fire growing.”
Trina Peterson shares her talents in public speaking by giving sermons or leading discussion groups.

 “I’ve learned that no matter how diverse a group may seem, as long as they share the same purpose and the same Jesus, they are able to gain a great blessing and find peace in the face of any trial. After just one experience, watching our group come together for a greater purpose has ignited a flame within us that we can share and memories we can smile on, even after months have passed.”
Katelyn Rabanal shares her talents through singing. 

 “I have always dreamed of being in a ministry such as this—where God is the center of all that is done. An experience that stands out to me is when I went to Crawford, Nebraska.  Four of us put on the vespers program and each of us shared a testimony. I was greatly blessed by each person’s words; it was encouraging for me to hear how Christ has led in someone else’s life.
Mitchell Graham shares his talents through playing guitar, singing, performing drama and preaching.