Written by Allie Sampson
Photographed by JD Gravitt
As a staff, one of our favorite elements of the 18 Inch Journey is the amount of surprises that we tuck within the 60 days. However, the way that we find ourselves catching the most traction is within the schedule that we dream up with the Father. Before the students arrive, the full 60 days are intentionally prayed over and mapped out by our Core Staff. In planning, we carve out specific times for consistent classes or blocks, which we refer to as rhythms.
We use the word rhythms because these classes and activities that we keep coming back to set the cadence and the pace for the summer. They are the beautiful boundaries that we operate within; they keep us on track and create safety through consistency.
One of our favorite rhythms during the school is Papa Ken Time. Papa Ken Time is a chance that the students have to sit down with the founding father of this land, a true pioneer in the faith, and ask him questions and hear his heart. Every weekday morning, Ken meets with one of the five small groups over breakfast. Often times, Ken will share something that has been on his heart, something that he felt the Lord share with him in their time together earlier in the morning. In addition, Papa Ken frequently shares from My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers. The students have the opportunity to glean wisdom from someone who has gone before them – to ask questions that they have on their hearts and learn from someone who has so much to teach and share.
In addition to weekly Papa Ken Time, Ken and his wife Mrs. Linda invite each small group up to their house for a Sunday Lunch during the school. During these Sunday lunches, the students get to have more intentional time hearing family stories and learning more about Ken and Linda and A Place for the Heart. These times with Ken and Linda are one of the greatest gifts the students receive during the summer.
As young people, it is extremely rare to have someone who is generations ahead of us that wants to intentionally invest in our lives, pray for us and answer our questions. Our community is exceedingly grateful for Papa Ken and the way that he has chosen to give his life to see our generation fall more in love with Jesus. Many times, including this summer, he has chosen to decline overseas ministry trips, just so that he can pour into the students who have come to be here. So many of the staff have had seasons where we have been invited to sit around Ken’s table and hear his stories and each of us that have had this opportunity have been forever changed because of it.