Phil Shattuck is celebrating five years of being a Hartford resident this summer! He attends THP’s summer home base of South Church where he serves on the worship team, and has previously led the youth group. He first attended The Hartford Project in 2011, has since done just about everything in between, and now serves on the Board of Directors. Phil is the Program Manager at the iQuilt Partnership in Hartford. Below, Phil shares how God has been speaking to him in this season.
I am so blessed to be able to live in the City of Hartford, and to be able to live out my calling that God introduced to me at The Hartford Project six years ago. I grew up in the suburbs, but I am a “city person” through and through. Having this history of living with a suburban lens, to now living in a beautiful vibrant city, I eventually realized something that hurts the heart of God: Hartford, its suburbs, and its peoples too often live in adversarial relationships with each other. If you pay attention, this situation is not unique to Hartford by any means, but God has placed me here, and has made a way for me to “do something” about reconciling His people across these urban-suburban lines. For the last month, that has meant helping run Winterfest in Bushnell Park. I love my job with the iQuilt Partnership because our desire is to see the City of Hartford be a source of pride for people all across the region, something I see as directly in line with my calling.
Given my calling and experiences, it’s not hard to see why, seven years after graduating high school, I still come back and support The Hartford Project every year. God revealed that one of His desires through this ministry was one in the same as His calling on my life. For the last couple years, one of my roles at THP has been leading the Life in the City Planning Team. In some respects, this is really ironic because, if I am honest with myself, I don’t usually live my life in the city well. When I leave my apartment, more often than not, I approach the world with a “New York City mentality”: I have a destination in mind, and I’m ignoring everything until I get there. And I miss so much in the process.
This fall, God has been taking a wrecking ball to that part of my psyche – sometimes it just feels like that wall is 300 feet of concrete. And so, God has been working to change this mentality through a lot of different things. But during Advent, he put a peculiar thought in my head. In Luke 2:8-20, we read about the shepherds during the time of Christ’s birth.
There is so much we can learn in the fact that God chose to tell shepherds about Christ’s birth, but a day or two after reading this passage I was watching the Little Drummer Boy short film from 1968, and one part in particular stood out to me - where the entire crowd before the manger is shown. And while, in reality, the Three Kings weren’t at the manger yet, and the little drummer boy is really a made-up character, there were still many people around the manger, even without them. And while seeing this, I thought, “I wonder what everyone casually walking by that night thought about this scene?”
Think about it for a second: you’re an average Bethlehemian (that works right?). There are a ton of people in town, and you’re frustrated because your crabby aunt is going to be staying at your place now that all the inns are full. You’re walking to the market to buy an extra of everything now that you have company, and you’re walking past the stables. Except on this seemingly random night, there’s a ton of people with their sheep praising God as they surround two people sitting near a manger with – a baby? That might be weird enough to get me to stop in the middle of running around.
The shepherds and whoever they told knew that the Savior had come. But most people didn’t even understand the prophecies of the Messiah, let alone put it together that this was how they would be fulfilled. What’s crazy is that, 2000+ years after this night that literally changed the course of human existence, our communities are still filled with people who have no idea about their Messiah, or just don’t really get it. And the burden that has grown in me from this random thought is that, like the shepherds, we still have a calling to be witnesses at the manger.
You may have put away your manger scene now that Christmas is over - or if you’re like me, you don’t have a manger anyway. So kneeling in prayer before the manger might not literally be what’s going on here. But the actions of the shepherds amplified God’s glory in that situation. We can do that, right?
A couple of years ago, my youth group talked about something that I found fascinating and exciting. We were discussing the baptism of Christ, found in John 1:29-34. In this passage, Jesus is recognized as the Son of God when the Holy Spirit is displayed on Him as a dove from heaven. The group was talking about how to be recognized with the Spirit which lives within us, since it’s not usually through doves falling on us (although if you’ve had a dove fall on you, I’d love to hear about that). Instead, Paul tells us quite explicitly in Galatians 5:22-23 the fruits from which our mark is shown: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
All these years later, God is still placing this knowledge before me and asking, “What are you doing about this in your life?” Because if I limit the amount of interaction I have with the world around me, how does anyone see that fruit in me? How does my life reflect the Father’s love for his creation? That’s why a ministry like The Hartford Project is really important. It gives all of us involved an opportunity to live out these fruits with people that we don’t typically interact with. Our prayer for everyone is that this challenge at THP might make living our faith easier in settings that we’re more familiar with, like our schools or workplaces or homes... Easier said than done, right?
But God is so gracious. Even when we struggle to live that lifestyle, God can use something much simpler. The shepherds in Bethlehem that night weren’t displaying any particular fruit of the Spirit before the manger. It was their prayers and praises that drew the attention of the people around them. The amazing truth is that, even if all else fails, living a life of praise is all God needs to make you a witness to the world around you. And when we really stop to think of what the Father has done for us, isn’t that pretty easy?
And if we keep continually returning to the manger – spending time with the Father, stepping into His mission and being His hands and feet – God will use that faithfulness to bring out a greater work within you and fulfill the fullness of His Spirit within you. In this process of God chipping away at my concrete wall, I have been so excited by all the Lord is revealing about His desire for me. I still have to mentally stop myself and remember to return to the manger often, but over time my expectation continues to build. I am so confident that 2020 is going to be an amazing year for the Church in Hartford, and I pray that as you faithfully dwell with the Father, He reveals to you the ways in which He calls you to be a witness – even if it’s as small (though truly big) as the mindset you have when you leave your home. Because that’s how He changes the world.
Who else is ready for THP 2020??
Alexa Carlson is a Connecticut native now living in Virginia. She first attended The Hartford Project in 2010 and spent many summers serving at THP. Alexa finished her degree at Liberty University in 2018, where she pursued Business Administration with a focus in International Business. Her dream is to one day have her own business that empowers others around the world in a sustainable way. Below, Alexa shares how The Hartford Project has shaped who she is and where God has her today. You can read more about Alexa’s life and faith on her personal blog: allfourchrist.weebly.com.
With Thanksgiving being right around the corner, it is such a great season to spend time with friends and family! I am glad to have a holiday that focuses on being thankful. Did you know that Thanksgiving, “began as a day of giving thanks and sacrifice for the blessing of the harvest and of the preceding year?”(Thanks, Wikipedia). What I love about this definition is the word harvest. Thanksgiving is a time to remember all that the Lord has done and brought to fruition in the previous year. Harvesting is the most difficult but necessary process of the growing season. Once the crop is harvested, a new growth cycle begins.
The Hartford Project is something I am truly thankful for. My THP journey began in 2010 as a student participant. That year was followed by three more years as a student, one year as a group leader and most recently in 2018, serving on staff as the Assistant Internship Supervisor. The Hartford Project is a ministry that has impacted me in many ways. Over the years, The Hartford Project has grown my faith tremendously. THP has pushed me out of my comfort zone and given me opportunities to share the gospel with strangers, love my neighbors in my capitol city, worship with abandon and so much more. The Hartford Project has equipped me with the tools to love the world around me as Christ commanded us to.
Working as a staff member for The Hartford Project in 2018, was one of the best summer jobs I have ever had. It showed me that encouraging others in their spiritual journeys is one of my passions. I enjoyed being able to encourage the interns, it was truly such a sweet team! Having the opportunity to work for the The Hartford Project solidified that I wanted to work for a mission. I wanted the opportunity to guide others as they grew in their faith, challenge them outside their comfort zones and propel them to step into the Lord’s calling for them. It is evident that my THP experiences prepared me for what I would be doing today.
This past August, I began working for a non-profit organization called Sports Outreach Institute. Our mission is to recruit, train, equip and deploy committed Christian leaders in the effective use of sports ministry for the purpose of sharing the Gospel and to alleviate human suffering. My role as the Trip Administrator, gives me the opportunity to empower trip leaders as they step on international mission fields with their teams. I am responsible for working out all the logistics and preparing each participant to be equipped to serve internationally. This is similar to THP, where I had the opportunity to equip interns to step into their specific ministry roles. Working for The Hartford Project also developed my administration skills. Through THP, I learned how to be more organized and prepared for meetings and discussions. I learned what a cohesive team looks like and how to create a firm foundation. Serving with The Hartford Project in different capacities opened my eyes to the world around me. I learned that there is much need in my own backyard, that the Lord is working in all things and that teamwork brings projects to fruition. I look back fondly on my experiences at The Hartford Project because they were life changing and prepared me for my current job.
I can truly see the harvest of the Lord’s goodness in my life as I look back over this past year. I can see how he prepared me through many years of THP in all the different capacities I have served in. As I look back, I can see the harvest of skills and experiences that allowed a new growth cycle to start. I am SO thankful for being part of THP throughout the years and so glad the Lord used it to guide me to step into where He has me today. He is working all things for your good and has amazing plans for your life. If you are in the preparation season, keep being obedient and he will bring a harvest!
Post written by Natsalla Rios.
Hello, it’s me again! I don’t know if you remember me, but I'm Natsalla. I was an intern last year!
Red hair? In love with a goat from Keney Park? No? Okay… well, allow me to reintroduce myself. I’m Natsalla, and this year I'm an intern supervisor! Moving up in the chain. Here I am…
Being an intern supervisor this year was a blast! I loved interacting with all the students and leaders. This summer I was able to connect with everyone on a more personal and spiritual level.
This summer was definitely full of opportunities to grow, and that’s exactly what I did!
I grew mentally...
And most importantly, in my faith...
This summer, in any times of confusion or despair or even gratitude I found that I just continued praying and talking with God, and that's definitely something I struggled to do before.
This summer, I was able to see God move in my team’s life and in mine and I was just so grateful to have been able to experience God’s love, through the endless nights of just talking and relying on each other. It was honestly a dream!
It was amazing to be able to be personal with each other and our struggles. We were able to confide in each other and push each other closer to God. I found that this summer was a spiritual awakening. Not only in my personal life but in everyone who was lucky enough to be in arms reach of The Hartford Project.
God definitely made a way this summer in our hearts and with endless surprises along the way.
I'm tremendously thankful, and I’m happy to see what God has in store for me this upcoming school year. I can't wait to continue to learn more about myself and the plan that God calls me to do.
I couldn’t have grown this summer without the love and support of all the people around me and I’m so grateful for everyone who was there to help me through my spiritual warfare. Although this summer wasn't what I expected, there's nothing I would change about it because God places in our hearts and lives what he desires for us to grow in, and let me tell you… this summer was definitely my summer of growth, and I’m in awe of the person that I am becoming because of God. Can’t wait to see what’s next in my walk of faith!
But what can I say?
That’s all for now folks!
Poem by Judah Shingleton // @escapeismyart
I stand in the dull
In the cold
And the dark
With no light for my path
And no warmth for my heart
And I stand and I call
For a change
For a spark
And I beg to this world
For a fire to start
And it won’t
This world has been wasting its breath
Blowing on ashes
On piles of pieces of death
Particles from which
Fire shall never emerge
The world faints with flattened lungs
When nothing catches flame
Our futile attempts simply scatter the dust
And there is no change
Yet I feel something in the ground
There’s something in the air
Something in me
That’s been a long time coming
And at the same time
There’s only one breath you need
It’s not the one from the world
It’s the one from me
Then I began to see
My world transform
An act of God greater than when the mountains were formed
It looks of something new, looks of hearts reborn
Because if He is here
Then so is love
If He is here
Then so is passion
If He is here
Then so is fire
And He is
And if He is the same
Today and every day
Then He’s bringing change
And He is
So He shows me wine that used to be water
He shows me an empty grave where his body once lay
Then He shows me the ashes
Where I once stood
Where I once choked
But he opens my eyes
To the truth
Cause to the world
And its limited power
These are ashes
But to God
These are embers
So the Lord said
There’s only one breath you need
It’s not the one from the world
It’s the one from me
Breathe into the cinders
Igniting the embers
For ashes are tired
But embers spark fires
So we take to the dull
And the cold
And the dark
With a fire for our paths
And a fire in our hearts
Cause He answered the call
For a flame
From these sparks
That outshines this whole world
He just breathes
And it starts
Intern Reflection Series // Post written by Lydia Yu
Interning for THP again this summer has been filled with unexpected blessings and lessons, and the experience was completely different from last year in the best way. There are always new things to learn about God and serving, and God certainly did not disappoint in showing how He moves this summer!
During THP Week One, I was a participant with Chinese Baptist Church of Greater Hartford in addition to being an intern. It was such a joy to serve alongside the members of my youth group, become closer with them, and watch all of us grow in our relationships with God. That week, I didn’t realize how much shame I had carried beforehand and the constricting boxes I had put around God’s love until I fully experienced the depths of His love during Week One. I was weighed down by sin and the way I had pushed God to the background during my senior year of high school, and I felt as if I was not worthy of all of God’s love. However, as we sang “You Are Good” on Monday night, I could feel God emphasizing to me that his love is boundless and infinite; it doesn’t matter how much we’ve sinned or how far away we feel from Him because He still wants us and loves us.
As the Life in the City and Love Wins intern, there was a lot of work to do, and it was especially stressful during the June Outreach Week when I was a participant in addition to being an intern. Combined with the anxieties of beginning college in a setting that was very new to me and the work I had to do in preparation for that, I became overwhelmed with stress at times and would doubt my decision in becoming an intern. The Enemy discouraged me as I grew frustrated with myself because I knew that I had been able to handle higher workloads throughout high school, and I felt very incapable of serving God. But God is faithful; throughout the summer I learned to surrender all of my worries and stresses to Him, and I discovered a peace and joy that can only come from God. He reminded me that I didn’t have to be perfect to serve Him and that He could give me strength for anything as long as I depended faithfully on Him.
THP has been such an immense blessing in my life, and the internship has helped me build a strong foundation in my faith that will be crucial to college life and beyond. This life is one that I live with the sole purpose of bringing glory to God through the gifts that He has given me, and though it may be difficult and filled with trials, I have confidence that God is with me through everything and He will never leave me.
Intern Reflection Series // Post written by Alexa Carlson, Assistant Internship Supervisor
Hey everyone, it’s Alexa! You may remember me as the Internship Supervisor and you can see me in the picture below, the last one on the right in the blue tank top! For me, this summer has been one of great growth in a short amount of time - that is why I named this post “The Greenhouse Summer.” The Lord has changed me a lot this summer and THP played a huge part in it!
Wow, how is it already September? This summer has flown by but has been such a blessing!
Little did I know that answering the call in March for this position would be one of the best decisions I have ever made!
This job has brought me so much joy and the Lord has worked so much. It is evident that He united our team and brought us into deeper relationships with Him and one another. We have seen the Lord move mightily through the students and leaders. We have heard testimonies of what He has done in Hartford and are encouraged by what He will continue to do.
Jacquelyn and I have been gifted with this intern team. They have been some of the hardest working colleagues I have ever known! They are so respectful and willing to do anything that needs to be done - and at any time of the day. It has been awesome getting to know them personally and understand their personalities and giftings. The Lord has grown them all this summer and I am excited to see where he takes each of them this next year.
Over the course of this summer the Lord has taught me to be intentional in every moment - to seek him and be present where he has me. This was sometimes hard since at THP there's a lot happening all at once and it can feel chaotic, but trusting the Lord and being intentional was always worth it. He allowed me to see different situations with new eyes and a pure heart. Everything has purpose, and when we choose to see with Kingdom eyes we will not miss what the Lord is doing all around us.
Shout out to all the coffee sellers in the Connecticut area for fueling every moment of THP! We could not have done it without your delicious coffee and support!
Intern Reflection Series // Poem written by Natsalla Rios
In the summer 2018 I interned here at THP!
I know amazing right... ME... being in this incredible ministry.
Hello, allow me to introduce myself, I’m Natsalla - the worksites and discipleship intern.
Ugh, I know it is a super long title, I understand you. Here’s me...
Don’t I look so happy?
I was - believe me I had a blast.
During this internship I was able to see the work that goes into THP!
Yes, I know what you’re thinking -
What is this girl talking about? How much work can it be planning a WEEK?
... but let me tell you... A LOT!
If it’s not planning where the participants are going for worksites and showers
It's making sure we got you handled with a great worship team to get you worshipping.
Incredible, right? I know!
That’s only my job - imagine the other interns.
We all worked super hard to make this all possible for you.
Not only did our team help make your summers so much better,
but our summer was made better too.
For example, I was quiet...
HAHA I know you wouldn’t tell by reading this,
but I was the shy one
and by the support of my team and supervisors
I was able to be pushed out of my comfort zone,
meet new people,
and make amazing connections.
During the course of this internship,
not only was I able to just meet people
and learn to get out of my comfort zone
but I was able to build in my relationship with God
and learn new ways to better myself in Christ,
because you can always become better : )
In my time in building my relationship with God
I began a Bible project with my intern supervisor
and found a new mentor
in my amazing church community
to help keep me on the right track.
I just pray that God continues to bless me moving forward
as I begin to search for my calling in the ministry and in college.
That’s all for now folks!
God bless you all!!
Intern Reflection Series // Post written by Gabe Sullivan
Hey everyone, Gabe here!
I’m so excited to be able to share with everyone how the Lord has worked and what He has taught me over this absolutely amazing summer He’s blessed me with.
First, this entire summer has been one of the best that I've ever had the pleasure of living. The Lord blessed me with so many new experiences and the opportunity to meet so many new people this summer. I can never praise Him enough for it! This internship as a whole kind of came on unexpectedly in the spring; when my youth pastor asked me if I would consider being an intern it surprised me very much. I prayed for a little bit on the subject but quickly jumped into it and decided to apply, even if I was somewhat skeptical. I felt the Lord calling and was ready to see where it went. Praise Him that I was able to hear the call!
From day one, the Lord began to teach me many things. I learned how to be part of true Christian community.
So much has happened with them: dance parties at 1 AM, the South Church basement flooding, the “Internmission” talent show, many late nights of work or Anomia, failing at laser tag, trying and LIKING coffee for the first time ever. So many great stories and that’s not even talking about Team D yet.
On the second outreach week, I had the pleasure of being a participant while still being an intern. The huge amount of work aside, I was blessed to be part of the best team ever - shoutout to Team D!
As soon as the week started, my team and I bonded instantly, and every experience made us grow even closer. From volunteering at Youth Challenge and Kinsella to dinner at the Torres-Serranos’ home to eating out at Banana Brazil Grill to Love Wins to worship every night - a family formed that week - and still to this day we keep in touch. Before this summer I had 3 or 4 friends I kept in contact with, but now I keep in touch with over 20 and it’s awesome!
Being a part of both the Interns and Team D has brought me into new places of wonder and awe of God. God desires for us to be in community and He has brought me into that this summer. As it says in Ecclesiastes 4:9-12,
Another thing that the Lord has taught me this summer has been to live my life by prayer, one day at a time.
Up front, this seems like something so obvious, but how many of us actually do it? No, we freak out and forget that the God of the universe is with us and is always there to lead, help, and protect us. All we have to do is humble ourselves and ask Him for help. He will always answer. As it says in Matthew 7:7-8,
The Lord taught me so much over this summer. But perhaps the biggest thing he did was cause my faith to come alive for the first time.
I’ve had faith for a while and the Lord has been at work within me, but this summer my faith came alive fully for the first time. With that came so many new opportunities to do work for His kingdom - opportunities that I never would have had before. Just in these past couple weeks, I’ve had numerous chances to serve and pray with others, whether people I knew or complete strangers! And the chances to pray with others only continues to grow as time goes on! The Lord fulfilled His promise as He says in Ezekiel 37:5,
A life in Christ is fully realized when we let the Lord do His work, when we are in community with each other, constantly seeking Him in prayer, and being ready to obey His calling upon our lives.
I can happily say that this summer all these things happened because the Lord allowed them to, and I pray that it continues onward.
Praise Him for everything! Lord, continue to guide us as we go about the next year into the entire future! Let your spirit fall upon us and hold back attacks of the enemy at all points.
In Jesus name, Amen.
Thanks everyone for reading!
Have a great year!!!
Intern Reflection Series // Post written by Gabrielle Ger
Hey, I’m Gabby. A lot of you might not know me, since I wasn’t originally part of the internship team here at The Hartford Project, but that’s honestly just a testament to God’s great power and His awesome, unexpected plans.
Anyway, here’s a quick rundown of who I am:
My name is Gabrielle Ger, or Gabby, and I’m from Chinese Baptist Church of Greater Hartford (CBCGH) in Bloomfield, CT. This summer, I participated as a leader for CBCGH during the first outreach week, and then subsequently - and surprisingly - became the kitchen intern for The Hartford Project! I’m currently studying music and psychology at UConn, and I love making music and baked goods (sometimes at the same time).
Now that intros are over, let me tell you about how God has done amazing things this summer to bring me back to The Hartford Project over and over again.
First, I volunteered as one of the four leaders that went with my church, and that was a really cool experience. However, it all really started when I signed up to help in the kitchen during THP’s second outreach week, right after getting back from the first outreach week, because I wanted to do more with The Hartford Project.
Then God just took my action and desire to help and absolutely ran away with it. Before I knew it, I had dedicated the rest of my summer to doing what I could to help the THP staff, and I’ve honestly loved every second of it!
During the outreach week, God just poured incredible amounts of strength and peace on me, and I got to experience the joy of the Lord all week. Despite the sparse hours of rest I got during the week, I was energetic and ready to serve all week. I found an amazing, loving community in the kitchen team - full of genuine conversation and witty banter alike. It felt like I belonged exactly there and there was a sense of rightness that I hadn’t really felt elsewhere with such intensity.
This summer, God has shown me how intentional and unexpected His plans are, and how powerfully He can work in anyone who is willing to answer His call and act in faith for His glory.
God has been bringing up this particular verse to me:
This verse has been a great reminder all summer that I should not only learn about God and His place in my life, but also act on His directions and follow wherever He leads me.
Even more so, God encouraged and spoke to me through some of the people I met during the week, both in and out of the kitchen. For example, He’s shown me how much a person can do when they take action for the Lord and His kingdom. During the second outreach week, the interns had the opportunity to have dinner in the home of a woman who lives in Hartford and attends House of Praise and Worship for church. Through this woman’s testimony, I learned how God has done incredible things in her life and the lives of her children and grandchildren as a result of her acts of faith and way of living in accordance to His doctrine. In this way, God showed me how much a person can impact the lives of the people around them when they take action for God’s sake.
Finally, I want to end with a verse to encourage you all. It served as another great reminder for me throughout the outreach week and most of this summer:
Jonathan is the last member of our intern team I will be introducing you to. He is serving as our Admin and Discipleship Intern this summer.
He participated in The Hartford Project for the first time in 2016 with Poquonock Community Church. During this summer's July outreach week, Jonathan will also be participating as a student as well as working as an intern.
Jonathan enjoys hanging out with friends in his free time and playing lacrosse.
During our June summer outreach week, Jonathan enjoyed working with THP staff and participants and singing along during worship. He can’t wait for another week!
When you see him at THP you can address him as: Jonathan, Jonny, Jon, or J J Ron.
We hope you loved meeting all of our incredible 2018 interns!
Written by Christina Perreault
Written by the many voices of The Hartford Project!