Initially functioning as a Christian camp, NORTHSTAR Alpine Lodge is an outdoor adventure ministry that has evolved into a successful business-as-mission establishment hosting hundreds of people throughout the year.
The NORTHSTAR team has gained influence with the surrounding community through this innovative platform and has built bridges into the lives of the Japanese people. At the heart of it all, the team strives to engage their guests with a Christ-centered faith that speaks powerfully through their words and their actions.
Youth and students have always been central to the NORTHSTAR vision. Here are two ways this ministry is influencing the next generation.
They earn their right to be heard among Japanese youth.
It was a great day for biking. Camp director Brad Waters took a new crew of young students out on their first-ever mountain biking adventure.
After everyone collected their gear and bikes, Brad lined them up to go over some of the rules. Because he was the instructor, every little pair of eyes and ears were respectfully on him. After explaining the rules, Brad took them on several trails. Everyone had a blast.
When the trip ended, the students got back into the line they started in and Brad asked the group a simple question, “Why do you think we need guides for biking?”
Some hands shot up into the air.
One boy said, “Because we need someone who will keep us safe.” Another said, “A guide helps us have good technique.” Then someone said, “We need a guide to show us where the best trails are so we can be happy and have fun.” It was an open door for Brad to tell them about Jesus.
Brad explained to the group how Jesus is like a mountain bike guide. Yes, he can keep us safe and show us good technique, but more importantly, he can make us happy.
Patterning themselves after the YoungLife ministry, NorthStar works to earn the right to be heard among the Japanese youth. For this, the team is seeking what the Japanese call nakama. It means the “inner-circle”. When you develop nakama, you earn a level of friendship that allows you to influence.
Nakama is only developed through relationship, and the outdoor activities and other programs at NORTHSTAR are designed to build those relationships. Every day, the team seeks to earn nakama with their students, so that they can have an impact that lasts.
They offer great one-year cross-cultural internships for students.
Emma Irwin was looking for an opportunity to serve in the States. After exploring a few options that did not work out, the chance to go to Japan to intern with NORTHSTAR came unexpectedly. Emma took the plunge, flying to Japan with no idea what awaited her.
In just a few weeks of serving alongside the diverse NORTHSTAR team, Emma fell in love with Japan and the ministry there. Not only was she learning how to clean camp toilets, she was also seeing new ways to live out her faith in a brand new culture. After her internship concludes, she plans to return in a more permanent capacity.
Emma offers this encouragement to anyone considering cross-cultural service, “Don’t be a slave to your past or committed to the future or you will miss out on the beauty that is today. Today is all we are promised, so live it, the Lord has plans for you now, don’t miss out on what is right in front of you.”
NORTHSTAR internships are designed to impact the next generation while helping the lodge operate. The goal is for interns to learn practical ways to live out their faith in a cross-cultural environment. What better way for the next generation of leaders to gain a heart for the nations than serving among one of the most unreached people groups in the world?
Not only do the interns help run the creative programs at the lodge, but each intern who passes through NORTHSTAR’s program leaves changed.
For more information about NorthStar, visit RideNorthStar.com.