Magic, Advent, and Giving Tuesday

A student continues to spark wonder this semester

Posted by Austin Kilduff on 1 December 2020

And Mary said, "Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word."

-Luke 1:38

An Experience of Wonder

On a rainy fall afternoon, I met up with Zach in a large, covered outdoor seating space on Wentworth's campus. We spent some time catching up, then he asked if I wanted to move the conversation to a nearby coffee shop. Of course I did. We biked over together, got our drinks, and found an empty table in the corner. Zach and I continued talking about his walk with the Lord throughout the last few years of college, and then he asked one of my favorite questions: "Do you want to see a magic trick?" Of course I did.

Zach shuffled a deck of cards, had me pick a random card, and set it on the table without either of us looking at it. Next he had me think of any card. He asked me to describe whatever card would be completely different from that imaginary card, and tell him that different card. My imaginary card was the queen of clubs, so I told him the two of diamonds. He made a couple of logical deductions and was able to guess my original imaginary card. Impressive mentalism, but not quite the flashy magic I'm used to from Zach. However, after he guessed my imaginary card correctly, he revealed the face down card on the table. It was my made-up card, the queen of clubs.

While magic and faith don't seem like a natural fit, or even sometimes seem to be at odds, Zach has a robust understanding of how God is calling him to inspire wonder through his craft. The sense of "How did he do that?" permeates both magic as a performance art and faith as a relationship with Jesus. But Zach takes it a step further. Although Zach loves demonstrating his skills, his ultimate dream is to use his studies of Industrial Design to create tools magicians can use in their acts, a dream that Zach is beginning to realize. Together with a fellow Christian magician, Zach recently sent a product he created to market with one of the most prominent magic retailers.

I love watching Zach perform, but the real joyful content of our time together is hearing Zach describe how God is working in his life. Zach lights up when he talks about his vocational ambitions and time spent in prayer, meditation, and reading. As a student leader, he brings that same enthusiasm and creativity to planning our Midweek Gatherings. I offer thanks for the ways God has used Zach to enhance our ministry and prayer for the ways He will continue to use Zach to inspire wonder.

Zach astounds with some Zoom magic

Semester Updates

  • Midweek Gathering: Every Wednesday night, our students gather on Zoom to check in with one another, laugh together, worship musically, hear reflections on applied faith, and discuss the implications to carry away. We recently finished a series on the presence of God, and this week are beginning an Advent series on justice as we await His return.
  • Discipleship: I've been meeting with a handful of students one-on-one throughout the semester, most regularly with three young men - Zach, Jae, and Nick. The ability to be present to one another in-person has been an enormous blessing for both me and these students.
  • Lifeboat Food Pantry: Lifeboat is a food pantry I've been involved with since early 2018. Since COVID, the number of bags of food we distribute each week has more than doubled. I've been involved with a growing number of deliveries for families that can't make it in person, and have been working with the Kataluma refugee ministry to organize a further expansion of services. Going into next semester, I'm planning on creating more avenues for students to be involved as well as gain a deeper understanding of service and hospitality.
A day at Lifeboat food pantry

Fundraising Updates

Today is Giving Tuesday! Every year on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving, this day is set aside to encourage charitable giving for non-profits and ministries that you love.I'm still working on reaching my monthly goal of $2,400. Last year, December was the month when I closed the gap in my funding. This year has been hard for everyone, including college students and ministry staff. I understand finances have been tight for many people who would love to give, but the need for the Gospel among college students has never been higher.Will you consider committing to monthly giving or a one-time donation to support ministry in Boston? As I did this summer, I again invite you to read the stories I've shared about students who have benefited from CCO ministry, including Zach. If you would like to give, you can do so online at, or by mailing a gift to CCO at 5912 Penn Avenue Pittsburgh, PA 15026. If giving by mail, please include a note mentioning it is for me, or write my name on the memo line of a check.

Prayers & Praises

  • I broke my collarbone a few weeks ago in a cycling accident. Thankfully recovery has been coming along nicely and I'm no longer in much pain at all. I'd appreciate prayer that I restore full use of my right arm in the next month or so.
  • Winter break is longer this year, and I'll spend much of that time planning for the next semester. I'd appreciate prayer as I make plans for discipleship and outreach.
  • Since September, I've been living in a Christian community in Jamaica Plain called Green House. Living with a community of Christians has been so important in this time of isolation and it's been a joy to live with a family with young kids.
  • I've benefited greatly from weekly meetings with Church of the Cross's interim rector, Brandon Walsh. He's challenged me to think about leadership, virtue, and goals in new ways that are expanding my vision for how far God could be calling me.