Tuesday, April 20, 2010

More than a job, it's a calling, part 1

It was the summer of 1987. I was working as a summer missionary at a suburban church in New Jersey, only an hour's drive from where my family lived. God had placed me there, in my home state, serving in the association of churches where my parent were full-time missionaries, as a special little gift, so that I was able to attend my sister's high school graduation. If I'd been serving in Kansas, for instance, I probably would have had to miss that family occasion.

My primary job for the summer was to work with the youth group. I planned and led Bible study for them each week, took a group of youth to Centrifuge in upstate New York, and helped with Vacation Bible School. I loved the pastor and his wife and had a wonderful summer with the families of the church and getting a taste of what it was like to work in a church.

While at Centrifuge, the Lord was speaking to my heart as I anticipated my next two years of college, trying to decide what I wanted to be when I grew up. These verses from Jeremiah 29 became special to me that summer:

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

At the end of that summer, I was really feeling the Lord calling me to full-time Christian service, but I didn't know what it would look like. At that time, I thought maybe I was supposed to work with students. The church where I was serving "sent me off" at the end of the summer, praying for me and affirming the call that I felt the Lord leading me to. It was really special, too, since my dad was able to be there that Sunday.

I went back to Belmont and started my Junior year as a Communication Arts major. I think I started working with youth at my church and continued to live my college life, still wondering what all God had in store. The following two summers, I worked on staff at Centrifuge camps, which were awesome experiences and God continued to reinforce the calling I felt in 1987. By the time I was in my Senior year at Belmont, I was seriously considering going to seminary to pursue a Master's in Christian Education.

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