In June of 2011, when I was 16 years old, I was the most reluctant person in my youth group to go on a Serve trip. I hated physical labor, and the thought of the Texas heat beating down on me while I worked without pay seemed beyond ridiculous. My parents sent me on the trip despite my best attempts to convince them otherwise, and for that, I will forever be grateful.
I had grown up in the church, so I knew the ‘stuff’ of the Christian faith, and let’s just say I was less than thrilled by it. But Stephenville Serve rocked my world in a way I had never imagined. Thanks to our amazing speaker, Troy Matchett (Buctouche, New Brunswick, Canada), I made a commitment to follow Jesus wherever he would call me to go. That commitment changed my life in so many ways .
Now let me back up. My week at Stephenville Serve was full of new relationships, lots of laughter and a whole lot of Truth. I had the best small group in the history of small groups (shout out to Team Cow 2011!), and we worked at a crisis pregnancy center helping them to arrange a fundraising garage sale. During that week, I grew closer to not only my youth group but also to leaders from other youth groups. I am so thankful to God for bringing people into my life during that week who have played a huge role in my Christian discipleship!
It’s hard to believe three years have passed since my first Serve experience. The Lord has done so many things in my life since I made the choice to say “yes” to Him at Serve in 2011. When I arrived back home, I knew my life would never be the same, and I began to take ownership of a passionate relationship with my Savior. I have been blessed to go on another Serve trip to Washington DC, I have served as a teacher in an after-school program in South Africa, I have laid hands on and prayed for dozens of women all over India, I have started a youth ministry program in Lincoln Nebraska, and this August, I will become the youth pastor at my church in Sioux Center, Iowa. I am currently a youth ministry major at Dordt College, and I’m so thankful to the Lord for calling me to youth ministry as a career. I am amazed at what the Lord can do with a willing heart that simply wants to love him by loving others. It is because of his amazing grace that I can confidently say that my life’s work is love.