Almost 4 years ago, in July 2011, I nervously got out of my mom’s car on the campus of Shenandoah University for orientation for the Voices of Youth 2011 “Born of Water, Renewed by The Spirit” tour. I had no idea what I was getting myself into, except for the fact that I was about to spend 3 ½ weeks away from home, part of it in the Dominican Republic. I was with a group of almost 30 strangers, and we were expected to live on a bus together, sing together, and worship God together. I was nervous, scared, and completely oblivious to the impact that Voices of Youth would have on me.
VOY 2011 came and went, and I returned in 2012 as youth staff to Joplin, Missouri. VOY 2012 came and went, and I returned in 2013 as college staff on the Virginia tour. VOY 2013 came and went, and unfortunately, I was unable to travel in 2014 to the Bahamas, but I still did end up on staff. Jenn, the coordinator of Voices, asked me a very huge, crazy question: “Do you want to be coordinator and take over this program in 2017 for a 4 year term?” I made a huge, crazy decision and said “Yes.”
So, here we are March 2015, a day after the kick off meeting for the VOY 2015 “Shelter in the Storm” tour to Long Island, New York. I have spent the last year mentally preparing myself to take over in 2017, but when I rolled up to the VOY meeting 2 days ago, Jenn (and God) had a little different plan for me.
She says to the entire staff: “So, it turns out, I can’t do math. My term as coordinator is up this year. She is hearing this for the first time, but Emily will be taking over as coordinator next year.”
Me. Coordinator. 2016. France. I think my heart stopped beating a little bit. Who decided I am capable of such a job?! Who thought that a 22 year old girl could plan, execute, and lead a group of high schoolers from all over the state of Virginia on a mission trip to FRANCE?! And then again in 2017, and 2018, and 2019?!
God is pretty crazy, but He is pretty cool. I had no idea just 4 short years ago, that I would be on this journey. I had no idea that I would fall in love with mission the way I have. Yesterday, at our meeting with all of the participants and their families, I got up and shared my story of how I fell in love with Voices, mission, and just the simplicity and beauty of this world on a roof in the Dominican with a little 5 year old girl. The simple words “Dios es amor,” or “God is Love” written in chalk on a slab of cement literally changed my life. It showed me that mission isn’t just a short trip, mission is done every single day of your life. You are in the mission field every single day with one job: to show everyone you meet that God is LOVE, and that you can find that love everywhere.
After sharing that story with a room of people I’ve never met, I realized something important: God gave me this job for a reason. He has faith that I can change lives through Voices, He has faith that I will be able to show dozens of high schoolers the importance of sharing God’s love through everything they do. I don’t know how He thinks I’m going to do it, or necessarily why He picked me, but what I do know is He did. And because of that, I know I can do it. It’ll be an interesting road, but luckily I have Jenn and the Big Man next to me, so not too much should go wrong, right? 🙂
^ Voices of Youth 2011 “Born of the Water, Renewed by the Spirit” Tour
^ Voices of Youth 2012 “Winds of Change” Tour
^ Voices of Youth 2013 “In Our Own Backyard” Tour
^ Karrisa, my other College Staff, and Jenn, my Coordinator, who I get to spend the Voices of Youth 2015 “Shelter in the Storm” tour with 🙂
| shameless plug: follow VOY this summer at voicesofyouthva.wordpress.com and on twitter @voyva and instagram @voicesofyouthva |