Well, I’ve been home from LEAD for almost 2 weeks now. (LEAD is a 1-semester program at Bethany Global University, which is in Minnesota. It stands for Leadership, Evangelism, Apologetics, and Discipleship, which are the topics that were covered in our classes.) Those 4 months went by so fast! I can’t believe that it’s over, and I’m sad that it is, while I am so excited for what’s next! I’ll be returning to Bethany Global University on January 9th, as a freshman!
I’ll be getting a bachelor’s degree, with a double-major in Bible\Theology and Intercultural Ministry and a minor in Social Justice. After a year and a half on campus, our class will be split into teams, and sent to global internship sites all over the world! We’ll spend 16 months there, learning the language and culture, and doing ministry work together. Then, we’ll spend the remaining semester back on campus, debriefing and preparing for whatever God is leading us to do next!
Speaking of what God is leading me to do next, a lot of people probably know that I was originally planning to go to BGU for the bachelor’s degree, then I decided (in March) to do LEAD instead. And now, I’m back to my original plans! Here’s a bit of the story:
When I first found BGU online, I just knew that it was where I wanted and needed to go. And I got so much confirmation about it! I was so excited! Then, I guess I just got scared, of leaving home, of the commitment, and going to another country for 16 months. I hadn’t been to the school, and I was afraid I wouldn’t like it, or I would miss home too much. I didn’t want to leave my family and friends, and miss 4 years of their lives. I felt like I belonged here in PA, and I did at that time. I became less sure of what I should do. I went to the website one day, and found the information about LEAD. It looked great, and only 4 months long instead of 4 years, so I chose to do it. But I can see now that I made the decision for me. Even though God gave me so much peace about choosing LEAD, and I am so glad I did, the decision was made out of selfishness. I didn’t want to leave what was familiar, or the future that I thought I would have here.
And now, I’m not being too hard on myself for my decision to do LEAD, because I see that it was the best thing, and I learned so, so much through it! God was working in my finding BGU, switching to LEAD, going through LEAD, and deciding to go back as a student there! He was leading me through this whole process, and teaching me so much!
One of the things that I learned through making this decision to come back to BGU, and looking back at the journey, is that I need to trust God above anything else. I have to trust Him, and His Plan, instead of simply following my own plans. Because those two aren’t always the same. So we have to keep ourselves open to whatever He will lead us to next, even when it’s the opposite of what we had thought. And we can’t rest in what we think will happen, because those things are always changing. We simply have to rest in Him.
Back to the story: It was the end of October that I really started wanted to come back to BGU, and praying and thinking about it. I mean, I loved being there since day one, and I knew I would really miss it when I left, but I was so stubborn in believing that I was leaving for good when LEAD was over (December 15th). But I had started to have doubts, and as I prayed and thought about it, I realized why I had made the decision to do LEAD. I also remembered all of the reasons that I had wanted to come to BGU, and all of the reasons I wanted to stay; that God was leading me to stay.
But, I still didn’t want to commit to 4 years. A friend of mine was thinking about doing the 2-year degree, done in 1 1\2 years if you start in January, and so I started looking into that, and actually decided I would do it. It’s pretty similar to the 4-year degree, but with a 2 month internship in the Dominican Republic instead of 16 months in another country. I knew I would really regret it if I didn’t come back, and this way I would get it done faster. I figured I could go home after LEAD, to everything I had left, or I could stay for the 1 1\2 years and then go home. The way I saw it, I could choose one, or both.
Another big factor in coming back to BGU was one night, I was just praying about this decision I had to make, and a verse came to my mind. I was thinking about my family, especially my little siblings and nephews, and my friends. I was thinking about a youth group, Bible study, church, and the future that I thought I had if I came back home after LEAD. And the verse that came to mind was Luke 14:26. “If anyone comes to Me (Jesus) and does not hate his own father and mother and spouse and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.” That verse was all that I needed in order to make that decision. I would be coming back to BGU. But just for the 1 1\2 years. And I was so happy and excited! I got so much confirmation that, yes, it was the right decision, to come back.
But only maybe a week later, I decided that I needed to do the 4-year degree. Again, I had been selfish to choose the lesser option. I had to do what was right, and what I knew God was leading me to do. He kept reminding me of all of the reasons I knew He wanted me to do the 4-year degree before. And as a made that decision, and wrote the email to switch, I had so much peace and joy.
But even as I was saying “yes” to Him, I was still holding on to pieces of my own plans and dreams. Good ones, that I thought were His Plan. But they were abruptly taken away over Thanksgiving break, and my little world was tipped upside-down. I should’ve saw it coming, but I didn’t. I hadn’t seriously considered that maybe those things weren’t His Plan. And I struggled with it for a bit. “Was this God’s doing, or the enemy?”, “Can I really give up on this so easily?” , “Why did this happen, and what did I learn from it?” These were just some of the questions swarming around in my head. And I had to fully give it over to God, and trust in Him. And I realized that without any of these things holding me back, I am free to fully say “yes” to Him. I’ll get my bachelor’s degree, and spend 16 months in another country, and then I’ll follow Him, wherever He leads me. Because that’s what disciples do. Because it’s all about Him, and bringing Him the Glory He deserves. “Here I am; send me.”