The Lord who will see to it that my every need is met.
By now, many of you who are close to me may have heard that I will be interning this summer in Washington, D.C. with International Justice Mission. Many of you may also know that this has been a dream of mine for several years.
Last summer the Lord taught me a huge lesson in trusting him. It’s a lesson I’ll always be learning, but last summer was especially miraculous. Having just helped start an IJM campus chapter at Appalachian, I applied for an internship at IJM headquarters. I didn’t even make it to the first round of interviews. I also applied for an internship with Compassion International…and didn’t make it to the first round of interviews. My last and final option was a summer in Guatemala with Adventures in Missions (AIM), which I quickly clung to after being rejected from both internships. Looking back, I know I was holding on out of fear. In my arrogant mind, anything short of a wildly adventurous summer wasn’t good enough for me. So I started making payments and plans to go to Guatemala.
About a week later, I got a call from AIM that shook things up a bit. There had been a miscommunication about the payment schedule, and I had over $1,000 due by the end of the week. I didn’t have the money, and I didn’t know what to do. The lady from AIM prayed with me on the phone before we hung up and I immediately prayed with my mom and my friend Kristin as well. Then I cried a little. When asking God to show me what to do – try and come up with the money or back out – it didn’t take long to receive an answer. I knew in my heart that Guatemala was not where I needed to be – that I was only pursuing it because I didn’t know what else to do. It’s bad business to do something in Jesus’ name without consulting Jesus about it, so I withdrew from the Guatemala trip, losing the money I had already paid. I had no other plan, but I knew I was being obedient and that God would be faithful.
A week later I had a job lined up at the Boone Cracker Barrel. This was (clearly) not the glamourous, adventurous summer that I’d imagined for myself, but the Lord had provided a job and a place to live and I was ready to see what his next move was. I bought my tacky non-slip shoes and oxford uniform shirts, gearing up for a summer of chicken dumplings and sweet tea. I stopped caring about my selfish ambitions and started thanking the Lord for giving me clarity and peace about my summer plans. I was content to spend the summer living and working in Boone.
Then I got a phone call that turned my world upside down. The Office of International Education wanted to send three students to a Global Leadership Summit in Bloemfontein, South Africa that focused on human rights. Even sweeter: the trip was completely funded by the university. I had a panic attack (not really, but kind of) and applied. I was driving a carload of friends to a Needtobreathe concert in Boiling Springs a week later when the Lord told me I was going. The same quiet voice of peace that told me not to go to Guatemala affirmed that I was, in fact, going to South Africa. I told Amber, who was sitting next to me in the passenger seat, that I was going to South Africa. She looked at me with wise Amber eyes and said, “Good. Cool.”
A week later, I got the call and started making plans. During our first trip meeting, the director of the International Office told me that if I wanted to stay in South Africa longer, just to let him know when to book my return ticket. I’m sorry…WHAT? I wrote a separate blog about my trip to SA, but for this one I’ll leave it at this: it was the adventure of a lifetime. I was discouraged after being flat-out rejected by other internships and steered away from an adventure in Guatemala, but God had something else up his sleeve. That something was better than anything I couldn’t planned (or imagined) for my summer.
Needless to say, I was prepared for anything this summer. I’ve prayed since the beginning of the school year that my selfish ambition would be put aside and that I’d be ready and willing to go wherever the Lord wanted to send me. I desperately wanted to remember his faithfulness in the past, and be ready and willing for anything for the future. If I had learned anything from the previous summer, it was that I had no idea what was best for me. My mind was open to all things – to living at home and working at Dad’s restaurant, for taking summer school, interning abroad, interning or working in Boone, anything. I again applied for several internships, and was again rejected by Compassion International without making it to the first round of interviews.
But – surprise! I did make it to the first round of interviews for IJM. Interning with Samaritan’s Purse was another option that was looking promising. The internships with Samaritan’s Purse are paid with free housing, so they were the most practical and therefore quite attractive…especially after I backed my car into my apartment complex and was slapped with a hefty insurance deductible. Internships with IJM are unpaid with no housing.
Since I go to an expensive school, I harbor considerable guilt and worry that I’m making my family bleed money. With that always in the back of my mind, I’ll admit that I was almost afraid of getting the IJM internship because I had no idea how I would afford it. Things got tricky when I did, in fact, get the IJM internship and had to make a decision before I was going to hear back from Samaritan’s Purse.
You could say that I was between a rock and a hard place at this point. I had dreamed of interning with IJM and had been offered a position, but it couldn’t have come at a less financially-feasible time. I had less than no money of my own as I was (and still am) paying off an insurance deductible. When I first go the news of my acceptance, I was weirdly sad. I had worked so hard to get to this point both academically and through our IJM campus chapter, but hadn’t saved appropriately for it.
I asked my parents and close friends to commit to a full week of praying for me. I had exactly one week to make a decision, and although I was leaning toward “no” I wanted to commit it to as much prayer and counsel as possible.
When you’re looking for direction, sometimes it’s hard to know when things are from the Lord and when your mind is playing tricks on you. The following Tuesday at Bible study, we watched a short video on praying bold prayers and trusting God to provide for our every need. This video was based in none other than our nation’s capitol…good ol’ D.C. The first place it showed was a place called Barrack’s Row Theatre, which is where I took Bryant to see Josh Garrels in December. Oh really? Of all places? Then the camera zoomed into a book authored by someone named “Barnett”. I’m sorry…?
I wouldn’t say that the above paragraph describes signs and wonders straight from God, but it was one of the first gentle pushes toward IJM that God used to begin softening my heart toward the idea. Over the next week, my heard and my mind (and therefore my attitude) took a 180 in regards to interning with IJM. After being encouraged by my parents, my friends, and other family who were faithful in praying for me, I accepted the IJM internship. I believe that God wants to glorify himself through this opportunity – prove to me and to those around me that he is a God who provides. I jumped in headfirst, full of faith and peace.
The response has been overwhelming. Within three days of accepting the position, I had already found a free place to stay. A young family in SW D.C. is opening their guest room for me. Their home is only seven miles away from IJM’s offices and has free parking. Seven miles translates into about a 30 minute commute, but that is pretty fantastic by D.C. standards.
Opportunities for me to work more hours have also come available, which has been a huge answer to prayer. I picked up an extra eight hours at my law office job as well as a few shifts at Dad’s restaurant. I am hoping and praying that I will be able to pay off all my debt before leaving for the summer, meaning I need to make $1,000 before June 3rd.
The response from people has also been overwhelming. While waiting tables at Harbor House (my dad’s restaurant) on Monday, a family from my church came to sit in my section. They graciously gave me a $50 check to support me in my internship and left me a $20 tip! I was floored! Thank you Whaleys! One or two others have also expressed their desire to support me financially, and I am amazed. Most of the financial burden was lifted with a free place to stay, but I am still trusting God to provide for transportation costs.
I have not asked for any money and will not be sending out support letters – which makes it all the more astounding how much the Lord has already provided over the past two weeks. I am beyond thrilled about the opportunity to follow this dream and overwhelmed that the Lord is letting me do so.
If you’ve made it this far, I hope you’ll join me in prayer.
– Pray that I will continue to trust in God to supply all my needs. (Philippians 4:19)
– Pray that I will be a diligent worker, and that God will use this summer to equip me for whatever he has planned for my future. (Psalm 18:39)
– Pray that I will learn more about Biblical justice and be better able to articulate it to those who are searching for truth and hope. (Psalm 33:5)
– Pray for favor in the work that IJM does to bring rescue to victims of violent oppression around the world.
– Pray for the students that I will be working with as they seek to educate their college campuses on issues of violent oppression.
If you’d like to learn more about my involvement with IJM, this is a good interview:
If you’d like to learn more about IJM at App State, check out www.ijmappstate.com
If you’d like to support me financially, click this link and choose my name from the drop-down menu – https://secure3.convio.net/ijm/site/Donation2?idb=1515869785&df_id=1261&1261.donation=form1