If you asked me four years ago if I would be spending the summer after my senior year of college in the Middle East, my answer would have been a very strong, “no.” Global discipleship was not part of my vocabulary as a young college freshman. However, the Lord took me on a four-year-long journey that brought me to this place, and I am so thankful.
During my first semester at Samford, through a small group I joined on campus, I met Abigail. Abigail was a junior who walked with me and discipled me for the next year-and-a-half. She not only taught me about the importance of sharing the gospel with those who have not yet heard, but she also took me alongside her as she shared with international students on Samford’s campus. Every Sunday, Abigail picked me up and brought me to Brook Hills where time and time again I heard the Word of God preached faithfully.
Scripture I had heard all of my life began to take root and come alive within me. I learned that in order to be a follower of Jesus, I must be obedient to His commands, even the ones that take me outside of my comfort zone. Last year, I went with the college ministry to New York City over spring break, and by God’s grace, I was able to return and spend the entire summer serving in Jackson Heights. Those two trips altered the course of my life. I realized how much joy there is in obedience. The commands of Jesus are not burdensome; they are life-giving!
While in the city, I knew I was doing exactly what I had been created to do. Coming home was hard because all I wanted to do was go again. Thankfully, the Lord gave me purpose here in Birmingham as He provided multiple opportunities for me to engage internationals. Over the past year, the itch to go again has not faded. This is my last summer, and I want to use it wisely.
I spent a number of months praying about where to go and whom to go with. A number of factors and experiences led me to zero in on the Middle East, where I will spend the summer. My team and I will immerse ourselves in the culture, explore the city, share with the people we meet, and hopefully pick up a bit of Arabic along the way. One of the best parts about going mid-term is being able to come alongside the long-term workers and provide support and encouragement for them. We will sow gospel seeds widely and connect the people of peace back to those who are there long term.
As I reflect on my previous mid-term experience last summer, I only get more excited about what the Lord is going to do this summer. In just two months, the Lord transformed my heart and renewed my perspective. I saw many areas of my daily life where I was not being obedient to what the Lord had asked me to do and began working to change that. I have so much room to grow. This summer, I am praying that Jesus will once again transform me as I step away from everything I have known and step into a world of unfamiliarity and cross-cultural living.
I am going because many of the people I will encounter will live and die without hearing of the gospel of grace. I am going because how are they to believe in Him of whom they have never heard? I am going because I have been commanded to, and I am going because Jesus is worth it.
Carly C. is originally from Columbia, South Carolina and is currently in Pharmacy School at Samford University. She has been at The Church at Brook Hills since 2013 and serves as a small group leader in the Student Ministry and as a tutor with the ESL ministry on Thursday nights.