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Shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain. Even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all.   -Philippians 2:15

A year ago, I didn’t even attend church regularly and the only time I opened my bible was on those rare Sunday mornings that I actually attended service. I was your typical teenager; wondering who I was, why the world was so messed up, and had a general distaste for people and there infallibility. It struck me as weakness that a God who was supposed to be all-powerful could let humans run amuck, destroying everything He had created. A cynical viewpoint, yes, but one I couldn’t shake nonetheless.  My hatred for humanity only grew as time passed and I became more familiar with the ways of politics, what the media deemed news-worthy, and high school cliques. Considering I never went to youth group and had a hard time making friends, it was no surprise that when my mother signed me up for a mission trip in Galveston, I wasn’t very excited to say the least. Spending a week in close-quarters with strangers did not seem like the ideal summer vacation, not to mention the fact that the beach is only great in movies. Only once you’re swimming in a sea of saltwater, your eyes burning and sand trapped in your swimsuit, do you begin to realize how misleading those 60’s “beach fun” movies really are.  Nevertheless, I went on this seemingly awful trip. This next part is the hardest to write about. I could tell you God spoke to me for the first time in my life on the floor of an old church at around 10 o’clock on a Tuesday night. I could tell you that my life was changed that night. I could even tell you that my entire view on God, life, the world and humanity was transformed in one week. But all of these words do not even begin to come close to what I experienced for seven days in Galveston, Texas. I had never understood what Christianity was all about. Why people would spend an hour singing songs and listening to a man ramble on and on about a book that was written thousands of years ago. I had always assumed that to be Christian, you had to listen to the Newsboys and actually take an interest in reading your bible every day. Seeing as I had no idea who the Newsboys were and could not understand my King James Version bible, I was pretty sure that Heaven was not in the cards for me.  No one ever told me that Christianity was a relationship between God and His disciples. To me, God was more or so like a parent with a checklist, waiting to reprimand me every time I failed to meet his quota. A relational God seemed so obscure, but once it clicked. Once I began to understand that God wasn’t waiting for His chance to punish me as soon as I screwed up, but was there to catch me when I stumbled, leading and guiding me with love and compassion; my whole perspective changed. In an instant, I went from this bitter self-centered youth to being awe-struck and completely taken with a loving and perfect God. I felt a rush of relief as the Holy Spirit began to heal my heart in ways that would take many books to describe. God has taught me more in this past year than ever in my life, for which I am so grateful. If you asked me a year ago, where I would be at this moment, I would have mentioned something about going to Baylor to become a doctor. Yet here I am, seventeen-years old, getting the opportunity of a lifetime to go to India and be a part of what God is doing there. One thing He has continuously taught me over the course of the past twelve months is trust. I have never been more at peace and full of joy than in the moments I have completely submitted to His will and trusted in His power. I have been so blessed with God’s presence and companionship, a blessing I would like to share with the world.

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