Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Embrace His Next Adventure

Emily Barlow, Missionary, Bolivia
April-June 2016

Emily Barlow at SCCLCI like the familiar. Knowing what will happen next is comforting to me. So when God hinted that a change in ministry was coming, my first reaction was frustration, not excitement. I had been at Santa Cruz Christian Learning Center (SCCLC), teaching, mentoring, and loving high school students since 2005. I couldn't imagine doing anything else; I didn't want to imagine doing anything else. But in 2011, for the first time, I began to feel disconnected from my ministry, and it scared me. What followed was a three-year process of prayer, trust, discovery, and frustration as God revealed that while I was staying at SCCLC, my ministry was becoming more than I had ever imagined. As I sought God's purpose, He changed me in three major ways so I could embrace His next adventure.
  1. God deepened my heart. Being a teacher extended far beyond filling students with information. I mentored some of them on a weekly basis, went on retreats and camps with them as a counselor, hosted movie nights, and helped with fundraisers. I rejoiced in their victories, mourned with them in sorrow, listened, encouraged, and advised. That started to change in 2011. While I still had many students stopping by my room needing to talk, I also found that teachers, both new and experienced, came by to pray together, talk through ideas, or share frustrations. I discovered a new, growing love for the teachers. I rejoiced with them in victory, hurt with them over their pain and frustration, and counseled them to the best of my ability. I wanted them to experience victory, both in their professions and in their relationships.
  2. God widened my vision. God soon took the desire to see teachers succeed and created a vision of how I should help make it happen. He had blessed me in the classroom. Now He wanted to use me to help other teachers see Him do the same for them. I wrestled with the idea of being principal because of my own inadequacies and because of how daunting of a task it is. I wanted to help SCCLC be the very best school it could be, both academically and spiritually, but I was scared I wouldn't be up to the task.
  3. God strengthened my faith. So God reminded me once again that I'm a jar of clay filled up with a priceless treasure. He would do the work through me if I would only follow Him. As I took my perspective off my fears, the responsibilities, and the journey ahead and put my eyes back on my Creator, Sustainer, and Provider, I obeyed in faith. 
For the last 18 months I've been on homeland ministry assignment, planting seeds of missions and asking God to bring more teachers and partners in ministry. I completed my master’s degree in educational leadership to better prepare me for my new role as principal. As I write, I'm still uncertain what my next step will be, but I'm praying for God's perfect leading in His timing, just as He's led me from the beginning. I'm certain as my new ministry gets tough, I will have to revisit the lessons I've learned. But I'm also certain that with each relearning, my love will go deeper, my vision wider, and my faith stronger. When God is our true teacher and we are His true students, that's the inevitable, consistent result.

GIVE: Partner with Emily as she walks in obedience in this new adventure by supporting her with a monthly gift to her ministry
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