Check out some of these student testimonies from our church’s recent trip to “Friends Summit.” Summit is a national Friends Church young adult gathering hosted in various locations every four years with the theme, “Kingdom. Mission. Passion.” Summit’s hope is that everyone would have “conversations that could change our lives” while at Summit. I think several of our Friendswood Friends team members had those very conversations! Keep reading to hear from several team members about what God did in and around them at Summit, and what they feel called to do now.
Reviewing My Emotional Mask Through Fear, Pain, and Love
Deciding to go on the trip was easy. I miss my church. I miss the community that I grew up in. I miss home. Deciding to go on the trip was easy. What wasn’t easy was the emotions that it brought out, fear, pain, and love.
Being away from home and attending a church that I have not grown up in has been a journey for me. It is not very likely for college students to stick with church at this point in life, why would we go somewhere we feel uncomfortable. Over the years I have attended a few churches and found one that I thought made me feel close to home, but recently I have realized I feel comfort because I am able to blend in, rather than standing out. Growing up in the Friends Church has been a blessing to me and I cannot imagine where I would be if I’d had a different experience. My entire life I have worked on hiding my emotions and keeping myself quiet because of what I mentioned above; fear, pain, and love. All this time I knew I that I struggled with this but was not willing to dig deeper and find out why. Well… Summit has been part of my journey and I am looking forward to digging deeper and looking into my fears and doubts.
Once we got to the resort it didn’t take long for God to start digging and picking at my heart. Our first session speaker, Kent Walkemeyer, opened the conference with a conversation about masks, and that was a strong hit! We use our mask to hide things that show our vulnerability to God, these things that we hide prevent us from living in the Kingdom. I have been wearing a mask my entire life, caking makeup on top of it, pretending it doesn’t exist. That night I wrote my fears, the pain that I try to ignore, I wrote about hiding my emotions in hopes of avoiding this pain and fear. That night I put my mask through a paper shredder, I told myself that I would take off my mask, I will face my fears, I will be vulnerable to the emotions that God has blessed me with. I should not be afraid of the tears that God has given me, Jesus wept, so I will weep. God puts emotions in us to share with others and strengthen our journey, instead of standing in a pew and holding back my tears I will be vulnerable to God and pull back my mask.
Deciding to go on the trip was easy. Thinking about going on the trip was hard. Weeks after I had registered my mind was going in circles, what had I gotten myself into. The fear and emotions that I have talked about above were running laps in my head, it was hard. Growing up in the Friends Church was a beautiful experience, but difficult. I have struggled with feeling a sense of belonging growing up, hiding my true self, avoiding vulnerability. It’s not that I didn’t belong, I was never willing to share my feelings, opinions, or fears, I was holding myself back. While I’ve been away at school, I have learned to get out of my comfort zone, but with this I have continued to wear my mask in difficult situations. College has been a wonderful experience, I have grown, learned, been uncomfortable, but I have never felt so comfortable. Making the decision to attend Summit was me getting out of my comfort zone. I returned back to the place that I was scare of, the place that I kept everything inside, the place that I am so thankful for because now I see how welcomed and loved I am. My entire life I didn’t want to belong, I didn’t want people to dig into my emotions. This trip was my time to submit to my fear.
God has given me the gift of emotion, a gift that I will continue to practice, a gift that was hiding under my mask. It is going to be hard, but this opportunity, getting out of my comfort zone, attending Summit, has brought it above the murky water. God will be with me in every step of the way, I will look back at this experience and be thankful for the fear present as I dove into this experience, it has truly opened my eyes to his plan. Deciding to go on the trip was easy. Thinking about going on the trip was hard. Returning from the trip I feel love.
Towards the end of December, I was given the opportunity to travel to Colorado Springs to attend Summit. Summit is where Friends churches from a variety of regions gather once every four years to focus on God and how we can continue to further the Father’s Kingdom.
This was my first time at Summit so while I was excited to attend I was also a little nervous. I was excited to see and catch up with everyone I knew and to meet new people while learning more about Jesus and growing in my faith. I learned a lot at Summit and if I tried to say it all on this post it would be pages and pages.
I really loved Cindy Dawson’s session where she discussed the prophet Jeremiah and the topic of passion. She discussed how passion was not just the main events but the smaller, more ordinary events in-between. I also liked how she stated that sometimes passion is asking questions like “where are you, God?” and other questions instead of just remaining silent. I also went to a session over contextual ministry and how to bring Jesus to a variety of cultures such as the Native Americans. I learned that this is done by incorporating their traditions and cultures into how we teach God’s word and show them God’s love and kindness.
These are just a couple things I learned during my short few days at Summit. I cannot wait till the next Summit as I have grown so much in my faith in the past few days. But until then I will continue to reflect and continue to grow in my faith with the Lord.
God did many things in me this past week at Summit, and one thing in particular that I think a lot of people struggle with. Our first session was on taking off the masks we manufacture to control others’ opinions of us, and I really felt God’s conviction through that message – to take off my “mask” and be the person He made, not the person the world wants to see.
I also felt God calling me to a future in mission work. I have felt that call for a long time, but Summit bumped EFM way up on my list of potential sending agencies. I got to talk to several people who are currently working with EFM, and God managed to work it so one of them is my Mentor-Advocate!
Of course, mission work isn’t something that happens in a “future”, but what we as Christians are called to every day, wherever we are. Summit reminded me that as I work towards a career in global missions, my everyday life should also be a sacrifice of praise. Everyone I talk to at work, at church and on the street should come away desiring a deeper relationship with God because they felt His love through me.
The weeks leading up to Summit were full of excitement, anticipation and spiritual preparation. After hearing so many great things about Summit, I had pretty high expectations that God was going to do big things for me and the rest of the gang while we were in Colorado. However, I was not expecting Him to speak to me in the way that He did. Over the span of a few days, God had ignited my passion for cross cultural missions and missionaries like never before.
Throughout the week, I attended every single one of the EFM (Evangelical Friends Mission) workshops about Jesus’ mission, the lives of missionaries and the pathway to becoming a missionary. In every discussion, I was hearing God more and more clearly as He continued to stir my deep passion for missions. Throughout the week, I knew that I was being led to learn more about missionary work, so it was no surprise when I finally understood that God was calling me to become a missionary.
At first, I started to question all the signs that God was sending me for missions. Does He actually want me to become a missionary?! Is this really God’s will or my will? These questions still require much thought and prayer over the next few years, but I have no doubt that God was definitely opening my eyes to the wondrous possibilities of mission trips and internships with EFM in my future.
I am so thankful for how boldly God was speaking to me through the worship, speakers and workshops at Summit. I believe the next step for me in my missionary journey is by intentionally making every day a mission. I am going to continue to shine my light for Christ to everyone on campus and to use what I have learned about myself and about the Kingdom of God to help lead others in their own spiritual journeys.