As I sit on a plane, flying back from Miami to Georgia, I’m struck by how different this spring break was compared to last. That’s an understatement, though, because it’s not just the spring break that is different.
If you were to tell me a year ago that I would be spending my Spring Break sophomore year of college in charge of and leading a missions trip to Miami, I would have laughed in your face. Not maliciously - I just would never have imagined possessing the confidence, skills, or relationships that I have now.
This time last year I was coming to terms with just how broken I am as a person. I was overwhelmed. Past hurts, anxiety, consistent sadness, and fear were all I could see in myself. I knew I could give the brokenness to God, but I didn’t really know what that looked like. As the Holy Spirit interceded for me when I had no words (Romans 8:26), He brought me to the point where I opened my hands and cried out “God, I don’t know what to do with all this, but I’m giving it to you. If anyone can do something with my brokenness, it’s you.”
I remember the exact moment an Envision internship became a real possibility in my life.
I had known about Envision for a couple of years. It was something I thought of doing in the future, but not now, and especially not that summer. Envision came and spoke at my school two months prior in chapel. At the time, I was so caught up in my circumstances that I wasn’t able to pay attention to anything during those two days. I was focused on my disappointments and frustrations, and I wasn’t listening to what God was telling me. I’m thankful that He gives second chances.
For a month, I worked at giving my heart to God. During that time, a dear friend of mine messaged me and told me I should consider applying for an internship at the new Envision site. He knew the site coordinators and talked to them about the possibility of my internship. It was April already, and I didn’t think it was possible between the deadline of June 13th for funding (I had less than two months to raise $1,200), and most importantly, the brokenness I saw in myself. Little did I know what God would do.
As God began the process of opening my heart to the internship, I started a journey in learning to trust God like I had never trusted Him before. I knew that there was absolutely no way for me to do the Envision internship if it wasn’t God’s plan. I couldn’t do this by myself. Yet, realizing that I was out of control brought me deep peace. When I faced anxiety or fear and began listening to the enemy’s lies, God was faithful to speak to me clearly through His Word and through others.
God continued to make it abundantly clear that He wanted me with Envision Miami that summer. All I wanted to know was: why?
I was afraid of failure. I was afraid I wasn’t good enough. I was drained and exhausted and felt alone. I was terrified of the idea of trying to pour out of my empty cup while on an internship. Yet I went to Miami anyways, trusting that God would be enough for me.
During my time in Miami, God spoke through the people He put me with to challenge all of my inner brokenness and the lies I believed. God knew the exact people I needed to be surrounded with in an environment I deeply longed for without even realizing. He put me right in the center with everything I needed to allow Him to transform me.
I hadn’t even been in Miami for a week before God worked a big change in my life. It’s amazing how something so ordinary as a dinner conversation around a kitchen table can turn into something extraordinary. What seemed like an average day in Miami changed into a night of intense prayer. Light shone in darkness of my heart and the wonderful people around me spoke encouragement over my life. My masks were off and my hurts were out in the open. I had never been so vulnerable and yet I had never felt so safe. The Lord brought me to a place of freedom that I had never experienced. I reclaimed my identity in Christ, I was anointed with oil, and I was covered in prayer and love. That night, the enemy lost a grip on me that he had held tightly for much too long. It didn’t take long for me to understand that this was the “why Miami?” I had been looking for.
I learned a tremendous amount during my internship. Alongside the site coordinators and helpful friends, I toured existing partner ministries, led children’s and youth ministry, and planned for the future of Envision Miami. I saw the realities and “behind-the-scenes” of the ministry lifestyle and loved every minute of it. I shared life with the Perrotto’s, Brokkop’s, Sappia’s, and Tolbert’s. We became family in that short time. God stretched me and used this newfound sense of freedom and confidence in Christ that I had gained. It was scary and exhausting, but it was exciting and incredibly life-giving. As much as the Lord may have used me, He worked deeply in restoring my soul and preparing me for what was and is to come.
I prayed that God would lead me back to Envision Miami. I asked the Lord for opportunities to use this freedom and confidence at college and in the community of Toccoa. He did not disappoint. Within months, I was asked to lead a spring break missions trip from Toccoa Falls College to the Envision Miami site. As the fall semester went by, more opportunities came up for me to step out of my comfort zone, get involved in my community, and grow in leadership and confidence. I was a new creation, and I gained the experience to support my newfound freedom.
Many hours of planning, meetings, fundraising, and praying culminated into “the big week.” Paralleling my internship, I was combating the enemy’s old lies in my head that I was not able to lead- not to mention that I was exhausted from living life as a college student. But we went. And God worked to blow my mind once again.
I felt at peace when I got to Miami. There’s something so comforting and exciting about returning to a place, to a family, where and with whom so many God-appointed things happened.
We loved on foster kids. We planned and were stretched in flexibility. We did construction, painted, and cleaned. We heard stories of homeless men and women, and we prayed for freedom, healing, and for financial miracles. Comfort zones were forgotten. Our hearts were broken for strangers, whose lives we had the honor to learn about. We rejoiced with prodigal sons and daughters who found redemption in Christ through Miami ministries. We saw how Scripture could speak to us throughout our days. God strengthened us, protected us, empowered us, and kept us going. The Perrotto family loved us well, as each one of them (their wonderful children included) worked along side us and blessed us daily.
We were sore, exhausted, and a little bit sun burnt, but we were fully alive.
I could write pages upon pages about how God has used Envision and the ministry in Miami to completely change my life. As my one-year anniversary of new life in Christ approaches on April 8th, I am thrilled to know that to tell of my story is to tell of Christ’s work. I’m humbled that He uses me. I’m thankful that He is the God that sees all of me, and yet, He still chooses me daily. Because of this, I will choose Him right back.
The Lord has done immeasurably more than I could have asked or ever imagined in my life according to His power that is at work within me. I know that He won’t stop this. All glory to Him in the church, in Envision, and in my life forever and ever.