God’s calling for me to intern at THP this summer was so clear from the beginning. When I applied for this internship, my life was tremendously in need of a spiritual revival – especially after the many challenges I had faced, and had yet to face, during my junior year of high school. I began the summer knowing that I could not let this internship be just another program for my resume like those that many of my peers were doing, but instead it had to be wholly devoted to focusing on God, my relationship with Him, and serving His kingdom.
My initial expectation for my Life in the City and Administration internship was that it would be essentially the same as being a participant, just over an extended time period. What I did not expect was the sheer number of phone calls made, Excel spreadsheets filled, storage boxes moved, and much, much more that went into making the two outreach weeks successful. During the outreach weeks, the interns often skipped participant activities to set up tables, greet speakers, or prepare the next activity. All of these factors took me aback at first because I had never experienced a mission trip where I was constantly busy with tasks that were generally more mundane than the participant activities. However, I believe that God put this new experience in front of me so that I could learn that serving other Christians is also vital to serving Him. Sometimes, God calls us to serve Him by serving those around us so that they, in turn, are able to serve Him. Although more indirect (and possibly less glamorous), it is still a very necessary part of being a servant of Christ. God used these experiences to develop a servant’s heart within me, which has increased my appreciation for the dedication of the THP staff, and the staff of every other mission trip, because so much effort and faith are required to ensure that everything runs smoothly for the participants.
For a large part of junior year and especially in the weeks leading up to my internship, I had been struggling with a dry season in my faith; it seemed as if God wasn’t present in my life and I couldn’t hear Him no matter how much I cried out to Him in prayer. I felt as if the fiery passion that I once had for Jesus had been extinguished, leaving me in a scary state of abandonment and confusion. Going into THP Week One, I felt inadequate as an intern because I was not feeling that connection with God that I desperately needed – How could I possibly be qualified or deserving of a role that required so much leadership and a strong faith in God?
As I watched many of the kids from my own youth group experience God personally I was encouraged and overjoyed for them, but at the same time I felt overwhelmed by my own inability to feel God in my heart and to experience the emotions and revelations that my friends were experiencing. When the feeling of inadequacy became unbearable, I poured out my inability to feel God and the resulting incompetency to my pastor; he reminded me of having faith in God’s ultimate plan and prayed for God’s grace to let the dry season pass. Though I was still unsure of where my faith stood by the end of Week One, I was undeniably filled with a peace that I didn’t even realize was missing before. It assured me that God was still present in my life even if I couldn’t feel Him. All Christians go through variable phases in their faith, from dry seasons to times of spiritual highs, that do not define whether they are a good or bad Christian or how adequate they are for serving the Lord. Throughout the next few weeks and during THP Week Two, I gradually realized that God can use His children in any stage of their faith to do His work and that it is possible to feel at peace and have faith in God’s presence even during dry seasons.
Another factor that the THP ministry has made me realize, especially as a Life in the City intern, is the immense beauty of Hartford. Growing up in a very suburban community, there is often a stigma that Hartford is just a hopeless city that you probably shouldn’t go into unless you really have to. However, working with THP has opened my eyes not only to the physical beauty of our capital city but also the beauty of its culture and community. The people of Hartford are full of compassion and love, and many of them have a hope and desire to see Hartford changed for the better. The more time I spent in the city, the more I fell in love with Hartford.
One of the most striking aspects of THP is the strong community that it never fails to foster. As a participant, I always feel so connected to the other believers in the room, regardless of which church they are from, as we all worship the same God and strive towards a common end goal together. As an intern, there is such a tight and supportive bond amongst the staff as we pray for and encourage each other. Even though we all come from dozens of different churches with varying cultural backgrounds, our faith in Jesus bonds us together as one Church that has set out to serve His Kingdom.
Above all, this internship was so much fun and an amazing opportunity to just watch God work! It was wonderfully fulfilling to be able to serve with the other interns, form friendships with them, and simply deepen my faith. I’ve learned more than I ever thought I would about serving others and about the city of Hartford. I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to meet some of the strongest, most faithful men and women in Christ, from the speakers to the other THP staff to the participants, and to see how God specifically and beautifully uses their lives as a testimony to His grace. This internship was an unforgettable experience that’s helped me better understand the complete immensity of God’s love and power.
I realize that not every aspect of this post reflects an effortlessly connected summer – it jumps around quite a bit as my experiences have been so widely varied, but I think that this jumble of thoughts mirrors how God often works in us. The events in our lives may be random, messy, or overwhelming, but in the end they are all related and even intertwined by God’s power. This internship has been an affirmation that God is faithful even when I am not, and that no matter how broken I am God can still work through me.
Post written by Lydia Yu.
Written by the many voices of The Hartford Project!