Post written by Autumn White.
Hey Everyone!!! My name is Autumn. I’m a rising senior in high school and originally from New Britain, CT. This summer was not at all what I expected. It was filled with so many fun, strange, and new eye-opening experiences. This was my very first year EVER doing THP, and I had no clue what to expect. There’s always been this passion inside of me to work specifically with urban cities since they offer a demographic of diverse people from all different ages, backgrounds, talents but also a boat load of issues that need to be tackled. THP allowed me the experience to help in a more hands-on way while also allowing me the opportunity to grow in relationships with others from these communities.
My friends and family would constantly judge and question why I would spend half my summer doing an internship that’s volunteer and “so much Jesus”. I could’ve been doing what everyone around my age was doing this summer, and some part of me did by lifeguarding at Lake Compounce. However, the smile I had when I got paid was nowhere near compared to the smile I had when I handed out food kits to families in need at Love Wins. I noticed how my small act of kindness affected their day, and that’s when I learned it didn’t matter what others thought about what I was doing because I knew that I had never felt so much joy.
Before THP, I was craving a new change, an experience to grow as an individual since my old self was nowhere near the “perfect Christian” and constantly depended on others' validation. It was here that I learned two very important things about myself.
The first thing I learned was confidence! I never had an issue speaking aloud and making connections, but being vulnerable and intentional while doing it was something different. Giving announcements and leading groups at worksites was a fairly easy thing, but when I was asked to go pray over a stranger or share a testimony, I just wanted to hide, but week by week that barrier slowly started to open. I always feared people would view me as less capable of leadership or commitment if I was vulnerable, but I learned that’s the best way to effectively communicate with others - by being honest and intentional. By the end of the summer, I found myself talking more, dressing like myself, and building my relationship with God.
The second thing was patience. My first thought going into this was: “What have I gotten myself into?” We were asked to lug around hundreds of boxes and do numerous tasks each day, and I was so confused as to what this had to do with the mission of THP, but in the end God showed me how it all came together. The boxes filled with food kits would later go to a family of five in need, and the daily worksites would help organizations like World Vision, Gardner's House, Church Army, and more carry out their mission. God was revealing to me that sometimes I need to trust the process of things instead of always being in a constant rush. Patience is truly a difficult thing to practice, especially when it feels like everything is falling apart and you need answers. God revealed to me through THP that in the midst of the storm, if it’s going to help others and bring glory to you and him, then it’s definitely possible. If he can use me amongst hundreds of other youth and adults from different ages, races, communities, and backgrounds to unite together and show love to each other and people in Hartford, then he can use anyone!
Post written by Lily Brigham.
Hi everyone, my name is Lily! I remember praying about my interview for THP and saying, “God if you want me here, then let me get accepted. If you do not, then I’ll know by the end of the week.”
Surprise!! I was accepted, and my 3-month summer began.
Throughout the summer, God showed me how to love a diverse group of people. No intern was the same. No person I talked to on the street was the same. They all grew up in different families, with different traditions, different hobbies, different beliefs, different fears, different “normals”, but one thing I learned is that, no matter our differences, everyone struggles. I remember walking down Main Street in Hartford and God gave me this vision of the layers of people. Every person I saw, God broke down into layers of fears, experiences, and their past. That is when God showed me that people will not be honest with me until I am honest with them. I learned that vulnerability is scary, but so key to loving people.
This summer, God taught me a lot about love and how to love others the way Jesus did. I was not here to condemn, change, or fix people. I was here to listen, to learn, and to understand. I was here to welcome, to care for, and to love.
This summer was full of growth. It was not easy, but it was so worth it, and it led to a lot of life-changing breakthroughs for me. I could not be more thankful for my sweet team, this crazy summer, and my incredible God.
Post written by Gabe Sullivan.
This was my third year doing The Hartford Project internship. I was called by the Lord to first do it back in 2018 and have loved every minute of it over these past three summers. I have no shortage of fond memories from summers working with other interns and experiencing the Lord moving in incredible ways.
Here’s a little bit of context to this reflection: I was a freshman in college when COVID hit. Mostly everything before spring break was relatively normal. However, around spring break, COVID really started showing up in America. As a result, I went home for the second half of my spring semester and had to complete it online. It was a rough experience, but we ended up making it through finals and finished off the academic year. It was at that point that THP was starting up and, if I’m honest, I didn’t know how to feel about it. I was definitely a bit pumped to be doing the internship again, but part of me wasn’t.
I heard that, with COVID, it was unknown what would be happening with THP. It might be abridged, pushed back, or cancelled altogether. I wouldn’t be lying if I said part of me hoped that THP would be cancelled. The quarantine portion of the school year had worn me out and with that, combined with having my entire family home for an extended period of time, I was hoping to have a summer to just enjoy myself and work. No school, no THP, really nothing happening. However, THP’s leaders made the decision to move forward in an abridged state.
I am very glad they did.
Looking at the summer now, I realize that I was in a lazy mode for a great deal of it. I wasn’t on top of my game for much of it and struggled to get tasks done, for both THP and life in general. I know many people felt a lack of motivation at some point during this pandemic, whether that
was due to online school, working from home, or due to the stress and isolation. However, at least for me, I can’t help but imagine how much worse it would’ve been had THP not happened.
Now, I’m not saying that THP saved the summer or anything like that. It was the Lord’s grace at work that saved it and, as I said previously, I still had many struggles this summer. However, the Lord used THP to help me grow this summer. He put me in a position to serve and to go beyond myself in a summer when I wasn’t feeling up to it. He allowed me to be there for people when they needed someone to listen and offer advice. He even opened my eyes to greater understanding of social interactions and issues, on a personal and societal level.
The Lord used THP. He used this summer. I am not the same as I was before this summer.
I guess that’s the great irony of it all. I wanted this summer for myself: to chill, relax, and work at my leisure. While I still got that some, this summer showed me the Lord’s sovereignty and that He has a plan that goes beyond what we want. Sometimes He leads us to abundant streams, other times He leads us to dry wastelands. But, whatever happens, He is sovereign over it all.
As the Teacher says in Ecclesiastes 11:5,
And so, as I look back on this summer, I can’t help but be thankful for it. It wasn’t perfect by any means, but it still was as the Lord willed it to be. He took control in a way that was far beyond what I could imagine and, if He didn’t, I would definitely be regretting this season. I pray we all learn from this. That God is in control. Even in a crazy season. Even in an amazing season. Even when we don’t like it. He reigns and nothing under the sun is beyond His control. We may not like that, and it will be scary at times, but we can have faith that God’s got this. We know that it will turn out alright, even good, in the end.
As Paul says in Romans 8:28,
Amen, Lord. Help us to trust you.
Post written by Lizy Beaulieu.
Hi everyone! My name is Lizy Beaulieu. I am 17 years old, from Southington, and I interned this year at The Hartford Project. My focus areas were Admin and Community Events.
This summer was so amazing with THP. I couldn’t have asked for a better experience considering the crazy circumstances this year. THP gave me a home for the summer and a new family to explore my faith and grow with. This family supported me, lifted me up, encouraged me to pursue God, and helped me get out of my comfort zone.
In all honesty, I was so nervous coming into this internship; I knew that my relationship with God wasn’t where it should be and I wasn’t the best Christian I could be. I was worried that I would be judged and looked down on because I didn’t know Scripture off the top of my head, I couldn’t write my own devo, and I wasn’t confident in my ability to pray out loud or in front of a group. But that was not the case by any means. Everyone was at different stages in their walk with God and everyone only wanted to help build each other up. I learned something from each intern and I hope they got to learn something from me.
I truly connected with the most incredible people. It’s sad to think that this chapter is coming to an end, but I’m glad I have so many great memories and experiences to look back on.
All in all, interning with THP was such an amazing experience, and I can’t wait to carry what I’ve learned here into my everyday life.
Post written by Bethany Sullivan.
“…And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”
This summer did not go according to plan.
I had been given some other opportunities before the pandemic began, but the Lord pressed on my heart the importance of coming home, being invested in my community, and serving with The Hartford Project as an intern. I have been gone for college and summer plans three years in a row and this was my last time to come home before becoming a senior. Even before the internship started, God had placed me right where he wanted me.
We started preparing, praying, and planning for the weeks of THP.
One of the things on my to-do list for THP was to prepare a sermon for Tuesday night of our service weeks. With the theme of the whole week being UNHINDERED, it was fitting to speak about God’s work in the book of Esther. While studying to preach, I learned about how God placed Esther in the right place at the right time, and she decided to do the right thing. This preparation convicted me because I knew God had placed me where He had me too, but maybe I wasn’t having the right attitude. Maybe I wasn’t trusting Him with the plans He had. Maybe I had my own agenda that I had to give up.
So, I resolved to give the summer to God – to give my efforts, attitudes, and emotions to Christ. Guess what? After making this choice, I started seeing God use the efforts the intern team and I were making. We saw God work in incredible ways despite a global pandemic happening. The intern team became tight. Youth groups were able to become more intimate in their relationships. Deeper conversations happened because there were smaller groups. Every night, students got to bring home what they had learned during the day; instead of being immersed in THP and leaving it behind at the end of the week, their THP lives and their “regular” lives existed together. All these things encouraged my heart and reminded me that God really is UNHINDERED.
So what did I learn during this summer? Well, here are three things I can tell you:
Post written by Rachel Cook.
This summer I became an intern at THP, and I am so glad I did! My name is Rachel and I am one of the Worksites interns. Originally, I was planning on spending my summer with friends at the beach and preparing for college, but God had other plans. He led me to The Hartford Project internship and said that he was going to use this to bring me closer to him.
After the first two meetings with all the interns, I had only one thought in my mind - why did God choose me for this internship? This thought ran through my mind each day as our intern team put in all our energy, time, and effort to prepare for the first week of THP, adjusting to all the updates regarding Covid-19.
The last night of the first outreach week, I asked God why he wanted me to do this internship because I was tired; I put in all my effort and energy to get things done and help in any way I could, but I didn’t see how it was helping Hartford or helping me grow closer to God. That night he told me that each morning and night I prayed for him to give me the strength and motivation to do what needed to be done and to keep me calm when things shifted. He also reminded me that in the quiet time I spent sitting and reading his word, he took the burdens that were on my heart and showed me that while there are a lot of uncertainties, he is constant and knows that everything will work according to his plan.
Throughout this internship I have made friends with the other interns, developed communication and time management skills, and more importantly grown closer with God. During this internship, God has already reminded me that he loves me and that he has great plans for me.
Whenever I was stressed during the internship or feeling like I could not do anything else late at night, I would put on worship songs and they would motivate me to keep going. A song that I often listened to throughout THP was Even Me by I AM THEY. The chorus says-
Yes, Jesus loves me
Even me, even me
I stand forgiven and free
Even me, even me
Even me, Yes, even me
Another song I listened to was Here’s My Heart by I AM THEY. The chorus is-
Here's my heart Lord
Here's my heart Lord
Here's my heart Lord
Speak what is true
Both these songs reminded me that Jesus loves me and that I don’t have to be perfect because he has forgiven me. Each song also reminded me that even though things are rough and uncertain, God has me in the palm of his hand. By remembering these things, my future in general and the rest of the internship don’t seem so scary and I can’t wait to see what God does!
Post written by Grace Hadden.
Hey y’all! My name is Grace and I am one of the interns this year! Even though it is nothing like I was expecting due to COVID going around, I am having so much fun with all these wonderful people!
I am going to be honest, I wasn’t really expecting to see God move as much as I usually do as a student. With everything going on I thought, “Oh I’ll see him in some ways but not as strong as when we are all together,” but I was so wrong! Not being with all of the students throughout the week was very difficult, but as much as I wish we could all be together, I am so glad we could still have THP in some form.
I was amazed at how all the students didn’t really seem to mind the changes this year, even though they may have been hard. I saw God working through them and saw participants and fellow interns serving Hartford in the best way we were able. God was answering prayers in seconds and helping us make people’s days with hygiene kits, cards and posters to brighten everyone’s days.
I am so excited to see how God works in the next two weeks of THP and I am so happy that all these students are willing to join us in serving him during these difficult times!
Post written by Jaydah Tinker.
Hello! My name is Jaydah, and this is my first year interning with The Hartford Project. It’s crazy to think that it’s already been an interesting journey, and we’re only past the first week. When I was originally interested in being an intern, I was super excited, not only to work alongside an awesome team of interns, but also to see more of the city of Hartford and encourage others to follow their faith through worksites and interactions with the Hartford community.
I crossed off each day on my calendar counting down until I was an official intern. Then BOOM! It was March 13th. Schools were shut down, but that was just the start. From schools it went to entertainment centers, to sporting activities, and even churches. Becoming a THP intern soon seemed far off and unrealistic. When I got the text that THP was still on, I was overcome with joy. It was something to look forward to even in the state of sadness and shock everyone was in from covid and quarantine.
Little by little I got to know the intern team through group chats and zoom calls. The first week of THP came faster than we thought. I spent the week before training to be an intern and working with other interns to update documents for students and leaders to use in the upcoming week. The first THP outreach week consisted of zooming with the churches and praising Jesus through worship and devotionals. It was amazing seeing students and leaders on fire for God and open for new discussions even through a different way of doing things.
My time of being an intern is far from over and my excitement is unexplainable. This internship may be different from what I expected, but one thing for sure is that I have met an amazing group of people who push me to serve God and think deeper about my relationship with him. They have motivated me when it seems like we've hit a dead end, and I’m happy to call them my friends. This is just the start of our summer, and although I may not know what is going to happen next, I’m excited for the weeks to come and the positive change that will be brought to Hartford not only for this summer but forever.
Phil Shattuck is celebrating five years of being a Hartford resident this summer! He attends THP’s summer home base of South Church where he serves on the worship team, and has previously led the youth group. He first attended The Hartford Project in 2011, has since done just about everything in between, and now serves on the Board of Directors. Phil is the Program Manager at the iQuilt Partnership in Hartford. Below, Phil shares how God has been speaking to him in this season.
I am so blessed to be able to live in the City of Hartford, and to be able to live out my calling that God introduced to me at The Hartford Project six years ago. I grew up in the suburbs, but I am a “city person” through and through. Having this history of living with a suburban lens, to now living in a beautiful vibrant city, I eventually realized something that hurts the heart of God: Hartford, its suburbs, and its peoples too often live in adversarial relationships with each other. If you pay attention, this situation is not unique to Hartford by any means, but God has placed me here, and has made a way for me to “do something” about reconciling His people across these urban-suburban lines. For the last month, that has meant helping run Winterfest in Bushnell Park. I love my job with the iQuilt Partnership because our desire is to see the City of Hartford be a source of pride for people all across the region, something I see as directly in line with my calling.
Given my calling and experiences, it’s not hard to see why, seven years after graduating high school, I still come back and support The Hartford Project every year. God revealed that one of His desires through this ministry was one in the same as His calling on my life. For the last couple years, one of my roles at THP has been leading the Life in the City Planning Team. In some respects, this is really ironic because, if I am honest with myself, I don’t usually live my life in the city well. When I leave my apartment, more often than not, I approach the world with a “New York City mentality”: I have a destination in mind, and I’m ignoring everything until I get there. And I miss so much in the process.
This fall, God has been taking a wrecking ball to that part of my psyche – sometimes it just feels like that wall is 300 feet of concrete. And so, God has been working to change this mentality through a lot of different things. But during Advent, he put a peculiar thought in my head. In Luke 2:8-20, we read about the shepherds during the time of Christ’s birth.
There is so much we can learn in the fact that God chose to tell shepherds about Christ’s birth, but a day or two after reading this passage I was watching the Little Drummer Boy short film from 1968, and one part in particular stood out to me - where the entire crowd before the manger is shown. And while, in reality, the Three Kings weren’t at the manger yet, and the little drummer boy is really a made-up character, there were still many people around the manger, even without them. And while seeing this, I thought, “I wonder what everyone casually walking by that night thought about this scene?”
Think about it for a second: you’re an average Bethlehemian (that works right?). There are a ton of people in town, and you’re frustrated because your crabby aunt is going to be staying at your place now that all the inns are full. You’re walking to the market to buy an extra of everything now that you have company, and you’re walking past the stables. Except on this seemingly random night, there’s a ton of people with their sheep praising God as they surround two people sitting near a manger with – a baby? That might be weird enough to get me to stop in the middle of running around.
The shepherds and whoever they told knew that the Savior had come. But most people didn’t even understand the prophecies of the Messiah, let alone put it together that this was how they would be fulfilled. What’s crazy is that, 2000+ years after this night that literally changed the course of human existence, our communities are still filled with people who have no idea about their Messiah, or just don’t really get it. And the burden that has grown in me from this random thought is that, like the shepherds, we still have a calling to be witnesses at the manger.
You may have put away your manger scene now that Christmas is over - or if you’re like me, you don’t have a manger anyway. So kneeling in prayer before the manger might not literally be what’s going on here. But the actions of the shepherds amplified God’s glory in that situation. We can do that, right?
A couple of years ago, my youth group talked about something that I found fascinating and exciting. We were discussing the baptism of Christ, found in John 1:29-34. In this passage, Jesus is recognized as the Son of God when the Holy Spirit is displayed on Him as a dove from heaven. The group was talking about how to be recognized with the Spirit which lives within us, since it’s not usually through doves falling on us (although if you’ve had a dove fall on you, I’d love to hear about that). Instead, Paul tells us quite explicitly in Galatians 5:22-23 the fruits from which our mark is shown: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
All these years later, God is still placing this knowledge before me and asking, “What are you doing about this in your life?” Because if I limit the amount of interaction I have with the world around me, how does anyone see that fruit in me? How does my life reflect the Father’s love for his creation? That’s why a ministry like The Hartford Project is really important. It gives all of us involved an opportunity to live out these fruits with people that we don’t typically interact with. Our prayer for everyone is that this challenge at THP might make living our faith easier in settings that we’re more familiar with, like our schools or workplaces or homes... Easier said than done, right?
But God is so gracious. Even when we struggle to live that lifestyle, God can use something much simpler. The shepherds in Bethlehem that night weren’t displaying any particular fruit of the Spirit before the manger. It was their prayers and praises that drew the attention of the people around them. The amazing truth is that, even if all else fails, living a life of praise is all God needs to make you a witness to the world around you. And when we really stop to think of what the Father has done for us, isn’t that pretty easy?
And if we keep continually returning to the manger – spending time with the Father, stepping into His mission and being His hands and feet – God will use that faithfulness to bring out a greater work within you and fulfill the fullness of His Spirit within you. In this process of God chipping away at my concrete wall, I have been so excited by all the Lord is revealing about His desire for me. I still have to mentally stop myself and remember to return to the manger often, but over time my expectation continues to build. I am so confident that 2020 is going to be an amazing year for the Church in Hartford, and I pray that as you faithfully dwell with the Father, He reveals to you the ways in which He calls you to be a witness – even if it’s as small (though truly big) as the mindset you have when you leave your home. Because that’s how He changes the world.
Who else is ready for THP 2020??
Alexa Carlson is a Connecticut native now living in Virginia. She first attended The Hartford Project in 2010 and spent many summers serving at THP. Alexa finished her degree at Liberty University in 2018, where she pursued Business Administration with a focus in International Business. Her dream is to one day have her own business that empowers others around the world in a sustainable way. Below, Alexa shares how The Hartford Project has shaped who she is and where God has her today. You can read more about Alexa’s life and faith on her personal blog: allfourchrist.weebly.com.
With Thanksgiving being right around the corner, it is such a great season to spend time with friends and family! I am glad to have a holiday that focuses on being thankful. Did you know that Thanksgiving, “began as a day of giving thanks and sacrifice for the blessing of the harvest and of the preceding year?”(Thanks, Wikipedia). What I love about this definition is the word harvest. Thanksgiving is a time to remember all that the Lord has done and brought to fruition in the previous year. Harvesting is the most difficult but necessary process of the growing season. Once the crop is harvested, a new growth cycle begins.
The Hartford Project is something I am truly thankful for. My THP journey began in 2010 as a student participant. That year was followed by three more years as a student, one year as a group leader and most recently in 2018, serving on staff as the Assistant Internship Supervisor. The Hartford Project is a ministry that has impacted me in many ways. Over the years, The Hartford Project has grown my faith tremendously. THP has pushed me out of my comfort zone and given me opportunities to share the gospel with strangers, love my neighbors in my capitol city, worship with abandon and so much more. The Hartford Project has equipped me with the tools to love the world around me as Christ commanded us to.
Working as a staff member for The Hartford Project in 2018, was one of the best summer jobs I have ever had. It showed me that encouraging others in their spiritual journeys is one of my passions. I enjoyed being able to encourage the interns, it was truly such a sweet team! Having the opportunity to work for the The Hartford Project solidified that I wanted to work for a mission. I wanted the opportunity to guide others as they grew in their faith, challenge them outside their comfort zones and propel them to step into the Lord’s calling for them. It is evident that my THP experiences prepared me for what I would be doing today.
This past August, I began working for a non-profit organization called Sports Outreach Institute. Our mission is to recruit, train, equip and deploy committed Christian leaders in the effective use of sports ministry for the purpose of sharing the Gospel and to alleviate human suffering. My role as the Trip Administrator, gives me the opportunity to empower trip leaders as they step on international mission fields with their teams. I am responsible for working out all the logistics and preparing each participant to be equipped to serve internationally. This is similar to THP, where I had the opportunity to equip interns to step into their specific ministry roles. Working for The Hartford Project also developed my administration skills. Through THP, I learned how to be more organized and prepared for meetings and discussions. I learned what a cohesive team looks like and how to create a firm foundation. Serving with The Hartford Project in different capacities opened my eyes to the world around me. I learned that there is much need in my own backyard, that the Lord is working in all things and that teamwork brings projects to fruition. I look back fondly on my experiences at The Hartford Project because they were life changing and prepared me for my current job.
I can truly see the harvest of the Lord’s goodness in my life as I look back over this past year. I can see how he prepared me through many years of THP in all the different capacities I have served in. As I look back, I can see the harvest of skills and experiences that allowed a new growth cycle to start. I am SO thankful for being part of THP throughout the years and so glad the Lord used it to guide me to step into where He has me today. He is working all things for your good and has amazing plans for your life. If you are in the preparation season, keep being obedient and he will bring a harvest!
Written by the many voices of The Hartford Project!