What I remember most upon first meeting Julia Linton was her smile. This young woman radiates with joy and can light up the room with a simple hello. I’m not the only one who believes this to be true. Julia’s senior class voted her as “Most Likely to Brighten Your Day.” I’ve had the privilege of getting to know Julia over the past few years and admire her in every way.
Julia was born in Kazakhstan and spent the first six and half years of her life in an orphanage. In 2004 she was adopted by a wonderful, loving family whom Julia says, “…taught me about God’s love for me.” Julia and her family moved here from Michigan in 2010 and joined Port City Community Church, where Julia became active in the student ministry. Later that same year, she attended Fuse, a camp for our student ministry, and decided to give her life to Christ. Julia states, “The experience changed my life.” A couple of weeks later, she was baptized.
There is more to Julia than her beautiful smile. She has a huge heart and a desire to serve others. Before her big move to start college, Julia volunteered as a Small Group Leader in Treasure Island. When I ask her what she loved most about serving in Treasure Island, she responds, “I loved working with the kids and teaching them about Jesus.”
Over the summer, Julia worked as a camp leader at Wilmington Christian Academy where, as a parent of a child attending, I got to witness her interaction with the children. She’d often peek into classrooms just to say hello, and as she made her way through the halls, little children would come running, arms open wide, waiting for a warm hug. Julia clearly loved her job, but even more, she loved those children.
In sharing the love of Christ, Julia’s devotion goes beyond her own community. In August of this year, her faith took her all the way to Guatemala working with Manos de Jesus/Pray America. Upon her return, she shares, “I’m so thankful that I went to Guatemala […] to serve widows and their children.”
Julia and the Port City Community Church Missions team visited different families each day to help make home improvements like building bathrooms or installing stoves. As they built homes, they were also building relationships. Julia found herself relating to those who shared stories of being orphaned and then finding a home through adoption. As she shared her own story, an unbreakable bond had formed.
Julia closes sharing about her time in Guatemala with a verse from James 1:27: “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” She says the verse has impacted her life in a major way. “This verse stuck with me during this trip because it says that God looks after orphans and widows. It reminds me that God was looking after me when I was an orphan, and now He has a different plan for me.”
Julia not only inspires me, but challenges the way I want to live my life. She chooses not to view her past as an obstacle to overcome, but rather a significant part of her story that God is using for His grander purposes. Thank you, Julia, for being a bright light in our community and to the world.
Story Written By: Mandy Hughes
Last year I met Davy Nance through the college ministry, Overflow as he served on the Host team. Davy could always be caught with a smile stretching from ear to ear while welcoming students. He is currently finishing up his Masters in Divinity through Liberty University and is concentrating in pastoral ministries. Even though many unknowns lie ahead of his journey, I have enjoyed seeing him actively following Jesus through his day-to-day work.
Over this year, I’ve witnessed the perspective he has gained while volunteering on the cafe and greeter teams at the PC3 Wilmington campus, serving as a Cafe Captain for Overflow, and learning as an intern under Don Brown at the PC3 Leland campus. Davy shared that these different opportunities, “…open up doors for me to create relationships, serve others, and possibly be the first bit of joy and encouragement they have.”
During his internship with Don Brown, Davy has been able to learn about what it looks like to lead a church campus as well as help other staff members with their work. Davy mentions, “God has been showing me that ministry comes in so many different ways. My initial call to ministry made me have tunnel vision to what being a pastor is. Over the years, and especially diving into this year with Don has allowed my tunnel vision to be destroyed in a great way.”
God continued to open up Davy’s vision as he was hired at the Brigade Boy’s and Girl’s Club where there are more than 2,200 youth being served. As the Preventive Program Instructor, Davy helps teach engaging programs that will proactively prepare the children for challenges they will face in the world. The programs focus on healthy lifestyles including body care, handling peer pressure, and preventive measures against drugs, gangs, and harmful activity.
Davy shares, “In my role at Brigade, God has been showing me how important it is to mirror His patience. The kids are great at doing things that get them into trouble. They get so caught up in what they are feeling, or what they are doing, that they do not consider that what they are doing is wrong.”
What I am inspired most from Davy’s experiences is the heart-centered focus towards the youth. He continues, “They get so caught up in what they are doing, and before they know it they have messed up. I am working towards recognizing that while punishment is effective in teaching the kids I oversee, them seeing I care is going to be the most effective form of teaching and correcting.”
Davy explained that caring for them involves having one-on-one conversations that allows him to enter into the depths of their hearts and discover the root of what’s really causing their behavior. By having conversations with the children in his care, Davy is able to develop a level of trust as they see his efforts to pursue the good in them.
Thank you Davy for sharing your experiences and leaving this encouragement, “God has challenged me throughout the years by helping me recognize that there is no such thing as an insignificant role in God’s Kingdom. From the world’s view, we are good at putting certain roles on scales that tend to make some seem more significant and others insignificant. But the reality of God’s Kingdom is that every role is important and necessary.”
What I learned from learning about Davy’s story is that no matter what role of our job is, the people we are surrounded by, or the hardships we encounter, we can always find joy in knowing that it can all serve to mold ourselves and advance the gospel. (Philippians 1:12)
Story Written By: Casey Pham
Over 300 middle and high school students, along with their small group leaders, spread across the city on March 25th to make a difference during IMPACT 2017 Weekend. Rather than heading to Mayfaire, watching a movie or relaxing on the beach, these students sacrificed their weekend to give back to their community by working with local non-profit organizations.
Students partnered with Meals on Wheels, The Salvation Army, A Bike for Every Child, The Food Bank of Eastern North Carolina, Wilmington Area Rebuilding Ministry, The Miracle League, two nursing homes and two individual home projects. Through serving, the power of God’s love spread to the community and students had the opportunity to make an impact on the lives of others.
On top of serving in the community on Saturday, there were sessions held at Port City over the weekend that helped frame the importance of being part of something bigger than yourself. Friday night, Chris Sasser, PC3’s Pastor of Family Ministries, spoke on the importance of allowing God to write your story.
Saturday evening, students, leaders and parents gathered together to worship and hear a message from Pastor Mike Ashcraft. The heart behind his message was carrying an attitude of service into your family and daily life.
Volunteering in the community paired with these sessions helped create a spark for meaningful conversations to take place. Students explored the importance of impact and how they have the power to influence and serve others. This idea has always been a topic of discussion in student ministries, but was made applicable through Impact 2017 Weekend.
While impacting others in the community, serving also had an impact on the students. 6th grader Maxwell Lewis said, “Serving affected how I see the world and how lucky I am to be able to serve.” For many students, it was their first time giving back to their community. Adam Carr, a 6th grader working at the food bank, said, “We were giving food to others and I had never done anything like that before.”
Maggie Flores and Katie Geschickter visited the Pender Memorial Hospital Nursing Home. Although a small and simple task, they saw a huge impact. Both worked with people and directly saw the effect of the impact they were making. Maggie said, “One lady told us we were such a blessing to her by helping her be happy and it was so awesome! I connected with others through connecting in our small group and with the community.”
By going to the nursing home, Maggie and Katie showed the patients how young students were willing to serve. Katie says, “They don’t get to see that impact very often. We got to see an impact as well by being able to witness how happy people were while serving.”
Lucy Ridd, a 7th grader serving at the food bank said “I really like that we are going out into the community and making a difference. It’s a really cool opportunity for us middle schoolers to do on a weekend.” At the end of the weekend, 30,000 pounds of food was sorted for the food bank.
By serving, students were not only able to make an impact, but were also able to be impacted by the change they were creating in their community.
Story Written By: Maggie Brown
Every year PC3’s student ministry hosts an event called New, a lock-in for high school girls. This lock-in provides girls in 8th to 12th grade the fresh reminder that they are loved fully by God. The peaceful and girly environment creates space to foster high-quality friendships with girls and leaders alike. Each part of the evening is intentionally designed for connection, conversation and bonding for the all-female assembly in attendance.
The main speaker, Marcy Bolick, used humor to provide awareness about how a really difficult life event doesn’t have to define our walk with God; rather it’s more important to focus on the state of our heart and the reasons why we make mistakes in the first place. Marcy’s message engaged the girls toward realizing that they are beautifully created in God’s image. She taught us to remove the sunglasses of insecurity, which we often forget to take off, that prevent us from knowing what a wonderful creation God intended us to be.
In the early night hours the girls rotated by age group through stations; a boutique of hand-me-down clothing, a craft and a speaker. Girls shopped in the boutique of donated items and each girl brought an item to give and went home with a different one. It’s fun for the girls to try on clothing, shoes and accessories that were loved by someone else.
Next, girls spent time making a prayer board with magnets in their own style. We spent time hammering and gluing the pieces together into a masterpiece. For the final station Laura Bullock, an Urban Missionary with Vigilant Hope, shared how their ministry is impacting the less fortunate in Wilmington. She taught the girls the appropriate way to interact with the homeless, how to get involved in the ministry and the realty of homelessness in our own city.
After taking time for relaxing and quiet time, girls gathered in worship once again. Our voices were lifted to God and we had a newly refreshed vision. It was a very powerful environment. The passion in the room was electric. Each girl wrote on a tile what feelings and insecurities she was leaving behind to become a new creation in Christ. Then all the tiles were mosaicked together to make a beautiful masterpiece.
New is always centered on the verse, Psalm 139:14: I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, and my soul knows it very well.
The capstone of the evening is always the dance party around 2AM for everyone to just be silly before settling in for a movie.
Pat Connolley, a student ministry staff member, pours her heart into this event which has been taking place for seven years. The sleepover leaves all the girls exhausted, but spiritually fed and reinvigorated to carry out God’s mission in their schools and lives.
Story Written By: Megan Crowe
PC3 has a special heart for students. With the Wilmington campus located right around the corner from UNCW, a lot of students have become regular attenders. I first began attending PC3 my freshman year of college at UNCW and now here I am, on staff at the church that took me in and made me a part of the family during the course of my college years.
In Grow Zone Wilmington, PC3’s birth through Pre-K ministry, you will find plenty of students serving each Sunday. What a cool opportunity to get plugged into the local church while in college – by pouring into His littlest ones as they take their first steps in learning the basic truths about God’s character. There are four volunteers in GZ who have such a cool story that I want to share. Emily Bailey, Tyler Dangerfield, Madison Lindsey and Becca Workman first became a part of the Grow Zone family the fall of their sophomore years at UNCW. These four girls are college roommates and Overflow attenders who truly love Jesus.
They started out serving with the Overflow crew at Fuse Camp a few summers ago to take the next step of plugging into the community of PC3. Becca said, “I love my roommates so much. We all love the Lord and wanted to get involved. It started with helping at FUSE, the youth camp, two years ago and we just knew we wanted to get involved more. I have a deeper relationship with these three girls because of the passion we all have to serve.”
These girls understand the concept of authentic relationships and pursue intentional friendships with one another based on the picture of unconditional love that Jesus shows us. Tyler said, “After going to PC3 for about a year, us four girls decided we wanted to serve and give back to the church that has been so great to us. We all love kids. With three of us being nursing students, and the other going into pediatric recreational therapy, we thought what better place to serve than Grow Zone!” So they took their next steps to get involved serving more frequently.
The people that Madison met at PC3 had such an impact on her that she wanted to be able to have that impact on someone else. “After being apart of a church that is so invested in volunteering and helping people, I felt the calling to be more involved in the church and went to What’s Next. When shadowing for Grow Zone, it felt like a small family that wanted to get to know me,” Madison said.
College is such an interesting season of life; living away from home for the first time, becoming independent, discovering what you truly believe about God, yourself and your future. The community you surround yourself with in college will have a lasting effect on who you are as a person. For these four roommates, they knew that they wanted to serve Jesus by volunteering at PC3. They decided to jump into serving weekly together in Grow Zone and have served every Sunday ever since. Tyler said, “We love doing things together and are already together 95% of our time, so why not make it another hour together, while serving!”
The girls have taken it a step further and are no longer just involved in one volunteer role. Becca is on the Worship Team in Treasure Island at the Wilmington Campus and is going on the Overflow mission trip to Guatemala in a few weeks; Tyler works one-on-one with a child with special needs through Grow Zone’s Buddy Program; Madison and Emily are involved with Overflow; all four of the girls spend much of their free time investing in PC3 families by babysitting for them and teaching the kids that Jesus loves them!
Since getting involved at PC3, Emily has “learned to invest in the lives of others as that is what builds true fellowship with other believers. Being intentional has been such a conviction and I love being able to see how the Lord works in everyone’s life.” Watching the way Emily interacts with not only her roommates but also the families she invests in through Grow Zone has been such a cool experience and example of how to love others well.
These four students started attending PC3 at the beginning of college because someone invited them. Becca’s sister attended PC3 while she was in school at UNCW and told her about it; Emily’s older friends from high school were already attending PC3 when she moved to Wilmington so they brought her; Becca and Emily invited Tyler and Madison to go to PC3 with them. Now here they are, in their third year at UNCW and their third year attending PC3; the impact of their commitment and service has touched more lives than they probably understand in just three short years.
Tyler said that, “PC3 is one of the biggest reasons my faith has grown so much. From friends, to the services, there is always so much encouragement and knowledge around me.” The story I know of these girls all started with ONE–someone invited these girls to PC3. Now their impact has multiplied greatly. It just takes one person to Be One and make a difference in someone else’s life. These girls are choosing to use their time in college to make an impact for God’s Kingdom through PC3. I am blessed to witness their story.
Nestled uncomfortably in her hardback wooden chair on the second floor of Front Street Brewery, Diana Boso eats her lunch with slow delight. At nearly 36 weeks pregnant, she knows what it’s like to be hungry, tired, and worn out.
Like the women she serves, Boso’s exhaustion comes from a deep place within, but it’s also the same place she finds healing, happiness, contentment, and a source of hope.
There is a huge smile on her face. She knows there is a reason for every ache and pain. She knows she’s been called to be this baby’s mother, and she delights in the knowing of that, pregnant with hope.
She’s the picture of embracing grace.
Boso, who has the support of her husband and children, herself has an unlikely job: to share that vision with others by managing a ministry that supports single, pregnant women in unstable situations. Her ministry is called “Embrace Grace.”
The ministry is new to Wilmington and new to Boso, who finds herself surprised by the amount of work that went into getting off the ground.
“There was so much that went into it,” she says, laughing. “Had I known in the beginning I would have just said no.”
The program, which provides a safe, loving environment for pregnant, single women and enables them to find support and assistance within the church, has helped turn around the lives of the women who went through the first run.
Every week, the women gathered together as a small group to do a study based on a national curriculum designed by Embrace Grace. The study was created to get them thinking about the deeper questions and embrace their unique situation and the grace extended within it.
The group’s first run was a practice one, with nobody showing up. “It was hard. We weren’t sure what God was doing,” says Diana.
She laughs when remembering how the leaders got together, watched the DVD lessons, and prayed, deciding to try again in September.
“At that time we had a pregnant woman moving down to Wilmington who was looking for community. We weren’t sure what God was doing, but we knew she was supposed to be here.”
After she contacted their group, they decided to launch a study. Soon, other girls followed. “We develop relationships with them and just try to be there,” says Diana. Some of the women were choosing to parent. Others intend to give up the baby for adoption.
Throughout the program, participants were provided a meal train, and learned passages of scripture to help them get through their difficult moments. They had advocates to talk to, and a sense of community. Most importantly, they were made aware of the beauty of what they were participating in by being open to life.
The group put together two special events during the semester.
“The baby shower was a huge success,” says Diana with a wide smile. The girls, called “blooms,” made a list on amazon, which local small groups would adopt and pray over. People from all over the country donated to make the baby shower possible.
“Sometimes the baby shower was what got them in the door, but the girls later discovered that they were interested in having a deeper relationship with the Lord,” says Diana.
The second event, Princess Day, was designed to bless the mothers themselves.The event was a surprise. Blooms were told to arrive in street clothes and bring something nice to change into.
They were given a tiara, had their hair and makeup done, and leaders spoke words of encouragement over them. Leaders and blooms enjoyed a special dinner and the blooms went home with goodie bags filled with gifts to pamper themselves with.
“If we’re going to be pro-life, we need to be there for people after the decision to keep the baby is made. It’s hard, within the church, to find a place where there is no judgement. We wanted to be that place,” says Diana.
It’s clear looking at Diana’s animated expression that her first semester leading Embrace Grace has changed her life.
“I have more empathy for someone in that situation,” she says. “The choice to abort comes out of fear. The bottom line is that Jesus loves them no matter what.”
For many blooms, this was the first time really hearing the Gospel.
“It really takes the pressure off if all we have to do is plant mustard seeds,” Diana laughs. “We can do that.”
Story Written By: Barbie O’Dowd // Photos Courtesy of Katie Mathews Photography
Embrace Grace’s next semester is scheduled to begin in March. To learn more about Embrace Grace and how you can get involved, check out their Facebook page, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the hashtag #PROLOVE on social media.
God has a way of bringing encouragement at just the right time.
A few years back, I made the decision to quit my dream job and take a less demanding position in order to spend more time with my family, especially my daughter. Born with multiple disabilities, Alexa requires a great deal of care and attention, something that was not possible with where I was working at the time.
Shortly after making this decision, I was introduced to Jennie Allen when my couples small group did her Restless Bible study. Jennie’s words came at the perfect moment. They rocked my world, changed my heart and had me shedding many tears. Through this study I learned my greatest passions in life come from my hardest sufferings. My eyes were open to the heart I have for speaking up for those who are not able to do so on their own. Everything in me wanted to bring some sort of joy and assistance to families just like my own who were caring for loved ones with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Even after the change in employment, I continued to feel God put on my heart the desire to give more time to my family. In my head I was thinking, “I just changed jobs and am giving more time. Isn’t that enough, God?” In my mind, I felt I would always work. After all, we had financial goals and dreams we were pursuing. Even in high school, when I met with guidance counselors about potential majors in college, I asked them what would make me the most money and guarantee success. I thought filling myself with all the worldly things would bring happiness and satisfy me.
Fast forward a couple years later. I had given birth to my second child. We were so excited but at the same time nervous that, with another child, less time and attention would be given to Alexa. My husband and I prayed for the Lord’s guidance and clarity about our next steps of faith. A lot of events were signaling that I needed to stay home, but we didn’t have the answers on how we could make this happen financially.
Due to this uncertainty, the plan was for me to go back to work after having our second child. The weekend before I was supposed to return to work, my husband received a promotion. We looked at each other with disbelief. God was paving the path to where He wanted us. He was showing us who ultimately is in control of our lives and who served as our true provider. Yet, I still had questions and doubts – so I returned to my job.
The Friday of my first week back to work, I attended Wilmington’s first IF:Gathering event. I was excited to see what I would get from this event. My friend Shannon warned me that crazy things happen from these events. Boy, was she right. During one of the sessions, Lauren Chandler spoke about the story of the Samaritan women found in John 4. It was then that it finally hit me. I was filling my jar with financial security, a big house and nice things only to find out that they are just temporary things that we can’t take with us when we die. In John 4:13 it says, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I gave him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
I realized that for far too long I had been thirsty for more, but I was trying to quench my thirst with the wrong water. I left all those things at the feet of Jesus that day and exchanged them for the ultimate fulfillment that is found only in knowing Him and what He has called me to do here on earth.
Needless to say I had confirmed what I needed to do regarding my family and my job that weekend. I wrote on my red domino (an element that took place during IF:Gathering) that my next step of faith was to quit my job and surrender to the Lord. And that is what I did. I learned at IF:Gathering that “the call of discipleship will cost you everything.” I had to let go of some of the rights I thought I was owed in order to serve out the purpose I was here for. God continues to show us that He will be our provider as we continue to put our trust and faith in Him.
Story written by Katarzyna Villarreal
The IF:Gathering exists to gather, equip and unleash the next generation of women to live out their purpose. The local expression, IF:Wilmington, is a great place to come together with women in your city across generations, denominations, races and cultures to learn from each other and hear from God.
On February 3rd and 4th, women across the globe and in our city will gather to learn how they can live out our faith in simple and pure ways. To register for IF:Wilmi gton or for more information, please visit https://register.ifgathering.com/event/ifwilmington.
Having traveled internationally before for short-term missions work, Chris and Misty Britt had a desire to share God’s love abroad. However, traveling outside of the area was not realistic at this time, due to having two young daughters. When they watched a video about Port City’s work in Belarus back in 2014, they felt a nudge to get involved. Opening their home to a child from Belarus seemed like the perfect fit – enabling them to serve abroad without going abroad.
While waiting for the bus to pull into the church parking lot with their host child Dasha on board, nervousness and the unknown was mixed with anticipation and faith. They didn’t know what to expect and wrestled with some tough questions. Would this child blend with their family? How would they deal with the language barrier? How would their daughters deal with someone else needing their parents’ attention? Did they make the right decision? Over time those questions faded away, and now having Dasha in their home has become normal. She’s considered part of the family.
“We treat Dash just like we treat our own girls. We have fun. We have disappointments. She gets in trouble. There are hurt feelings and make up conversations. There are fun family nights with just us and fun family nights with lots of others. Our extended family as well as our friends have all embraced Dasha and love her as we do,” Chris said. “We have gained another daughter while our girls have a new sister. Ultimately, we have someone else to consider beyond ourselves – another heart to consider and parent as we would our own. We have to spread our love a little farther and that shows our own girls how it can be done. It’s a give and take for everyone. This experience is one which has taught us all to give. Give of our time. Give of our things. Give of our love. All to someone that we did not know and did not speak our language from the beginning.”
In the midst of the laughter, tears, family bonding and making memories, a level of trust has been built between Dasha and the Britts. Those teachable moments have provided opportunities to provide wisdom for questions that come up about life, faith and God. Knowing she is loved by her family here in the States, Dasha has let her guard down and been receptive towards hearing about the love of Christ.
“One of the best parts about this experience is watching Dasha’s relationship grow with our family and the trust which is extended by her family. This trust has even lead to questions about God. Ultimately, our purpose is to share the love of Christ with Dasha. Late last summer during her visit she began asking questions about God, which is affirmation that a seed is being planted,” Chris said. “When I think about ‘reaching’ people, I think about extending my arms and heading out beyond my home, beyond my region, beyond my world. The Belarus mission provides a chance for us to open our arms and welcome someone in from afar into our region and our world. What better way to share God’s love than right where we are.”
Not only has participating in the Belarus hosting program brought their family closer together and allowed Chris and Misty to serve and make an impact, this experience has strengthened their faith. It’s helped them gain a better appreciation for their own relationships with God. By opening their home to a stranger from half way across the world, their eyes have been opened to the love Christ offers to each one of us.
“I think we have learned that relationships are not built overnight. It is a reminder of God’s relationship with us. It takes time. It takes work. It takes giving and trusting. Ultimately, our love for a child that we did not know, comes from a loving God that we are continuing to get to know,” Chris said.
Each summer PC3 families host some very special children from Belarus for six weeks. This happens through our partnership with the American Belarussian Relief Organization. If you are interested in learning more about why and how you can open your home and become a host family, visit portcitychurch.org/global and click Belarus to download our host family packet! We will also have an interest meeting on January 22nd at 1:00pm in the Living Rooms at our Wilmington campus.
It seems to be so easy to isolate your struggles with faith and to believe you are the only one struggling. At Passion 2017, this loneliness was eliminated. During the opening to this powerful conference, attendees were asked to hold up their phone flashlights to answer questions that appeared on the screens. Questions flashed such as, “Do you struggle with anxiety?” or “Have you had to walk with someone through cancer?” The room was illuminated with the flicker of lights in these moments as God’s glory was shining through each person’s struggles.
Port City’s college ministry, Overflow, took 95 students to Passion 2017. Inside the packed Georgia Dome, over 50,000 young people raised their arms high and worshipped God together. The encouragement in that room was explosive. College students from 90 different countries who knew the name of Christ, who knew they were “a child of God,” gathered together to declare they were forgiven. At Passion, students were able to find community and encourage one another at whatever place they were in their walk with God.
“I am so thankful for the experience and the connections I made while I was there. I feel as though I walked away with at least 30 new friends and a refreshed spirit. It was also a good reminder as a college student that we are not alone as young followers of Jesus,” Coy Rigdon (UNCW sophomore) said.
At a time when Christianity is becoming increasingly discouraged, thousands of Christians gathered together in Atlanta, GA to celebrate the devastating beauty of the cross. Each speaker spoke about the hope the cross provides when you’re willing to place God before yourself. After receiving these messages, students formed small community groups where they were able to connect on a deeper level and process what they were learning.
“I really loved going to this conference because it showed me that I have to be willing to put work into my relationship with God today to expect results in the future. It’s definitely comforting to know that so many people feel so strongly or are looking for a relationship with Christ,” Emma Jackson (UNCW freshmen) said.
Discussing faith, personal trials and Scripture with complete strangers from different parts of the world showed how powerful God is and how we are not alone in our faith and struggles.
“Over the course of a few days the girls I roomed with and I grew closer as we talked and shared with each other what was happening in our lives and how Passion and the presence of God there was changing us,” Carley Wallace (UNCW junior) said.
During one of the sessions, attendees heard about the needs of Compassion International, a Christian humanitarian aid group. They were challenged to “Make History Together”. This was a call to action for every child to be sponsored in the country of El Salvador. Students responded in such numbers that not only every child was sponsored in El Salvador, but also Rwanda, Tanzania, Indonesia and half of Bolivia. In total, over 7,000 children in need were sponsored.
I stood in awe, thinking these were the same people who had held up their lights expressing their struggles just a few nights before. Despite these deep struggles, we were all able to join together and make a major global impact. Baillie Mustard, a UNCW freshmen, believes that Passion brought her closer together with her Overflow community as well as better established her role in her school community.
“Me and my friend are now sponsoring a child together and I can’t wait to see how much closer this will bring us. Community groups were another highlight of my trip. There is something so special about being able to open up and relate to other college students. Passion has left me renewed and ready to go back to back to school with a new mindset of reaching out to those in my community,” Ballie said.
Story written by Maggie Brown
Alyssa Caccavaro is a junior in high school and serves as a volunteer in Grow Zone at our New Bern campus. Several weeks ago Alyssa had the opportunity to serve with a team from PC3 New Bern that traveled to Pinetops, NC, partnering with Samaritan’s Purse to help those whose homes were devastated by Hurricane Matthew. Here is Alyssa’s story about taking a bold stand for Christ at her school:
“As I was writing my persuasive speech for English class about how people should go out in the community and serve, I used my service with Samaritan’s Purse, a Christian organization, as my background and examples. While planning my paper out in my head, I decided that for the conclusion I would quote one of the homeowners when she told us that she’s using this devastating event to show her 6-year-old daughter that all of their stuff is just that – “stuff.” She said that even though they have to almost completely start over, and that at times it seems like their lives are awful, God was, and always is, with them. I was then going to wrap it up and talk about how God calls us to live like Jesus: to serve and help others just as he did.
Then I began to think that maybe I shouldn’t do that; maybe I shouldn’t talk about God. I wondered how my teacher and peers would react to this. I thought maybe my teacher would take off points because of it or because it wasn’t what she asked for. Or maybe, even though they know I’m a Christian, my peers would think I’m “that Christian” – the one who always talks about God, as if that’s a bad thing. As all these thoughts went through my head, I thought about the song “Guilty” by the Newsboys, specifically these lyrics:
“Guilty of being a voice proclaiming
Your ways, Your truth, Your life
I’ll pay the price, to be your light”
I decided to include God in my speech… and in all that I do. While I’m not the Christian I want to be, and while I make many, many mistakes, I hope that I can be the light for someone. Personally, I wouldn’t be the person I am today if it wasn’t for the amazing people in my life. My church isn’t just my church; it’s my second home and my family. While I’ve had many people come and go in my life, each one of them has played a special part in my life. I’m beyond thankful for my Church family. You guys will never know just how much you mean to me.”
Story written by Jennifer Alcock.