This is a brief account of what I learned in my time as the Summer Intern of Immanuel Church in Spokane, WA. I hope this blog post both encourages and empowers you to lead, love and live life with more of a calling to the neighborhood/context you are in.

Through this internship God has spoken several things over me and my time with this incredible church family and neighborhood. Here are just three of the many lessons I felt like God wanted me to share with you.

The first is that I don’t know everything. This was apparent in a lot of aspects of this internship. One of the beauties of discipleship is that we must learn to be good teachers and good learners. In that aspect, I thank the church for being an incredible example of gracious hospitality, generous love, and daring kindness. I thank Rob for letting me shadow him and watch how he leads Immanuel with a gracious and open heart. I watched as he leveraged his leadership to other incredible leaders in our church, and trusted us with the reins of the church! I thank the families who let me into their lives and reminded me that meals are a beautiful and simple way for discipleship to happen, even amidst being parents, having jobs, and living day-to-day life. Thank you, Immanuel Church, for letting me be a part of something beautiful and bigger then myself. 

The second lesson of discipleship God taught me was learning how to be discipled by the broken. I watched as Youth For Christ leaders in our church poured out their hearts to lead and how these kids, in return, taught the leaders more about the realities of the neighborhood.The only way to understand injustice is by letting those affected by injustice lead you.

The only way to understand injustice is by letting those affected by injustice lead you.

Once I gave up escaping my own comfortability, I learned that the people have way more to teach me than my prideful heart could offer. Maybe the Gospel of the Kingdom of Heaven isn’t so much something I bring to people, but what relationships can offer when we lay down our defenses and our pride. In the process, I saw the walls of hostility in my own heart be TORN down. This was good for me. So incredibly good. I can’t even begin to describe what it has meant to be healed by the wounded. I thank the kids and families of West Central who taught me that discipleship is as simple as a game of two-on-two basketball on a Thursday afternoon. 

The third lesson of discipleship is that the Holy Spirit reveals who we truly are when we learn to give up escaping. I claim that God has done a re-working of my heart this summer. In all my time in Spokane, I’ve never felt anything like this life-giving-identity-purpose-goodness that came from my time at Immanuel. The Spirit is a powerful, beautiful, and re-wiring force that transforms people, reconciles hurt, and restores our broken hearts.

The Spirit is a powerful, beautiful, and re-wiring force that transforms people, reconciles hurt, and restores our broken hearts.

At the start of this summer, I was so afraid to open up about my own hurt that I kept people at bay, and specifically the people that really wanted to know me. It wasn’t until one afternoon, while sitting in the Fairbank’s front yard, that I realized that the Holy Spirit reveals our hearts whether we want it to or not, and when it does, there is incredible healing that happens. I realized in that moment the Spirit is a reckless love. It tears down fear, hostility, lies, and replaces those with his Truth, Power, and Shalom. I thank the people who challenged me to look deeper into the caverns of my own heart, and at the same time reminded me of the never-ending love of God. 

I realized my heart had come face to face with the God who loves justice, chases the lost, tears down walls of hostility, and uses the poor to teach the proud; The God of Scripture, and the God over Spokane. 

I chose to read this verse once every week this summer, and it has meant something different every week. I hope it speaks something true over you as well.

“See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven. What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should perish.”  Matthew 18:10-14