Eleven years ago, as a student, I chose to spend ten weeks of the summer investing in my relationship with God at The Navigators’ Summer Training Program (STP). I’ve never regretted it.
That summer, as my team leader, Rachel, invested in me and two other girls, my relationship with Jesus grew like a weed. Rachel lived life with our team. I remember her spending a lot of time with us and I remember learning from her relationship with Jesus. As I watched, I learned how to ask good questions in Bible Study. I learned to tackle the question of why God allows life to happen the way it does, and in response, come back to who He has revealed Himself to be in the Bible – good, just, and unfailingly loving.
Today, when I don’t understand something, I fall back on His character, as I learned to do that summer. That was also the first time I really caught a vision for discipleship, realizing that, if I chose to invest deeply in a few, who invested deeply in a few, the impact is exponential. I recognized that what Rachel did with me, I could do with others! The following school year I volunteered to lead a Bible Study and I began spiritually mentoring younger women. The summer of 2003 started a journey in my life and continues to reap benefits in my spiritual life today. It opened up a heart for ministry within me that will continue wherever I go, whether I am in “full-time Christian work” or “not.”
This last summer, eleven years later, I was back at the same program as a staff person, meeting with two team leader women, Kate and Julia (both pictured above – in order from left: Julia, me, Kate). I prayed for the same impact in their lives and in the lives of the women on their individual teams.
Julia wrote this recently, and I want to share it because of the deep encouragement it brought me and the clarity with which it portrays even more fruit that the Lord has grown in and through His children at STP. She said, “As Danielle and I met consistently over the summer, she helped me see my identity as Christ defines it rather than how I saw it – reminding me of God’s grace along the way. With love and patience, she showed me who God truly is, and secondly, who I am in Him.”
“I know my understanding of God is something that will always be growing and expanding, but I owe its foundation to my time spent learning from Danielle and reading with her from God’s Word. I am so thankful for the time I was given with her this summer because it will continue to have lasting impacts in my life for years to come!”
God’s breathtaking works have been amassing like an avalanche since before the beginning of time, but His faithfulness to move through something as little (in the grand scheme of things) as an annual Summer Training Program has astounded me.