Life Changing Opportunity
My name is Naomi Wood, and Christian Leaders Institute is a life changing opportunity for me. I am from the beautiful mountains of Durango, Colorado. My age is 20 years old, and I grew up in the agriculture industry farming the fields the Lord has provided my family to tend. I left Durango a few times after graduating high school, but God always brings me back home. I am single and working on my heart and the foundation that God wants me to have in Him. Then, I will be able to fulfill the purpose that He has created for me.
It is incredibly rewarding to be a Christian leader in Durango. As beautiful as this community is, there are a lot of people who don’t know Christ. The majority of my family and the people that I grew up with have belief in God and claim to be Christian. However, many do not understand what it means to have a relationship with Him. Now, I am learning how to be a light for Jesus. I want to share His unconditional love with my family, friends, and community. This step is essential because I was once someone who claimed to be a Christian but was not on a Christ-centered walk.
While growing up, my childhood was a little rocky. I did not know my birth father. But, when I was young, my mom married the man who I call my father. They had three more beautiful children, so I was blessed to grow up in a big family. My dad traveled a lot for work, which meant that as the oldest child, I had a lot of responsibility.
I was partly brought up Catholic due to my mom’s family being firmly rooted in the Catholic Church. However, my dad is not religious, so I was not raised consistently in the church. My parents instilled biblical morals into my life, but they never emphasized teaching me to live by the Bible or to follow Christ. In high school, I fell into a lot of sin and strayed far away from God.
College and New Opportunities
After I graduated, I attended a community college in Wyoming, and after one semester, I came home. Later, I transferred to a Tarleton State University in Texas to get my bachelor’s degree in Agriculture Education. It wasn’t until that time that God was able to grasp my heart. At Tarleton, I got plugged into a college ministry at a non-denominational church. This season changed my life more than I ever knew it could. I began to learn more about the Bible and God, our Father, and I accepted Jesus into my heart and was baptized.
Shortly after this life change, I met a lady named Tara Simon from East Texas. She recruits people to work at Allaso Ranch, which is a youth ministry camp and retreat center run by Fellowship Church in Dallas, Texas. I committed to working for their ministry last summer. At the same time, I found out I would no longer be able to attend school due to the cost of tuition and not having enough financial aid. This realization flipped my world upside down. However, I had a newfound faith and the next door God opened for me at Allaso Ranch. I had no idea what it meant to work in camp ministry, but I knew that God was calling me to go there.
Learning to be a Servant Leader
“Allaso” is the Greek word for life-change and that is what I found there. I found yet another completely unexpected life-change. That summer, I played many roles behind the scenes of the overall camp ministry experience. I was a lifeguard, a ropes course facilitator, a wrangler at the barn giving trail rides, a server for meals, cabin cleaning server, trash clean up, a professional window cleaner, and chair placer. The staff did whatever was necessary.
Serving in the shadows often seemed lifeless and discouraging when I wanted instead to be leading and ministering to kids more directly. But, I began to learn how to serve God’s Kingdom and His ministry through the small details. I learned how to be more selfless and what it is like to be part of something much bigger than myself. It was a blessing to be a part in every detail to prepare a place that God uses for life-change.
Life Changes and My Calling
Everything at Allaso is ordinary except for the people. The people at Allaso have decided to commit their lives to God and share His gospel. This fact is how life-change happens. In just a few short weeks, I witnessed 213 kids give their lives to Christ and be baptized. I saw the incredible life-change that God does there, and I am also blessed to have experienced my life-change. I found my calling to serve Jesus through ministry for the rest of my life in whatever capacity God calls me to.
Currently, God placed me back in my hometown. I am working full-time to pay off college debt that I already have. Then I can move forward with the next season He has for me. It was terrifying to leave such an incredible journey at Allaso to come home back into the real world. However, I came back to Colorado with a transformed heart and incredible eternal friendships.
I have a passion for people, photography, and traveling, and I want to turn those passions into my ministry and a life-time of sharing the Gospel. In this season, I am working on personal spiritual growth and building a strong foundation for my relationship with the Lord. Then, I can serve Him in my community and my home church until He calls me to new opportunities in full-time ministry.
College Degree through CLI and Christian Leaders College
A week before I left Allaso, I found the Christian Leaders Institute. In this incredible season with newfound life-change, fellowship, and calling to ministry, I struggled with the idea of not being able to get a college degree. Getting a degree has been vital to me, and I thought that my chance for that had been taken away. But, the Lord has provided me the life changing opportunity to get a degree through the Christian Leaders College. He could not have opened this door at a better time as He has opened my heart to ministry and the college that I was attending became out of reach.
The excellent education through my Christian Leaders Institute training will give me the foundation I need to pursue my calling into full-time ministry. Through this life changing opportunity, I pray that I will learn more about Christ and ministry and that I can be transformed into a woman of God. Free training is necessary for my situation of not being able to afford college and already having college debt. I am thankful for the people that have made this life changing opportunity for training possible for me. My life will be propelled into what God has for me to do. I am beyond blessed to be a part of CLI and Christian Leaders College to begin a degree in ministry. I can use this education to serve the Lord and His beloved people while I share the Gospel.
“Consider it a great joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you experience various trials, for you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking in nothing.” (James 1:2-4)
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11)
God bless and remember to have joy in every trial. Let the testing of your faith produce endurance within you. The Lord has a plan to give each of us hope and a future. The plans that He has for us are much higher than any plan we could ever have for ourselves.
Your Sister in Christ, Naomi.