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Greetings and salutations from a woman called to a youth mentoring mission! I live in a small rural village in North America called Sherman. There are no stop lights, one bank, two gas stations, three places to eat, and four churches. Here in Sherman, New York, folks say there are more cows than people to minister too. I have lived in this area my entire life – 40 years. I was born and raised in the snow belt country. When asked about my personal testimony on how I came to know the Lord, I would have to tell a story of how it was in my DNA and I learned from trials and rebellion. I was born into a family that was called to ministry. My grandfather was a tent revivalist in the 1950’s and then planted a church in Jamestown, New York, called “The Revival Center.” When I look back at my childhood, I cannot remember a time that I did not believe in Jesus Christ.
I believe I have always kept my faith in Jesus, but as I became a late teenager I wanted to do things my way. So I started to rebel and slowly the world influenced me: sex out of marriage, drugs, dishonoring my family, and doing anything to have a good time. Through these choices and actions, I became a mother at eighteen. The next five years were riddled with abuse and much pain! Through this pain, I started to seek God and His wisdom and His strength to endure the pain. Eventually, this led me to recommit my life to the Lord when I was twenty-four years old.
Soon after repenting and turning back to God, I met my husband. We married when I was twenty-eight and he was thirty-one. The first seven years of us being together my husband was not a born-again Christian. He was raised Catholic and never knew what it meant to have a personal relationship with Jesus. I would plant seeds and plant seeds, but he seemed uninterested. Finally, after the stresses of life and marriage became too much and we were looking at divorce, my husband fell to his knees and gave his heart to the Lord! It has been eleven years since my husband and I have been walking together in Christ!
Throughout my life, I have always dreamed of a life in ministry, but circumstances and money have seemed to always get in the way of that dream. As I watched my oldest two children journey through their teenage life in a rural area. The Lord laid on my heart the need of a place for the teenagers. This vision has grown into a youth mentoring mission to mentor and train youth through the opening of a community center. My family and I have diligently worked towards opening the doors of the “Rural Center” for four years now. We were successful in applying for the 501c3 status and were also given a very large building on Main Street. When we open the doors, it will be a place where families can come for support, restoration, education, spiritual support, and encouragement. We are planning to have the building as the headquarters of the youth group we lead called, “Teens on Fire”. We will also start a youth church that will meet a couple times a month. The youth will lead worship, prayer, and teach, with a small group of adults mentoring them. Our goal is to cultivate the gifts that God has given them and stir the fire inside for revival in our region! So, I see myself as a youth pastor.
My family has played a big role in this vision, and I see that we will all have a role in it. I feel my whole life experience has led me to this vision and youth mentoring mission. Through my trials and struggles, it has strengthened me and given me the wisdom to relate to the issues the youth face. The local churches and my personal church are 100% behind this vision, and are all excited to partner with us! Even though there have been many struggles throughout the four years of planning, it has helped to remind me that this is God’s youth mentoring mission and He will provide for it.
Recently, I have felt a push to go back to school. I have my Bachelors in Community Organizing and Human Services. My vocation is as a Care Manager at a therapeutic Residential Treatment Facility for troubled teens. My co-workers have nudged me to go back for my Masters of Social Work, so I started looking. As I researched online schools, I could not commit to a traditional master’s program. I sought the Lord in prayer asking for His will to be revealed. He brought me to the realization that my passion (His Passion) is ministry so why not go after that! I started researching Christian schools and found Christian Leaders Institute. This has been a lifesaver and life changer for me! I was very reluctant to go after my masters due to going into thousands of dollars more debt. Since beginning this journey at CLI and completing the scholarship class, I have learned a great deal of the early church history. I am very excited to see what is next in this new season of learning.
I believe that this scholarship is crucial to my youth mentoring mission. I believe that this program will give me the proper tools and knowledge to lead the youth of this area into revival! The mission and vision of CLI line up perfectly to the vision of the Rural Center. As I was learning about the mentoring portion of the class, I couldn’t help but envision the Rural Center as a mentor center through CLI! Praise God, and thank you for considering me for this scholarship!
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