As I look back on the Thinking About Working For God Internship experience, what I consider a key moment to share my faith with the world was having the opportunity with my host church, Dixwell Avenue Congregational United Church of Christ, to attend and speak at the Youth Revival. For my topic, I had to write about a faith strengthening experience. I chose to speak about my stay at Silver Lake. The week was filled with exploring the world God has given us and enjoying the company of other youth. Silver Lake was an amazing opportunity, and it helped me build my relationship with God and with all His creations around me. It truly is a place where God and nature intersect.
My stay at Silver Lake was filled with many memorable moments and people, but one specific time I will not forget is when I participated in a night hike. The night hike did not sound intriguing to me at first. In fact, I rarely hiked even in broad daylight. I had known the people I would be hiking with for only a few days, and we would be passing through an unfamiliar area. Fortunately, I am a very open minded person and love new activities. When it was time to start, the sky was almost pitch black. We were told the only way we would be able to navigate smoothly is to listen to the people ahead of us whisper an upcoming obstacle, and then repeat it to the person behind us. At the time, I was very scared and began to pray for safety. Throughout the hike, I had stumbled a few times trying to go over the sticks and rocks made known to me by whispers. When we reached the lake, there were fireflies lighting up the dark, and the chirping of crickets filled the silent air. It was a beautiful moment that I will always remember.
Looking back at that night, I realized how special it was. We relied on each other for guidance and built a strong trust with our group. It also symbolized how we must also have trust in God. Just like the hike, God will guide us through tough times in our lives when we need Him the most, and He will never let go of us. He will hold our hand through every single rock and hill that we approach in life. God put me with people who would help me through that tough path, and we eventually overcame it.
Being a youth leader this year at the revival has given me the chance to develop my ministry, improve my public speaking skills to be more comfortable talking about my faith experiences to others, and sharing with others my love of God. In addition to my own experiences, I wanted to hear what other TAWFG interns learned about themselves through this unique program. The youth revival was built on our tuning into our senses: listening to God’s call, listening to others, and being a voice others would want to listen to. By being good listeners, we can learn from each other and work together to make the world a better place. At the revival, we also focused on speaking and seeing: speaking about our individual and collective experiences as children of God, seeing the beauty of our differences, and appreciating the beauty in all of God’s creations, people, plants, animals and the earth. We also spoke about doing what is needed to protect and preserve this planet for future generations.
Another standout moment during this apprenticeship program was visiting the Hartford Seminary to learn about other monotheistic religions, and how we are all connected through our similarities and our differences. It has taught me not to be afraid to ask questions. I have also learned how to have an even more open mind when it comes to differences between each other. On that day, I observed my first Muslim prayer ritual. It was amazing to witness how another person connects to a higher order through prayer. Even though I didn’t understand the language being spoken, I clearly understood the purpose and meaning behind the act of giving praise, acknowledging our blessings, and offering one’s self to be of service through prayer.
There are many lessons I am taking away from this internship that I will hold on to for the rest of my life. However, the most important thing I am taking with me is that I should always strive to work in the church because it is so rewarding to look back on the past few months and see how much I have grown in my faith, community, and church. I have learned how much goes into planning each Sunday, and how many people are involved so that every worship service is wonderful. I found many other ways I can be active in church and contribute to Sunday worship.
Although it is sad to bring this program to an end, I hope to continue my desire to grow in faith and continue my assistance in the church community. Also, I want to continue to meet other youth who have the same faith based passions as I. I hope the younger children in my church will continue to see me as a role model and will, maybe, one day become a TAWFG apprentice. I want to end my internship with the hopes that TAWFG will keep being a tradition in both my church communities. If my wishes do come true, we will have a generation of strong and faithful children who will change the world.
Amanda Simpson was confirmed at UCC Bridgeport on Easter Sunday. She was placed a Dixwell Avenue, UCC in New Haven for her TAWFG Apprenticeship.
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