When I first signed up for this Summer of Service trip, I had no expectations other than that I knew God had called me to volunteer at the Shelter Youth Hostel Ministry in Amsterdam and that He was going to use me for His purpose and that He had a plan for this summer. Well, shortly before I left for my trip something happened in my personal life that absolutely broke me, and I had no desire to go to Amsterdam anymore. I didn’t feel like serving in a foreign country when I had no joy or love in me at this point. How could I share the Gospel with people when I was so broken? And I no longer knew what to expect. How could God possibly use me as broken as I was? If I didn’t have expectations before when I was whole, I sure didn’t know what to expect now. Maybe except that this trip could now change me in some way. However, my parents and friends kept encouraging me during this time by saying that there was a reason that God called me to Amsterdam and to focus on that.
So, I left for Amsterdam and cried the first couple days once I got there because I still really didn’t want to be there. But within a week I was over-flowed by God’s Love by the people I was surrounded by. And I soon realized a part of why God had called me to a country 5,000 miles away from my home. Because before I had left, I was under the impression that I truly wasn’t enough as a person. That I not only wasn’t good enough but that I, Jenna, was not enough as I am for someone or even for this world. But God told me “You are enough as you are because I am the only one who’s validation even matters. My approval is the only one that matters and you’re My child and I made you perfect and, in my image, just the way you are. Your worth is found in Me. You Are Enough.” And before I left I had so many signs telling me that a new beginning was necessary. Everywhere I looked there was something that mentioned a new beginning. And Amsterdam was the perfect opportunity.
And after a couple weeks in Amsterdam I had felt God’s love in so many ways and when all is said and done, God’s Love is all that matters. I was shown this love in not only my fellow staff members, who took a genuine interest in me and my life and asking me how I was really doing, but also in the guests at my Hostel. And some weren’t Christian but what an awesome opportunity God was giving me right then and there to show his love to them through my actions and words. Because His Love is truly the love that we all desperately want, whether we recognize that or not. But that kind of love is ONLY found in Christ.
And through this love, we find the greatest love story of all time. And so, after one month, I felt as if the reason that God called me to serve 5,000 miles away was to reveal Himself to me and to make it clear to me just how much I need Him in my life. 5,000 miles away is where I found His glory revealed in the people around me. I found His love 5,000 miles away. And 5,000 miles away is where I was able to reflect on what had happened in my personal life and realize how much more I deserve and where my worth truly comes from. 5,000 miles away, I learned more about God and who I was and who He created me to be. And in the second month I was able to grow more in the knowledge of all of this and recognize what I had learned.
The minute I would start thinking back to the past, God would say “stop looking back, your life is right now, and I want you to focus on that and what’s to come. I have such amazing plans in place for your life and you won’t enjoy them if you keep looking back.” And 5,000 miles away, God helped me to stop worrying about everything but instead PRAY about everything. Because the minute I worried about something, it was as if he was picking me up and showing me “hey, you don’t need to worry! Everything is in my hands. You prayed so let me do the rest.” And HE did. He really provided for me in so many unique ways this summer and taught me so many valuable lessons that I think have changed me and have changed my life for the better.
I have this new-found freedom in Christ. It’s a freedom that I have never truly experienced until this summer. I’m free of the brokenness that I left with. Christ healed my brokenness and set me free! And He freed me of all my worries from this summer. He freed me of the negative and false thoughts that I thought about myself. One of my new favorite worship songs is called Who You Say I Am, by Hillsong Worship, and the chorus starts by saying “Who the Son sets free, oh is free indeed. I’m a child of God. Yes I am. And then in the bridge it goes on to say “I am who you say I am” and what a testament that song was and is to my time spent at the Shelter Youth Hostel Ministry in Amsterdam this summer.