Two weeks ago I posted my first blog post assignment for a class I am taking at BIOLA. I was overwhelmed by the response I received from you as the readers. The post (which you can read here) was the most popular post I have ever written.
This week, I have the chance to share with you some of the biblical values that have shaped my ministry choices.
There are two Biblical values that are highly important to me and which, as a result of their importance to me, have impacted my ministry choices. These values have become so important to me because of my life experiences and I hope, through further life experiences, to be able to minister to others with these values central to my ministries.
I believe God is good all the time and as a result, is not the cause of any evil or bad experiences but does use these experiences for the good of those who love Him.
One of the hardest questions Christians face (and probably one of the reasons some choose not to believe in and follow the Christian God) is "why does my good God let bad stuff happen?" It's a difficult question to answer but I do believe there is some insight into the answer to this question in the Bible.
Romans 8:28 says "and we know that in all things, God works for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose."
Psalm 126:5 says "those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy."
Both of these verses have encouraged me as I have walked through tough medical journies.
In Spring 2015, I was diagnosed with tendonitis that was not fixed until surgery was completed on it in Autumn the same year. That same Autumn, I hurt my shoulder and was in pain so bad I had to be pulled from school. The pain was not diagnosed until Winter 2015 when it was given the diagnosis of Central Neural Sensitization Syndrome (CNSS). I have since accumulated numerous other issues including headaches and nausea (2016), an enlarged aorta (2016), worsened asthma (2019), tailbone pain (2020), belly pain and burping (2021), and more. As each issue has come and gone and as I have dealt with other struggles (ex. the Carr Fire in 2018, struggles with friends, and difficulty re-entering society after COVID) God has been there with me.
I fully believe that God does not EVER cause us pain. But I fully believe that God can USE that pain for good.
One of those ways he has used my pain for good leads me to my second Biblical value.
I believe we were created for community and I believe Christian community is vital to the spiritual, emotional, physical, and mental health of a Christian.
Before 2015, I had not ever truly experienced Christian community. I had never had a healthy friend group. Outside of my family, I felt alone and unwelcome. Though my parents challenged me to grow in my relationship with the Lord and provided the perfect home environment in which to do so, I had no outside community in which I could be disciples, loved on, challenged, and held accountable.
Because of my nerve condition, I was held back a year in school. Because I was held back a year in school, I came to meet someone who became my first true friend. Not only did she teach me what true Christian friendship looked like but she invited me to her youth group where I began to learn what Christian community looks like.
There, I meet the people who would one day become my best friends. There, I grew to love the Lord like never before. There, I learned to choose God for myself not because He was my parents' God. There I felt welcomed and loved as well as supported and mentored.
A Christian community is foundational in a Christian life. Without community, we begin to fall apart at the seams because we do not have the support system that we were made to have. We are not encouraged and we are not held accountable.
There are many verses that discuss Christian community in the Bible. They note the importance of confessing to one another (James 5:16) helping one another (Gal. 6:2; 1 Th. 5:14) and forgiving one another (Col. 3:13) because we are all a part of the same body, the body of Christ (Rom. 12:5).
Though my desire to minister to readers and writers alike is recent, these values have been hammered deep into my soul for years now. My value for community impacted my decision to study at Biola with the goal of working in youth ministry. At the time, I hoped to create a church youth ministry rooted in community. I now hope to minister to youth who read through a bookstore by creating a place that fosters community and making myself someone youth can turn to for community. I hope to also create a community of readers of my own books. While not all of these books will literally teach of Christ, I do hope to be able to bring Christ to youth through the community that my books create, the story they tell, and the values they hold. My desire is to weave Biblical values into fictional books to allow the Holy Spirit to work in the lives of youth through my writing. It is through my writing that I hope to bring a message that God is good and desires to do good things for those who choose to love and follow Him.