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August 2003
Wow...believe it or not, I have already been on three week-long trips (2 with the junior high ministry and 1 with the senior high ministry) with the ministries of Southland Christian Church. My internship began on June 1st 2003 and will end in mid-December. It has truly been an amazing journey. Below is an email I sent out a few weeks ago as an update for a few of my friends...enjoy!

As I sit here, over 1,000 teens are outside (hopefully) playing, running, sweating, making new friends, falling in what they believe is love and growing into a closer relationship with God. I am in South Carolina at the 2003 C.I.Y. (Christ In Youth) Conference. I finally saw an empty computer at the college we are at and, obviously, I took advantage of the situation. I have a very inspiring story to share with you...the best part is, God's the star and the story is true.

A few weeks ago, I felt as if a small group ministry needed to be formed within the "Special Needs" ministry of the church in Lexington that I am presently serving. The catagory of "Special Needs" includes young teens up through adults which have mental, physical and emotional "disabilities." Here I am, now 21 years of age, feeling in the middle here...meaning that I can relate to both of those who can say, "I have no idea what it means to have a disability" and also to those who go through the physical and emotional hurdles on a daily basis. I was born with a short right arm, my left ear was missing an ear cannal and components, my right ear drum was punctured during a surgery when I was a child, my left eye is legally blind while my right eye can be of assistance if I am wearing a contac. But, I must ask myself, does this really classify has a "handicapped" person....I still debate the answer.

Nevertheless, we all struggle as human beings, we have all fallen away from the glory of God. We have all sinned and continue to long to find purpose in life. This is true for everyone and therefore, to a sense, everyone truly has something that they can label as their handicap. Take a moment and just think to yourself what this might be.

For some reason God led me to interning with the special needs ministry at my present church. I could have settled for a vasty array of many other jobs, but instead, God seemed to point to this position...one which would give me a few college credits, but with no income. It would be a risk, yet I also felt like it completed my purpose...God creates everyone for a certain purpose you know.

To set the stage, the minister in charge of this area mentioned that there happened to be an elderly woman who resided in the local community that was labeled as a "shut in." My mission was to find her, bring her something to show her that the church was thinking about her, talk, pray and leave. It seemed like such a simple task, it could be done alone. Yet, God seemed to have other ideas...

That afternoon I found myself in my office, reading over the power of a three stranded rope, noting the small possibility of them ever coming apart. It was at that moment, a girl from my ministry called and was mentioning that she felt lonely with nothing to do on Friday. I thought about the rope and asked, "Have you ever thought about doing something with me and a few other girls from this church on Friday?" Her interest guided me to start a small group ministry within the special needs ministry itself. A week later, me and four girls gathered, each of us with a visible challenge of a different sort, and decided to visit this elderly shut in.

I still remember my discussion with the girls on the way over to the house...I mentioned that they should all be considerate, kind, ask her if she needed anything, not to walk all over the house or mention anything negative about the lady's appearance or house. I thought I had covered everything.

We pulled up to the house and slowly all of us made it up to the front door. I remember being in front of the herd and the silence and anxiety which seemed to ripple through the entire group as I knocked on the door. A nurse answered and guided us to the woman, sitting beside her bed and a smile filled her face. I introduced the group and immediately the girls started asking questions. One asked why she didn't have a fan...the answer, she was unable to afford one. Another asked why she didn't go out....answer being she had little contacs. The girls were so excited to talk with this lady, as I made my way to the back, shut my mouth and opened my ears. Surprised, I heard God.

One by one, questions continued to flow and life stories were exchanged. Poems were read and hope through Christ was shared. All I did was pray and share a quick poem of my own...

"Like a father rocks a child to sleep at night, my friend, God is holding you. Though the skies grow dark, never give up the fight, your Leader has already walked in your shoes. God gave His Son for you."

I remember looking into the woman's eyes and for a moment, I felt like I saw a glimpse of hope dance in her eyes. She reminded me of the woman at the well. She was just going about her daily routine and suddenly, the hope of Christ came in an unexpected way.

After I prayed, along with two of the other girls, we all took off and waved good-bye to a new found friend. One of the girls broke the sudden silence of the car by asking, "So, were we like ministers today?" My response was simple, "No, you were not like ministers...you were the heart, mind, hands and feet of Christ."

So, the next time you reach that conclusion that you cannot complete a task or event in your life, I hope God will bring you back to this lesson of humillity. God never wants us to completely work for Him...we will never be equipped with enough strength, power, love and grace for His position. Instead, He calls us to come as we are, and humble ourselves before Him so that He can work through us, regardless of the hurdles we may have to jump. Is He working through you today?

Love you all!! I will probably not be able to check the responses to this post, but feel free to send any messages to my AOL email... jfbeth@aol.com.

Psalms 121

No spell check used!
My photo page has been updated with pictures from camp, college and Mexico. The mission trip to Mexico was great...I have posted a short testimony on the photo album page labeled, "Mexico 2003" (Click HERE to go to the photo albums). Hopefully, I will be able to add a few pictures from the Southland internship soon.

"To the world you may be one person, but to one person you may be the world" (anonymous)
Your life is a mirror...what are you really reflecting?
In HIM,
Bethany Searle