I thought it was about time for one of these. As I’ve stated already, I am a Christian running a Tumblr. I figure since that’s who I am, I should tell you all about my story and what God has done through me. This is going to be long, I can tell already.
Well, I’ve pretty much always been raised in church. When I was really young I went to the Methodist church that my mom was raised in. My dad introduced my mom to an Assemblies of God church and at first she was freaked out, but she soon realized there’s not much that her childhood church had to offer us. So we started attending the AG church. It was about thirty minutes away and we’d make that journey every Sunday and Wednesday. We then found an AG church in town and switched there. That’s where I’ve spent probably from when I was 6 or so until now. So currently 10 years.
When I was seven years old, I listened to this band called ZOEgirl. I’m not sure if anyone knows who they are, but I loved them. I went to several concerts and did a meet and greet during their final tour. It was because of one of their songs that I decided to ask Jesus to come into my life and change me. I was saved from eternal damnation just simply because three young women came together to sing about their Savior. They told me about the “ABCs” (A: Admit you have sinned B: Believe in Jesus C: Confess your sins) And that’s what I did. I continued to attend church with my parents and participated in church camps. I would always get that “camp high”. It was great. I wished (and still do wish) that I could live at camp always.
It wasn’t always so easy. When I was younger, everything seemed fine. As I got older, life got more difficult. I developed a really bad swearing habit, I started doing things that I shouldn’t with guys, I just kinda lived that “Sunday Christian” lifestyle. I would attend church and worship, then the week came and I’d go back to being just like everyone else. This was probably my life from age 13 till 15 or so. What changed? God got a hold of my life in a way I would’ve never thought. But at first I didn’t want Him to and I didn’t let Him. I was terrified. I wanted the easy life, even if it meant I wasn’t being completely truthful with Jesus.
During my second year at my youth group’s fall convention (2008), I felt that God called me to ministry. I was really excited, but the convention high wore off and I just kinda went back to life. Summer 2009 at church camp, I got the same feeling and immediately dismissed it. This time I was scared. I didn’t want to let others down, I didn’t want the pressures of being in ministry, I wanted to experience life and college and be able to party and screw up. I was being a wimp. From 2009 until 2010, I kept trying to find alternative career paths. I tried to convince myself that I was supposed to be a photographer, a journalist, a teacher. I looked at endless schools. I even looked at Christian colleges. I told myself I’d at least be in that environment. Nothing would settle right with me after looking into these things. I would never feel at peace. At the convention in 2010, I felt this call to ministry again. More specifically, youth ministry. God wanted me to be a youth pastor. I was so terrified of the thought still. I now knew that I had to get my life together and I wanted to, I just didn’t know where to start. The rest of 2010 and beginning of 2011, I’d continue to backslide. I started to feel hopeless and almost depressed.
Spring Break of 2011 changed my life. I could write this whole testimony just based upon that. What did I do? I went on my first missions trip ever. I went to Nicaragua with my youth pastor, mom, a pastor from our sister church, and about five other youth students from that church. It was extremely out of my comfort zone to go through customs and leave country, to have to speak in Spanish (which I barely knew), to reach out to kids I could barely speak to, to be a leader of a group with seven Spanish-speaking children, etc. (I could go on and on). I was the quiet girl. I just wanted to stay in my comfort zone, in my little bubble. Life would be great if I could just do that. Unfortunately for me, that’s not how you grow. God makes it somewhat difficult, but SO worth it. I grew so much during this trip. God revealed to me that I have the ability to make a ginormous impact on a child’s life and I don’t even need to speak their language well because we all speak in a common language: Love. That’s God’s language. I was able to display God’s love for them because I loved them with all that I had for a week straight. I always had a little one by my side. When they left the camp ground, I cried for at least an hour straight. Everyone honestly thought I was crazy. At the end, we talked about what God did in our lives and such. Kendra (one of the missionaries) told us a little of what she saw in each of us and she looked me in the eye and said, “I’ve never had such a distinct feeling about someone. I know that this is straight from God, He’s just using me to tell you, Ashley, you are an instrument of God. Stop being afraid of everything, because He is in control. He knows your future, He has great plans for you, and ultimately everything is in His hands.” I just sat there in astonishment, because it totally had to do with my current situation and how I felt through the majority of the trip. I was so overwhelmed. We helped out a church one night and I led worship…IN SPANISH. That wasn’t me. My mom cried because she was so proud. After this trip, I decided that if these kids could be content with they have, living in and near a dump, then I could be content with my life. I tried to stop being depressed and upset all the time, I cried out for God to change my life. I was so much more grateful and happy for the life I have and the impact I can make. It made me believe that God actually knew what He was talking about when He told me I’d be a youth pastor. Well, about a month and a half later in May, I got the opportunity to go back to Nicaragua. This time almost by myself! I flew to Florida and met up with someone else who was going and we flew to Nicaragua and cleared customs together. This time I helped prep for an incoming team and see the missionary side of things. I love Nicaragua with my whole heart. I know it’s part of my future. I couldn’t be more happy. I don’t know if it’ll just be for one more week-long mission trip, or for a month, or for a school year, or for a year, or for a longer amount of time. I’m just grateful that it’s part of my future.
Summer of 2011, I went to church camp like usual and I didn’t really feel anything during the night services. Usually I do. Just a little something, at least. It usually follows the same outline. (Asking God to save you, the gift of tongues, etc.) Well, one night (I think it was Thursday night), I just fell on my face before God and I told Him I was done trying to hold onto the world. I was done being afraid. I was done holding back. I wanted Him to have full control of my life, full control of the present, full control of the future, full control over everything. I told Him I couldn’t be happy if I didn’t start living my life fully for Him. Since then, I’ve cut back to almost never swearing during a day. I’ve tried really hard to do daily devotions and read my Bible. I listen to worship music and pray at least once a day. I’m not saying I’m perfect by any means, because we’re all a work in progress. Life just seems a lot less stressful. God is so good. Not to say I haven’t struggled or slipped up since, but the end of my 2011 was pretty good spiritually. I’m looking forward to what 2012 has to bring. I couldn’t be more excited.
My passion is to help lead the youth of the US to Christ. I want them to know that they have a Father out there who loves them more than they could even imagine. I want to let them know that wherever they go is their mission field. If they become a teacher, a plumber, a telemarketer, a secretary, a photographer, a doctor, a veterinarian, a pastor or missionary even, whatever it may be. Where they go, their ministry goes. I want them to experience the world through missions. I want them to see Nicaragua like I got to see Nicaragua. I want to be apart of that process. I want to be there for them just like my youth pastors and senior pastor has. I don’t know what I’d do without them, and I’d love to be that person for others. I want teens to know that they can do anything they set their mind to. God knows the desires of their hearts and He wants to make that happen. I want to help teens through peer pressures and wordly desires. It’s hard enough to be a teen in this world now, I can’t imagine what it’ll be like by the time I graduate from college and can start in this ministry that God has placed on my heart. There’s nothing that makes me more excited, more at peace, more reassured than when I think about being a youth pastor.
I really think that’s all I have to say. I want to encourage all of you to seek after Him. If you reach out a little bit, He’ll make up the difference and meet you where you are. If you have any questions about anything, just shoot me a message. I’d LOVE to talk to you about this, or just chat. <3