I remember like yesterday… driving down the Pigeon Forge Parkway with my car packed full of everything I would need for the summer. I was following my friend, Emily, and we were heading down to the summer project- some of the few ETSU students on a primarily TTU project. The nice thing about the Pigeon Forge Parkway is that there are tons of places to make U-turns. I thought about making one and just driving right back home, but then my phone rang… it was discipleship group leader from back on campus, Rachel. She was already at the hotel and wanted to know if I was almost there, so I kept driving until the next thing I knew, I was at the hotel with a group of people I didn’t know greeting me.
It was a little awkward, but then again first days of anything always are, however I was just about to begin a summer that was going to change my daily life for years to come!
Mountain Project 2010 was a good investment for me in many ways, but I want to focus in on two specifically- learning to share my faith and learning to read the Bible.
I had been a Christian for a couple years. I really wanted to be someone who made a difference in the world… someone who led others into a relationship with Jesus, but I just didn’t know how. I desperately feared turning people away from Jesus if I said the wrong thing or came across to harshly. Learning to lead others to Christ was the main reason I wanted to come to Mountain Project, and I was promised that I would learn that if I went and spent my summer with those strangers. I can honestly say this promise was delivered on.
Within the first week of MP, I was already amazed at how I saw others share the Gospel. In one training, we all learned how to share our testimonies, and we set out to Dollywood to put it into practice. One of the staff women, Roxy, and I got in line for Daredevil Falls, and I began to strike up conversation with the women in line ahead of us. I finally got to the point where I asked if they had any spiritual beliefs, and then they quickly answered, “Um, we’re lesbians”. I stood there without any words left to say as Roxy continued the conversation. She asked more questions, and she shared the Gospel with them! The conversation was a pleasant conversation and the women even thanked us for talking to them because they had never heard Jesus explained in the way Roxy did it. That day, I learned a lot just from seeing her share. As we were leaving Dollywood, I remember telling the group that if I only learned what I did that day, MP was worth it… and we were still in the first week!
My room leader, Jess, challenged me all summer long to continue to share the Gospel with people. Then towards the end of the summer, she sat down with me and helped me make a game plan for returning to ETSU and sharing my faith there. Since MP2010, evangelism has been a regular part of my life. I am so thankful for people who actively took me out and showed me daily how to lead others to Christ, and do so in a loving and caring way!
The next big thing that I learned was something I thought I already knew how to do, and that is study my Bible. I had been inconsistently reading my Bible for a while now, and I was good at Bible Surfing or looking up verses in a concordance, but I did not know how to richly study God’s Word in such a way as to let it change me… That summer, I learned how to not only read my Bible, but how to spend time with God. I wasn’t just told how to study the Bible, but my room leader and one of the staff women consistently read the Bible with me! I was too prideful at the time to admit it, but I had no idea what I was doing, but they helped me pull truth from scriptures that I had never even thought about before. My life was really being changed by the scripture- reading them, talking about them, memorizing them… it was life changing!! And I can honestly say that this morning, many years later, the way that I read my Bible, and a majority of the days since then, is a result of learning to drink richly from God’s Word on MP 2010. Simply that, all by itself, was enough reason for me give up my summer and spend it with those TTU students who I had never met.
Mountain Project is one of the best investments I have ever made. Before going, it was a hard decision to make. I wanted to work at a Christian camp that I had been working at for years. I lot of my friends were going to be doing that. I also wanted to go on a month long mission trip. I could have done both of those things instead of Mountain Project, but I had already done things like that with my summers… they were great and I grew a lot, but after each mission trip and after each summer at camp, I was left asking the question…”Now what?” “Do I wait until next summer to do ministry again?” But when I left Mountain Project, I had clear next steps. I knew ministry was with my whole life. I was established to have my own intimacy with Jesus and equipped to lead others to Him! It was a summer sacrifice and investment that I will never regret!