By Shontae Walker
This year I am learning to enjoy every single moment and simply do what I love to do, which is dancing, getting to know God more and deepening my relationship with Him and step by step becoming a better version of myself. I have realized that focusing on enjoying each moment and deepening my relationship with God are things that will help me maintain a sense of thankfulness and gratitude in the midst of the twist and turns and surprises in life. These things are foundational for me no matter where life takes me, which is what I am learning.
On a more practical note, I am currently in the process of applying to business school. My hopes is to work towards developing the necessary skills to create a business that functions as a non-profit, but is sustained by earned revenue. I want this business to help not only children and youth, but other organizations that are doing great work, but do not have the funds nor the resources to outwork their vision.
I hope to create a platform and safe space for communities of children, youth, and adults to learn the importance and significance of building strong and healthy relationships with one another, organizations, and their own communities. I envision a community revived with hope and refreshed with new possibilities while living beyond limitations put on them. A place where children are supported, young adults are empowered and adults are equipped, so that families are strengthened. Ultimately an organization that creates a home away from home for families everywhere. My knowledge of any type of business is very minimal, which is why I hope to learn more about the creative side of strategic business management in a masters program. My top choices at the moment are University of Pennsylvania-Wharton; Liberty University in Lynchburg, VA; and Philadelphia University.
While business school is what I am pursuing after I finish the program, I have realized that life is not as predictable as I would like it to be, so I am open to discovering a more scenic route to building this business. As some people say, it’s not about the destination, but the journey. Through it all, what I have discovered is my great need for my Father, Jesus Christ. In Him is where all the hope, vision, strength, joy, wisdom, direction, and so much more I will ever need on this journey. I have truly discovered the blessing in detours and wholehearted surrender.
“Genuine total surrender is a personal sovereign preference for Jesus Christ Himself.” -Oswald Chambers
Shontae serves as a case manager at Besthesda Project.
By Jill Disbro
My name is Jill and I am a church girl. Short and sweet. I am a church girl. While this may not be the first thing I say to every person I meet on the street, I find that when I am asked to describe who I am and where I come from, one of the first things that I must explain is that I am one of those people who “grew up in the church.” I went to church every Sunday, I always went to Sunday school, participated in every youth outing and volunteer opportunity, and as I got older volunteered in Vacation Bible School. My formation as a child, teenager, and now as a young adult has been defined by my experience at Redeemer Lutheran Church in Columbus, Ohio. While this may sound like the description of an angelic, Christian child, I assure you it is not- my parents could give you a much more accurate description. But what I’m getting at is that my whole life the service I do has been assumed; this call to give of myself for others has been a natural product of my identity as a church girl. But why is that? What about my faith makes service to others so fundamental and necessary?
These questions and desire to explore the intersection between faith and service has shaped my spiritual growth through college and after graduation as I explore what it means to be the hands and feet of God in this world. After “growing up in the church” in Columbus, Ohio, I went on to attend Roanoke College in Virginia where growing in the church took on a new meaning. I got heavily involved in Campus Ministry life where I began to encounter people from different faith backgrounds and define my faith on a deeper level. I encountered people who, although they also “grew up in the church,” found their experience stifling and left for college disenchanted by religion as a whole. So, I continued to question what kept me connected to church and what about my faith made service to others so essential.
After college, I continued to grow in my faith as I went on to serve as a Young Adult in Global Mission through the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Throughout this year-long program I lived in the community of Tepoztlán, México, learning what it means to serve through accompaniment and working with a non-profit organization that promotes the rights of children and youth to participate in their communities. I spent the year forming relationships with people and loved getting to know the insights and capabilities of children and teenagers. This experience working with youth, exploring what it means to grow in faith and service, brought me to the Diocese of Pennsylvania’s Servant Year program to serve as the Program Coordinator for the Episcopal Mission Center. I can’t wait to continue to grow in faith and help young people have positive experiences with religion and “grow up in the Church” the way I did. Youth ministry really excites me because it unites two things I am really passionate about: the formation of youth to be free-thinking, caring, outwardly focused individuals and the exploration of faith, and praising God. I am excited to grow with young people and to be involved in an environment that is supportive and simply a lot of fun. I can’t wait to share this coming year with my fellow Servant Year members and the Episcopal Mission Center while learning, growing, and discerning God’s call for my life.
Jill serves as the program coordinator for the Episcopal Mission Center.