In less than a year, God has completely turned my life upside down. My family and I began attending the Church at Severn Run about two and a half years ago. Though I missed my old church, I tried to get in the swing of things, participating in the college-age Connect Group, SMASH, and working...
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“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your...
The Christmas season is a time for peace on Earth, goodwill to men, and a whole lot of craziness. Between the hustle and bustle of getting to the stores, planning and going to Christmas parties, and making sure that you’ve gotten presents for everyone and their mother, it’s no wonder...
In less than a year, God has completely turned my life upside down.
My family and I began attending the Church at Severn Run about two and a half years ago. Though I missed my old church, I tried to get in the swing of things, participating in the college-age Connect Group, SMASH, and working in the preschool wing. Other than teaching Sunday School for the three year olds, which I’d done before I came to Severn Run, I wasn’t really interested in taking up any other leadership positions.
Last summer, I attended a church conference that encouraged those of us still in college to start Bible studies on campus, and to spread the Word particularly on secular campuses, such as UMBC. Initially, I thought about it, but ultimately decided I couldn’t do it. I wasn’t outgoing enough; I didn’t know enough about the Bible. I came up with dozens of excuses.
I went home, and life went on, until, last fall I was asked to co-lead SMASH when some of the original leaders were moving away. My mind went back to the sermon at the church conference, and after good deal of prayer and discussion with my parents, I agreed. It was scary and outside of my comfort zone, but this, I figured, was all God was going to call me to for a while.
My life continued to change, though I didn’t see it at the time. I’d kept in contact with Joe Thompson while he was in Hawaii with YWAM. [Read Joe's story here] One night, after attending a campus Bible study that was focused on missions, I remember telling him that I would never be able to do what he was doing. I couldn’t go so far away from my home and my family. I’ve never even been away from my parents for more than a week. I’m also extremely introverted. So many excuses, all saying that I felt I was not made to go to distant lands to teach or spread the Word.
Meanwhile, I was beginning to feel run down. My education classes, though rewarding, weren’t teaching me what I felt that I needed to know. They told me that I needed to adapt my lessons for students with learning disabilities and linguistic differences, but they weren’t telling me how to do it. I felt that I was inadequately prepared to be a teacher even though I’ve wanted to be a teacher since I was in kindergarten. I began to pray about whether this was the career path that God wanted me to follow.
Not long after, I saw a video posted about a Teaching English as a Second Language Program at YWAM. The program would teach the students how to create lessons and units for English Language Learners, and then, because Hawaii has such a diverse language population, it would allow the prospective teachers to actually teach those students.
I was somewhat interested, but knew that there would be too many obstacles. I start student teaching in the fall, and the schedules obviously wouldn’t line up. The funds were also an obstacle. As a child in a family of six where the parents are now trying to put three kids through college at the same time, my family simply doesn’t have the money to fund this type of trip. Nonetheless, I was strangely compelled to look into the program, and the scheduling.
Surprisingly, due to the new law in Maryland that schools cannot start until after Labor day, I wouldn’t have to start student teaching until after the program had finished, and my job, which is directly connected to that of the school system, would only be marginally affected. UMBC’s academic schedule cooperated too. The more I looked into this option, the more it looked like God was giving me a good kick in the pants. It was as if there were a billboard saying, “Cara, this is where I’m sending you. Now, go. Apply.”
I’ve learned I’ve been accepted into the program, and I leave July 11. With some donations from family and a bonus for extra professional development from work, I’ve bought the plane tickets, and I will officially be going to YWAM for a 6-week program over the summer. I don’t know what God has in store or how He will provide the funds for the tuition, but I do know that God has a plan for my life. I can’t wait to see what it is!
Cara Campbell is a senior at UMBC, majoring in Literature and Elementary Education who works in the after school childcare program. She is the oldest of four children and has been a believer for as long as she can remember. If you are interested in learning more about this story or Cara’s mission trip, please contact the church office.
“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
There’s a difference between praying for show and praying for real.
When someone prays for show, he is essentially holding a big glowing billboard, saying, “Look at me! Look at how holy I am.” God sees right through that. He knows that the person isn’t trying to talk to the Holy of Holies with pure intentions. Rather, he is being fake, serving his own self-interests. It has little, if anything, to do with God.
Jesus tells us that the person in that example has earned his reward. He has the people’s respect, he got what he came for, and, when all is said and done, he didn’t really care whether or not that prayer was pleasing to God.
This is not the type of prayer that Jesus encourages his followers to pray.
What Jesus is searching for is the humble prayer, whispered in the privacy of the person’s home. He’s looking for the prayers of those who are willing to depend on God, who are willing to put away their own self-interests in search of something bigger, stronger, and more valuable than the admiration of men.
He’s looking for the prayers that are real and honest and authentic.
Through those prayers, He can change the lives of His followers and then change the lives of the entire world. However, if the prayers are fake and superficial, the only change that will show itself will be the withered, rotten fruit that comes from dead religion.
Jesus has said that when you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer. (Matthew 21:22) How amazing is that?!
Today, find a private place, get down on your knees, and pray to the Lord who created the Universe. Your prayer doesn’t have to be fancy or long. It just has to be sincere. Show that you are humble enough to depend on God, and open yourself up to being changed by who He is. You will be amazed at the results.
The Christmas season is a time for peace on Earth, goodwill to men, and a whole lot of craziness. Between the hustle and bustle of getting to the stores, planning and going to Christmas parties, and making sure that you’ve gotten presents for everyone and their mother, it’s no wonder that sometimes we can feel a little overwhelmed. I don’t know about you, but to me, nothing cuts through the craziness of Christmas like curling up with a good book. So, if you’re looking for a good read, check out the following suggestions.
The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, by Barbara Robinson
The Herdmans are absolutely the worst kids in the history of the world, according to the first line of the book. They lie and steal and cheat and they’ve certainly never set foot in the church. So, how on Earth do those kids end up with in the main roles of a small town church’s Christmas pageant, and, more importantly, what is going to happen next?
Other than the Christmas story in the Bible, this is the only other book that my family absolutely has to read during the Christmas season. On Christmas Eve, we all get dressed in our best clothes, clamber into the family van, and read the book out loud on our way to the Christmas Eve service. The book is technically meant for children, but even my brothers, who are 17 and 19, get a kick out of hearing this story. As someone who has met more than a few Herdmans in life, I can assure you that this book is a great reminder that God looks at people’s hearts, rather than the outside, and that even the worst behaved people in our lives can be changed by God’s love.
The Door Within, by Wayne Thomas Batson
Aidan Thomas has never really been strong or smart or popular. His only claim to fame has been his best friend, Robby, and even that’s over, now that he’s had to move halfway across the country to take care of his sick grandfather. But, when he discovers a mysterious set of scrolls in his grandfather’s basement, he’s transported to a strange new land and sent on a quest to continue the mission of the one true King.
This is the first book in an allegorical Christian trilogy, telling the timeless tale of good and evil, light and dark, life and death; it’s vaguely reminiscent of the classic Chronicles of Narnia books, if Narnia had been written by a middle aged English teacher in central Maryland. One of the main things I liked about it was how relatable the characters were. I’ve been in a similar place to where Aidan is, both at the beginning and the end of the book, and I think it’s really cool how the character grows in that place. The book is supposedly meant for ages 8-12, but it’s really for anyone who has felt lost and alone, as it teaches the message of God’s love and sacrifice, with a little bit of fantasy and magic thrown in.
Cookie Dough or Die (A Cookie Cutter Shop Mystery) by Virginia Lowell
Olivia Greyson has had it kind of rough. She’s been though a messy divorce, she’s had to move back to her hometown, and now her entrepreneurial mentor, Clarisse Chamberlain has died. But, when Clarisse’s death seems suspicious to Olivia, she and her business partner Maddy take it upon themselves to solve her murder.
This book is a light and entertaining read. Though it’s not a Christian book, it is a clean read. There’s no bad language and no sex. The characters are a lot of fun, from Olivia, who is sarcastic and down to Earth, down to Maddy, her quirky, energetic business partner. Overall, if you’re into cozy mysteries, this might be the book for you.