Archive for the ‘New Life Blog Series’ Category
As I look over my life, I feel like I’ve always been seen as a nice, sweet, quiet, peacemaking, obedient, innocent girl. Some things, like the “quiet” and “nice”, are easy to spot. Most or all of those may be traits of who I am or who I grew up as. I’ve never really gone through a rebellious stage of my life, never really wanted to “get into trouble” as Sleeping Beauty from Groovelily sings. Even though God has made me to be the sweet peacemaker, that doesn’t make me any better of a person or anything even close to perfect or sinless. Well, through New Life, as I spent my life interacting with strange and interesting people I barely knew and then got to know too well, I discovered something: everybody is so very, very human.
I am no exception. Of course, I’ve always known I was a sinner and have had issues over the years that God has helped me through. But there’s just something about having to travel in a van for 10 weeks straight with 3-7 other people who are all a mix of wonderful, terrifying, passionate, temperamental, young, visionary, stubborn, scared, rebellious, in love with God and sometimes even people on the teams that… well, brings out the good and the bad in each of us. And really gave me a chance to see myself at my most flesh-like.
Sweet, Innocent BAM
Evil BAM! (Aka, MAB.)
I have been selfish, petty, insecure, jealous, self-righteous, fearful, indecisive, worrisome, distracted, weak and self-pitying as a teammate and leader. I have spent hours holding a grudge over the tiniest little thing that nobody meant anything by. I have backed down from responsibilities that were mine because I was overwhelmed by them. I have made decisions as a leader that I then took back because I was scared of what other people thought about it. I have disliked people. (Gosh, that’s the worst. Luckily it never lasted long, as God helped me through it.) I have gotten easily annoyed and snappy at innocent teammates. I have lost focus of God and those we were ministering to, to focus on my relationships and on my fun. I have joined in the thrill of gossip. I have let guilt overwhelm me and let myself become so discouraged I couldn’t function in my role. I have focused on myself too many times to count.
Not always as “nice” as we seem…
But it’s not just me. It’s the whole church, the whole world. Every single person on my teams, no matter how long or how short they had been a Christian or been in ministry, has had their moments of losing their temper, getting snappy, being selfish towards each other.
One of the things I tend to do without realizing it is that I put certain people on pedestals. Generally they are leaders, or the “popular” people, or the experienced people… basically anyone who intimidates me (which is mostly everybody). My first initial reaction is to put them up high as someone I look up to and expect a lot out of. It’s not necessarily a bad thing. This means that I tend to have a lot of instant respect for people, particularly leaders, and I try to look for the best in everyone. But sometimes I forget that people are human, and then when they make a mistake it can throw me off.
That happened many times. I’ve seen people I look up to rebel, yell at each other, gossip, act selfishly, lose their tempers, not fulfill their responsibilities, and become overwhelmed with discouragement.
Sometimes you just need to ask for help. 🙂
Whenever that happened, I had to readjust my way of thinking about them. Not that I necessarily thought less of them, but their actions helped to change my perspective from a flattened mindset of simply “oh my they’re so awesome and perfect!” to a fuller picture of who they really were, the good and the bad. There may have been times that I was disappointed, but another thing that comes with being human is that nobody’s got it all together. Everybody, whether they are the newbie that just came off the bus or the founder of the ministry, needs prayer and encouragement. Everyone makes mistakes, and everybody deserves grace.
I found myself developing a strong loyalty to my teammates, to my leaders. Seeing them struggle with some of the very same issues that I have found myself dealing with always made me want to be that much more of an encouragement to them. Not that I personally did that much. But I tried to pray for them as much as I could. I tried to always ask my coordinator what I could do for them. I tried to always listen with my heart when our Vice President was teaching. When I looked past their mistakes and their failings, their struggles and their insecurities… that’s when their passion for God and for ministry was always so obvious. It showed up in different ways: some of my teammates have had strong passions for leading worship; others loved to train their teams how to be excellent in everything they did; still others found joy in devouring and discussing God’s truth through scripture, while other teammates found purpose in staying up all night with the host and being an encouragement.
Despite every team’s struggles, God always brought us together and used us to grow each other! (And poor Julia is the only one without sunglasses.)
While we are all human, with failures and flaws and all that good old stuff that just, you know, comes with a sin nature, God saw fit to bring us all together. He put clashing and clicking personalities together to grow, to learn, to work together and serve. Our humanness is something that each and every one of us can relate to. None of us is perfect; we all need second chances. We all need forgiveness. And we all need grace . And thanks to Jesus, we’ve got it.
So ok, up until I joined New Life, I had NO guy friends. Well, I didn’t really have any close friends at all that weren’t family, but I at least talked to girls and (sometimes) hung out with them. I was terrified of boys when I was a teenager (and got super red and embarrassed whenever talking to a crush, hehe), and I learned how to chat with them and have small talk when I became a youth leader. But still, nothing beyond that.
I couldn’t find many photos with just me and another guy friend, but here’s one of Josh Herndon and I at Camp Accovac. Such a fun 4 weeks of my first tour!
When I joined New Life, I knew I was going to be forced into relationships. (Friendship relationships, of course. There are no arranged marriage or blind dates there, hehe. Though, wait, I actually have that one story…) And I didn’t mind that. I wanted to learn how to be a friend and make friends. I was a bit worried about the whole guys-being-everywhere thing, and I got scared that I was going to fall madly in like with every one of them. And that’s just kind of inevitable, you know? If you work in close proximity with Christian guys who are passionate about God and ministry, it’s hard not to see very desirable and admirable qualities in them that you would desire in your own future husband.
So it didn’t take me by surprise when that’s pretty much what happened. I did develop temporary crushes on most of the guys that I traveled with. It was a great group of guys, and their exuberant personalities and over-the-top silliness was very fun to be around; and when you combined that with each of their own unique takes on God and desires to grow more like Him and spread Him everywhere, it was both encouraging and appealing.
Just having fun together as nutty brothers and sisters in Christ.
Over the course of the year, as I got to know them more and learned how to communicate as a regular person, (and got over the immediate “oh my goodness Christian guys everywhere!” girly crushes) I got the chance to really see them for who they were. I was a Financer for most of my time traveling, which meant that I was the associate leader of the Coordinator of the team, which was usually a guy. I got the opportunity to work as a team with about 5-6 different leaders. Each and every one had different leadership styles, teaching passions, ways of communicating and strengths and weaknesses. I became good friends with almost all of the guys I traveled with. And as I got to see the ways in which they were all so different, my schoolgirl crushes faded as we developed lasting and real friendships.
My chance to create these valuable and meaningful friendships with guys was a very new thing for me, and allowed for a lot of growth and encouragement. But so did my friendships with the girls I traveled with.
The girls on my team my very first tour. Such crazy chicas, but so much fun!
There were probably 8-9 girls that I got along really well with and had opportunities to be close to at various times of my traveling. At home, I always felt intimidated whenever I came into youth group and all the girls were in their own little cliques. People were nice to me and didn’t EXCLUDE me, but it’s scary to try to compete with people who are already best friends.
But in New Life, we were all new together. And we were such a small group, and usually had only 2-4 girls on a team, that we had a great amount of time to BE a team and get to know each other. We each had our own part to play, and the unity that we built over a 10 week tour was a form of relationship I’d never experienced before.
Kasey and I at homebase, bonding and getting soaked in the rain together!
I had opportunities to try and encourage the girls on my team, and they did the same thing for me. We laughed at each other’s antics, encouraged our walks with God and pursuits for righteousness, shared hopes and dreams and passions, giggled incessantly, and learned how to communicate with one another. While some of our senses of humors clicked, and some clashed, there was always something good to find in the other person. Through stress and joy, exhaustion and adrenaline, I formed some great connections with some amazing women.
Though it’s hard to keep up with everybody now that we’re all separate from each other, I’ve tried to do my best to maintain a long-distance relationship with my NLDC friends. Though we’ll probably never be as close again, the special friendships I created with these people will always be one of my happiest memories, and each time we get together or call each other up, I’m reminded of how God has blessed me at each place in my life. There are a number of friends that I feel I could call up if I needed to on a rough day, and I know they would listen to me, without judging me, and be there. Knowing that means a lot. It’s something I’ve never had before, and I want to be that same kind of friend, even from far away.
So thank you to all my friends from New Life Drama Company. Even if you don’t read this blog, even if we haven’t talked in forever, you are in my heart and cherished and will always be a special part of my life. Thank you. -BAM
I was never the “drama” type in high school. I mean, I thought my youth group’s drama team was awesome, but they also really scared me. (I heard so many stories about the embarrassing and gross improv games they played; I think that’s honestly the main reason I never joined.) I’ve always loved watching plays and skits, and enjoy directing family Christmas plays with my siblings, but I was never like, “Oh yeah, I totally wanna be an actress!”
Well, New Life teams had been coming to my house for years. Hannah traveled with them for a year and loved it, and I always thought the people who came to our house were really cool. I knew that joining would be an adventure, so when the opportunity presented itself, I said, “Why not?”
Summer tour of 2011 was my first tour, and I was 20 years old. It was 9 weeks of ministry on a team of 8 people, and we traveled through the Virginias and Carolinas. I liked everybody on my team. I felt like I was the “team giggler”; my role was to laugh at everybody’s jokes and dramatic antics. Though I felt like too much of a nervous newbie to join the 3 girls dancing in the street next to our van as the song “Fireflies” played one night, or even when I turned completely red when the girls gave me a makeover at a hotel and I had to answer the door for one of our guys, I had a thoroughly great time of adventure, ministry and fun that summer. I was told by one of my teammates that when he had seen me at the beginning of the summer, he didn’t expect me to make it because I was so shy and quiet; but he said I had surprised him.
Picture of my makeover with my hair straightened, one of the girls’ shirts and lots of makeup.
I didn’t travel again until the following spring, where I hopped on almost last minute with a team. During that tour, I prayed and felt God giving me peace about joining full-time. So I went home for the summer to finish out my commitments with my youth group, and then I hitched a ride back to homebase with a team in late August of 2011. Then the adventures REALLY began.
I was put quickly into a leadership position on the teams, and also got immediate training at the homebase offices when I was pulled back to Tennessee for a few weeks. And boy was there a lot to do!
-I learned how to make booking calls and got to see the inner-workings of the NLDC offices.
-I learned how to finance and be a secondary leader
-I learned how to lead services and how to teach workshops
-I learned how to fast, different ways to pray and worship, how to learn, how to follow, how to lead, how to take instruction.
I will expound more on my adventures and what God taught me in my following blogs, but the synopsis is that God has used my experiences to help me grow: both in allowing me to step outside of my comfort zone, and giving me opportunities to do things I always wanted but never got to.
I changed during my time in New Life in many ways. Not in the sense that I “became an entirely new person”, necessarily. But more like, I got the chance to really let WHO I was grow and develop and be seen. The most obvious change I can see is that I’m a lot more comfortable speaking up around people in public settings. It’s not because being silent is a bad thing. Some people are just good at sitting, listening and taking things in. And that is very often what I do.
But during my time in New Life, for the first time I felt like I had a voice. There were people who genuinely cared about what I had to say. I spoke in front of churches… I prayed with my teams… I joined in with dancing and silliness… I was consulted on decisions… confided in as a friend… I spoke up in the van during theological debates. These expansions of my horizon gave me practice in sharing what I believe in and who I am.
I’m no longer the silent senior in high school who was too scared to pray out loud in my Sunday School small group. It’s kind of hard not to come out of your shell a little bit when you have to flail and scream obnoxiously “GOD DON’T SQUISH ME!!” on your knees on a stage in front of a crowd of prisoners…. or when you’re depended on to take a ministry team of 5 young adults and help it run smoothly.
God knows who He created me to be. He knows what and who will help transform me into the person He has designed me to become. New Life was just one big step forward on my journey of self-discovery and spiritual growth. 🙂
Hey, y’all. As most of you know, and as many of you experienced, I was a part of New Life Drama Company for a grand total of 2 years. (Did 2 of each tour, but not all consecutively.) I was away from home a summer, a spring, and then a fall through 2 following springs with about 4 weeks home the whole time. (That was an extremely awkward sentence.)
To give my elongated phone schpeal: “Hello, my name is Bethany on behalf of New Life Drama Company. What we are is a traveling Christian drama ministry. We travel all over the country, 355 days a year, preaching and teaching the gospel of Jesus through the art form of sketch drama. We go to churches, schools, prisons, nursing homes and anywhere we can to preach the gospel and encourage the church. We are also a servant’s heart ministry, so if there is ever anything we can help out with, from teaching a workshop to painting the church, we would love to help with that.” (And then give phone numbers and stuff.)
My message was usually not THAT long; I definitely learned to shorten it as I got more used to being an office worker. But that’s the gist of what we did.
My adventures in New Life were extensive. I experienced tons of laughter, many tears, plenty of Spiritual challenges and growing, and lots of friendships made.
The ministry I was a part of was and is in no way perfect. Everyone in the ministry is human, and like all organizations, it’s had its ups and downs, its times of prospering and times of struggle. But no matter where it’s been or where it’s going, I had amazing experiences during my years in full-time ministry. It was a wonderful opportunity that I’m very glad I took.
I’m going to be doing a little blog series about some of my adventures and things that I learned while on the road. I may not necessarily share a lot of exciting stories (I’m not the best storyteller, nor do I have the best memory), but I want to share about some things that God taught me and allowed me to go through.
Hope you enjoy! 😀