WOW. I mean, WOW. I have been in Pigeon Forge for 4 1/2 days now and it has been going non-stop nearly the WHOLE time. It's been amazing to meet the other team leaders and form a tight community with them these days before the team members get here. I have only spent the last 4 days with these people, but I feel like I have known them for weeks already. It is amazing how tightly bonds can form when your relationships are founded on the Word and a relationship and love for Jesus. I already know that the women who I have been living with for mere days are going to be serious supports and rocks for me this summer, and hopefully I will be the same for them, as we all strive to be honorable vessels, encouragers, and challengers of our teams. We are all absolutely dying for the team members to get here, but I am also really cherishing this time to spend with them and get to know them. It is so encouraging for me to know that, whenever I get overwhelmed, there is a girl on my right and on my left that knows and is experiencing all of the same fears and anxieties that I am. The time spent here has been so amazing, so overwhelming, so stretching, and so exciting, and the summer has hardly even started!
Tonight we spent time doing evangelism in Gatlinburg, and it was amazing to see how God answers prayers. Any time that I have shared "the bridge" (an illustration involving Romans 6:23 that helps explain our faith pretty entirely) I have always shared with someone who is already a believer. That has been encouraging, because I usually get really good feedback and I have seen the folks receive inspiration and encouragement from me, but it hasn't been challenging. Every time I go out, I pray beforehand that I would approach someone who doesn't know Jesus, so that I might be able to share the most amazing news with them that they may not already know. Tonight, that prayer was answered. I spoke with a woman named Vicki who had a lot of spunk and not a lot of Jesus in her life. We had a good, firey conversation in which we got a long pretty well but she definitely gave me a hard time. Ater I convinced her that I wasn't taking her anywhere or charging her money, and that I would only take ten minutes of her time, I began to explain Christ's sacrifice for us. She hated answering my questions and was clearly uncomfortable, but I tried to act casual and easy going and I think she started to feel a little more at ease. When I finished, I asked her if she was on the side with God, or if she was walking by herself. She definitely knew that the side she wanted to be on was with God, but she wouldn't say that was where she was. She was not a believer in Christ, but she "believed." I explained to her about my relationship with God and how I knew that He loved me enough to give me free will, but also to give me a way out of the hole I've dug with my sin. It was a SWEET conversation and I was so encouraged to know that I could feel the peace of God, the confidence I have in Him, while being challenged in a very real way. God is good!
Our team members get here tomorrow, and I feel very overwhelmed but incredibly excited, as well. I am so not ready, but I guess I will have to be!! Please pray for Jasmine, Deborah, and Allie (the girls on my team!). It's about to go down!
Also pray for me. That would be great.
If you want my address here, it is:
Hotel Pigeon Forge
c/o Navigator STP
Pigeon Forge, TN 37863