It was a hot summer day when I started as a pastoral intern for The Shepherds House Seventh-day Adventist Church, in Wausau, Wisconsin. The day before, I was so filled with anticipation that all of my belongings were perfectly packed in my car so I could depart immediately in the morning. Upon my arrival, the kind and gracious Airbnb owner (a church member) walked me into the adorable place I would be staying for the summer. As I stepped through the doorway into the blue and white apartment that I would call home, I was hit with a single thought. I knew immediately that, in this place, I would experience the greatest joys but also the largest battles I had seen in my life.
I know from past experience that the opportunities God brings into my life are always meant for my growth, which includes both trials and victories. This is not a surprising concept to most Christians, but it does serve as a sobering thought. I recently finished my first year in the Theology program at Southern Adventist University. I thoroughly enjoyed all of my classes, and I soaked up all the insights and advice of my professors like a parched sponge. However, I was not foolish enough to assume that this would leave me an expert on all things pastoral. My suspicions have only been supported during my first weeks as an intern.
I am experiencing new territory here in Wausau. I have visited with grieving church members, studied Bible prophecy with groups of Adventists and non-Adventists alike, walked into buildings of people I don’t know--attempting to make connections, preached my very first sermon at a church, gotten involved with new ministry opportunities, brainstormed for an evangelistic series, and so much more. I am finding that in each new experience, God is forcing me to face one or many of my fears. This is such a recurring theme that I have developed pages of Bible verses relevant to my situation to memorize, and a special playlist of worship songs on Spotify to boost my spirit.
Throughout all of these new experiences, I am also receiving great blessing and support from God. He isn’t just throwing me into the ocean and telling me to figure out how to swim. I can see that He is working through the people around me to support and advise me. The patience and wisdom of the church’s pastor, Justin Spady, and the hospitality and generosity of his wife, Jennifer, are the first gifts that I received. Visits and encouragement from my family members, as well as Pastor Zack and Ally remind me that I have community support and care even though I am in a completely new place. As I am getting to know church members and learning their stories, I am blessed with new perspectives on life that I would have never had before. Just as I had guessed when I first stepped through that door on my first day, I am experiencing mighty storms. However, because of these difficult moments, I am also seeing God’s hand moving on my behalf, and gaining greater insights on ministry than I could have been able to gather otherwise.
Lexi Hamilton is a Wisconsin native, graduate from Wisconsin Academy, and former Summer Camp staff at Camp Wakonda. Apart from interning at The Shepherd's House, you can catch Lexi at Wisconsin Conference Camp Meeting, as she is the main speaker for the Teen Division.