This past Sunday we had the opportunity to hear from one of your youth about what God is during in her life. One of our values as a church is to intentionally invest in the next generation and it is so encouraging to see what God is doing.
Good morning Christ Church!
Thank you for this opportunity to share with you this morning. For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Isabelle Slingerland. I recently had the opportunity to go on a 6 week missions trip with 14 other youth to Europe with a bible college program called A Vision For Life. Pastor Jeff asked me to share this morning about what God did in my life through this trip
The trip was an amazing opportunity. The program was located in Budapest, Hungary where we studied the Bible throughout the week, met in Small Groups and then went on weekend evangelistic outreaches to other cities in Hungary and Austria. We also took trips to Slovenia and Italy. The purpose of a Vision for Life is to give youth ages 15-22 a vision for what God wants to do through us now and in our future.
Originally after first being accepted into the program, I ended up telling them I wouldn’t be able to attend due to financial issues. I would need to raise over $5,000 in less than a month and didnt think that would be possible. But God had different plans as someone approached my Dad a couple weeks later and told him that their church was closing, and was looking for ways to use their left over funds for different ministry opportunities, and wanted to see if my parents would consider still sending me if their church could help pay for the trip. Their support along with the generous support of my Grandparents made going on this trip possible.. God had plans for me, and he made a way for me to be there, including providing miraculously for me to go when it didn’t seem possible
I went off to Hungary not really knowing what to expect and not knowing what was going to happen. To share a little of my testimony with you, I grew up in a christian home with amazing parents. I promise, my Dad who’s a pastor here didn’t tell me to say that. I always knew Jesus was God and that i wanted to follow him. I accepted Jesus into my heart at a very young age but over the years as I got older I began to struggle more and more and hardened my heart to God. I was used to hearing about Jesus being taught in my home and had stopped listening to the teachings and became annoyed when his name or the bible was brought up, not wanting to hear it anymore. These past couple years were the worst with my walk with God, as I began going to different schools and making new friends after being home-schooled most of my life. I had become easily impressionable wanting to be accepted by my peers, doing what what my friends were doing, acting how they were acting, saying what they were saying, and ultimately wanting to be lord of my own life. I thought i was becoming my own person by disobeying and deceiving my parents, but the reality was that I was just like everybody else and acting like everybody else. This past year was especially bad as I befriended the wrong people, turned my back on God and stopped caring about how I was living.
The first week of A vision for life ended up changing my life. During our first week we had been hearing different sermons on the theme of grace. I had been struggling with this as I had thought I was too much of a sinner to be saved and that i didn’t deserve to be saved or forgiven, there wasn’t a specific moment when I changed, but my heart was softening the entire first week and then I realized I needed to turn from my sin, and turn to God. I started getting excited to learn more about God and more and more wanting to have a relationship with Him I was surprised to begin opening up to other Christians on the trip, confessing my sin, including to my parents as we talked through Facetime on the phone, finding freedom as I began to walk in the light. The whole trip just made me realize how amazing God is and how much he truly loves me.
About 4 weeks later, I made the decision to get baptized as a testimony to how Jesus had changed my heart. I had thought by getting baptized overseas, I would get out of sharing and talking in front of the church……but it turns out, that didnt work out as planned. God continued to meet me on the trip in many different ways, as he gave me patience and taught me about working through relational conflict in a Biblical way, and also even used me to reach people with the Gospel as I had the opportunity to share my testimony publically in the streets of Vienna, Austria. After I shared, a 17 year old girl from the crowd who was Muslim came up to me and told me how she had been affected by my testimony, and how she could relate to what I had been sharing about
In closing, thank you again for allowing me to share, and thank you to everyone who prayed for me during this trip. God was so faithful to draw my heart closer to Him and to allow me to know His grace and overwhelming love.