How did you find Agape/Ecclesia?
So… I didn’t really grow up in a Christian home where we went to Church every Sunday. I didn’t even have a Bible, but there was something that when I went away to college…I think God just put it on my heart that I was missing something…that I needed more. I remember going to Faith Fest the very first week and I met Mike Moore, thought he was a student, but I also met Taylor Teft and she just took an interest in me which made me feel really great. Then I showed up the very first Agape and I’m pretty sure I got up and gave a testimony too.
Funny story, during Welcome Week I found a wallet during the family picnic, so I turned it into Campus Safety and thought nothing of it. That first Agape, Sarah Harrington also gave a testimony that a person had turned in her wallet during the family picnic. I remember leaning over to Taylor Teft and whispering because I was a shy freshman, “Hey! I think that was me!”. In Taylor Teft fashion, she pointed and shouted from the rooftops, “Hey! That was this girl!!”. Sarah and I got to hug and I think that’s one of my favorite Agape stories, because it’s funny how God works through things like that.
Where do you see Jesus?
People always ask me those questions and really… I think I’m really starting to see Him everywhere. I think the answer that people want to hear is “I see Jesus in our Church” or “I see Jesus in our community”. But no, I see Jesus with the poor, I see Jesus with the sick, I see Him when the sun comes up in the morning.
What breaks your heart?
How do you put it into words? Especially today of all days….Election day….It breaks my heart that people have to live in a world where they feel unloved, feel uncomfortable, feel afraid for their lives. I feel for me in particular, because God has put this in my heart in so many ways, that it breaks my heart specifically when my kids or any kids grow up that way and feel those things… go through hard things…. and don’t know how special and unique and loved they are.
You mentioned your kids….who are those kids?
Most people who know me, know that I’ve worked at a camp the last few summers. It’s called Camp Tanager. It’s a nonprofit for kids from low income families and I think a lot of those kids end up coming from very difficult home lives, whether that’s foster care, single parent homes, kids with disabilities. That’s where I found I was passionate about! Working with kids who are struggling….I don’t know…when you get a week with theses kids and you just…. it breaks my heart, but then when you…when you can get a kid to just stop, think, and realize, and understand and get excited….or when you see that light…when you see that spark in their eyes after they’ve tried something new for the first time…..let them know that they are loved…that life is hard, but they’re not alone…when they finally get it….It’s not a “come to Jesus” moment, but for me, God is in their eyes, whether they know it or not, it clicks, even if it doesn’t have His name. I love my kids.
What gives you joy?
My kids. It’s the perfect definition of the word “joy” for me…and getting to l Iive that out is what I get to do with my campers. Jumping into the pool fully clothed because you’ve been found guilty of alien treason…running into the jail and saving everyone during capture the flag…campfires in the dark with wish sticks… you throw them in the fire and make a wish…camp songs….light saber battles….bed time stories….it’s the hardest job I’ve ever had, but it’s the most rewarding.
What wisdom would you given to first year- Ashley?
That’s hard to put into words too…I think the easiest way for me to think about that…looking at myself and the seniors that have been a part of Agape & Ecclesia my freshman year to now. We were a bunch of misfits. There’s so much growth and transformation here….I’ve just been in awe of it all. God has made it beautiful, God has made us so beautiful. I guess I would tell freshman Ashley just to hold on, let yourself grow, let yourself be changed from around you and your experiences. Let yourself be loved.
Do you have a favorite saying? Something to get you through a hard day?
9 The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed,
a stronghold in times of trouble.
10 Those who know your name trust in you,
for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you.