Last spring, I was preparing for the career fair at the University of Virginia and I saw that the Episcopal Service Corps would be there. When I arrived, I met Aleta, the Executive Director of the Johnson Service Corps. I was trying to find a gap-year program that would give me time to discern my calling and grow spiritually. The Johnson Service Corps seemed like the perfect program. I decided to apply and a few months later, I moved to Durham. Moving to a new city was definitely a challenge. Since I had just graduated from college, it was my first time moving to an area where I did not know anybody. I also had never lived with people I did not know, so the first few months were a huge adjustment.
When I first applied to JSC, I really wanted to work with Uniting NC, and I was very grateful when I learned that it would be nonprofit placement. Serving there has truly been a blessing, and I know that this place was where God wanted me to be. Since my nonprofit works in the tech field, I began to see service in an entirely new way. I have never wanted to do direct service work and I have always preferred working behind the scenes. During this past year, I have begun to see how my analytical and organizational skills can be used to serve others. My supervisor has helped me throughout my discernment process, and she has encouraged me to pursue a more technical career path. In college, I loved taking economic, business, and statistics classes but I did not think I could find a service-based career related to those subjects. However, I have seen that any set of skills can be used and I have learned how data and business are really important to fields like anti-trafficking and economic justice. With JSC, I have taken the time to evaluate my values and pray for wisdom as I discover my calling.
I also found my church through my nonprofit placement. My supervisor told me about the church she used to attend and told me that her sister still attended that church. The first Sunday I visited, I immediately fell in love with everyone there. I was looking for a church that centered around the Bible and that would help me grow in my understanding of the Bible. Every issue I faced was always addressed through this church. I grew spiritually this year and now have a new appreciation for the Bible. I felt God speaking to me through His Word and guiding me. My grandmother loved the song “Order My Steps”, which says “Order my steps in Your Word, Dear Lord. Lead me, guide me every day.” The lyrics of this song became my prayer this year and I was able to discern my calling by reading the Word of God.
Although my year with JSC has been very challenging, I was often reminded that “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13). I always think about Hebrews 12:1-2 which states “run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.” As 1 Peter 1:8-9 says, “Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” By doing this service year, I have grown in faith and have experienced true joy and peace because of my faith in Jesus.
Moving to North Carolina for the Johnson Service Corps, was definitely a step of faith for me, and I am excited to continue my walk with Jesus. As I am applying to different Masters programs and discerning my calling, I know that I must keep Jesus in the center of it all. My year with JSC has shown me the importance of using my gifts to serve others.