No Better Time Than Now
BY STEPHANIE WHONSETLER, MERGE VOLUNTEER EXTRAORDINAIRE
I began serving in†Merge (high school ministry)†during the fall of 2014. My husband and I had just moved from Noblesville to Fishers, and we decided to branch off with the Fishers campus. At that time, I actually favored the idea of being a part of the smaller Fishers campus community, knowing it would take dedicated volunteers and leaders to grow that initial community into the large campus we prayed that it would someday become.
I was aware that there was a need for more Merge small group leaders, and I felt prompted to help out. Due to past experiences, I knew that the Lord had gifted me with the ability to relate to teenagers. I remember sitting in the congregation and anytime someone would mention volunteers, I would cringe knowing that I needed to step up. I immediately knew that there was no better time than now to get involved.
The first year was rough due to the number of students involved at the Fishers campus being so small. My desire was to get students excited about being a part of something new, but it was a lot more difficult than I had anticipated. At one point, I questioned if my presence and investment in their lives was actually worth it. Was I truly making a difference?
Through the trials, my second year as a volunteer brought hope. We started to see an increase in overall attendance, which was great. The students were also beginning to form even closer relationships with each other, which brought joy to my mission as their leader. We even had meaningful discussions about God and their faith, which was encouraging, to say the least.
I specifically remember the time when I shared my testimony with the girls on the Fall Retreat in 2015. The discussions that came as a result of my redemptive story opened the door of vulnerability with them and gave us all a chance to process some of the things they were personally going through at that time. In that moment, I started to realize that maybe my impact was making a bigger difference than I had thought. God was somehow using me to bring hope and perspective into the lives of these young women.
My impact was making a bigger difference than I had thought. God was somehow using me to bring hope and perspective into the lives of these young women.Tweet This
Now in my third year as a Merge volunteer, Iím still watching God move in incredible ways through these students. Iím also realizing how God used the previous years of challenges and experiences to slowly transform me as well. Merge Fishers has met in four different spaces since we started in 2014 and moved multiple rooms to finally call something ďhome.Ē Itís through watching the students adapt that Iíve learned the hard lesson of being flexible in the midst of many changes around us. Itís also through walking alongside them that Iíve learned to pray harder than ever before. Iím beginning to learn the depths of who they are, all while learning important lessons personally that have grown me.
Three years ago, I started out simply wanting to make a difference in the lives of a few young women, but they are actually the ones who have changed me. Change has always been difficult for me, but to see how they all go with the flow with patience and grace has made me much more patient as a wife and friend. Working with teenagers isnít always glamorous, but in the midst of the craziness, you tend to find yourself in a new light.
I am beyond thrilled to experience serving in the new Fishers building with our students. The excitement is so strong, and Iím looking forward with great anticipation to what God has in store for all of us.
If you are interested in serving with Merge or Fuse (the middle school ministry), don't wait. These students need you! So, if you're sitting there like I was three years ago and wondering if †you should volunteer, just do it! Step up and say yes! It will change your life.†Get info and signup!
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