Jesus’ mission carries on in the life of a student beyond graduation. As we celebrate our 50th anniversary this year, we’re catching up with some of our alumni and celebrating how they are living lives on mission as they continue to follow Jesus.
“I think you’re making a huge mistake,” her dad said to her as he drove her to the airport to board a plane to East Asia. Jill had decided to spend a year there on STINT, despite a lot of important things going on in her life and family.
After saying goodbye to her father she sat down on a bench in the busy airport and asked herself and God, “What am I doing?!” As people passed her by with their luggage in tow, the Lord responded to her through a devotional. Jill felt God impressing upon her to trust Him. Despite the anxiety from her dad begging her not to go, she felt calm come over her and she knew God was indeed inviting her to this adventure.
From baby Christian to big adventures
How does a self-described shy and reserved new Christian develop into to a young woman willing to move across the country, and later across the world, in a step of faith to help students know Jesus? When Jill got involved with P2C as a new believer in her third year of university, she found a community of believers who had a passion to seek God and share Christ with others. It was exactly what she had been looking for. Little by little, Jill grew in confidence as she stepped out in faith and as God met her.
In the middle of her studies at the University of Calgary, Jill started exploring the idea of transferring to Dalhousie. In considering the move Jill was nervous about all of the changes that would come: leaving her friends, her family, and the good things going on in her life like being discipled with P2C. “I just loved life then. Things were going so good. But then I saw later in the verse, ‘I will build you up again, again you will… go out to dance with the joyful.’” (Jeremiah 31:4)
“I just knew in my spirit He was saying ‘it will be ok.’ He settled all my fears.” – Jill
Once she arrived at Dalhousie, she was the only student involved in the new ministry launch. “Power to Change gave me opportunities where I just had to trust God. After I moved to Dal, I was the only student. I never would have thought of myself as a leadership type person but because there were no students, it gave me tons of leadership opportunities which was really stretching and faith building and awesome. I just had to trust God.”
God’s reassurance in these steps of faith have not always been immediately clear for Jill, but she has learned that He is there and he is trustworthy when she is obedient to his call. In the last ten years, she has had many life changes to gain experience from. After graduating from Dalhousie University in 2001 Jill spent 8 years on staff with Power to Change. In 2009 she went overseas to East Asia on STINT and following that got married and returned to school to be a nurse. Jill is now at home with her two daughters.
Shifting gears, but not directions
Discerning God’s leading in life can feel like of the most daunting tasks for young and old believers alike. It is so easy to get caught up in the associated fears. For Jill, God’s leading has been at times clearly through the word, or through Him speaking to her heart, and other times it’s a longer slower process of listening and being directed.
More recently, Jill has been wrestling with the transition to staying home full-time with her two daughters. From missionary life to Neonatal ICU nurse, Jill understands urgency and care. Life at home with kids can feel slow and unimportant. It was a hard transition.
Thankfully, Jill found help in a book called The Mission of Motherhood by Sally Clarkson. “As I was reading it, I thought, ‘this sounds familiar.’” It was as if Sally was writing out the very thing Jill was wrestling with.
“It’s hard to move from the intentionality and purpose of being on staff with P2C to being at home with kids. You have to have a longer-term vision [with kids]. I don’t have an amazing spiritual conversation with my two year old every day.”
But it’s clear when talking to Jill that she is at rest where she is and she knows she is where God wants her. It is also clear that being at home with her kids does not mean she has stopped taking steps of faith. Her family is currently involved in a church plant that is very intentional about being involved in their community. A group of Christians decided to build houses in a new subdivision in order to connect with the people there and start a church.
Reflecting on what she’s taken with her from her time with P2C, Jill speaks enthusiastically about her need for the Holy Spirit in her parenting and in her family’s involvement in their church plant. She also sees a lot of correlations from her experience as a student and staff and her work with their church plant. “Having the opportunity to speak as a student, I’m no longer terrified to do it now. It also helped with the neighbourhood outreaches we do as well.
“And that’s one thing that I love about Power to Change. It shifts the way you live. It gives students opportunities for leadership that gives ownership. You just have to trust God and you learn more about how trustworthy he is.”
“Right now I’m learning to love my neighbours not like they’re a project, but just sincerely loving them. I really know my neighbours and I’ve never known my neighbours well before. I can really see that knowing them well is a big part of bringing God’s kingdom to earth. People knowing and loving each other is part of God’s heart.” – Jill
God is my safety
As we’ve seen, Jill is no stranger to steps of faith and doing her best to maintain a focus on God as he brings her through these changes. What has she learned through it all?
“God is my safety. He wants to set me free and he’s also my safety. When you step out you can get hammered by the enemy, and sometimes you just want to put up walls to protect yourself. But like Psalm 91 says: ‘Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.’” – Jill
Learning to discern God’s voice and follow His leading has been one of the most valuable lessons for Jill. God has invited her into an adventure that she never could have dreamt on her own. From the Prairies to the East Coast, to Asia and back to the mundane basics of life with little children, God has been leading Jill step by step and drawing her more deeply into a relationship with Him as He reveals new ways for her to die to herself and to be Christ to her neighbourhood.
“Learn to hear and follow His voice and be amazed.” – Jill