Monday, March 18, 2013

Where You Lead.... I'll Follow

My name is D'Lana Dillard. I am so honored to be able to share my story with the women of this wonderful church of which I am a part of! Three and a half years ago, I was given one of the best opportunities I could have ever received! However, before I jump into my faith journey, I need to go back in time. My journey began as a teenager as I developed a great love for kids' ministry. I love to listen to the sound of kids worshipping and see the amazement in their eyes when you tell them what God has done for them! During high school, I built great relationships with several wonderful mentors. I was able to shadow my mentors and learn the behind the scenes of kids' ministry at a very large church in Houston. I would have never thought that even in high school, God was preparing me for an incredible faith journey that I would be able to experience during the summer of 2009.

In the summer of 2008, I took a vacation to visit some friends that had moved from Texas to southern California. While I was there, I noticed this group of interns that were working at the church my friends attended. I always remembered how I grew so close to our youth interns while growing up and I thought to myself, how cool would that be to spend my summer ministering in that way. After I left, God continued to place California on my heart, but I continually put it behind me. During spring break the following year, I was listening to a sermon from that church and they made an announcement that summer intern applications were due by the end of the month. I thought to myself, “What do I have to lose?” So, I got everything together for my application and as I was reading the requirements, I came across one that I did not meet…YOU MUST BE A SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA RESIDENT. I prayed hard about my decision to apply and knew that if God wanted me there, HE would make a way!

Fast forward to the end of April, I began receiving emails that I was going to have an interview (which would normally be done in person) on the phone with the intern coordinator, Amy. We had a great conversation! She heard my heart and I listened to what would be required of me. A couple of weeks went by and I received an email that I was going to be interviewed again by the preschool coordinator, Angelina. We talked for quite some time on the phone and she told me what all they were planning for the summer and some of the things I would be helping with. At this point, I was so excited but getting nervous because I didn’t want to get my hopes up! After a week of waiting and checking my emails every few minutes, I received a phone call that I was being offered the position and would need to be at intern orientation the first Sunday in June. If you know me, you know I am a planner! I had thirteen days to pack up my car and drive across the country to spend three and a half months. Little did I know, this was just the beginning of God breaking me and molding me for my incredible summer!

My mom and I drove across the country in two days to take the biggest leap of faith that I have ever taken! In my mind, I was moving away from my family, missing my best friend’s graduation, moving in with a family that didn’t have room for me but they sacrificed anyway, and going to a city where I knew four people…GOD IS IN CONTROL! The next few months stretched me beyond anything I can really explain and I still can’t fully comprehend. As I am writing this, I am still completely amazed at how I made it through that summer! I was not being paid for my internship and was moving to one of the most expensive cities in America. People at home questioned everything I was thinking but, I knew I had to go! After all, I couldn’t tell God no after I had asked for His blessing…He knew I needed this summer!

During the summer, I built relationships with people that are still going strong today. My supervisor, Angelina, has become one of my strongest mentors and friends. She has taught me, without her knowing, so many things! I learned so much about ministry and life in those three months. Although, I was the outsider who knew very little about California, everyone accepted me for me. My faith was stretched financially, emotionally and spiritually that summer. I was blessed with a small part-time job where I made just enough money to cover my bills. I was given random financial gifts and to this day, I still don’t know where they came from and am so thankful to those who sent them!

As I come to a close, I will always remember what I was told on my first day in the office after a six hour brainstorming meeting…”D’Lana, we will ruin you here…but in a good way!”. I do have to agree with the fact that they ruined the way I thought about kid’s ministry! I will never forget that incredible summer that has allowed me so many opportunities to minister to this day. When God says go, GO! No matter what, if it is in His will, He will work everything out….You may have to sleep on a couch and ride a bike because you can’t afford gas, but believe me the opportunities that I was blessed with definitely outweighed the hardships I faced!

Ruined for Good,

My verses for that summer were:

Luke 17:6  “If you had faith like a grain of mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.”

Micah 6:8  “What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with God?”

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