13 weeks. 12 interns. 1 dorm.
My life from August 17, 2013 to November 17, 2013 was transformational in more ways than one. Sleeping patterns, cleaning duties, personal habits, diverse attitudes and varying conflicts were some of the challenges encountered during my ministerial internship in Alexandria, LA.
These challenges pale in comparison to the life-experiences I shared with my fellow colleagues. I do not believe that words would be adequate or suffice, but I’ll put forth an attempt to describe 5 highlights:
1.) The First Session. On Wednesday, August 21, Anthony Mangun, Senior Pastor of The Pentecostals of Alexandria (host church of the training center) spoke to us on knowing the calling and the voice of God. It was a simple, but yet admonishing message on the importance of serving in ministry out of dedication to the purpose of God, and not selfish ambitions. The most memorable account of this event was what occurred after the lesson. We were instructed to pray and seek the face of God. I found myself praying like I had never done before. As tears flowed relentlessly down my cheeks, my ears perked to the various sounds around me. Not only were my fellow colleagues praying, but the whole pastoral staff had joined us in that conference room and were speaking words of faith into our life. I’ll never forget the words of Vani Marshall, Prayer Coordinator, to me: “You’re a game-changer. Never underestimate the gifts of God. You will shepherd people.” That was the first week and my life was already changed.
2. ) The Saturday Morning Prayer Meeting. On Saturday mornings, we would meet at the church at 10am for street evangelism. This is where we would go into the poverty-stricken neighborhoods, hand out water bottles, and baptize individuals in the name of Jesus Christ. One particular morning, while we were waiting on the baptismal tank to be filled with fresh water, a few of us decided to go into the prayer room and wait. This was a decision that was immediately rewarded. Unknowingly to us, there was a prayer meeting going on with several of the church members that was led by Jennifer Williams, the church receptionist. She invited us over to join them. She prayed over our feet and declared to us boldly that “our feet was preparing to go all over the world proclaiming the gospel.”
3.) Nursing Home Ministry. This was an intriguing part of our ministerial tasks. Three days a week we found ourselves sharing God’s love with nursing home patients in Alexandria, Pineville and Tioga LA. It was quite moving to see the faces of many who had lost hope and was unaware of their surroundings to join us in worship and lifting up the name of Jesus. During one particular service, a woman whispered “I love you” in my ear. I was beyond moved. My heart was stirred that day like never before.
4.) Prison Ministry. This was one of the most exciting moments I had the privilege of partaking in. There was a surplus of joy in the room when I witnessed inmates lifting up their hands in adoration to the risen Savior. I witnessed many inmates sign up to get baptized. It was comforting to see how God’s grace and mercy encompassed all around them. Many of them requested many worship songs and they soaked in every minute we were there. I walked away with a newfound love for ministering in jails and prisons.
5.) The Essentials. I was blessed with many unique opportunities during my internship that consisted of the following: preaching at “The Spot,” a ministry for junior high and high school students living in poor, urban communities, going to Café Du Monde in New Orleans, partaking in communion at the pastor’s residence, baptizing over 75 people in a span of three months during street ministry and many other experiences. However, there is nothing that could replace what I will refer to as “the essentials.” After eating dinner in the home of Associate Pastor Terry Shock, we listened intently to his wife Melani explain the powerful concept of reading the Bible first thing in the morning and hearing God speak to you via his Word. Pastor Terry taught us that submission to God and pastoral authority will pave the way for many blessings in our life. John Russell, pastor of Calvary Tabernacle, poured his heart out by pleading to us to reach for lost people. He reiterated that Christ came to seek and to save that which was lost and that his mission should be our main priority. During our last session with Pastor Mangun, he told us with conviction in his eyes that if we do not have a prayer life, “ we are a JOKE.” These are the essentials.
My ministerial internship was the greatest thing I’ve ever done in my short 28 years of life. I’ve done my very best to express what took place, but I simply can’t. I am forever an intern of Jesus Christ. Forever a servant of his lordship.