Calling - Finding my home of faith
Today is Part II in my series on calling. If you missed last week's post, check it out here. Now, where were we...I took the plunge and visited D's church. I was really skeptical about going, but I'm so glad that I did! I quickly learned that there were a couple people I knew from school there, and many other people that I was eager to get to know and they me. This was nothing like the sunday school experience at my dad's church, or the Japanese church that my mom and I ran from over the summer.
Over the fall semester of my Junior year of high school I began attending D's church regularly, and by November I signed up for my first youth retreat. I wasn't sure what to expect, as this whole experience was really new to me. Yes, I had gone to church with family and friends growing up, but being a part of a church and going away on a trip with my church was another story. Thankfully some great folks in my youth group took me under their wings, I met some great people at the retreat, and my heart was opened in more ways to the grace and love of God.
Over the next two years I became very involved at the church, developed friendships that remain today, and came to love and adore our youth pastors, our children's ministers, our pastor, and our pastor's wife. To this day these individuals mean the world to me, and have helped me to be who I am today. By the start of college, I remember our youth pastor asking D, S, and I to lead a girls' Bible study for our youth group. At first we all thought he was crazy for asking, but he was clearly on to something. Our youth group was growing, it had more girls than boys, and the girls needed the support of young ladies older than them. I personally didn't think I was equipped to be a part of this leadership team, but yet again he knew what he was talking about. My faith grew through doing this, I was forced to study the Bible extra, learned a lot, and continue enjoying doing things just like this to this day.
Through college I remained involved at my church. I got baptized my junior of college, though I'm not sure what took me so long. I guess accepting being a member of the local church and church universal was something I didn't take lightly. During college I also became very invovled in one of the campus ministries at VCU. Through this ministry, I was given the experience to lead more small groups, and grow deeper in my faith. It was also during this time that I also began to learn about my Japanese great-grandmother's Christian faith. The story of her and her faith is for another day, but she is a woman who is a guide for me. At yet another retreat, big things happened in my life. During my fourth year of college (I took the five year path due to classes) that I accepted the call to go to seminary. I wasn't sure all that this "yes" would have in store for me, but I knew the first step was to say "yes God".
Deciding where to go to seminary wasn't as hard as I expected, but I definitely didn't go where I thought I would. My pastor went to Duke and encouraged me to consider going there. Everyone else on staff (or previously on staff) at my church went to Union Theological Seminary, whether it was to get their Master of Divinity or Master of Arts in Christian Edcuation. My dad also encouraged me to consider Union, because we had family that studied there as well. In typical Crystal fashion, I didn't think Union would be the place for me, but I think it was due to the fact that that this was where the most people wanted me to go. Along this journey, I've also learned that God sure has a funny way of taking you places that you least expect.
Check back next week to
see read what unfolds next...