Shenandoah National Park, VA, 2011

What was it like to serve and work in Shenandoah?

Our informal ministry took place in a small community of 10 employees, so we were able to get to know our co-workers on a very personal level. By the end of the summer, our little community was exhibiting some of the cohesiveness and selfless giving of the early church as described in Acts. We engaged in relational ministry through hiking; eating together; sharing rides to the grocery store, local entertainment, and tourist sites; faith-related discussions; making ourselves available as listeners; and intercessory prayer requests.

How did you grow personally and in your faith this summer?

During our training, Spencer emphasized three characteristics important for successful ACMNP ministry: commitment, spontaneity and flexibility. In considering my own personality, I thought, "One [commitment] out of three ain't bad." My greatest growth this summer has occurred in adjusting to unforeseen circumstances, in becoming more reliant on God to bring about his purposes even when things do not go according to plan. In addition, I have honed my time management skills and have gained greater ability in sermon preparation, preaching, and worship planning. Finally, I have improved my relational skills by interacting with customers and co-workers from all walks of life.

How did you encounter God through creation in Shenandoah?

God's presence in creation is palpable here. We never had to cancel a service due to weather. On one particular Sunday storm clouds dissipated as worship began, revealing a stunning view of the valley below. As the service concluded, the amphitheater was once again shrouded in mist and the rain resumed. Attendees frequently commented on the birds that added their chorus of praise to our worship. Sunsets here are glorious, as the cosmic Artist creates masterpieces night after night. All around, the beauty and harmony of nature attest to God's presence with wordless witness.

"The most important thing that I learned this summer was to project the imago dei and to recognize it in others and embrace them for who they are."
– Brett, Princeton Theology Seminary 2011

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