“‘…For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothes you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’” — Matthew 25:35–39
Some in society can be viewed as “less than” others—those who are imprisoned, hungry, strangers. Yet, these fellow humans are loved by our Creator and in need of someone to care for them. Clarks Summit University alumni step out to serve in countless numbers of ways and locations. The following stories tell how God is working through alumni to reach those who are hurting and in need of Christ’s love.
SERVING WITHOUT A TITLE
by Julie Wilson (’96,’18)
Preparing for ministry
Amy (Thompson) Wright (’98) came to Clarks Summit University as a student because it was comfortable, familiar. Through speakers at camps, youth events and her sister’s experience, it seemed like a logical choice for Wright. God was already preparing her heart for ministry, and Amy had committed to serve on the mission field if God would open those doors. As a Missions major, she was strongly encouraged by her professor Mr. Boehning as he shared his wisdom and experience from the mission field. For some of her electives, she chose classes like “The Ministry of Marriage & Motherhood” and “The Christian Home,” unaware that God was already preparing her for a shift in ministry.
In college, her everyday faithfulness looked like joining student leadership. This was an effective tool in stretching her out of her comfort zone, giving her opportunity to speak in front of larger groups and learning how to be aware of needs and fill in the gaps as needed. Being a resident assistant gave her training in building relationships, leading devotions and even dealing with discipline issues.
When missions looks different
However, God did not call Wright to the foreign mission field. Instead of a pastor or missionary to marry, God brought a chef into her life. After marriage, her ministry became centered on her local church. Wright realized the mission field was her community through church ministry: vacation Bible school, Women’s Ministry Committee, Missions Committee, devotions at women’s events and anywhere there was a need. Her church has ministered in the community through a laundry outreach, ministering through Facebook groups and attending community events, putting action to the prayers of a college student who wanted to be a missionary.
Through the influence of Sharon Jaynes, speaker at LYFE Women’s Conference in 2018, Wright began volunteering at a pregnancy center in her area. God allowed her to build relationships through a parenting class program. Even through the pandemic, doors have opened for creative ways to be an outreach, through sending lessons and videos via email, following up with phone support.
Embracing God’s plan
When the negative thoughts filled her head with the undone to-do list, the unfulfilled desires, the unending chores, Wright stopped and remembered the truth of God’s Word, and worked daily “bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5). And with a shift of perspective came a shift of ministry and mission field.
When she couldn’t leave the home for ministry because of young children, God brought a crochet ministry to her home with ladies of all ages. When she didn’t go to the mission field because of her husband’s career, they followed God’s leading to put their three children in public school, and her kids brought the mission field to their front door, giving Wright opportunity to connect with kids in the neighborhood, speaking truth and life into their hearts, showing them how precious they are. She said “yes” even when she didn’t feel like it, she chose to be brave and talk to parents as well. Her porch has become a great place for coffee dates, encouraging others and building relationships. Wright realized that missions is all about relationships, whether you are overseas or living in small town, like New Woodstock, New York.
Wright sees how God has purposefully designed her and encourages others to follow God’s design. “Your strengths, interests and hobbies—God has put them there for a reason. These are the things you should be using for ministry.”
Being ministered to
Wright personally experienced the ministry of her local church through the lonely years of “chef wife” life, through years of infertility and through one of the hardest seasons of parenting. In the Spring of 2019, her daughter Sydney developed anxiety attacks and terrors that resulted in hours of physical anguish until her body exhausted itself to sleep. As a mother, when there was nothing she could do but watch and pray and wait, she clung to her Father. She also took her needs to her church family. She showed up at church even if it meant sitting in the hallway during services. This allowed Wright to see the faithfulness of God’s people. They showed up in the hard and ugly. They prayed, supported and stood by. Because they were there during the struggle, they also see the fruits of their prayers. After over a year of research, therapy, natural remedies, doctors, specialists and prescriptions, they are seeing God’s answered prayers.
Praying with purpose
God purposefully designed Wright and directed her steps. She sees how her biblical education enables her to ask the right questions when conversation is flowing on her front porch. She is using what she learned in her college classes to lead Bible studies, minister in her home, serve in her community. She has seen the power of prayer in her own life and uses prayer as a tool in her community and to deepen relationships. In everyday life, in motherhood, in these uncertain times, Wright encourages herself and others, “Believers should be showing the peace that comes with being confident in Christ. Take time to see individuals and communities as a whole and be His hands and feet. Look for how you can purposefully engage and connect with others. Connect, even if it’s complicated and messy and inconvenient. Look for ways to be purposeful in the everyday moments God gives us right where we are.”
Wright believes He purposefully designed each person. He gave each one unique interests and hobbies to be used to minister wherever God leads. “Whatever your background, God has brought you through life on a purposeful journey,” describes Wright. “All the highs and all the lows have had a purpose; they have taught you more about your God. They have proven His faithfulness to you.”
Sometimes answering God’s call to ministry doesn’t look like one imagined it would, but He “is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us,” (Eph 3:20). His power at work in us enables us to be faithful moms, faithful neighbors, faithful in the family of God in every mission field.