#thankful

#thankful

It was December 2, 2014. I was attending Breakaway, a weekly bible study that draws in thousands each week on the campus of Texas A&M. It was on this day that God spoke so clearly to my heart that I couldn’t help but say “yes” to his command. At this point in time, my first semester in college was about to end, and I couldn’t be more thankful. My transition into college wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t easy either. Whose is? My semester was filled with challenging schoolwork, a constant search for friends and community, and a lot of free time that I wasn’t used to having. Up until this point in my life, every waking moment was spent playing sports. Because I attended a small high school of about 200 people, I played 5 varsity sports throughout all four years of high school. I lived and breathed sports, and when college came around I didn’t know what to do with myself. Because I didn’t have sports anymore, I knew my best shot in finding a community of people who were similar to me would be found in a Christian organization on campus. I also knew college would be a time when my faith would either shrink or grow, and I wanted it to grow.

This desire to have a flourishing faith in screen-shot-2016-11-28-at-5-16-59-pmcollege drew me to the Aggie BSM. BSM stands for Baptist Student Ministries and can be found at college campuses across the state of Texas. It was at the BSM that I found my community of friends. These friends weren’t just any friends either, but ones who challenged me in my faith and showed me how to live boldly for the Gospel. It was also through the BSM that the opportunity to do summer missions first came up. Go Now Missions is a sending ministry that takes students from Texas BSMs and sends them all across the world on different summer mission trips: Alaska, South Asia, Peru. You name it, and Go Now has probably sent a college student there. Growing up, I always had the desire to go on screen-shot-2016-11-28-at-5-31-20-pmmission; however, the small church I attended sadly wasn’t very involved in any type of mission trips. So once I heard of Go Now at the BSM, I was immediately drawn in. I wanted to go. I wanted to serve. I wanted my faith to grow. But all these excuses got in the way. “But what about school? What about my family? Being gone all summer is a really long time!” So I soon lost interest and decided “maybe I’ll go another time.”

Back to December 2 at Breakaway. I remember standing in Reed Arena singing some Christmas song completely overjoyed that my semester was almost over and that Christmas was right around the corner. Looking back, my heart and mind weren’t even present at Breakaway that night, but thankfully our Lord works in us even when we’re not focused on him. Without thinking about Go Now for the past two months, I very clearly and overwhelmingly heard two words enter my mind: “Go Now.” I never so clearly heard the Lord speak to me. The excuses of school and family and homesickness entered into my mind again, but suddenly, they didn’t seem like as big of problems as I first thought. I knew I had to obey the Lord. I knew I had to go. So I did.

To make a long story short, I ended up being assigned by Go Now to go to Nashville, screen-shot-2016-11-28-at-5-40-21-pmTennessee to work with a traveling sports ministry called Infinity Sports. I had very little information about it. All I knew I would be working with a team of 8 and that’d I’d be gone for all of June and July. Initially, I was so excited because I felt like this was the perfect trip for me! I’d get to be around kids, coach sports, and tell them about Jesus? Awesome! But then life hit. The spring semester of 2015 was an interesting time in my life. I knew I was suppose to be preparing spiritually for this trip, but life seemed to keep getting in the way. School work bogged me down, physics basically destroyed my life for 4 months, and I found very little time to spend with the Lord. By the end of the semester, I was physically, emotionally, and spiritually drained, and the last thing I wanted to do was leave home for two months. I remember my family driving me to islogothe airport the day I was to fly out, and as soon as I got through security, I went straight to the bathroom and balled my eyes out. I didn’t want to go. I was scared. I was already homesick. I thought to myself, “This is going to be a long two months.”

Fast forward to right now, November 27, 2016. I just celebrated Thanksgiving with my family, registered for my last semester of classes at Texas A&M, and confirmed with executive director of Infinity Sports Deane Hartzell that I would return to Infinity Sports for a third summer, and this time as director. Obviously, the miserable, long two months I was dreading in the airport didn’t happen. Instead, the Lord, who works even when we don’t, blessed my life and forever changed the way I lived. During my first summer with Infinity I got to share the Gospel with kids and see beautiful and unwavering child like faith. I saw the Holy Spirit completely changed the atmosphere of one week of camp from one of dread and apathy to one of celebration in our Savior. I experienced a tight knit body of 7 other brothers and sisters in Christ that encouraged me and challenged me unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. The Lord revealed to me how selfish I had been over the past year with my school work, and that I was putting my school work over my relationship with Him. I learned the importance of living on mission all the time, how to joyfully serve the Lord, and the satisfaction that comes through living in Christ. The Lord worked mightily in my life that year, and he did the same the next. My second year serving with Infthumb_img_0470_1024inity Sports looked a lot like the first. I was able to see kids from the previous year and continue to teach and disciple them. It was awesome to see the ways the Lord had grown them in the past year and to hear just how much they had grown because they were campers at an Infinity Sports camp. Again, the team of coaches that I was surrounded with all summer pointed me towards Christ at all moments of the day, and I pray I did the same for them.

I write this article not to tell you about me, but to testify about the awesomeness of our God. Our God is sovereign and faithful, and He continues to pursue us even when we don’t pursue Him. Our Father wants us to pursue him like children and to have that same unwavering childlike faith that the campers do during the summer. The Lord is satisfying and is better than any grade or job or award we could ever receive. The Lord blesses us and wanted to give us the greatest amount of joy possible. Serving the Lord and going on mission is an overflow of our love for him, and in the process of giving our time and talents to the Lord, I often find he blesses us back even more in return. I am thankful for Breakaway. I am thankful for the Aggie BSM. I am thankful for Texas A&M. I am thankful for Infinity Sports. I am thankful for each and every camper and coach I’ve met. But most importantly, I am thankful for the never-ending, never changing love of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

-Ashley Bridges16-nl-pic3-001