God's Plan Was Bigger Than Mine by Andrew Fuentes

My HLI experience was nerve wracking, life changing, emotionally trying, raw, exciting, and most importantly renewing. Between my acceptance and attending HLI, there was a series of trying moments to test if I would remain faithful to what and where I felt I was being called. After losing relationships with family and friends to losing the place I called home, I knew there was no giving up. By September 2016, at the age of 21, I had saved seventy-five percent of my tuition. I packed everything I owned and headed off to Lewiston, ME for what I thought would be a year of training, equipping, and releasing into leadership. I was sort of wrong. I gained a hundred times more than I expected in the process.


Within the first few months, God completely stripped me of everything. He stripped away the person who I thought I was for such a long time. He peeled away layers of hurt, lies, and anger. He even dried up every tear I had shed. At this point I felt like a living, hollow human being. I felt quite lost and confused, even to the point that I almost left the program. I’m glad I had a few leaders that I could talk to who were able to help me see that I needed to stay. I needed to understand that the stripping of the hurt, lies, and anger was only part of the reason for my being here. All my life I had asked God to remove the things in my life that weren’t right for me. It didn’t click for me till nearly the end of my year that God was doing just that.

On our last day of our mission trip in the Dominican Republic, I had taken time to go up to the roof of the hotel and just listen. It was something I’ve had a hard time doing all my life. I was broken, feeling defeated, and depleted, but in that moment, I felt this sense of security. God renewed my spirit, quenched the thirst of my soul, and answered prayers I’d been repeatedly praying. God reminded me of how proud He is to be my Father.

Was I Andrew? Or was I the prodigal son? HLI was an experience like none other. It gave me better understanding of who I am, who I TRULY am. My year may have had some tears, some fear, some heartache, and some bitter moments, but those could never overcome the plans He had for me or the outcome of my experience. One of the things I will cherish is the inexhaustible number of memories that my classmates and I have created with one another.  I finished the course feeling encouraged, with a bolder spirit, a bigger heart, and a leader’s mindset.

After graduating, I most assuredly wanted to continue doing what God had for me. He brought me to North Jersey Vineyard where I am currently the intern for Youth Leadership. I pray he will continue revealing my purpose at NJV and use me here daily. I have the opportunity to witness the amazing things God is doing in and for the younger generation every single day. I am beyond thankful for my journey before, during, and after HLI. The hardest part of it all was saying, “Yes!” The only person that can ever stop you from doing anything is yourself. If you are thinking of going and dedicating a year of your life to follow God’s plan for you, GO!


"Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans."     Proverbs 16:3

Mary McKellick