God is Always at Work by Jacob Balch
The start of 2016 was an exciting time in my life. HLI was right around the corner and I had been waiting close to a year to begin the program. I met Jeffrey Faust, the HLI Kansas City director at the time, several years before at our regional youth Winter Retreat.
At that time in my life I had the benefit of growing up in the Vineyard with many opportunities to start living out, “everyone gets to play,” from a very young age. When I was 9 our family moved from Boston, Massachusetts to Rolla, Missouri. I know! What a stretch right?! What would prompt us to move from a large city to a small farm town in the middle of nowhere? Well long story short, God has plans of His own and God is Faithful to complete them. Soon after relocating we stumbled across the Vineyard Church and immediately I fell in love with the culture. At a young age I remember the leadership taking me under their wing and training me to pray, hear God’s voice, use discernment, and grow in my spiritual gifts. By 14 I was playing on the worship team and extending my influence in the area of worship. By 15 I was leading worship in youth and participating in the different Worship Leader Conferences around our region. All through middle school and high school I attended and served at the various youth retreats and conferences, Winter Retreat being one of them.
The year I heard Jeff speak about what HLI was and what it offered ignited a flame in me. I was sold. I had already been all in for Jesus and Jeff poured gas on that fire. I remember driving to Kansas City with my parents and getting to that opening night. Meeting my peers, Michael, Jordan, Chris, Kori, Blythe, Nicole, India, Taylor and not knowing how deeply every one of them would impact me. They would become my family as they showed me what it meant to have healthy community, loving relationships, and mutual support through this incredible experience.
When HLI kicked off I immediately knew that my life was going to be changed. I could feel things shifting and moving around me as the days moved forward. As I learned more and more about God’s Heart, His love was overwhelming. I learned to See God in All Things. I didn’t realize how much power those words had until it began to be revealed to me. God is in all things! He is showing Himself in every piece of creation. His Creation!
As I grew and matured through studying His word and becoming more aware of His presence, opportunities slowly started to show themselves. I was given an opportunity to preach to youth at a special HLI night we hosted. I participated in leading worship during ministry nights and a conference we held at a prison where we watched as God touched the hearts of every man that attended. While in Nicaragua, I participated in prayer and witnessed healing as a man’s kneecap was restored and pain vanished from a woman’s hip. I watched as children laughed at the goofy bible stories we shared with them and as a Congregation of people worshiped in their own language as we joined them in the presence of the Holy Spirit.
HLI is a transformational journey, a once in a lifetime opportunity to be exposed to ministry firsthand. It has equipped me to carry on this calling of being the hands and feet of Jesus wherever I am. My prayer through HLI was this, “Jesus, use me anyway.” I am human and I am broken but Christ made me whole and complete not lacking anything. There is so much to share about this experience. If there was one thing to take away from this story take this. God is always at work and He wants us to Join Him in His work. Heroic Leadership Institute trains and teaches you how to come alongside what the Holy Spirit is already doing and empowers you to press on.