How God Has Used HLI to Help Form Me By Natalie Pierce

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Happy February! Along with everyone else in the world, I've recently done some reflecting on the past year. Shocking, I know. As I was reading some old journals from my year at HLI in 2017-18, I read some things that sounded eerily familiar. Things I had said 6 months ago sounded like the same things I was saying yesterday. I began to ask Jesus; "Have I grown at all?? Has any of this been worth it?!? Has everything I've done in the last year been entirely pointless?!!?" (not dramatic enough, I know).

As a kid who grew up in the church, it's been so surprising and wonderfully humbling to experience the beautiful things that God has chosen to teach me in these seasons with HLI. As a student, one of the biggest things I learned was how to read the Bible. Like, really, deeply read and enjoy the living word of God. Again, this took me by surprise because I've been reading the bible since I learned how to read. Now as an HLI intern, I'm learning how to pray for people.

My mentor gave me a book called "The Ministry of Intercessory Prayer" by Andrew Murray. As I (slowly) read this book, God began to change my heart. I started to realize that praying for people in secret and in public is so life giving. The author suggests that just about every christian on planet earth feels like they should pray more. It was freeing to realize that I wasn't alone in that and that I didn't have to stay there. It was time to do something about it.

Around the same time, I got to sit in on a meeting that our director was having. I asked him how he noticed all these things that God was doing in this person's life. It's not like they were telling him expressly. He told me that every day when he's with the students, he takes a mental-step back and asks God "What are you doing right now?". Then, he prays for them accordingly.

In general, I tend to be a very oblivious person. This has been a bit of a battle for me as a leader because I don’t always notice what people are feeling or what God is doing. So I adopted my director’s process of taking a step back, asking God what He’s up to, so that I could pray for them. It challenged me to start noticing, to start paying attention to the little things God is doing.

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As I began doing this, God started showing me the things He was doing in their lives and giving me vision for who He's calling them to be. I began praying for them every day by setting a timer for one minute, writing down a students name, then journaling a short prayer for them. As I did that, God started to grow my capacity and desire to pray for the people around me. What started as a small organized discipline, is now flourishing into a changed mindset and a fuller life.

It always amazes me how God uses seemingly random things and puts them together to teach us things and form us deep inside. Through reading a book written in 1898, a meeting during an internship, and a million tiny thoughts and impressions in between, God began forming something beautiful in me, a desire and a will to pray. Jesus is my favorite, because he is so kind and always inviting us into something and giving us good gifts.

As an intern, I've been pushed and challenged more than I thought was possible. If you've talked to me recently, I've probably said "This is the hardest and the best job I've ever had". Growth marks the season that I'm in, and in the face of my panicked questions of "Is this even worth it?!?" God's gentle answer is always "Yes".


Mary McKellick