The Stranger on the Bus

If You Seek Him, You Will Find Him.

Jeremiah 29:11-13

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”

God works in amazing ways. My name is Alexis, and this is the story of how God called me to step outside my comfort zone.

It was a Friday night, and I was on a charter bus full of Meredith College Teaching Fellows and Honors students who were excitedly discussing our field-trip to the North Carolina Ballet. The bus was completely full; there was not a single open seat, and I found myself seated next to a stranger. I’m a pretty friendly person, so if the person seems open to talking, I’ll usually start a conversation. I introduced myself, and in turn I learned my seat companion’s name was Jasmine. We started talking about our hometowns and what we were majoring in. Somewhere throughout the conversation we got on the topic of church. I told her I was still looking for a church in the Raleigh area, and she told me she goes to the Summit Church. My parents had mentioned this church to me a few times, because they would visit the Chapel Hill campus when they come to town to visit my brother and me. I told her it was on my list of churches to visit, and she invited me to come with her some Sunday. We exchanged contact information before we parted ways.

The next week I received a text from Jasmine inviting me to hang out with some of her church friends Sunday night because they were going to have a chocolate fountain for Valentine’s Day. Later I found out this gathering was called Family Group, and it is a college ministry through the church. I agreed to go, and asked if I could accompany her to church, as well. She told me I was welcome to ride with her. Sunday rolled around, and Jasmine met me in front of Johnson Hall to pick me up for church. I rode with her and one of her friends, and we met up with some of their other friends at church.

I remember sitting in the service, looking around at all the young students and families, and thinking that this church was doing amazing things. Usually college age students and young families stop going to church, but this church was doing a spectacular job of reaching out to the younger generation that some churches are letting fall through the gaps. During worship I could feel the presence of the  Holy Spirit, and during the sermon I could hear God speaking through the pastor. I knew this church was where God wanted me to be. 

After the service I went to eat lunch in the dining hall (since we are all broke college students). While I was eating with them, I felt like I had known them for much longer than half a day! The amazing part of this is over my Christmas break I had starting being more active in my prayer life. I was praying for God to give me a Christian community of college students in Raleigh, and to show me ways to reach out to my community and to those abroad. I knew in that moment when we were getting to know each other over mediocre dining hall food that God had placed these people in my life to give me a Christian community.

That evening I carpooled with Jasmine again to go to Family Group. We were all excited about the chocolate fountain, and I was nervous to meet new people. It was amazing to meet so many college students who love Jesus, and who are willing to take the time to gather in His name. After the small group discussions, before we started to head out, I talked to one of the college leaders, Elizabeth. We were meeting at her house, and she also ended up in my small group during discussions. While we were talking, she mentioned a mission trip the church does for college students called City Project. She told me it was an 8 week program during  the summer that serves locally, nationally, and internationally. The first week is spent witnessing in NYC, the middle 5 weeks are spent in Durham, learning about God and how to witness while serving at non-profits and other ministries, and the last two weeks are spent overseas doing various projects. The more she told me about this trip, the more I felt God tugging at my heart. I knew I needed to apply. I mentioned that this sounded like something I would be interested in, and she told me I should apply! She said the application date had passed, but the church would still take my application if I were to turn one in.

As soon as I got back to my dorm, I called my parents. I prayed that God would help them see how it was His will. When they picked up the phone I told them the whole story, starting with my prayer over Christmas break, to meeting Jasmine on the bus, to Elizabeth telling me about City Project. I told them about what it was, and asked if I should apply. My parents – to my surprise – were very supportive. They said I should go for it. My dad told me it “sounded like a divine encounter” and that even if I did not get accepted, it was important to answer God when He calls. When I hung up the phone, I started my application. I tend to put the “pro” in procrastination, but I was not going to put this off (my homework, on the other hand could wait). I ended up finishing the application Monday night, so I hit the submit button. A rush of excitement washed over me, and I knew I had taken the first step on an amazing journey that God had prepared especially for me.

The next day, I was nervous. I felt like I had made a impulsive decision. I worried that I would not get accepted, and that this was all a huge waste of my time. I went to God in prayer, and asked Him to take away those fears and all my worries. I asked Him to give me strength, and to be with me on this new adventure with Him; an adventure where I stepped out of the way, and let Him take control. That evening I received an email from one of the college leaders, and I had been asked to meet for an interview the next day, Wednesday. We set up a time to meet at a local coffee shop.

My interview was scheduled for 4pm, after I finished my classes for the day. My devotion that morning was on Colossians 1:9-13. It was a prayer for spiritual growth, and I prayed that God would give me strength, and  the opportunity to grow this summer through City Project.

Colossians 1:9-13  (in prayer form)

I continually ask You to fill me with the knowledge of Your will through all the wisdom and understanding the Spirit gives, so that I may live a life worthy of You and please You in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in Your knowledge, being strengthened with all power according to Your glorious might so that I may have great endurance and patience, and I give joyful thanks to You, my Father, who has qualified me to share in the inheritance of Your holy people in the Kingdom of Light. For You have rescued me from the dominion of darkness and brought me into the kingdom of the Son You love.

(This is the prayer I prayed that morning, and the prayer I prayed before I left for my interview.)

I met two college leaders for my interview, and it went really well. I loved how prayerful they were, and I could see that they were in love with Christ. After my interview, they told me I should receive and email within the next 24 hours giving me more information about the project.

The next day, after my education class, I saw an email in my inbox that looked like it was from Summit. When I opened it I saw I had been accepted into the mission program, and they gave me detail about the upcoming meeting.

That Saturday, I went to the Go Now Pre-Training, where college students from all their different mission projects meet to learn more about the projects, the mission, and how to raise funds for this trip (since most college student don’t have $4900 laying around). The training was from 8:30am – 4 pm, and it got me pumped up for this mission trip.

I am so excited to be taking this leap of faith, and set forth on a quest to raise support, so I, in return, can go out and support others and share the gospel this summer. Honestly, I am also a little scared. But I know God will provide for me, because this mission project is part of His plan for my life. I ask you all to pray for me and my team as we set out to spread the gospel. Pray for God to provide my support, and for Him to prepare me for whatever I may encounter this summer.

Over this crazy and exciting week, I have learned that if you seek God, you will find Him. Just like Jeremiah 29:11-13 says, you will find Him when you search with all your heart. When I actively sought out God, and prayed for Him to provide a Christian community in Raleigh and show me a way to serve my community in the Triangle, and communities abroad, He provided just that. I used to think God took a long time to answer prayers, but sometimes He works quickly! God wants to answer your prayers!

If you wish to help financially support this trip go to this link . The contribution should go to support Alexis Chastain.

Thank you in advance for your prayers and support! 

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5 thoughts on “The Stranger on the Bus

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