Friday, August 17, 2012

10 Years Ago Today...

10 years ago life started going down a different path. My parents say that it was a really really sad day for them. It was hard on me too, but I know it was the start of some life changing times.

10 years ago today, my parents and sister dropped me off at Mount Lou San Bible Camp in Harrisburg, PA.  10 years ago today, the Lord began to break my will.

I had really good grades in high school. Scholarships should have been so easy for me to obtain. And I was going to need those scholarships to help pay for my college education. I kept applying for scholarships and oddly enough, I kept getting denied. It was the end of June and I still had no idea where I would end up in the fall. One day, my dad told me, "The Lord may be trying to steer you away from college and towards something else. Be open to His leading."

At the time, I worked at a Christian book store. A co-worker and friend of mine had traveled with this singing group after high school called "Encounter Revival Ministries." I could remember hearing the group when I was in about the 5th grade. For some reason, my heart was open towards this adventure. She called the leader of the group and he agreed to an over-the-phone interview. I mailed in an audition tape and waited. Usually the team was already set before the summer began. It was now July...After a whirlwind of events, I was accepted into the group.

I was to arrive at the camp August 17th to begin a six week training camp. There would be minimal contact with my family. And because of our traveling schedule, I would not see my parents for another couple of months. But for some reason, I knew this was what I was supposed to do for the next year.  It was so difficult to say goodbye that day. Many many tears were shed. And many more were shed in the next few weeks. I knew no one. I really had no idea what I was getting myself into. (My mom said she and another team girl's mom were trying to figure out which team guy their daughters would end up with on that day. Ironically, we both married wonderful men that we met elsewhere.) My parents left before the evening meal. I think it was even harder on them than it was on me.  I kept telling myself, "If you can just get in a routine, you will be fine."

Being a pastor's kid, I had been given many wonderful opportunities to minister and serve. Coming into this experience, I thought I was pretty important. I was used to having my ideas followed by others. I was used to leading things.  At our first rehearsal, I realized that this was not at all what I had expected.


The music was not my style. The dynamics of the group was much more conservative than I was used to. And most of the team knew at least a few other team members. 

I began to make friends and struggle through my days. There was lots of letter writing to family. And many tear filled journal entries to God. "What were you thinking? Did I misunderstand your leading, Lord? Is this really what you want me to do for an entire year? Will I ever feel close to this group?"

I also came down with a really bad cold. And that only made me miss home more. The days were long. The practices were hard. And I was still feeling like the odd man out.

But somewhere around week 3 or 4 on a Sunday evening, Ardy, our leader encouraged us to go to some part of the camp by ourselves and just have a chat with God. He encouraged us to really search our hearts, seeing if there was anything God was trying to change in us.  I remember finding a little bridge that was over a small creek/ditch.

As I sat there, the tears came easily.  I starting asking God all those questions again. "Why am I here? Are you sure you know what you're doing? Should I just pack it up and go home? This isn't what I thought it was going to be. This isn't the style thing I like. This isn't what I'm used to." And it was almost as if God stopped me in the middle of my venting and said, "Cindy, when are you going to realize THIS ISN'T SUPPOSED TO BE ABOUT YOU.  This isn't about what you thought it would be. When I choose to use you, it doesn't have to be in a way that you are comfortable with."   And I broke.

It was in that moment that I realized how much I really had to learn. As I went to dinner that evening, it was as if someone had turned on the light. I began to realize that this was a group of people that God had chosen for me to serve with for the next year. God had miraculously led me to a team that I really had no knowledge of - yet that is where He wanted me. It didn't matter what I had imagined it would be like. It didn't matter what I thought I should be doing. What mattered was that I chose to surrender - What mattered was that I chose to jump in a serve. 

Practices seemed different. Team devotions seemed different. Our training classes seemed different. I now felt like I belonged. 

I ended up traveling with Encounter for two years. In that time, I made some incredible friendships.

Some of those friends, I still communicate with weekly. And some were even in my wedding.

There's a bond I can't explain. 

And I am so glad that I had that talk with God on that little wooden bridge that Sunday evening. I can't imagine what awesome opportunities and memories I might have forfeited had God never broke my will.

Even today, as I searched though my scrapbook from those first few months on Encounter, I was amazed to see the host families that I was able to stay with. I grinned as I remembered the fun times. All the inside jokes and the things we used to say came flooding back to me. And I must admit, I got a little teary as I recalled the things God taught me during this time.

By the time my family came to visit for Thanksgiving, I was loving the Encounter life.

And when it was time for Christmas break, I really felt that this group was a second family. It's amazing what the Lord can do when you let Him be the one in control. When I got involved in what He had for me, I was finally happy.

For those who may be wondering, Encounter Revival Ministry is basically defined as a team of college-aged individuals who travel to different churches and Christians schools. We would stay in one area for about a week's time, holding evening services full of singing, drama, children's programs and Bible teaching. We would also take trips to foreign countries to share our ministry.

But to me, it's the time in my life where God broke my will. It's a time where I grew more in my walk with the Lord than ever before. I was challenged, used and blessed. And I wouldn't trade those years for anything. I can't imagine what course my life may have taken, had I not been led to Encounter. Would I ever have learned to deny myself?

I still struggle with the "me" problem, thinking that God sure is lucky to have me. But its during those times that the Lord takes me back to that little wooden bridge and reminds me... "It's not about you, Cindy! It's about Me!" 


  1. God is so good! I am reminded of the visit that I made to hear the team, I was so overwhelmed by the goodness of God and His faithfulness. Cindy and the team were leading the worship and I could not hold back the tears, lots of tears! I tried to gain control of my emotions and be all wiped clean as Cindy returned to her seat. Her comment to me was, "you have tissues stuck all over your face"! I needed a laugh! Mom

    1. What a moment that was! I came back to my seat on the verge of tears after singing "Bow the Knee" only to find mom's face speckled with bits of tissues! One of my favorite stories!

  2. Cindy, this was beautiful testimony of how you permitted God to 'break your will' and be used for his. Thank you for sharing this.

  3. Love this. I went through some very similar things when I went to the team. I love that God places us where He needs us and where He can be glorified. Being broken is not an easy or fun thing to go through but, it's where we must be for Him to use us. I'm so glad it's not about me....I'd not want that kind of responsibility! :) Man..our mom's have more in common than I remembered!

    1. I'm glad it's not about me too! And yes, our moms are kindred spirits for sure. Ha

  4. I had to think about that roll of toilet paper that you had around your neck for a while. Maybe you need to do a blog post about that! I am so glad that I got to spend those two years of my life growing with you!

    1. I'm sure it would be a Pinterest Hit!

  5. Lydia, I thought about the same thing!!!!! I am sometimes tempted to make my own when I have a cold.

    Cindy, those were such good times. I am so thankful for the opportunity to travel with you and to make wonderful friendships. Most importantly, God also worked in my heart. It was there that I the Lord opened my heart to full-time Christian service. I cannot believe it has been 11 years since I moved to start on the team. God has taught me a lot and is continuing to teach me.

    BTW...thanks for posting such a nice picture on here. lol We had some great times with out Dr. Pepper. :)

    1. Sorry about the not so great pic - I was going for "training camp" pics..ha.

      And, the TP necklace totally works. Don't forget to have a walmart bag in your back pocket for your used TP. Makes it totally portable!