By Stephanie Ziebarth, Barnabas Mentor Coordinator
When Samantha Cantrell decided to join Joy El’s, a Christian camp in PA, 4.12 Leadership Training Program in eighth grade, she had ideas about how God might use the program in her life. Almost five years later, Sam realizes her initial expectations did not get met, but that God worked in a very different and powerful way.
Rather than spending lots of time at camp, Sam has gotten more involved in her church as a result of being in the 4.12 Leadership Training Program. Sam made camp friends and has served in a variety of influential 4.12 roles. However, her relationship with her Barnabas mentor, Michaela Olson, has been the most formative aspect of the program for Sam. In fact, their story is a picture of equipping emerging leaders within the church.
Sam and Michaela met within their church when both were helping with the Vacation Bible School praise team. Sam, like many young teens, was trying to figure out where she fit, and she had had a negative experience serving elsewhere in the church.
“I volunteered with a friend,” Sam explains. “The leader told my friend that she could really see her serving more in the future. To me, she said, ‘Well, it’s not for everybody.’”
This is a strong contrast to Michaela’s approach to training young leaders.
“It’s not my job to tell her she can’t serve in a certain area,” Michaela says. “It’s my job to equip her to serve and respond to God’s leading, and to work with her to find where she can use the gifts God has given her within the church.”
And Michaela has certainly equipped Sam. In fact, both have grown, developed and gained increasing responsibility through their five-year mentoring relationship.
“The job I was doing when Sam and I met is the actual job Sam is doing now,” Michaela explains. Michaela went from children’s ministry worship leader, to intern, to interim elementary coordinator, to full-time elementary coordinator. Sam is now serving as children’s ministry worship leader and is exploring the possibility of trying the church internship.
Michaela can’t say enough good things about Sam’s ministry at the church. “She leads almost 100 children by herself every Sunday,” Michaela details. “She is in control of that room. She sets an example on stage. She connects the worship to life. She has redesigned the way we lead the children’s prayer time. She is there early every Sunday. She has found her voice and owned her faith.”
Among the many benefits Sam lists are: “It has definitely helped me get out of my shell. I’ve grown more confident. It’s helped me develop my own faith as I teach children. And it’s made me responsible to get my own time in the Word.”
Both “absolutely” credit the Barnabas mentor program with providing the framework for nurturing a relationship that grew to the point that Michaela asked Sam to stand with her on her wedding day. And both feel it created the opportunity for the intense ministry training Michaela has provided Sam through the years.
We rejoice as we see God work powerfully in and through emerging church leaders like Michaela and Sam!
Father-Daughter Retreat April 12-14, (Daughters 1-12th Grade)
Joy El Jubilee April 27, 10am-4pm
Work Days: April 6, May 4 and May 18- Call Hannah at 717-369-4539 if interested
Joy El Camps and Retreats is a Christian Youth Camp in PA, we offer Christian sleep away camps and retreats year-round for all ages in PA and we are a Youth retreat center in Pennsylvania since 1974. Our focus on making disciples is seen in Bible Adventure and the 4.12 Leadership Training Program