By Stephanie Ziebarth, Barnabas Program Coordinator
Ashlyn Miller (on the left in the photo) thought she was signing up to become a junior counselor for Joy El’s camps and retreats when she applied for the 4.12 Leadership Training Program five years ago. Little did she know that God was going to use the program to transform her entire life.
“Honestly, I didn’t really know what I was signing up for,” Ashlyn says. “When my first spiritual growth update was due and I was supposed to answer questions about my Bible reading and memorization, I sat down to read the entire first month’s assignment in one night,” she laughs. “I quickly began to realize that it wasn’t about completing the assignments, but about the habits I could develop that would help me grow in my relationship with Christ.”
When the time came for Ashlyn to serve as a junior counselor that summer, her understanding of the 4.12 program requirements further deepened.
“I suddenly saw how the value of memorizing verses and of daily Bible readings helped not only us, but helped our ministry to campers,” Ashlyn explains. “All that growth is to better prepare us to reach others.”
While Ashlyn acknowledges that she got off to a “rocky start” with her spiritual disciplines, now she is very consistent with them. “But my consistency isn’t necessarily that they look the same every day,” Ashlyn explains. “It’s my Jesus time for the day, and it may happen at different times in the day. It’s become a habit rather than a chore. These are habits of grace, and we should be doing them so Christ can empower us more, and to strengthen our personal relationship with God. I have a choice every day whether or not I want to set Christ as my first priority.”
Ashlyn has seen God work through the friendships she developed during her years in the program as well. Two of her best friends were made through the 4.12 Leadership Training Program as they served together at Christian camps and retreats. “Through the years we’ve seen God working in us,” Ashlyn celebrates. “And we were able to trust and rely on each other all through high school life. Even though we didn’t see each other a lot because we went to different schools, that time we spent during our leadership training summits and other times at camp together… we were always able to pick right up where we left off. We’ve been through the highest of highs and lowest of lows. We could not have made it through high school like we did without being there for each other.”
In fact, Ashlyn believes the friendships are one of the biggest reasons to join the 4.12 Leadership Training Program. “You form the most authentic relationships and the people become your family,” Ashlyn says.
But the friendships are not the only reason.
“It’s hard to describe how I’ve grown through the program, because it has impacted all aspects of who I am.” Ashlyn explains. “Before I was in this program, I went to church and Bible study; I knew the basics. But being in this program and understanding the significance of our personal relationship with Christ and how we can strengthen that connection has changed all aspects of my life. It’s such a joy! It’s hard to see who I even was before.”
Ashlyn graduated from the 4.12 Leadership Training Program on June 20th and is serving as the high ropes coordinator in Joy El’s Christian summer camp program, where she will have ample opportunity lead campers through activities that will help them grow spiritually.
If you or a young person you know is interested in joining the program, RSVP to [email protected] to attend one of the following meetings:
* Thursday, July 16, 2020 at 6:15 PM
* Thursday, July 23, 2020 at 6:15 PM
* Tuesday, July 28, 2020 at 6:15 PM