By Chris West
I served the summer of 2017 with Welcome House Raleigh and lived as a House Host, served as a videographer and volunteered there since. Later, I served with CBF Communications OGM and CBFF doing all sorts of development and communications tasks for field personnel and global missions, including helping to organize the missions marketplace.
I was able to connect with CBF through the Student.Go program. Coming out of college, I didn’t have a church home or denominational affiliation, but felt the call to ministry with nowhere to serve. Through CBF Student.Go programs, I was able to find a home and serve alongside pastors, evangelists and Christ-like witnesses who were living out the gospel witness while doing faithful ministry.
It’s hard to narrow it down to just one favorite memory, but the first summer I was serving with Student.Go, I was feeling drained and dismal. I had spent the summer serving with refugees in the Raleigh area but was soon leaving to return to my normal rhythms of life, not having made some major change in theirs. I had a poor understanding of what it meant to be present and faithful among displaced peoples. I confessed this to Marc Wyatt while we had lunch, where he shared some words of wisdom and encouraged me to continue praying about this and to seek the joy of these new relationships. Upon returning to the housing development, one of the kids ran up to me and hugged me. He said, “I know you need to go soon but I want to thank you for being my friend and for drawing and playing soccer with me. I will still be your friend when you go to help other kids.” I don’t know that anyone told him that I was leaving or if he just picked up on it, but I know that in that moment, I learned more about presence, friendship, hope and joy than any class could have taught me. I knew I’d made a new friend and found a new home.
I’m currently finishing up at Duke, MDIV, and serving as the Associate to Youth/Families at FBC Smithfield as the interim CBFNC College Minister at Duke. I am in the process of helping launch an education nonprofit (Shine Rural Education Fellowship) that focuses on improving the lives and literacy rates in Harnett/Johnson Counties. My Student.Go experiences shaped, informed and encouraged me in my discernment process that helped lead me to understand my call to ministry while giving me the skills and courage to pursue that call with bold faithfulness. I attribute any success I have largely to Student.Go programs, along with the amazing leaders and program staff that mentored me.
Praise God for Student. Go, Mark Wyatt, and Welcome House. They helped you grow to where you are today and to continue your call to ministry. When our mission group was there some years ago our youth group played soccer with a group like yours’ and we had the same loving experience. Mark and Kim have been a blessing to many. They have been in our continued prayers. May you call continue to be a blessing.. You will be in my prayers.