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Amanda’s Journey

Jun, 2024 | Ascend Youth Discipleship Program

By Amanda Dyke – Former Ascend Volunteer

Living in the dorms for the youth discipleship program was one of the greatest experiences of my life. Most of us were strangers before moving in, yet eleven of us girls quickly became a close-knit group. Learning to work together around different schedules and managing chores, like cleaning, using the bathrooms, and doing laundry, was often challenging, but it was also very growing for me.

Living together made deep and lasting friendships. There were so many times we laughed until we cried, played jokes, had a paper airplanes contest, or just a friendly debate all sitting on the counter in the kitchen until past midnight. We also worshipped together, shared testimonies, cried together, and prayed over each other. It made us a family.

As part of the discipleship program, we attended classes every Tuesday afternoon, where I learned so many valuable things. We had sessions on leadership that applied to church, the workplace, and our personal lives. We were involved in outreach that allowed us to use our spiritual gifts to help others. One particularly impactful class was “Introduction to the Hebrew Bible,” where we learned to trace the biblical narrative, discovering how seemingly small stories fit into a larger picture.

The most meaningful thing I learned in the class was through a session on baptism. I had a negative view on baptism growing up and never fully understood the purpose or importance of it as a Christian. As I learned how baptism creates this bridge to leave the chaos and old life behind and enter into new life of God’s order, I finally understood its importance. This led me to get baptized and to be influential in the baptism of a coworker who had recently committed her life to Jesus.

Working in the New Horizons Thrift Store was a whole new experience. It was never something I saw in my future, and I didn’t think I would enjoy it, but I’ve grown to really love it. Especially in the morning when we all gather for devotions and prayer before we start our day. Some days can be a little mundane, but with the staff we have, there’s usually some excitement happening one way or another.

The first thing I noticed working in the Pueblo thrift store was how broken the town was—the homelessness, substance abuse, and so many people hurting. It really showed me how protected I have been all my life. My heart broke for these people, and I did not know how God wanted me to help them until I had an experience with someone that came into the store.

After a man got caught trying to steal, I had the chance to talk to him for a while and explain the whole purpose of our ministry. What took him by surprise was how I came to talk to him like a normal person, instead of being like others who would yell and call him garbage, threaten him, and throw rocks at him. While we talked, I mentioned how every morning our staff takes time to pray for every person who walks in our store, meaning we prayed for him too. It was beyond his imagination that we would care enough to do that. “You don’t even know me. Why?” He asked. Then I understood and I knew that God wanted me to see and care for these people, showing them that God’s love is unconditional because they’ve been undervalued their whole lives.

 One of the first things I was asked when I came was, “Are you willing to be stretched?” This entire experience has stretched me in so many ways, often painfully. Yet, it has taught me to look deeper into people, to see hard goodbyes as spreading our mission to more places, and to wholly depend on God. This has truly been my most rewarding adventure.

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