My Mission Trip To Atlanta, Georgia: A Testimony

My Mission Trip To Atlanta, Georgia: A Testimony

Can I get a Hallelujah Holla back?


Where do I even begin? Well, I suppose I'll start with how I even got to Atlanta in the first place. For the strangers reading this, I am part of a campus ministry here at Missouri State University called Chi Alpha. (Shout out to my AMAZING Chi Alpha family).

Every year, we host multiple spring break mission trips available, as well as some international trips available over the summer. And, well, as you may have noticed in the title, I chose to go to Atlanta, Georgia with a team of other Chi Alpha members.

From the beginning, I knew Atlanta was where God had called me to go, but I didn't really know why yet. Everyone who had gone in the years before had loved it, some even going back again in the years after they first went.

People spoke very highly of the trip, and of mission trips in general, talking about how we would be stretched both physically and spiritually. They certainly weren't wrong. You see, I expected to be stretched, challenged, exhausted.

But what I didn't expect was how I was going to be stretched, and God certainly gave me quite the shock when I was stretched in ways that I never saw coming.

It was a ten-hour drive to Atlanta, and my team of 16 was divided up into four vehicles. After much team bonding and road trip karaoke, we made it to the beautiful city of Atlanta.

We unloaded all of our suitcases and stretched our legs when we reached the dorms for the Atlanta School of Ministry, also known as ASOM. The plan was to stay there while we were in Atlanta, and I'm really happy it happened that way because I met some really amazing student missionaries.

These students are so loving and so intentional and so talented. We got to experience lots of ministry leadership, artistic talent, and musical talent represented at ASOM. I definitely recommend Remnant Worship and Co-Heir Collective's music on iTunes.

Hallelujah Holla Back? I'm just saying, that song is a BOP. No, but seriously. These people are passionate and are doing amazing things to serve the kingdom of God while using the talents he's given them.

So this is a shoutout and round of applause to the students we met at ASOM and the amazing staff at the Atlanta Dream Center as well. You guys are glorifying God in mighty ways.

Now, I'm not going to go into too many specifics here just so that I keep this at article length instead of book length. But we got to serve with lots of really amazing outreaches at the Dream Center, including the Metro Kids children's ministry, the Out of Darkness ministry for victims of sex trafficking, and the iAm ministry for the homeless.

The outreaches involved in these programs were powerful, touching, and eye-opening. I got to see the light in my teammate's eyes as they served the Lord in ways they were passionate about.

I got to experience what it truly looked like to serve the kingdom of God, and it only made me more passionate about doing so. I had the opportunity to meet and pray with lots of amazing people on the streets of Atlanta, and they will forever be in my heart.

These people inspired me and gave me an immense motivation to serve God's people in even more ways once I left. I think most importantly, these outreaches taught me and my mission team how easy it actually is to just go out and love people. Seriously, try it.

That being said, what affected me most was more of a personal "in-reach" rather than outreach. I knew I was going to have to give my testimony in front of my team at some point, but I hadn't really been all that concerned about it.

I'd never given my full testimony before, but I figured I could lay out a bunch of facts about my life and how I came to be a Christian and that that would be good enough. Well, God had other plans.

The day I was supposed to give my testimony, I started to really dig deeper and think harder about my story, what it meant, and why I acted in certain ways at certain points in time. Through this attempt at self-understanding, God revealed to me a lot of things about myself and my identity that I had never noticed or even tried to look for before.

I began pulling my notebook out at random moments during the day, carefully recording each revelation on paper. I spent much of the day unfocused on the ministries and intensely focused on what made my story important, why I am the way I am.

When I finally gave my testimony, it ended up being 22 minutes long and even then I still felt like I had left out important things after I was done. I began to think about why God had called me to Atlanta, and what his purpose was for me there.

As the week progressed, I began to learn more about myself and the importance of not only my story, but others' stories as well. I began to realize that my entire life had been spent seeking closeness and someone who sought to understand me, someone who truly pursued me.

And that had a big impact on me because I started thinking about the fact that while I had wished to be understood this whole time, I had so easily given up on understanding the people I love. My need to be understood on a deeper level was so great that it selfishly prevented me from even attempting to understand others in that way.

The Lord brought to my attention two really big things in Atlanta. First, a conviction that I was not pursuing others in love the way that I should have been. Second, that He was calling me to take up my cross and follow him, which I'll elaborate on another time. God broke my heart for a specific loved one that I won't name right now.

He made me realize that I had given up on her way too easily. While I had claimed to love her and had often said that she was one of my closest friends, I began to realize how little I truly knew her. I never sought to understand her, had never asked her what her story was, or asked her about anything that really mattered.

In truth, I only knew her on the surface and knew nothing about what lay underneath. I thought about where I might be if God had given up on me as easily as I had given up on her. Recognizing this after a message one night, I found the most secluded corner in the room, drew my knees to my chest and cried with my head buried in my arms.

I hadn't loved her as I thought, I hadn't loved her with a Christ-like love, with an all-enduring and persevering love. I had let her down, and my heart broke for her.

From that point on, I have been thinking a lot about how important it is to listen in order to love properly. Two weeks after my trip, and I'm still stuck on it. I encourage you to ask someone about their story. What makes them tick?

What brings them joy, what fills them, what drains them? Believe it or not, it's important. Think about your story, but don't spend all of your time doing that, ask someone else about their life. Remember little things about them, and do it intentionally. Invest in people, go through life with people, pursue them in love.

Because that's what Jesus did. And I don't know about you, or what you believe, but I know for a fact that I would be a mess without Jesus in my life. Jesus didn't give up on me no matter how many times I screwed up, ran to sinful places for comfort, or failed him.

When I ran away from Him and I tried to hide, Jesus looked for me. He knows what true love is, and I'll spend my whole life trying to follow His example.

We are all looking for someone looking for us.

Be the person who looks for people.

"This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you." -John 15:12

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13 Life-Saving Safety Tips To Know BEFORE Your Summer Parties And Travels

These tips could make or break a vacation, depending on if you want to follow them or not.


Summer is something we all look forward to, but we tend to forget about our safety when we are out and about. From going to the zoo to going out to the bar, everyone is at risk because unfortunately there are bad people in the world. It is important to keep things like this in mind.

Boys, girls, men, and women are taken every single day by sex traffickers all around the world. People are sexually abused, and last but not least people are exposed to bad things like dirty needles, broken glass, and other factors that can turn a great night into a horror story.

In order to shed light on these things and give the public a reminder, I compiled this list.

1. Don't set your drink down/watch your drink in big crowds

"Don't set your drink down" is one of the oldest rules in the book. Sadly enough, I've watched girls get things dropped into their drinks while they are dancing and holding it up in the air in big crowds. The man standing behind you at the concert may seem harmless, but you never know if he's planning on dropping a disorienting pill into your drink; pay attention at all times.

2. Don't let your friends leave the bar alone: rule of pairs

Whenever you go somewhere, especially at night, take someone with you. If anything happens, you'll always have someone else to run and get help. This goes for falling off your bike and skinning your knee to someone trying to grab you and pull you into their van. Two is always better than one.

3. Carry pepper spray, a knife, or, if you are comfortable enough, a gun

When you are walking alone at night just a few seconds worth of pepper spray can save your life. Personally, I carry a knife. I carry a Leatherman in a little cloth case on my belt. It's not too bulky and from afar it looks like it could possibly be a small handgun. The look of it alone could deter someone away from me in a bad situation.

If you aren't comfortable carrying these things, holding a set of keys in between your fingers is also another way to protect yourself if a bad situation did arise.

4. Be cautious about Uber, Lyft, and taxi services

When an Uber is coming to pick you up, ask them who they are there to pick up. Ask them their name as well. Before you get in the vehicle, open the door and make sure the child lock is off. Before getting into the car you should take a picture of the license plate and send it to a few of your friends. You can never be too safe.

5. Share your location with a group of close friends or family members 

I share my location with almost all of my friends. If something were to happen they would know exactly where I am. It would be an even better idea to share your "Find My iPhone" username and password with a friend or two because you can locate someone much easier that way. From my own personal experience, I know that the Find My iPhone app works much better than simply sharing your location. If you have an Android/Galaxy phone there are probably applications specific to them for location sharing as well.

6. Before going on a date with someone new... do the following:

If they are picking you up in their vehicle, try to snap a photo of their license plate. You should do this even if the person seems trustworthy because you never know what someone is truly thinking inside of their head. If you plan on going out to eat, tell your friends when and where. The more other people know, the safer you are. Check out their social media pages to make sure they are who they are saying they are. Do a little bit of research and utilize the tools that you have at your fingertips (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.) Again, you can never be too safe.

7. Don't let your children leave your sight! 

Lately, I've read too many articles about children getting taken at fairs and other public events. One that I read said that the mother let her 5-or-6-year-old walk to the port-a-potty alone (right around the corner) and they never came back. It can happen so easily when it is the last thing on your mind.

If you have a younger child, send an older sibling with them. Make sure that you tell your children what to look for when it comes to someone watching them. If there is someone standing alone, wearing sunglasses, and pointing their phone at your children, it could be completely innocent and coincidental... but what if it's not? Watch out for the signs and warnings and educate your children.

8. Know where the nearest police station/ hospital is located

I actually never thought about this until I started working on the pipeline. Before each day of work we typically meet as a crew and locate the nearest hospital. We do this so that there is less confusion if an accident happens. The same thing goes for when you are on vacation to somewhere new. If you are walking and slice your foot an inch deep on a piece of glass, the last thing you want to worry about it finding a hospital to go to. When that is already predetermined it makes bad situations easier to handle.

The same thing goes for a police station. If you and a friend are out on the town and someone harasses you or does something disorderly, it would be beneficial to know where the police station is located. I know you're thinking "why wouldn't I just call 911?"

Well, think about this. What if your phone dies, your apple watch gets crushed trying to fight back in whatever situation you are in, or your phone just gets broken. You may have to run to the nearest police station or run to the nearest home to use someone else's phone.

I can't say this enough, it's better to be safe than sorry. It takes 10 seconds to look up the nearest hospital and police station before a night out. Utilize the tools you have and put your safety first.

9. Before going on vacation, read reviews 

I'll use beaches as an example. There are some really amazing, friendly, and clean beaches you can go to in the United States. With the internet in reach, use it and read about the place you are going to. Every so often a family will plan a getaway and arrive ready to enjoy the week, but if you pick a location where drug addiction is a known problem you are putting yourself and your children at risk. I understand that drug use is an issue everywhere, but it's worse in some places than it is in others. No one wants to be exposed to a dirty needle that someone left laying hidden in the beach sand. Using tools like Yelp and Google reviews can prevent little things like this from happening.

Tip: It's important to check the status of the water before you go somewhere. Sometimes, the water is infected with bacteria and other similar diseases that prevent you from swimming in the water.

10. Be aware of sex trafficking hot spots 

They are unfortunately all over the place. I currently live in Ohio, and I know that Columbus and Toledo are two big places where sex trafficking takes place. I have family that live in Michigan, and I know that Ann Arbor and Detroit are dangerous when it comes to that, too. Whenever I go to those places my guard is extra high and I pay attention to detail.

It's easy to let your guard down when you are out having fun, but no fun is worth risking your life over.

11. Trust your gut 

If you go out to a party with friends and feel uncomfortable, leave. Do not second guess your feelings or stay to please a friend.

12. Don't park next to vans/be aware if a van is parked next to you

It seems silly and a bit dramatic, but you never know. If there is a van parked next to your vehicle when you are leaving work, go back into work and have someone walk you out to your vehicle. In cities with high populations, this happens every day. You walk out to your car, the van doors open up, and you are never seen again.

13. Pay attention to detail 

Throughout this list, I've stated things that you should pay close attention to. Overall, you need to be paying attention to detail. When you are walking at night and there is someone walking 20 feet behind you with their hood up, that is a red flag. Call a friend or family member until you make it home safe. When you are walking around at the store and you continue to see the same person in your aisle, notify someone and express your worries. Watch people and their body language, and learn how to read it. Have an escape plan in situations that make you uncomfortable.

Although this list is probably full of things that have been pounded into your head over the years, it's never bad to refresh your mind. Keep yourself safe, keep your friends safe, and keep your family safe. There are hundreds of young aged boys and girls out there that may have never heard of things like this before. People too often let themselves think that a bad situation is a coincidence.

This list isn't meant to scare you, and life is made to live and have fun. If you just take the extra time to educate yourself, you should be able to live freely, happily, and safely. Share and be aware!

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10 Things To Do In Indiana To Make This Summer The Best Summer

Because let's face it, Indiana can be a pretty boring place.


Often times our summer nights in Indiana consist of bonfires, Steak and Shake, and a trip to the local Walmart because we are just so bored! Let's face the inevitable conclusion, we were all born in a dreadfully boring state. Thankfully, there are places all over the state that are just waiting to be explored this summer! Pack your car, board your friends, and hit the road to experience some awesome adventures!

1. Turkey Run State Park in Parke County.

Nichole Doty

What else can you think of other than the amazing feeling of hiking, camping, and enjoying the fresh air? With many places outside of the park to camp and stay, getting to the park is a short drive from nearby housing. The trails and beautiful sites will yield a perfect camping destination!

2. Zao Island in Valparaiso.

With Go Karts, Mini Golf, Laser Tag, a Laser Maze, Game Rooms, Batting Cages, Slides, and even an Alligator Exhibit, this destination is the one stop you have to make for the summer! With family fun all around at good prices, this place will be the one place you will want to continuously visit! Plus they have pizza, too!

3. Indiana Dunes National Park in Chesterton.

Lining Lake Michigan, the Dunes is the perfect beach destination to go on a hot summer day. With hotels and restaurants lining the park, there will always be somewhere to stay and somewhere to eat, plus all of the amazing qualities of the park, such as swimming, hiking, and soaking up the sun rays, making this destination a trip you have to make!

4. The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis in Indianapolis.

I think we can all agree that sometimes we are all kids at heart, and what better way to celebrate our "youth" than to take a visit to the Children's Museum! With exhibitions that contain Dinosaurs, an International Space Station, ways you can explore the everyday lives of Scientists, Fireworks of Glass, and many more, this is the perfect way at a decent price to spend your summer afternoon!

5. Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari in Santa Claus.

This attraction hosts a variety of themed attractions, including coasters and water coasters! As well as having a wave pool, a river, and tube slides, this attraction is the perfect location to go when you want to have fun as well as a cool down from the hot summer sun!

6. Conner Prairie in Fishers.

I don't know about you all but I LOVED when we got to go to Conner Prairie for a school field trip! Being one of the most visited outdoor museums in the country, Conner Prairie showcases the 19th-century lifestyle where you get to see 1836 Prairie Town, the William Conner House, and even experience what it was like in Indiana during the Civil War! This history destination will leave you in awe of how life used to be!

7. Bluespring Caverns in Bedford.

I was so jealous that my parents and sister got to experience these caves and I didn't! This underground river that stretches 21 miles houses many unusual and cool species, such as many amphibians, blind, and albino animals.

8. Indiana Medical History Museum in Indianapolis

This museum is an old pathology building that houses an autopsy room, amphitheater, laboratories, photo archives, as well as records from when the hospital was up and running. This cool destination is home to outdated medical equipment as well as anatomical structures that are breathtaking to see.

9. Indiana Beach Boardwalk Resort in Monticello.

This fun beach gives us a little taste of everything, from rides, games, to even walking a boardwalk. Located on Lake Shafer, this amusement park is a fun time for those who are looking for a little taste of fair life, yet can't wait until August to get it!

10. Indianapolis Zoo in Indianapolis.

Located in White River State Park, this zoo houses over 2,000 animals, all ranging from lions, elephants, and dolphins! As well as containing a botanical garden and exhibits where you can feed the animals, this zoo is a fun destination when searching for a fun break. Plus, who doesn't love visiting all the cool animals up close?

Whether you visit one or all of the destinations listed above, we have to acknowledge the fact that although Indiana can be a boring state, there are sometimes some pretty cool things we can do with an adventure around every corner!


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