In the summer of 2015, it’s not surprising that when you’re due to begin a placement in the industry you’ve been studying in and things don’t appear to be falling into their perfect place – panic begins to kick in.
Yes a placement year in CAM is optional, but when you’re as super unsure about what direction to steer your life in as I was, all practical experience is welcome.
Amidst floods of tears and feelings of failure I couldn’t help but hold on to the ounce of optimism I had when I chatted with friends and they encouraged me that perhaps it was because there was something better “just around the corner.”
However, that little glimmer of hope was immediately disseminated with my instant response of doubt and disbelief “It’s a pretty BIG darn corner!”
A little patience goes a long way.
Looking back, I’m sure being patient was the last thing I had in mind (and I’m sure my parents can vouch for that!) but looking back, I can now fully appreciate the process and time it took to fully prepare me for life a few thousand miles away from home in the Big Apple.
Little did I know, that for just under 8 months I would spend my time living in Brooklyn in Metro World Child headquarters, with Metro staff and interns from all around the world, endeavouring to serve God and be a small part of His big plan for reaching children and their families with the gospel in the darkest neighbourhoods of New York City, presenting them with the only source of hope that is found through the Lord Jesus Christ.
Having been involved with different aspects of ministry in my local church at home in Northern Ireland, I was super excited (and nervous!) to work alongside an organisation that was involved in a similar style of outreach in New York City (a place I had longed to visit!) and see how God was at work in another part of the world with people willing to be used by Him.
All things work together for good.
From a young age, when posed the question “Where’s your favourite place in the world?” I always had one answer, “New York City.” Having never been there I guess that’s a bit of an irrational statement, but nonetheless, it was a desire that I knew was put in my heart for a purpose.
It was about 5 or 6 years previous before I set off on my New York adventure when I sat in my youth group on a Sunday evening after the church service and listened to a young girl, Sarah Reynolds share about her experience with what was formerly known as Metro Ministries in New York City. As we listened to her share the first-hand stories about “Sidewalk Sunday School”, “Yogi Bear Kids” and hearing gunshots while teaching children from the Bible on the streets of the poorest areas in the city, it all seemed like an overwhelming mix of intense excitement and legitimate fear. Still, I’ll never forget whispering in agreement with my friends, “I want to do that someday!”
A promise from above.
When you live in a family of four children with a father who much prefers going to airports to have a picnic as you watch planes come and go every day of summer before he’d ever step foot on one – you can guess that foreign family holidays weren’t a thing in our house. So I’m sure you can imagine the horror of even suggesting I board a plane and cross an ocean by myself to a city full of strangers and streets rife with criminals.
Yea it took a while to get over that one.
I’ll be the first to admit I’m not the loudest, bravest, boldest person that exists and probably the last person you would want to send to the ghetto of any city, but when you’re in the centre of God’s will and He gives you a promise from the Bible like the one above from Acts to hold on to, stepping forward in faith is the best direction to go.
In every detail.
If I was to begin to tell about the kids I had the privilege to meet, the people I had the pleasure of serving alongside, or even the moments I saw God’s hand most evidently at work, well, we would be here for quite a while. So in an attempt to sum up my feelings on E V E R Y T H I N G that took place during my time with Metro World Child in New York City here’s a verse from the Bible, which even before I left for NYC could use to describe the amount of ways I have seen God at work in my life.
Of course, there were tearful moments, sleepless nights and pesky lice problems (to name but a few hurdles along the way!) but I wouldn’t exchange my experience and memories for the world.
When people ask about my placement year and the reason for two years out of my studies I often jump to the most logical explanation I think they’ll understand for why I didn’t choose the ‘normal’ placement path. This range of excuses include: “I couldn’t get a placement”, I don’t think I tried hard enough”, “I didn’t apply for enough companies.” When in reality, perhaps it was just because God had something better in mind.
*Insert most commonly asked question*
Would you go back? To visit, for sure! Forever? We’ll have to talk to God about that one.
For now and until graduation, I’m just going to enjoy good old Northern Ireland.
Rachel Henry is a final year BSc in Communication, Advertising and Marketing student at Ulster University. She can be found on LinkedIn at: Rachel Henry