ACMNP has helped expand my view of ministry. I thought ministry was confined to either global mission work or as staff at a church. I never would have thought ministry could look like working as a housekeeper in Yosemite National Park. I was most nervous about leading musical worship with ACMNP, but God redeemed that fear by giving me opportunities to practice and play the ukelele and freed up my anxiety to serve through relational ministry with joy and ease. God placed on my heart the international student community, of which many were my coworkers. I really wanted to serve this community through offering resources, building friendships, and spending intentional time so they’d feel loved and cared for.
I invited my international coworkers to support me at my employee softball games, and from this, my friends grew interested in learning this new sport. I offered to teach softball to my friends which became a space for the international students to gather and have fun learning a new game. I was surprised how a simple offer to teach softball became God’s ministry to love the international students in Yosemite. God exceeded my expectations of ministry in Yosemite to move beyond worship services on Sunday to softball practices with Yosemite Falls as our backdrop.
As a California native, I wanted to care and offer as much as I could to my international friends. I would drive friends to sunset spots using my team member’s car, cook and share dinners, invite them to hike Half Dome, and would finish cleaning my rooms for the day so that I could help others with their rooms.
As I was giving and offering what I could, I was returned with the generosity of my international friends. They would exchange their culture’s recipes, invite me to their football games, take me rafting in the Merced River and share vulnerable stories.
It didn’t feel exhausting to continually give. Instead I was filled with joy, thanksgiving, and humility. Also, through giving I was able to invite other friends and team members in the ministry of gifting to the international community.
ACMNP has helped redefine how ministry looks to me. It’s leading musical worship with minimal ukelele skills, taking midnight bike rides around Yosemite Valley, teaching and hosting softball games with the Falls behind us, driving friends to a Sentinel Dome to watch the sunset. Ministry allows me to creatively serve God and experience growth, joy and the outreach of love. This freedom in ministry was a factor in my discernment process to intern with Intervarsity Christian Fellowship. Overall, serving with ACMNP was a time of seeing God work in creation through incredibly creative ways.
Melissa L., Yosemite National Park, 2016
The Lord said, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”