By Michelle Lai, Outreach Worker in St. James Town
It was March 2005. I was finishing up my first year of studies at the University of Toronto, and I was looking for a summer job. I had already interviewed for positions at ESL Camps and Toronto day camps, but my heart wasn’t in this job search. Several of my friends from church were going on overseas mission trips that summer, and I desperately wanted to join them. I was a brand new Christian, eager to learn more about God and grow in my faith. The reality was, however, that I couldn’t convince my Chinese, non-Christian father to let me volunteer my time with the church overseas. He had put up with my new faith all year, but this was not negotiable. I needed to pay for school in September, and I needed a job.
One day when I was praying, I begged God to send me overseas. Instead, in the gentle way God works, he gave me peace about staying in Toronto. I was reminded that there were lots of people in Toronto who needed God’s love. Then I did something totally uncreative. I went on Google and searched: “Toronto Christian day camp.” The first hit was Toronto City Mission’s summer internship page.
As I read through the details of the program, I was stunned. You mean I get to have a missions experience AND save money for school at the same time?! Toronto City Mission also had a day camp in my very own community: St. James Town!
I applied for the internship and got the job, but I had no idea how it would change my life. Ten years later, I am a completely different person because of that one summer.
If you are a student yourself, here are three reasons you should consider the internship:
- You will meet amazing people. That summer, I met so many people who are genuinely in love with Jesus. Today, several of them have become my closest friends and mentors. As co-workers in God’s service, we experienced miracles, healing, and so much joy! Furthermore, I could not believe that I was getting paid to hang out with some of the most incredible kids and teens you will ever meet. Camp was so much fun!
- You will grow in your faith. That summer was the beginning of learning how to truly follow God. I learned to recognize God’s voice. I learned to trust him and obey him. Being new to the church, I had no idea how to fundraise, but God provided financially. I didn’t know much about the Bible—let alone lead devotions and teach bible lessons—but God equipped me. God showed me that He is faithful, and nothing is impossible for him. I can honestly say that I trust him more today because of what I experienced ten years ago.
- People around you will grow in faith too. That summer as I witnessed God do incredible things at TCM, I got to share those stories with my church, my friends and my family. As my church friends watched me grow and change, they were inspired to serve God too. Even my family got involved with TCM! By the end of that summer, all three of my siblings came to faith, and three years later, my father accepted Christ too.
If you want to grow in your faith and learn more about God’s purposes for your life, this internship might be for you. I understand the responsibilities that come with being a full-time student, but if you are a student, this might be the BEST time for you to do something like this.