If you ask me what I did during my summer internship, I couldn’t give you any flashy stories. I didn’t take a life-changing mission trip, leave the country, or start a new program. This summer, my fourth as an intern in a church and my second at Tabernacle, felt very different than the first three. The first three summers, I felt like I was doing all of the things a minister should be doing—planning, taking children to camp, VBS, visiting—but I didn’t always feel that I was actually being a minister. This summer, I did those things, but instead of structuring my summer around them, I began to ask the question, “What would it look like for me to be a minister in this moment?” As a result, something surprising happened. Instead of two or three large trips defining my summer, the smaller, everyday ministry that took place grew to be equally as meaningful as the larger events, and for the first time, I felt like I was actually serving as a minister.

  • Moments like driving the van and suddenly finding myself engaged in a conversation with some of our students about the nature of heaven and God’s love,
  • encouraging our children and youth as they discovered gifts at camp and expressed a desire to use them back home, and sharing pie with a church member
  • and listening as she described the ways that God is igniting a passion in her for ministering to our homeless brothers and sisters are the ones where I felt God’s hand guiding us forward.
  • I’ll carry with me the visits I’ve made with a 93 year-old church member and the precious moments we shared talking about her love of gardening and vine-ripe tomatoes, her enduring faith, and her love of Tabernacle.
  • Each time I remember Judy and four of our youth discovering that the fruit they purchased for the Mini Burmese Food Festival was actually the durian, also known as the “stinky fruit,” I will smile and think of the many ways God surprised us all this summer and the ways our willingness to say “Yes!” even when the outcome is uncertain has become a wonderful witness to faith and trust in God’s provision.

This summer, when I was unsure or confused, your courage and steadfast commitment to Christ and to one another reminded me that God would see me and us through this season and strengthened me on my journey.

So, if you ask me what I did this summer, don’t be surprised if I start telling you a seemingly random story about the time a child’s sidewalk chalk drawing helped me see the Gospel in a whole new light or the ways Legos have enriched our children’s understanding of Jesus’ teachings recorded in Luke. The Spirit moved while we were at camp in miraculous ways, but the Spirit equally stirred up my own passions in the comings and goings each day in the church office, in our conversations Sunday mornings, and in your words of encouragement along the way. Thank you all for your trust and for your willingness to let me serve you this summer. I’m looking forward to a great year with you beginning in September!


Julie Gaines

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