I’ve had a lot of experiences in life for a kid who is only nineteen years of age. God’s taught me many things through experiences such as growing up in my Church, public school, playing sports, working, having many health issues, and the experience of travelling, either due to mission trips or family trips. I know that ‘maturing’ as a person and in Christ is a process, but there have been mile markers in my past that stick out and remind me of the things God has and is teaching me. Studying abroad in Scotland is one of the milestones among the many experiences. I have significantly grown spiritually in a very short time while living in Airdrie, Scotland. The program, the materials that are read, learning a new culture, and living independently physically, yet completely dependent on God, have all contributed to making the Semester in Scotland a true blessing.
The program itself is ‘out of the box.’ It is designed for students to take the opportunity to stop worrying about tests and papers. Instead they are able to read, process, apply, and live out literature that revolves around the Word of God. An opportunity such as reading books based on God’s Word can only result in spiritual growth. That is exactly what happened to me. I read twelve books about theology, evangelism (individually and church wide), Covenanter history, youth ministry, missions, and most importantly, spiritual disciplines. But I did not simply read the words, I processed them. I’ve never scribbled so much in a book in a productive manner ever before. Studying here has completely changed how I view learning. I no longer was learning for grades, but was learning so I could, in return, use that knowledge to honor God by the way I thought and lived. I was able to read in the morning, process in class in the afternoon, apply it to my life, and then live it out in two ways: the programs within the Church and the rugby team I played on. Being able to apply what I’ve learned in order to live it, compared to learning it for a good grade, made all the difference for my life while living in Scotland and my life for years to come.
The Church received Jon and I as family in Christ – open arms. We were housed, fed, and cultured by the willingness and efforts of the people of the congregation, motivated by the love of Christ. I had the privilege to be involved in the Moms and Tots (0-5 yr old), Covenanter Kids (5-preteen), and CY (teens) ministries. Not only do I love serving because it keeps my focus on Christ instead of myself, but this also allowed me to integrate into the Church. I have made great friendships here; many of which were part of the spiritual growth process. Getting to know other Christian teens who grew up in this culture was very encouraging both in my time spent with the rugby team as well as when I got home. Since true devoted Christians are rare in Scotland, I have come to appreciate the Christian community with which God has blessed me in America. For the Christians I’ve come to know and love in Airdrie, I look forward to hearing about how God uses them in Scotland in the future.
I’ve mentioned ‘the rugby team’ a few times now, so let me explain the second way God had me live out what I was learning. I play rugby for Geneva. So, naturally, I wanted to continue to play, and what better place then Scotland, a country that’s been playing the sport for years. Therefore, while in Scotland I played rugby for the University of Glasgow Women’s Rugby Football Club. Every Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday I went from class to the train, train to the subway, the subway to the university, the university bus to the training fields, trained and then did the whole trip in reverse. I must admit that my original intention of taking part in a rugby team was for my own physical benefit, but that quickly changed. God used it for my spiritual benefit. After my first practice, it was clear that I was the only Christian in the midst of about thirty girls. Those girls became real people with a real need of the gospel.
Looking back on the last four months I have realized how much God has used studying in Scotland in my life. I have changed since January 9th 2009, when I arrived in Scotland. I am still the same person – same general likes and dislikes, but my relationship with God has changed; it has positively grown. I will return to Geneva and go back to learning under deadlines and grades, but those elements will no longer be the motivation of my learning. I’ve always liked to do my best work in school in order to honor God, now I can take that one step further. I will continue to learn and do the school work in order to honor God, but I will also take time to process what I have just learned – I will apply it to my life and then I will live it out. That lesson by itself is worth coming to Scotland to study- not to mention the numerous personal spiritual lessons one learns. This program has been a blessing to me. I was given the opportunity, and through the Holy Spirit took it, to read, process, apply, and live books based on God’s Word. Going home will be a transition back into my life in American culture, but the spiritual lessons that I’ve learned will apply to my life anywhere, anytime – that is why the Semester in Scotland program is a milestone in my life.