All my life, God has been preparing me to do great things for Him. So, I’ll start at the beginning.
When I was born, I had profound hearing loss. The reason was that my cochleas weren’t fully formed. A normally-hearing adult has cochleas that turn two and a half times, but my left cochlea only went one and a half times and my right cochlea just one turn. Many or most hair cells were probably missing too. I wore hearing aids until I completely lost my hearing around six years of age. December 22, 1998, I got my first cochlear implant, on my left side, at almost 6.5 years of age. About 9.5 years later, it malfunctioned. Thank God it had a 10-year warranty. Also, it was determined that having two cochlear implants was a “medical necessity” because if a battery went dead or something else happened to just one of them, I would still be able to hear. Thus, I got a replacement for my left implant and a new implant on my right side…for free. This and many other things (like unusually-good electrode-array placement and great speech therapists) are all evidence of God’s providence in my life, getting me to where I am now.
That was about three and a half years ago. Last spring, I went to the BASIC conference, which was a conference of many BASIC (Brothers And Sisters In Christ) groups from around the northeast, the country, and even the world. There, I was finally baptized. I had been baptized as a baby, but that was way before I could possibly make the decision to publicly proclaim my death and resurrection in Jesus. Consequently, for a few years prior, I had been feeling that I still needed to be baptized. When I came up out of the water, I had the greatest joy I’d ever had, and it lasted for weeks. (There was also a great amount of relief as I didn’t have that uncertainty anymore.) That was in the afternoon. In the evening, I was also baptized in the Holy Spirit. Immediately after that, I could and did speak, sing, and pray in a tongue.
It didn’t stop there though. About seven days later, I (mentally) heard from God for the first time. Up until that point, I hadn’t ever expected or desired to hear from God, so I never did. God asked/said “you love me”. I replied with “Yes God, I love You.” He then said “Feed my sheep.” I replied, “Yes God, I will feed Your sheep.” A few seconds later, I had a WAIT-A-MINUTE! moment when I realized that we had recreated the first part of Jesus’ conversation with Peter. I had a second WAIT-A-MINUTE! moment while brushing my teeth a couple minutes later when I remembered that a very good friend of mine had compared me to Peter on account of my rock-iness. Either that Wednesday or that Sunday, another good friend – who later became a mentor – told me after church that God had told him that He wanted me to lead a small group based on the series that was going to happen at church (based on The Me I Want to Be, by John Ortberg). I was actually surprised at this given that up to this point, I had been content to follow and rarely ever stepped up as a leader. I told him I would pray and ask God about it.
That night, God reminded me of our exchange earlier. I quickly made the connection between leading the small group and feeding His sheep. With that, I told said friend and because of God’s providence, I got the last of their small group study materials. The next five weeks, I lead the small group (which consisted of 1 to 10 [depending on the week] of my fellow BASIC friends) and it went pretty well. That summer (summer of 2012), I was inspired to start and lead a five-week small group based on A. W. Tozer’s book The Pursuit of God. From that, I learned quite a bit as I was producing all of the material (aside from the book) myself in addition to organizing and leading. Before the first small group (The Me I Want to Be), I actually didn’t know that I could be a good leader. So, God used these two experiences to show me that I could indeed lead and lead well.
At the time of writing, I am the treasurer/secretary for my BASIC group here at RIT, one of the three leadership positions. Here, I’m learning valuable skills when it comes to management and organization, which are important for a good leader to have. Also, I learned a couple weeks ago that I am leading by example. That is, when I share mini-testimonies or when I dance/sing/sign (sometimes all three at the same time) during worship, I am setting an example. The way I live is an example of what a life on fire for God looks like.
All this so far has been preparation. Remember what I said at the beginning about my deafness? One of the colleges of RIT is NTID – the National Technical Institute for the Deaf. About 1 out of every 8 students here at RIT is deaf or hard-of-hearing. The only other college with such a high concentration is Gallaudet, which was set up specifically as a college for Deaf students. Anyway, because I am deaf (and becoming more Deaf) while at the same time being able to hear almost as well as a normally-hearing human, I am able to act as a bridge between the Deaf and Hearing communities. I can reach out to both sides and I have good friends on both sides.
In addition, last spring, I prayed to God that He would let me be at the forefront of the revival that is coming to RIT. I look back on that now and see that God basically went “Okay then”, and set to work transforming me from a supremely prideful person who would do damage in the long run to one that could honestly listen to God and lead a revival. Consequently, I had a number of little but significant mental and emotional tweaks. For instance, the idea that leaders serve. Jesus exemplifies this beautifully in John 13:1-17, where He washes His disciples’ feet because He has all authority. True leaders serve the ones they’re “leading”. So, I will serve the people of RIT, and I am proud to serve them.
This time here at RIT is preparation too. If anything, the next two and a half years will be even more preparation than I’ve had in the past twenty. After I graduate, I know my role will be connected to the state of New York and the revival that will be exploding by then. Beyond that, I don’t know anything except that I will go wherever God calls me and I will serve all those that God would have me serve. No matter what my level of leadership, God is and will always be my leader.
A long path of preparation indeed, from birth to the present and into the future. The preparation will not stop until I am face-to-face with Jesus in the flesh, and perhaps not even then.
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