(One) Life at the Institute

A Reflection by Josie Lyn Putnam, 
First Year Student

There is a hunger in the human heart for adventure. I’ve learned this from the countless stories and comments told to me as I began a journey last summer. A journey that would eventually lead me, by the grace of God, to Global Outreach Developments.

As Josie made her way around the country, she stopped to visit friends along the way. In Nashville, she stopped to see a friend of the family, Austin Bennecker, a member of G.O.D. International. The rest is history. 

As Josie made her way around the country, she stopped to visit friends along the way. In Nashville, she stopped to see a friend of the family, Austin Bennecker, a member of G.O.D. International. The rest is history. 

As I began to tell my friends and family last spring about my plans to sell everything and travel around the country from park-to-park in a little trailer, I think I was unprepared for some of the responses I would receive. I could see it in their eyes; my decision to leave forced others to reason or reminisce on their own decisions to stay put.

The questions I was asking myself in light of the journey I planned to make weren’t easy. “I have to challenge the girl I'd always known in the unknown. I have to trust God with who he's calling me to be. I want the purpose and passion that stirs in me to come ablaze when fanned in the trials of a truly adventurous life. I don't want to know all that I know now and have it be enough. The little miracles in my life point to the greater ones just behind the door - the ones you find when you walk through it even though you have no idea where you are going.” I wrote down these convictions God put on my heart as I made preparations last summer.

What did Jesus mean, really, when he asked us to deny our self, take up our cross and follow Him? “What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self?” (Luke 9:23-25).

I left home with no idea where I was going to end up. I was tired of running the treadmill of this world, my heart was getting nowhere that way. I wanted life, and life more abundant. I was done letting fear bind me to false securities. I prayed to God that there was more. I can say,  without a doubt, that there is more being done here at G.O.D.

I have had some great discussions with Katie Dunning, a mother of two, and community member at G.O.D. She has been a great friend, among many, who have encouraged me as a newbie at the Institute here. She put it well when she said that first coming to G.O.D. is a lot like collapsing into the arms of Jesus. When I arrived in January I had no clue what this place was, but I could feel God’s presence here, I could feel His presence in the hearts of people. That human thirst for adventure is being satisfied in Jesus’ arms because that’s the sort of life you encounter when you put your faith in Him. It is an adventure that is not self-serving, but one that wills itself to find security in and direction from God, not the world; and God is so faithful.

Like other students at the Institute, Josie volunteers on a regular basis. Every week, she contributes time in our community garden, offers her skills as a graphic designer, and is being trained as a barista at our coffee bar.

Like other students at the Institute, Josie volunteers on a regular basis. Every week, she contributes time in our community garden, offers her skills as a graphic designer, and is being trained as a barista at our coffee bar.

 

 

Within a week of my arrival here, God demonstrated his faithfulness. He provided financially, enabling me to begin classes at the Institute and prepare to intern in the Philippines this summer. He provided a home for me in student housing. He provided opportunity to use my skills in design and media. Now he continues to work on my heart as a student, revealing ways that he wants to heal and grow me for his purposes. I’m learning to step off the treadmill, step outside and set foot for the race which God has called me, to which there is so much life. That process is not perfect or effortless. What I’ve discovered, though, is there are friends all around me determined to run the race for Christ, they are running right along side me.

The Bible classes I’m taking this semester are challenging me to look at God’s word and truly examine what it is saying about His character. I am challenged, along with my peers, to consider why I believe what I do, be able to articulate it, and put it into action. This includes not only who God is through His Word, but also who He is through me. We have an opportunity to live in community and be shaped by the quality of our interactions with one another on a daily basis - what a blessing!

Listening to story after story of God’s redemptive power in the lives of people here gives me hope; when we arrive ready to collapse into the arms of Jesus, He is faithful. He gives us the strength to run the race and teaches us how to live like He did along the way. I’m humbled and excited to have found a community of amazing people to live life with on that adventure.