A Reflection from Intern Jenna Dobyns
Jenna Dobyns chose to spend her gap year serving with G.O.D. International. She had a desire to do mission work, specifically in India. We invited Jenna to participate with us in Nashville for the first half of her year. While there, she enrolled in a Bible class, and spent time learning about sustainable models for development and photojournalism, both passions of hers. Now, she’s interning with G.O.D. India. Here, she reflects on the connection between those two parts of her year-long internship.
God teaches us the value of people. In fact, throughout most of the Word, is the message that the people around us are meant to be the most valued. (Just look at the emphasis on neighbor.) The biggest testimony I could give of the presence of God in my life is the way I’ve felt lifted up by those I’ve encountered and the love I’ve felt from the Lord through his people. That remains true across cultural borders.
The aspect of Global Outreach Developments that has always captured me most is it’s intentionality. Where the word teaches us to serve others, G.O.D. understands that serving is a lifestyle and a disposition, not simply an action. They make an effort to represent God’s character in each moment, relationship, and situation. This is such a necessary aspect of our faith and the ministry they do abroad. The model that G.O.D. maintains intentionally ensures a biblically-centered work, people, and service.
G.O.D. maintains a unique connection between our international headquarters in Nashville and each of the regions we serve. Nashville serves as an example and model for our work across the world. What God calls them to do abroad, they learn how to do locally first. Before they try to impress the hearts of others, they work to understand their own. This is critical for technical work such as farming or construction, and also for the work of a life devoted to Christ. In Nashville, G.O.D. nourishes disciples and centers the organization’s purpose in the Word and in the Lord. As a result, they send teams out into the world with open eyes and a heart that responds with God’s Word written on it. One of the greatest things I’ve learned in the past year is how God must prepare our hearts in order to represent His.
As I write this, I sit on the balcony and look out at the skyline of Gurgaon, Haryana in India. I reflect daily on the ways that my time in Nashville prepared me for living in India for six months. My mind, heart and spirit were developed to understand the kind of work that we do, how to interact with people, how to prepare my eyes and heart for what I would see here, and most of all, to fuel a hunger in me for learning God’s word like I’ve never known before.
Living in girls community housing, waking up at 5:30 every morning to get dressed and go downstairs for prayer, learning what it meant to deny fatigue and keep pushing, all represented what I was learning about the character required to do God’s work. I learned the importance of using words in media to humanize the precious people we serve, rather than belittle them. Working in Hopewell Gardens gave me a literal parallel for the way that God grows us as people, and a practical understanding of how to feed people--with produce that is literal and spiritual. The people I met built me up with support and friendship. All of the relationships I made were threaded with the Word, making them even stronger.
And now, I’ve taken all of those lessons and support all the way to India. The preparation translates in very practical ways--now I am able to help develop the rooftop garden here, or understand how to be sensitive to those I’m serve when taking photographs or writing articles. I took with me the ability to be spiritually strong. In moments of stress or change, I am able to respond in prayer or faith that God is taking care of me rather than shutting down or feeling overwhelmed. I know how to lean on my team and community for strength.
Because of how I’ve grown in spending 6 months in Nashville, I am able to look at just the past month in India and see some really sweet fruit. Because of the people God put in my life to take care of me and teach and grow me, I know Him better. I get to wake up each morning with a joyful and grateful heart knowing that I get be a to servant because I have a community that takes the time to be intentional about really getting to know the Lord, then forming their plans around what He would like to do in the world