Encounter Revival Ministries imposed the solid, Christ-centered foundation that I needed to proceed with the rest of my adult life as His follower.

The Importance of Discipleship

I often refer to my experience with Encounter Revival Ministries with great fondness. My 2007-2008 commission to the Encounter team was unarguably the most challenging, formative and most gratifying year of my life. I will forever be grateful to Encounter for the exceptional scope of services that were provided to me within the contexts of Biblical discipleship: solid, Christ-centered friendships (still intact today), invaluable life skills that allowed me to enter college and the workforce with great ease, and the personal growth that comes from being pushed beyond my own comfort zones.

Before reaching my 19th birthday, I had the opportunity to trek half-way around the world and minister to a multitude of Banjari orphans in Hyderabad, India—one of the least-evangelized people groups in the world. I had also toured, alongside approximately twenty-three of my contemporaries, through several U.S. churches, accommodated in host-homes of some very generous, extensively diverse families. We, the “team members”, learned how to serve one another and how to serve those around us in a manner reflective of Christ’s own conduct. We were also under the daily guidance of some of the godliest men and women of the faith I’ve encountered to date.

Ashley sharing Bible stories with Indian children at the orphanage at Banjara Tribal Ministries.

Ashley sharing Bible stories with Indian children at the orphanage at Banjara Tribal Ministries.

While traveling with Encounter, I had come to the realization that in the years prior to joining the team, I had developed a veritably distorted view of God. While nominally, I had claimed to be a born-again Christian saved exclusively by grace, I had persisted in trying to earn God’s favor by effecting habitual works. Exhausted by the burdens of living out a “due diligence” salvation, I had undergone a period of introspective evaluation and consequently, spiritual growth. Witnessing His grace and His mercy in lives of my mentors and my fellow teammates, it became evident that works without love was ultimately a deterrent  in experiencing all that God had to offer me.

Encounter was also a time in which I had discovered, through the encouragement of those around me, the unique gifts that God had bestowed upon me for ministry. Various components of ERM allowed me to foster a significant skill set in the way of communication and Biblical counseling that have guided the course of my life in the succeeding years. 

I also felt compelled throughout the Encounter travel year to explore the possibility of pursuing a helping profession and the opportunity to be a cabin leader at Mt. Lou San Bible Camp solidified this interest. Six years later, I am pleased to report that I continue to correspond with a portion of the girls assigned to my cabin. To know that I, by way of the grace of God, made a positive impact on any individual’s life is deeply rewarding.

Following my tenure with Encounter, I returned home to Rochester, New York and attained a Bachelor of Arts in Communication with a concentration in Psychology. In recent months, I have felt the Lord’s leading to enroll in graduate school and ultimately “finish what I started.” Certain of a calling to work with children and adolescents in a setting familiar to them, I am working toward a Master of Science in School Psychology. Each day, I grow more excited to enter the field and glorify the Lord in this unique and dynamic role.

It is hard to believe that it has been seven years since I initially traveled to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania to embark on the adventure that had essentially “started it all.” Encounter Revival Ministries imposed the solid, Christ-centered foundation that I needed to proceed with the rest of my adult life as His follower. I am so thankful for that opportunity and if given the chance, I would do it all over again without hesitation.

This article is just one of many stories from hundreds of lives changed during their time with the Encounter Team. The discipleship ministry that occurs on the Encounter Team is funded by those who generously strengthen the general fund of Encounter through LIFE-CHANGERS. You can have a part in life-change and discipleship of future Encounter Team Members! To learn more about LIFE-CHANGERS, click here.