Among the stars, I scribbled prayers in a leather-bound journal.
I was squished in a middle seat en route to South Africa. As I settled in for a 16-hour flight, I marveled that I was being entrusted to hold hands with children across the world and listen to their stories.
Last summer, I served as a communications intern for Samaritan’s Purse, an international relief organization. I spent the majority of my time at a desk overlooking the Blue Ridge Mountains at its international headquarters in Boone, North Carolina, but one of my highlights of the internship was traveling to write about shoebox distributions in South Africa.
Operation Christmas Child, a project of Samaritan’s Purse, sends shoeboxes full of toys packed by families in North America to children across the world. My team traveled to Durban, a coastal town at the southernmost tip of Africa. We visited five shoebox distribution sites throughout the week.
Before they received their shoebox, children heard the Gospel. In rural churches across Durban, children bowed their heads to pray—quietly and sincerely. As I saw their eyes flutter and their hands fold, Acts 1:8 echoed in my mind: to the ends of the earth. This prayer was repeatedly the most sacred moment of all. Even though I flew across the sea as a writer, no words can fully capture the beauty of their faith.
Then, cries of sheer joy overwhelmed the small churches as children received their gift, a physical reminder of God’s gift of grace. As the kids opened their boxes, I knelt on the ground beside them, flipped open my notebook and listened to their stories. Countless times, kids received exactly what they had prayed for in their boxes.
Operation Christmas Child is just one of a plethora of projects that Samaritan’s Purse juggles. Samaritan’s Purse provides disaster relief in the U.S. and internationally; operates emergency field hospitals; offers agricultural and vocational training programs in rural villages; provides clean water in developing countries; ministers to military couples; helps children receive heart surgery; and more. In all of its projects, the organization shares the Gospel.
I worked alongside about 30 other interns, including a friend from AU, assisting various departments at headquarters. More than 30 additional interns served at field offices around the world. We learned and grew together, and we enjoyed the summer weekends in the mountains.
As a communications intern, I experienced a little piece of nearly every aspect of the ministry. Every day of my internship looked different. The overarching goal of my role was sharing how God was at work around the world. I wrote articles, helped with social media, worked with the media relations team, and even played a part in producing a podcast. I worked with a team of experienced writers who took time out of their busy schedules to invest in me.
When I sat at my desk to write, I wasn’t just writing for the sake of a good story. I was writing because I saw hopeless people finding hope. I saw pastors look over the horizon of their African village and pray desperately for every heart to know Jesus. I saw homeowners who lost everything in natural disasters but still trusted God’s promises as our teams picked up the broken pieces of their home. I saw God at work—our God who is the same in Anderson and Africa.
When I came to AU three years ago, I had a lot of passion and ambition, but I had no idea what it looked like to be a professional writer. Although I still have a tremendous amount of learning ahead, I have learned skills in craft and critical thinking.
At Anderson, I can personally connect with professors and receive a top-notch education in a Christian context. I have had professional opportunities on-campus and off-campus to implement what I have learned in the classroom. AU has helped me grow as a writer, but it has also given me space to develop my worldview and learn what my Christian faith looks like in the professional world.