By Halle Van Vark

In my opinion, the most underrated character of the Bible is Gideon. Have you ever read Judges 6-8? If not or even if you have, go read it now! I’ll wait.  

I resonate with Gideon. His story starts out by making it clear that he’s basically the least of the least. Gideon was hiding & marked by fear when an angel of the Lord came to him and called him “mighty warrior.”  

Sometimes, I feel like Gideon. I feel scared, hiding because I am certain that I am unworthy. Yet there in the lowest place where I’m sure I cannot be found, God comes to me & gives me a high calling. “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior,” He declares, summoning me to something I can only do with Him on my side 

When I was in high school, on top of the challenges that came with trying to find friends & fit in & all the things, I was also still grieving the loss of my older brother. He was killed in a car accident when I was 13 & that was a deep pain that didn’t just go away with time. However, I had several people who loved me hard through that & encouraged me to see God’s goodness amidst a long season of violent hurt. They poured into me persistently enough for me to establish a foundation of faith that carried me through high school & into college. God also spoke through them, making it clear that He was calling me to do for other students what they had done for me. God made it clear that He wanted me to pursue a career in youth ministry 

A few months ago, I was approached by a pastor & hired by a local church as their youth pastor. First, what an honor! Second, uhh what?? I’m still a college student who has very little experience (roughly 2 months if we’re counting) of doing actual ministry. I am not qualified for this job!  

The instant that thought ran across my mind, I remembered something a pastor once said: “God does not call qualified people, He qualifies the people He has called.” In Judges 6:14, the angel says to Gideon, “Go in the strength you have…Am I not sending you?” Then, after Gideon questions Him, the Lord says, “But I will be with you.” That is the affirmation I have needed from God.  

It matters zero how unqualified I feel to do the things I’m being called to do. If God is calling me, I’m trusting that He is going to qualify me. Like Gideon, I’m still scared. But I’m doing it afraid & fully believing that I can only overcome each battle with the power of my Lord.  

I have good news, though. The same Holy Spirit that rose our crucified King from the grave is within me, too. I am worthy of the calling God has placed on my life. I will choose to trust Him & live out my calling, even if I have to do it afraid. He’ll show up in big ways & I’ll realize that He’s qualifying me to glorify Him every single day. 

By Ben Pirrie

I am not what you would call a “typical” college student. Unlike most people I did not come straight from high school. After high school, I immediately joined the Army as an infantryman. I spent 3½ years on active duty, most of that time being at Fort Irwin in California. Unlike the California you might imagine, Fort Irwin is smack dab in the middle of the Mojave Desert, and resembled the Middle East in most ways. The base existed to train units to go to war, and we were used as OPFOR (opposing force). Our lives were an excruciating endless cycle consisting of 2 weeks of training in the desert and then 2 weeks preparing to go

When I arrived at Fort Irwin I was immediately shoved into the endless cycle of training. With a lack of friends and being 1500 miles from family, I began to be crushed by the weight of it all. I fell into severe depression and lost all hope in myself and God. I tried nearly everything to feel better which mostly involved using alcohol to solve my problems. This only made things worse, and I just wanted to end it all and escape the pain. I went from wanting to go to church every Sunday to never even wanting to think about God. I was angry at God and blamed him for everything; this, however, doesn’t mean God forgot about me. 

Most weeks I would call my mom, as it made me feel less lonely. She had no idea what I was struggling with and didn’t know that I stopped going to church. One Saturday while on the phone with my mom, she asked if I was going to church the next day. I lied and said yes and continued talking about other things. After I hung up, I felt guilty for lying to my mom, so I made an agreement with myself I would go to church if I woke up in time to go. For the first time in months I just so happened to wake up before church started. I begrudgingly got up and headed to church. I can’t tell you what the sermon was about, I just remember sitting in the back and wanting it to be over quickly. 

Once church got over, I immediately booked it out of there, or at least I tried. Before I got to the door this nerdy-looking man stepped in front of me and introduced himself as Stephen. Stephen goes on to nicely ask me to go to a bible study, and I said “yes” – only because I wanted to get out of there. He was clever and got my number before I escaped. On Tuesday night I got a phone call from the leader of the group telling me they got me a ride and that they will be in the parking lot outside my building in an hour. And for some reason I can only attribute to God, I got in the car and went. 

The men of the bible study began to show me something that no one else had showed me in months, that they cared about me. Stephen especially showed this to me as he willingly spent many late nights talking to me about my struggles and God. I had never had someone care about me as much as Stephen did. He became my best friend and my mentor. Through this discipleship and Godly love, I was brought back to God. 

I credit myself being here today because of Stephen and his boldness to act and reach out to me. In Matthew 28:19 we are told to “go and make disciples”, and Stephen was an amazing example of this. He not only stepped out to bring me to Christ, but he then discipled me for almost 2 years. This stranger-turned-friend showed me that we all have the capability to do this, and that you could make an amazing difference in someone’s life. Stephen told me some time ago that I was the first person he ever reached out to when God pulled on his heart, and I am thankful every day that he listened to Him. I now want and try to live my life seeking out those who are lost, in the hope that I can be a Stephen to someone else.