Two days shy of my fifteenth birthday, my parents dropped me off at a church in eastern Pennsylvania for my first Spoke Folk tour. I didn’t know anyone who had ever done Spoke Folk, so I was a little anxious. But, I was excited at the same time. I had researched Spoke Folk on my own and convinced my parents that this is what I should with two weeks of my summer.
If I’m honest though, my motives weren’t entirely pure. While I was truly interested in Spoke Folk, I was more interested in international missions. However, I knew my parents wouldn’t let me go to Africa on a mission trip for several weeks without anyone they knew at just 15 years old. I figured if I went several states away on a mission tip for 12 days then I could more easily convince them to let me go overseas the next summer.
God had a bigger plan for Spoke Folk in my life though.
From the moment I walked through the door to start my first Spoke Folk tour, I felt welcome. As people were reconnecting with friends from previous tours, they included me like an old friend and wanted to get to know me too.
As the tour progressed, I saw what living and serving in Christian community truly looks like. Everyone was encouraging as we had early mornings and biked through the mountains. Unprompted, people voluntarily helped with the tasks of others, taking on a servant’s attitude. There was laughter and joy in small moments. Worship at evening devotions was filled with passion.
Psalm 133 begins with these words, “How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!”
And, good it was. I’d never seen a group of regular people so excited for the Lord and dedicated to following him. The experience of being a part of this community inspired me to take my relationship with God more seriously at home.
While a grew up in a wonderful church, I had a small-town perspective of the body of Christ. Going on Spoke Folk allowed me to meet Christians my own age from across the country and see the bigger picture of his kingdom. The relationships I continued with these people off tour sustained my faith over the course of the year.
And, then I felt God call me to go on Spoke Folk again and again and again. God used this ministry repeatedly to help take me from the faith of a child to the faith of a mature adult. Every summer, God has taught me something new and deepened my relationship with him.
Over the last 12 years, I’ve gone on nine Spoke Folk tours, each unique and meaningful in my faith walk its own way. At 15, I would have never guessed that I’d still be a part of Spoke Folk, but God knew what I needed to grow in relationship with him. I was 26 before I went on an international mission trip, and it was just the right time for that too. Thanks be to God for his perfect timing and his plans that are greater than my own.