MEET KATIE ROWLAND: she gave her best YES, found her confidence, and served with love, compassion, and grace.
How do you feel the Lord called you to serve in Chicago doing inner city missions?
I had been serving at my local church for years, but at the end of my junior year of high school, I really began to commit to my relationship with the Lord and strengthening it. I began to find interest in reading the Bible and learning more about the character and heart of our creator. I realized it was time for me to step out of my bubble in Apex, NC, and find more places to share the gospel. Then the high school ministry I was involved in offered a short-term inner-city mission trip through City Service Missions to Chicago, Illinois, I knew in that moment this was something the Lord was calling me to. When I heard about this opportunity, I knew it was an answer-- an answer to the prayers of me asking the Lord where He wanted me to go and share His story. Little did I know, Chicago would only be the beginning of His plans for me in ministry.
What was one fear/hesitation you had when preparing to go out and serve? How did you work through it?
In the preparation for this trip there was a whirlwind of emotions. There was the confidence that I found in the fact that I knew this was something I was called to do and that God was using me. I wish I could say I was always filled with that confidence, but honestly, I also faced lots of doubt. I felt unqualified, and I didn’t think I was capable of making a change. Those thoughts can be so heavy, but I don’t carry those burdens any longer. I know that I serve a God who doesn’t call the qualified; He qualifies the called. I became confident in the fact that if this is something He called me to then He would provide. So I prayed. I gave it all to him, I prayed for strength and confidence to go and serve. The abilities to share the gospel with full faith that He will provide and that He works all things for good. That was one of the first times I experienced the power of prayer, and it’s been something I have clung to since then.
What is something you learned about the community through serving?
Through serving I learned that you don't have to travel far to help others. My experience serving in Chicago was incredible, but it opened my eyes to problems being faced in our own country/community that we often see past. My community banded behind me on my efforts to prepare and go on this trip, and it was about time that I banded behind my community to help them in whatever ways I could. I learned how much the Lord works through prayer and those who serve Him. I had so many hearts just praying for me during my time in Chicago, and it made such a difference. My time in Chicago was super special; I met people that were experiencing different struggles but all came together for one purpose. They came together to seek and know Jesus, with a mission to show others that. I learned the value of serving with love and compassion and that you never know others' stories and what they have walked through behind the scenes. Serve with love, compassion, and grace.
What did you learn about loving and being loved by others through fundraising for your trip?
While I was fundraising, I realized for the first time how much support I had and how many people believed that I could make a difference. This was so helpful when I was struggling with thoughts such as "I can't make a difference", "I feel unequipped", "I don't know if I'm ready for this". I got to combat those statements with the affirmations from others that I was called, equipped, strong, and a light. It is a constant reminder for me that although those toxic thoughts will invade your mind all throughout life, we serve a God who redeems and restores those thoughts. We serve a God that calls us strong, worthy, enough, valued, and perfect. Those are the true affirmations to build your foundations on. I learned that every bit helps, whether it’s prayer, support, donations, buying a t-shirt or sticker-- it all helps. Having spiritual support is just as important as financial support.
If you could tell the world the most important things about serving, what would they be?
I would say go and do. We were called to serve; don't let fear hold you back. God qualifies the ones He calls. Lean on the support of your friends, family, and community. Pray with them because spiritual support is so important. Serve with that love, grace, and compassion that you have received.
No matter how big or how little, you can make an impact. I have fallen in love with serving and sharing the gospel. Whether it’s with a group of kindergarten girls, college kids, or adults, there is nothing sweeter then seeing someone meet Jesus for the first time and getting to walk with them as they seek Him!!
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