MEET SHANNON HOEY: she gave a bold yes, spent her summers serving, & learned that serving others is gift.
What led you to decide to spend your summers interning?
Truthfully, I think it was 100% a God thing. Student ministry was something I always thought looked fun, but I thought I didn’t have the personality for it. But I felt God laying it on my heart my freshman year. I told a few people about it as I continued to pray about it, and then God started opening doors, by having influential people in my life affirm that I should apply. The summer after my freshman year was life-changing! I grew more than I ever thought I would, and God showed me that ministry doesn’t require a certain personality—God can’t be boxed in by our doubts! He also revealed to me a passion for student ministry that I never knew I had. I delight in being a part of middle and high school students coming to to know and growing in the love of Jesus! That first summer led me to do it again the next summer, since I’d built relationships with the students there, and I saw God move in such big ways that first summer!
While interning, you spent time working to bridge racial divides
and serving refugees. How did this experience shape you?
I did, yes! The student ministry I interned with went on a mission trip to St. Louis, Missouri, with our high school students, where we served with a church called New City Fellowship. It was such an eye-opening experience for me. We learned so much about the history of the city, and how there is still a stark division between races within the city. I think what impacted me most was being reminded that the practical expression of love is to simply get in there and help, to actually enter into the mess, not just hold up signs and stand on the sidelines. God softened my heart on that trip, and reminded me that by the gospel, we have the FREEDOM to love, to enter into the difficult places because that’s what Jesus did and does for us.
What did you learn about the Lord through your internships?
I learned that God cares about reconciliation FAR more than we ever will, and it’s by His grace that we get to be a part of His wonderful plans! He reminded me that hard lessons produce soft hearts. He taught me that His plans are far bigger than my expectations. He lovingly showed me His grace and kindness through my bosses. He laid new passions on my heart that honestly altered my whole career path, and I am so thankful for it because it’s a reminder that His ways are far higher than ours! He showed me that I have a huge heart for middle and high school students, and I’m excited to see where He leads me in that!
What advice do you have for someone who wants to work with students?
I would say that first, if you doubt that you might “have what it takes,” God can and will use you! I tend to be more on the quieter side, and I always thought that people in student ministry have to have gregarious personalities. But not every student is super extroverted either! Intentional listening and patience go a long way. There will be times when it seems that no fruit is being produced, but just remember, you might be the one who plants the seed, and later on in their lives, God will place someone else who will walk with them! Someone once told me, “students don’t need one more voice in their lives telling them what they should or shouldn’t do, who they should or shouldn’t be. They need someone who will see them and love them right where they’re at.” Working with students, we get to point them to a Jesus that doesn’t expect them to meet all the standards, but a Jesus that loves them so deeply just as they are! Also, just a heads up, they might just steal your heart. 🙂
What’s one thing you wish everyone knew about serving others?
I would say that God doesn’t love you any more or any less by the amount that you serve others—it’s a gift He invites us into by the gospel. We have the opportunity to share the love of Jesus by taking action, by seeking to meet the needs of others with our plenty. Serving others is a practical application of Ephesians 5:1-2, “be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.” Serving others is a gift, not a requirement, and God reveals so much of His character through the process! The freedom of the gospel is the invitation to go love others!
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