"A calling to youth ministry was the farthest thing from my mind all throughout high school as I was focused on what “I” wanted, what would earn me the most money."
I let a lot of people I really looked up to convince me of all of these great careers, and even though it did not feel 100% right about it, I decided to major in exercise science. Now that I had a major, I still had to choose a college, and Huntington University was my top choice. There was the huge issue of money though, but through God’s awesome provisions, I was able to attend Huntington University other than a state school. The summer before my first semester at Huntington, I attended IYC San Antonio, and during that whole conference, I was a ball of emotions. Something was stirring inside of me, and I remember one night while we were debriefing, I broke down. I know now that God was trying to get me to see what He had planned for me, a life devoted to full-time ministry with youth where my selfish desires needed to be put on the back burner. Not getting this fully though, I went into college with the same major. Within the first few weeks of being at school, I began to meet a plethora of people who were either ministry majors, or ministry professors. God began to uncover my eyes to His call for me through these people. The feelings I felt inside of me were unbearable, and I knew that where I was heading in life did not include what I thought it would previously. So, after talking and praying with my parents, best friend, and my youth pastor Matt Gaylor, it was revealed to me that what God had called me to was youth ministry.
From that point on, I started taking ministry classes where I learned more about what it meant to be a good leader, even what it took. As Christmas rolled around, Matt and I began to talk about what it might look like if I interned somewhere that summer. I had in mind just interning at my church, North Webster Church of God, with Matt, but he had quite different plans. As we were sitting down at lunch, he informed he would really love to send me down to Florida first to Bayside Church of God to intern with Chip Taylor. My face probably said a million things. To say the least, I was petrified. I was scared of not only moving to a different state for 3 months where I knew NOBODY, but Satan tried feeding me lies about myself that aided in doubting my own abilities or why I was even called to begin with. I remember asking myself “How is God ever going to use me?” Going down to Florida though, not only was a big step in faith, but a huge trial run of how I would work in youth ministry.
My summer in Florida was by far the best summer, and experience, of my life. God continued to show me who He had made me to be, and how He was going to use every part of me to better His kingdom. Those parts of my characteristics and personality that I had questioned before as to how they would mesh in ministry were faded fears as the summer went on. If I would have let fear get the best of me, or even whole-heartedly believed Satan’s lies, I would have missed out on so much that God had planned for me. I not only learned a lot about how ministry operates, but I learned the most about me and how I operate. Letting me be completely the woman God has made me has never been the easiest as I am too much of a people-pleaser, but being with those Bayside kids all summer, having great mentors, and letting the Spirit lead my life instead of myself brought out all of the Emily Swartz God knew I was. He stoked so many passions within me that I never wanted the summer to be over.
I truly do not know where the rest of my years will lead, but I do know that I serve a huge God who does. He has awesome things planned, not just for my life, but for anybody who will allow Him to move. It’s not the easiest concept to grasp, as I am still working on it as well, but if we do, we will go far on His strength and provisions. I am so excited to see what happens in these next few years, and for God to use me to help aid in changing this world. There is a song by Starfield that really says how I feel as it sing, “I will go, I will go, I will go Lord send me. To the world, to the lost, to the poor and hungry. Take everything I am, I am clay within your hands. I will go, I will go. Send Me.” I still have much to learn, but as this song beautifully describes, I am not scared anymore of where God is sending me. Just like He made my experience in Florida unforgettable, He will open more doors for me to walk through.