by JoyAnna Hatcher
The worship music jumped and danced around the room as a crowd of USC students poured out praise to God. As the singing died down, there was an announcement for students to receive prayer from a group called the Circuit Riders. "Why not?" I thought. It was Spring Semester 2017 and I was one year away from graduating with a USC degree in Tv and Film Production. That semester, one of anxiety, depression, and serious doubts about my major and life purpose, was coming to a close. As I received prayer for direction and purpose, I felt a sense of calm and peace that had always seemed to be just beyond my fingertips.
The Circuit Riders, I learned, is a ministry that serves colleges and universities around the United States by hosting big worship nights and witnessing to and praying for individual students on campuses. Started through YWAM (Youth With A Mission) about 8 years ago, the Circuit Riders were now a group of young missionaries burning up with the desire to see souls saved and lives changed. While, I admired what they were doing, I never would have described myself as "having a heart" for college aged people. Obviously, I had to do some serious mental acrobatics to be comfortable with my own status as a college aged person. Despite my misgivings, I checked out their 3 week summer training program called 21project and realized that the training was broken up into tracks based on skill set. Media was one of those. It felt like the clouds were parting and heavenly beams of light were busting through. Studying film in a secular environment had left me with a bad taste in my mouth. I didn't want to work in a setting that was not only unethical at times, but sometimes openly hostile towards my faith and lifestyle. Being able to study and engage in media creation with the Circuit Riders seemed like too perfect of an opportunity to pass up and I felt God's hand nudging me in that direction. While my parents, Jill and Jonathan, are amazingly supportive in just about any venture I want to pursue, paying for this quickly approaching program was not something that excited them. In fact, they wanted me to get a summer job instead. I was disappointed in the lack of enthusiasm of my parents but confident that God had called me to 21project for summer 2017, not summer 2018.
I had no idea how the tuition and transportation costs were going to get paid, but I knew I had to trust fully in God. I had to lean on him. A few weeks into summer, things were still up in the air. I had decided to go the flexible route and get a job with my brother selling home security systems in Bakersfield. So there I was, walking door to door while sweating profusely for 8 hours a day in over 110 degree heat. I felt like I was stuck in some kind of biblical 40 day desert experience. Good for soul searching, bad for tan lines. I had been doing this commission based job for 3 weeks without selling anything. Not one thing. I didn't have very much time and I was highly doubtful, not only that people would give me support, but that it would come in time for me to get relatively affordable airplane tickets to the YWAM base in Kona, Hawaii. Despite things not looking good, I held onto what I felt God had pushed me towards.
My 4th week into the job- Monday, and hallelujah, I sold one security system. Tuesday, sold another. Wednesday, and another. A week later I was still selling. I bought the plane tickets. 21project was two weeks away, no tuition had been paid, no letter of support had been written, and I realized that this is the moment where God's divine hand would move and His name glorified. Two days after sending out letters of support, over 80% of tuition had been raised. By the time I flew out, all my financial needs had been covered and I was able to help someone else with a portion of their tuition too. My trip to 21project at the YWAM base in Kona, Hawaii was an unforgettable time of worship, fellowship, and spiritual growth. God's goodness and faithfulness to me as His daughter was illuminated over and over again throughout this entire experience. I have been deeply affected by how my friends, family, and church family poured out blessings on blessings on me. Coming back has had its ups and downs, but through it all God is good. I wake up everyday excited to see what He has in store for not just me, but my entire generation.