by Amanda De Santis - posted Tuesday August 15, 2017
I like helping people.
It’s not an uncommon sentiment, but as I prepared to graduate from university and find a job, it became clear to me my passion was, and is, to help people grow in their spiritual journey and walk with Jesus more closely. This desire led to working with The Navigators.
Although I like speaking to groups, I find the most meaningful encounters for me are the one-on-one conversations I have with individuals. I enjoy getting to know someone and building a relationship that allows us to be open with one another about our lives. I’m always hoping to bring the Bible into our conversation during these moments because it often brings opportunities for encouragement and loving challenge.
Although much of my time is spent discipling students at McMaster University, there have been a couple women I’ve met in different contexts who God called me to meet with and disciple.
This was the case for Andrea and me.
For several Sundays, people had tried to introduce us, but we kept missing each other. She was new to the church and had questions about the Christian faith - too many for a Sunday morning. She was hoping for someone to sit down with her one-on-one.
The pastor asked me if I would be interested in doing this – I was so excited and honoured she asked me. This is what I believe God has called me to do!
We began meeting weekly at the beginning of May and the more we met, the clearer it became to me God was calling her to Him. She was new to church and came with many pre-conceived ideas about God that she wanted to test against the Bible and what it said.
She had heard she should surrender her life to God, but she always pictured Him as this unknown higher power. She didn’t want to surrender her life to something she didn’t understand or know, which makes complete sense! She had heard people talk about having a personal relationship with God and thought this was something she wanted for herself.
But she also wanted to make sure God was someone she actually liked first.
Andrea experienced a variety of “coincidences” that were leading her toward God such as being invited to a parenting group put on by a church, being invited to a church service and listening to sermons she felt spoke directly to her.
She began reading the Bible and, through our discussions, saw how it applied to her life. She was given a children’s Bible that she started reading with her kids. She also started praying with them. This shared faith exploration with her children started to make it all much more real.
Although she had prayed alone before, it was a completely different experience when she started to pray openly with her children. She began seeing how God wanted to be part of her whole life and how He offered so much more than a listening ear when she wanted His help.
Andrea was seeking truth and God wanted her to find Him. I shared with her Jesus’ words, "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you." Over the next several weeks, I witnessed her seeking and God revealing a little more of Himself to her.
To earn the title of “Christian,” she thought she had to be perfect. She had a past she thought might make her unacceptable to God and other Christians. She was worried about being judged.
During our times together, we discussed these different fears. Some of them were easier to address than others. Perfect Christians? They don’t exist. We read stories in the Bible that showed how even the most praised men and women of God were nowhere close to perfect. I also shared with her some of the things I struggle with.
We talked about how God is not a person we need to clean ourselves up for before we can see Him. Instead, He comes and sits with us in our messes.
She also came to realize she didn’t need to worry about being judged by other Christians. Although it’s possible she may encounter negative judgement, most Christians are aware of their own sin and need for forgiveness.
She wanted to know what “becoming a Christian” looked like. We talked about Christian living and I told her how she could pray to God and surrender her life to Him.
After thinking this over for a few days, she decided the God she had learned about and gotten to know over the past several weeks was one with whom she truly wanted a personal relationship.
She believed He was trustworthy enough to surrender her life to, no matter what her future might look like.
On June 12, 2017, a little more than a month since we first met, I prayed with Andrea as she committed her life to Jesus. It was such an honour to be with her at the beginning of this new stage in her spiritual journey.
We’ve continued to meet together as she and God build a foundation for her new faith to grow. The Bible is still an intimidating book for her, and she continues to have many questions. Together we are exploring more of the Bible, and as we go, I will continue to show her resources and skills to help her when she reads it on her own. We talk about becoming aware of God’s presence and His voice in our lives and praying for the people God is calling her to share her faith with.
As she takes the next steps in this new identity, she is also leading her children in faith. They start their mornings by praying together and end their day with a story from the Bible. She has also noticed they have begun to ask questions as things come up about God. She has had the joy of witnessing their faith starting to grow in little things, like a scrape they prayed for being healed and attributing it to Jesus.
As a Navigator, I see great value in deeply investing in people so they too will invest deeply in others. I desire to see God raise up spiritual generations of people as they come to know Him, grow in their faith and journey alongside others.
This is the beginning of Andrea’s new life as she starts to disciple her children. I will be praying for God to bring about faithfulness in her children and for those He will want to reach through them.
Amanda De Santis has worked as a local missionary with The Navigators since 2009. She lives in Hamilton with her husband Jamie and son Gabriel.