5 Lessons My Internship in New York City Taught Me About Living Out Your Faith
My name is Micaela Eberly, and I study Journalism and French at Grace. This summer, I was a Multi-Media Intern with the nonprofit organization International Project in New York City. International Projects spreads the Gospel and plants churches among unreached people groups. I was in charge of social media and website content for both the organization and their thrift store.
While I was excited to use my journalism skills in a professional setting, I quickly learned there was more to the internship than typing on a computer or scrolling through social media. God used this summer to grow me in my faith and draw me closer to Him. Here are five lessons I learned about living out your faith.
1. You Need Humility.
Early on, I learned the power of Shema statements, a new concept for me. A Shema statement is a way to naturally bring up Christianity in a conversation. It could be, “I was running late for work, but thank God, I hit only green lights” or “What you said reminds me of a story from the Bible.” It is a way of living out your faith so it doesn’t feel like we were ambushing others when we brought up the Gospel later.
One of the ways we started conversations on the streets was by asking if we could pray for people. This worked well because even if someone was not religious, they often appreciated that we cared, and it doubled as a Shema statement. In the end, if we tried to share the Gospel and they didn’t want to hear it, it was still a success to pray with them.
The concept of Shema statements was hard for me to grasp at first. I grew up in a Christian home, and because we were mainly around other believers, we didn’t need to work God into our conversations. When I learned to regularly point glory to God, it was humbling to remember that God deserves all praise. The more I said His name out loud, the more I remembered that it was with His blessing that I was able to accomplish these things. Humility became the foundation for how I approached living out faith this summer.
2. It’s Okay if You’re Timid.
If someone told me before I started the internship that I would be evangelizing, I wouldn’t have believed it. I’m a naturally timid person and am anxious in social situations, so approaching strangers on the street is not what comes to mind when I think of living out your faith.
International Projects host what they call Seed Weeks. People come from across the country to participate in weeklong evangelism training. In order to promote International Project on social media and our website, I had to understand what they do, so I participated in the first Seed Week.
I was nervous going into it, and on the first day, I let my partner do most of the talking. Every time she suggested I start a conversation, I couldn’t get the courage to do it. The second day, I was partnered with another intern, and we spent the day praying in front of mosques and churches. I was more comfortable praying for people than talking to them, but I still felt God calling me to go deeper.
The third day of Seed Week, I was with a new partner who had been on a Seed Week before. She encouraged me in my fear, and with God’s nudge, I was able to start a few conversations. Most of the people we spoke with were appreciative that we wanted to pray for them, and we got to encourage some people in their difficulties. I left feeling more confident in my ability to practice living out faith. If God could use a timid person like me, He could use anyone.
3. God Speaks in Many Ways.
Throughout my time in New York, I learned to hear God’s voice in new ways. One unique experience was attending a house church. During our worship time one week, we were encouraged to listen for God’s voice, but instead of listening for what God wanted us to know, we were listening for what we should share with others.
I felt a message on my heart, but the timidity and fear came flooding back. Then, I thought about how I would feel if someone shared a message from God with me, so I took the step.
I told a mom in the group she was doing a great job as a mother. She started to cry as she explained how God had been pointing out her sin and she was thankful He was encouraging her in other ways. I never thought the Lord would use me, one of the youngest ones there, for something so important. It taught me that as long as I’m committed to living out faith, God can use me for whatever He wants.
That wasn’t the last time God used me to share with others. One night, I had a dream about a coworker, and when I shared it with her, it was clear it was from God. I was honored He spoke through me, and I hope that He continues to guide her.
I believe this internship made me more sensitive to the different ways of living out your faith, especially as I was surrounded by people committed to the Lord. Because I was aware of how God was working in all of our lives, I was more open to the new ways He was specifically speaking to me.
4. Trust God When He Guides You.
I had some hesitations about the internship in the beginning, and I don’t think I understood just how much it would teach me about living out your faith. The idea of spending two months in New York City was exciting but also scary, and I had to raise money to cover the cost of housing and food. Despite these challenges, I knew God was calling me to this, and I trusted He would provide. By the time I got to NYC, I still had hesitations, but God in His kindness confirmed I was where I was meant to be.
As a French major, I’m always excited when I hear others speak French or get to speak it myself. In the first few weeks, I spoke French with three people, two of whom were native French speakers. Many other times I heard people speak French, and I even found a French bookstore in the French Embassy and a cute French café.
The fact that I was able to satisfy the French-loving side of me was so special. It helped me see how God was confirming I was right where He wanted me to be, and I am so glad I trusted Him on this journey of living out faith.
5. All Work Can Glorify God.
While I was interning, I was in charge of social media and website content. Because no one else was working in communications, I was given complete freedom in what to write and post. It was also helpful to work on social media for both the organization and the thrift store because I could compare which style I liked better.
Although working on a marketing team would have allowed me to get content out faster, I enjoyed the opportunity to try out new skills like graphic design. I took a class on social media marketing at Grace, but having the hands-on experience to plan, write, design, and schedule posts all on my own was such a valuable experience. I loved being able to apply the skills I already learned at Grace and build on that knowledge.
I quickly learned how my job fit within the organization. I didn’t always see writing as a direct way of living out my faith, but that changed with this internship. When I continued to share posts on social media, I could encourage others to participate in our ministry opportunities. The more people we had doing that work, the more lives we could touch with the Gospel. I wasn’t doing ministry directly, but I still played a part in the ministry work of my organization.
I first heard about International Project at Grace’s Conference on Mission last fall. I always thought the conference was only for ministry students, but I am so glad I learned firsthand that isn’t true.
The missions conference is just one of many opportunities Grace students have to get connected with internships or jobs. Read more about how internships at Grace prepare you for living out your faith in your future career.