Hi Redemption Church! I’m Marissa Mitev. I was born and raised in Florida, but I felt God calling me to UBC for university, and so I have been living in Vancouver since August of last year. It’s been quite the shift from the Sunshine State to Raincouver, but my time spent here has been an amazing period of growth and learning due to the communities I’ve found! This summer I’ve had the blessing of serving as an intern for the Family Ministry here at Redemption Church. I am writing to share with you about the experiences I’ve had and what the Lord has shown me as I’ve reflected on the summer.
I began attending Redemption Church in October of 2014 after being invited by friends I’d made through UBC’s University Christian Ministry. Walking into Redemption, I immediately felt a sense of deep community where people really loved each other and most of all, loved Jesus; I felt at home. I also really admired the intergenerational focus in Redemption’s ministries. I recognized how this intergenerational focus matched the desire I’ve had to be intentionally discipled since coming to Christ five years ago. Looking at scripture it was clear to me that being open to teaching and wisdom from others is vital to a walk with Christ. “All scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work” (2 Tim 3:16-17).
As the school term came to a close, I had my palms open to receive from the Lord what He wanted to teach me, and my heart open to growth. I knew God had called me to stay in Vancouver after He made it clear that the plans I’d had to spend the summer in Florida were not going to come to pass. In my prayers for discernment about what God was inviting me into, I felt God nudging me to invest more in the Redemption community. I began to feel the Spirit prompting me to get more involved this summer - a time where I could dig in deeper at Redemption without the busyness of a university schedule. This process eventually led me to approach Lisl and ask whether I could intern for her specifically; I had felt God place Lisl specifically on my heart because I admired her faith and joyful spirit. Following our conversation we met several times to get to know each other, dream together, plan, and pray and discern whether this internship was what God was planning for our summers. After our time of discernment, we decided that this internship was from the Lord and I began as a Family Ministry Intern on June 1st! Not only was this the start of a pathway into deeper community at Redemption, but I found that this also blessed me with the gift of discipleship I had been praying for.
In my daily roles, one of my favourite tasks was coordinating for the Summer of Stories program. The Summer of Stories was an emphasis for the months of June and July for the kids’ church and preteens classes. Adults from the Redemption community were invited to come and share a Bible story that connected to their personal testimony with the kids and preteens. One of my roles in this program was to connect the invited guest with the kids’ church or preteen teachers for that week and ensure that all instructions were clear. This allowed me the awesome privilege to get to meet more of the adults in the Redemption community and hear their personal stories of God’s faithfulness. I loved working on this program because of how beautifully it demonstrated God’s love for community and His people as a whole (of all ages and maturities). The Summer of Stories allowed for all involved to better visualize how the church is meant to be a family where different generations can learn from and support one another in love. When we retell our stories and connect them to His big story, we’re better able to see how we are all meant to be the Potter’s clay that is shaped to look more like Him. Stories remind us that God works with each of us no matter how messy we can be.
Another task I loved was taking notes at Family Advisory Committee Meetings. The Family Advisory Committee (FAC) is a committee that meets regularly to plan, brainstorm, and pray for the family ministry in order to ensure that the ministry stays on track with its goal “to love, teach and nurture our children and youth into becoming faithful disciples of Jesus." These meetings are powerhouses for our church family. I was so inspired listening to ideas poured out about how we can help our kids to have their own personal relationship with Jesus from a young age that is sustained throughout adolescence and into adulthood. The way that this committee cares so deeply for all ages in our church from babies to grandparents is beautiful. Boxes I’d put up about kids being too young to understand the reality of a relationship with Christ were completely torn down by the stories told at FAC meetings about God giving our very young ones visions and dreams. FAC meetings showed me the importance of setting goals that we believe in and allowing the Holy Spirit room to place in our hearts and minds practical ways to accomplish these goals.
One of the most eye-opening parts of my internship was my time spent in staff meetings. Staff meetings showed me the true heart behind the decisions made at Redemption. I saw that all important church decisions, such as relating to the Sunday service, church community gatherings, and church space usage, are all rooted in prayer, with a heart that seeks to bless the Redemption community and pull them closer to Christ while making Him known in the city of Vancouver. As Ravi Zacharias remarks in his book Cries of the Heart, “The church ought to be a place for inner healing and restoration… Nothing brings back feelings of being cared for as much as being in a community that feels. There is hurt and loneliness on a rampant scale today. Nothing will speak to our society as much as a community that reaches out with the love of Christ." I found that the leadership of Redemption church is making decisions with these goals in mind - to be a people that loves, that brings healing, and that drives out loneliness with the love of Jesus.
While the whole summer was a time of blessing, the Fine Arts Multiversity was particularly important in establishing my connection with the Redemption family. Spending long hours prepping throughout the weeklong art extravaganza, alongside Aloha Johnson, Lisl, and other volunteers, was both tiring and enriching. Creating a life-size Truffula tree forest together sure has a way of connecting people! Throughout the week, seeing the ideas of the kids come to life in the form of papier mâché, their own rap songs, hip-hop dance moves, and Dr. Seuss drama pieces reminded me of the beautiful creativity that children hold, and the childlike joy and faith they carry with them.
If there is one thing I am taking away with me from this summer it’s that a unified intergenerational community matters and is so important. Those older than me have poured wisdom into me and encouraged me to keep running the race set before me; while the young kiddos have taught me what childlike faith looks like and how much the Father delights in His children.
In final, thank you, Redemption community for pouring into my life this past year. So many of you have spoken words of blessing into my life, lifted me up in prayer, and loved me well, which has given me a true family here in Vancouver. Therefore, Church, I encourage you to continue building one another up and forming intergenerational relationships with a heart and focus of discipleship. The way you love those in our community will impact lives beyond our four walls.