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God answered Elizabeth Fish’s pre-summer prayer, “Show me how I can be more involved in ministry.” He led the 20 year old to apply for a paid summer internship called Explore Your Call (EYC). “It was a blast,” she said. Her summer serving at a North Little Rock association confirmed her call to work in children’s ministry. She asked her mentors experienced in that field, “What’s ministry look like for you?”

EYC, supported by the Dixie Jackson Arkansas Missions Offering, is an opportunity for those 25 and under who feel called to ministry. Students work alongside church and associational mentors.

Thirty-five EYC students served across the state, said Rachel Moreno, content manager at the Arkansas Baptist State Convention. Rachel called the mandatory EYC orientation which met at Camp Paron “practical and applicable.” She said the interns learned key skills like how to set boundaries and how to share the gospel.

After orientation, one EYC college junior stayed at Camp Paron to work as their social media producer. Lizzy Stoddard took photos and made videos for the camp’s Instagram and Facebook page. To her, EYC can confirm a call to ministry and affirm God-given gifts. “You grow a lot in your faith,’ she said. “You get to create all these memories and experiences you’ll have for the rest of your life.” The connections made this summer might bear fruit in the future, she said.

That’s what happened for Emily Duncan, said Chris Kohlman, assistant team leader for the College and Young Leaders Team. Emily signed up for EYC (formerly E4Call) in 2016. For two years, she has been Chris’s ministry assistant; she starts next month as an IMB student mobilizer.Chris said the hands-on ministry, week-in\week-out partnership benefits churches and makes mutually beneficial connections like these.

Emily mentored another EYC intern this summer: Washington Madison Baptist Association intern Julia Cox. “Emily was always good to send encouraging texts…I knew if I needed anything, I could go to her,” said Julia. Along with assisting in Vacation Bible Schools for 10 local churches, Julia went to Canada as part of her EYC summer. Her time ministering outside the states will assist her in her future goal to live internationally with Doctors Without Borders.

Jack Buck said his EYC summer will help him with future plans to work with children. This is his second summer as an EYC children’s ministry intern at his church, First Southern Baptist Church in Bryant. He enjoyed working with 5th and 6th graders studying the Bible weekly by using the YouVersion app, an effective tool because the kids are into social media. “My big takeaway is the importance of discipleship,” he said. He also liked being part of a church staff. “The whole staff at First Southern in Bryant is willing to serve,” he said. “I love it!”

Associational Missionary Ernest DeSoto said over half of the 54 churches in Liberty Baptist Association reported no Vacation Bible Schools. EYC interns provide churches youthful vision and energy–especially for outreach, he said. “I hope in the future more churches would embrace (EYC) and more associations too. It’s a beautiful partnership between the state convention and local church.”

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