ABSC summer interns reflect on experience 

Left to right: Kyla Burnett, Riley Haile, Jonathan McEndree, Hannah Coffman

Four college students worked with the Evangelism+Church Health Team of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention during the summer. Each of the four recently sat down and reflected on their experiences as their time comes to a close and they prepare to return to school.  

Warren Gasaway, team leader, said, “Raising up the next generation of leaders will require an intentional, well-developed approach. An internship allows us to pour into those up-and-coming leaders while at the same time staying connected to the heart and thinking of this next generation. The experience with this group has been a tremendous blessing.” 

Hannah Coffman  

I am from northwest Arkansas, and I was so blessed to be raised in church and poured into by Godly influences my entire childhood and adolescent life. I surrendered my life to Jesus in third grade and I began to fall more and more in love with God and His church. The summer before my junior year of high school I was a camper at Super Summer Arkansas and that was where the Lord clearly called me into ministry. I felt like someone was physically grabbing my heart inside my chest, and I fell to my knees and truly knew that God was calling me into ministry. I shakily stood up and accepted God’s calling on my life, not knowing where that would take me, but ready to begin the journey with God right by my side.  

Fast forward just a few years and now I am about to begin my last semester at Ouachita Baptist University. I will graduate with a degree in community and family services and two minors, one in business administration and another in sociology. I feel called to children’s ministry, and I cannot wait to begin working with kids when I graduate.  

Being an intern with the Arkansas Baptist State Convention (ABSC) this summer has been an absolute blessing on my life. I have been given so many opportunities to work, learn, grow, and meet so many amazing people. It has been so encouraging to see all the ways that the Lord is at work and all the things that people are doing to further spread the Gospel.  

One thing I was able to do during this internship was being a staffer at Super Summer Arkansas. I always loved Super Summer, but after God called me to ministry at Super Summer, I could not wait to one day be a staffer. Being a staffer was a true dream of mine and I got to have 10 middle school girls and 12 high school girls in my two family groups throughout the week. I got to see so much life change, including my youngest brother, who surrendered his life to Jesus.  

The biggest lesson God has taught me this summer is to be a good steward of the work and people he has entrusted to me. God initially taught me this through the parable of the talents in Matthew 25:14-30, and God showed this to me as I worked as an ABSC intern, served at different churches throughout the summer, staffed at Super Summer Arkansas and worked as a PraiseWorks intern. 

 To the ones who are faithful with the work God gives them, then more will be given (verses 21 and 23). I am so incredibly grateful that I got to be an intern with the ABSC this summer because I was able to see how important it is to be a steward of the tasks God has for me. I was able to see God do so many incredible things and I feel that God used this internship to grow me and better prepare me for my call to ministry. 

Kyla Burnett 

I grew up in Vilonia, Arkansas, not going to church until I met the Gasaway family. I was introduced to Super Summer, where I came to know the Lord. Getting to grow in my faith and be in church all these years has brought me some of my best friends today.  

This past year, I felt it was time for me to find a new church home and connect with new people. So, I have been on a journey of finding a church where I can be connected and have a community that will push me in my faith. The Summit Church is one that I have heard lots about and knew it was where I wanted to start my search. All summer I was going to Summit Vilonia and have just recently tried Summit Conway, both two very good churches filled with amazing people. That time has been full of me doing unexpected things for the Lord, and Him using me in ways that I would have never thought.  

This internship was one of the most unexpected opportunities that I have ever had. Looking back, at the end of the semester right in the heat of finals I can clearly see God working in my life.  

I was at a coffee shop studying for finals and I pulled my Bible out to read. I was in the book of Isaiah reading chapter 6, and I hit verse 8, “Then I heard the voice of the Lord asking: Who will I send? Who will go for us? I said: Here I am. Send me.” 

This verse really stuck out to me, I wanted to be one who said, “Here I am Lord, Send me!” It was that same night I got the call about the internship. I knew after talking with my parents that I wanted to take this opportunity, but I waited until after finals to give my decision to Warren [Gasaway]. I knew this was going to be a great opportunity where I would get to meet new people, make connections with people from around the state, and learn more about God and where He wants me to be. 

There have been so many moments of the summer that I will be able to cherish for the rest of my life and be able to look back on and know that God was present in those moments.  

Two of my favorite moments would be from Super Summer and getting to experience Summit’s all staff meeting. Super Summer is something that holds a special place in my heart, somewhere that I know God will show up for students who are lost, and those who are sensing a calling. I got to watch one of my camper’s experience accepting Jesus for the first time. I watched her have this overwhelming joy and love from the Lord. That’s something I will never forget as I got to talk with her after making such a big decision. My other favorite moment of this summer was the Summit all staff meeting, getting to watch a church family truly be one body, coming together to worship and pray for one another. To be a part of something so special really gave me that sense of community. I could feel the presence of the Lord in that room as I prayed and worshiped with them! Two important experiences I know God placed me in for a reason. 

As the internship comes to an end, I can say that God has provided me with relationships that I’ll cherish forever, and friends that I can now watch to see how God works in the rest of their lives. He is truly so good and is working in so many ways that we don’t see! 

Jonathan McEndree 

I am from Fort Worth, Texas, and I am going into my second year at Ouachita Baptist University (OBU). I grew up in the church with a family that was faithful to teach me the Gospel and was saved by Jesus at a young age. God revealed himself to me at age 6 when I realized my desperate need to be saved and surrendered my life to Jesus. Later in my middle school and early high school years I started to realize God had placed a call to ministry on my life. As I began to wrestle with this call, God placed faithful leaders in my life to guide me in His word. I eventually came to the understanding that God was calling me to worship ministry, and I was to focus my efforts on growing in this area.  

Due to this realization, I started working on my worship studies degree at OBU where I have already grown so much not only in my call to ministry, but also in my walk with Christ. I have not only been given opportunities to lead and teach, such as serving as the interim worship minister for First Baptist Church in Camden but have also been poured into by countless people. If it were not for the faithful leaders of my home church, First Baptist in Watauga Texas, my professors and advisor, and my family as well, I would not be who I am today. 

I have had the rich blessing of serving as an intern for the Arkansas Baptist State Convention this summer. From meeting the several teams, to working the different camps, I have had the privilege of experiencing God’s goodness in so many different people. My love for the local church has only grown exponentially as I’ve gotten to see so many people who had a deep love for Christ and His bride. I’ve learned a great deal about how church ministry works in so many different facets and have been exposed to so many different forms of ministry. Whether it was an interview, lunch date, staff meeting, or camp, I saw God’s work displayed through countless faithful leaders. 

One of my favorite opportunities this summer had to be staffing at both Super Summer and PraiseWorks camps. Being from Texas, I had never heard of either one of these camps until starting my freshman year at Ouachita. It was an incredibly rich experience to staff at Super Summer and be a part of a family group where I could pour into students. I’ll forever cherish the moments I got to counsel kids and talk with them personally about the Gospel. Not only will I hold onto that, but I’ll forever remember getting to be with two of my own campers who both at different points in the week prayed to receive Christ in front of me. I got to witness God’s saving grace on several campers and will forever rejoice with those memories.  

PraiseWorks Camp was also amazing to see in action. While serving behind the scenes mostly as a PraiseWorks intern, I got to experience ministry firsthand at its most basic element: serving. Simply serving others to ensure things ran as smoothly as they could blessed me immensely. Not only this but also seeing God raise up another generation of faithful ministers of the Gospel was inspiring. Both of these camps were incredible at sharing the Gospel, equipping believers, and sending the campers out on mission. 

The greatest part of the whole summer was meeting dozens of people who all shared at least one thing in common. They loved Christ and the church deeply. God continues to use such faithful leaders to pour into my life.  

The Lord has impressed a number of things on my heart this summer, but one piece of scripture that is brought to mind is Acts 4:13. “When they observed the boldness of Peter and John and realized that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were amazed and recognized that they had been with Jesus.”  

God seemed to continually bring up this passage even as recently as at a men’s retreat. I was inspired by the love so many of these people have for Christ, and I hope to imitate Jesus as well as many of them do. I will cherish the friendships that I have made with the other interns as well as the many people connected in the ABSC who were so gracious to pour into me this summer. It was truly amazing to see the church in this big of a context still fulfilling its core role. They proclaimed the Gospel in all that they did and loved with an abundance of compassion. I have been taught, loved, and further equipped. God has blessed me greatly with this internship and I will cherish the experiences for many years to come. 

Riley Haile 

I have been a lifelong resident of northwest Arkansas, spending most of my childhood in Farmington. I was brought up under faithful service in Farmington First Baptist Church. I have also benefited greatly from the teachings of ministries such as Living Waters, and NeedGod.net.  

In 2020, my eyes were opened, and the Gospel was made clear to me. I was saved and assured by the life, death, and resurrection of Christ. I carried this faith as I started school at the University of Arkansas studying civil engineering. My passion for evangelism has grown tremendously in response to Christ’s work in my life.  

God has led me to serve and be a member of First Baptist Church in Fayetteville, where He has grown my faith and wisdom since. I have also served in leadership in the BCM (Baptist Collegiate Ministry) to spread the Gospel to the U of A campus. I plan to graduate in 2024. Afterward, I pray that I may work as a tool for the Gospel in an engineering firm and be a dedicated servant of the local church to help equip other believers to testify their salvation that is in Christ alone.  

It has been a great pleasure to serve as an intern for the ABSC. I have enjoyed every opportunity to speak with representatives from every field of ministry and see the great faith that unites them all. I have been blessed to preach at Summit Vilonia for a Wednesday night youth service and share the living hope that is Christ Jesus. Another highlight of my work this summer was getting to lead a family group of students at Super Summer Arkansas. This internship has grown my love for the church. I have also grown deeper in my prayer to God this season, as my realization of my dependence on Him grows each day. 

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