By: Abigail Schroeder
Media, Ministerial Assistant
On a Saturday in late May, I pulled off of exit 15 and onto Appling Road. Coming from the mountains of the Shenandoah Valley, Virginia, I can’t say initially that I was impressed with Memphis. The city is hot and flat, and the roads are terrible. However, I had yet to see Bellevue. Passing under the shadow of Bellevue’s three crosses, I caught the first glimpse of my summer church, home, and job. I was so distracted that I nearly missed my lane abruptly ending–again, Memphis roads! Bellevue was massive, glittering white in the sun, with architecture reminiscent of a Greco-Roman style. We might have mountains in the Shenandoah Valley, but we certainly did not have churches like this.
Months before my arrival on Appling Road, Bellevue’s church family had been sacrificially giving and fervently praying, so 63 college students and young adults–including myself–could serve as Ministerial Assistants (MAs). This program is led by our Ministries and Leadership Development team to raise up leaders in the Church through an internship with Bellevue for either a summer or a year. I was hired to serve in the Media Ministry with our storytelling and content team. As I learned what life at Bellevue was like, I began to realize that this internship would be a summer of learning and growth.
Through my daily rhythms in Memphis, I began to form habits and thinking patterns that now reflect some of the greatest lessons I learned this summer. In a way, Bellevue’s culture as a whole was discipling me. Preparing for significant events, embracing our vision, mission, and values, and learning from so many wise Bellevue women shaped my approach to ministry and my walk with the Lord. Most notably, I was shaped in my view of leadership excellence and how to truly love my city–lessons that will stick with me for a lifetime.
Leadership is a term we hear often at Bellevue. In a way, we are all called to be leaders in taking the Gospel to our city. But for Bellevue staff, leadership is not merely some abstract concept but rather something to study, apply, and pass on. I found this most notable in the way my personal leadership was empowered by Bellevue staff. In meetings where, in another setting, I could have been the intern bringing the coffee, I was given a space to express my ideas, cast vision, and advocate for my passions. I was not only given tasks but I was given the authority to impress upon Bellevue what the Lord has impressed upon my heart. Craig Groeschel notes, “when you delegate tasks, you create followers. When you delegate authority, you create leaders.” Bellevue shaped the leadership of my fellow MAs and me through trust and empowerment in our ministry and our faith.
Over the summer, I was also shaped by Bellevue’s heart for missions in Memphis and beyond. Bellevue is unique in the way they take ownership of their city. After weeks of writing about our investment in the spiritual redemption of the people of Memphis, I could not help but be molded to embrace this cause. In the spirit of full disclosure, friends and family were confused about why I would move to Memphis. They’d heard about the crime rates, the shootings, the poverty, etc. But how can this rival the Good News of the Gospel?
I am reminded of A.W. Tozer’s thought, “against our deep creature-sickness stands God’s infinite ability to cure.” This summer, I watched the Cure move across our city, just as I have seen the sunrise move across the valley in my hometown.
Memphis is not defined by crime rates, shootings, or poverty–but by the beauty of redemption as its people are transformed from “one degree of glory to another.“
What I love most about my summer in Memphis is the people. As I reflect on the stories our team shared and the people I met, I am thankful for the moms I spoke with who were ecstatic about their child’s decision to proclaim their faith publicly. I think of the everyday people who set aside time in their summer to take the Gospel beyond Memphis and excitedly recounted their adventures to me. I am excited to see the Holy Spirit work through His missionaries to Memphis, who gladly shared their Mission Memphis experience, so our church family could be encouraged by it. I fondly recall the many hours I spent in my supervisor’s office, learning about media and general life wisdom. Lastly, I will miss the late-night conversations with my roommates covering everything from theology to romcoms, while sharing both laughter and tears.
This is the end of my story at Bellevue–for the summer. But its eternal value will forever stretch on. As Bellevue continues to grow in its commitment to seek the Lord and the spiritual awakening of Memphis and beyond, my prayer is that you, my Bellevue family, will press onward. Continue to raise up Godly leaders, continue to be a catalyst for spiritual awakening, continue to love your city, and continue to love your God. As Paul says in Ephesians 3:1719, I pray that “you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”