Saying “yes” is not always easy, especially when it is in response to something that pulls you out of your comfort zone. As a pastor’s kid who grew up in the church, I can’t remember a specific time when I decided to follow Jesus. As a result, I often felt like my testimony wasn’t big or transformational enough. However, as I drew nearer to God, He began showing me that my story was only just beginning and there was so much in store. But I first had to give up the control that I loved so much and begin saying “yes” to the opportunities He laid before me—even when it was scary.
When I was younger and people would ask me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would often tell them I didn’t know but that I wanted to change someone’s life for the better—if I could make a difference in just one person’s life through my faithfulness to God, every trial would be worth it. I always imagined such an opportunity would come many years down the road, but over these last four years at Olivet Nazarene University, God has showed me that He has more planned for my life than I could have ever imagined.
During my freshman year at Olivet, I planned to get involved but only in the background. God had other plans for me, and He continuously urged me to say “yes” by placing opportunities before me. When I applied for a seven-day mission trip to Santa Barbara, Honduras, I had no idea how much that experience would change me. I could have never predicted that I would later serve as an intern for Footsteps Missions and move to Honduras to serve at an economic orphanage the following summer.
I joined Enactus, a business club on campus, hoping to just observe before jumping in. Instead, I immediately became a part of the team that established Olivet’s chapter of the Food Recovery Network (FRN). Our team of student volunteers fights the issue of food waste and hunger by recovering the leftover food from the campus cafeteria and delivering it to the local Salvation Army where it provides a free hot meal to 100 food insecure individuals daily. Since our establishment in October 2017, we have diverted 19,000 pounds of food from landfills and provided almost 16,000 meals to the food insecure in our community. I have had the honor of serving as the FRN president for three years now and as the Enactus club president for the past two years.
I truly cannot imagine where I would be if I had ignored these opportunities instead of stepping out in faith and saying “yes” every step of the way.
I am so glad that God saw more potential in me than I could see in myself. I am thankful that He urged me not to limit myself and instead to say yes to Him. I am humbled that I’ve had the opportunity to serve His beloved people in the ways I have. My outlook has changed, and I will never be the same. I plan to live the rest of my life saying “yes” to God and keeping my eyes open for opportunities to serve Him and His people. Even though it is scary at times, I can honestly say that stepping out in faith with the One who holds the future is so much better than staying in control.
Madeira Sherwood will graduate from Olivet Nazarene University in May 2021 with a double major in accounting and business administration and a minor in Spanish.