Alumni Stories: Lessons From Ministry

My name is Lauren Avitia-Sandoval, and while attending New Hope Christian College over a decade ago, I was blessed and challenged to grow deeper with the Lord. After graduating in 2013 with my Bachelor’s Degree in Biblical Theology and Ministry Leadership, I initially moved back home, which was located in the Midwest at the time. A short time later, I found my way back to my home state of California. I moved to Anaheim in 2017 where I met my now-husband, Miguel, while working together at Starbucks. We, alongside his immediate family, moved to his hometown in the Palm Springs area of California. 

Miguel and I found a wonderful church where we began serving as volunteers while working in local coffee shops from 2019 through 2021. In the early summer months of 2021, my husband and I made the faithful decision to move to Northern California, where I would serve on staff at my dad’s church as the Administrator. The Lord has been gracious because, between all these years from graduation to today, He answered many prayers that I did not think would be answered, prayers such as living near the Southern California beaches where I grew up. Over the years, the Lord has helped and healed me in ways I did not know were possible. Through this healing, I have gained realizations and convictions to maintain and grow in these areas. 

One topic I love to share, especially with students, is what I wish I had learned while in Bible College. These are personal lessons I learned from my ministry after college, but I believe they contain foundational truths for all of us. Since these lessons involve healing, I understand that sometimes the phrasing or verbiage can influence how we receive the information. With that in mind, I encourage you to read and receive this message only in the way the Lord desires you to. May His voice be heard through these words, and may the truth of who He is be evident. 

With that said, here are three lessons I wish I had learned while in Bible College:

  • Your ministry will only be as effective as your healing. While maturity, leadership development, knowledge, and education are factors contributing to an effective ministry, I wish I had prioritized learning more about the importance of inner healing during my time in school. I’ve realized that if you don’t address your past and present hurts, your ministry will be limited. We live in a fallen world, and at some point, we all experience hurt. Whether you’re serving in a church, workplace, home, or as a student at New Hope, your ministry’s effectiveness correlates with your healing. To deepen your relationship with the Lord and guide others closer to Him, you must undergo intentional and profound healing.
  • Establish a Habit of Healing. Healing isn’t always a one-time event. As I work through healing, the enemy often highlights other hurts to hinder or halt my progress. Recognizing this pattern has enabled me to develop better habits and prayer strategies for my heart’s healing.
  • There’s no such thing as trauma in Jesus. In August 2023, my husband and I traveled to Anaheim for my grandfather’s funeral, marking the twelfth funeral in the past two years and the third that summer. Emotionally, we were raw. During our time in Anaheim, we met with a childhood friend, Sam, and his girlfriend. While sharing our summer struggles over dinner, Sam boldly stated, “There’s no such thing as trauma in Jesus.” Big statement. This caught me very off guard, and I immediately was ready to pull out my BlueLetterBible and Matthew Henry Commentary apps to begin to dissect his statement. Sam began sharing the story behind the statement, and the experiences and traumas that led to it. He asked the Lord,  “Jesus, why do you allow trauma?” Sam explained he learned and heard the Lord express that when we are truly intimate with Jesus, continuing to press in and pursue Him through all things, fully surrounded and engulfed in the love of Jesus, then there is no such thing as trauma. I understand that this statement is still a big one, and maybe even one you don’t agree with, at least verbiage-wise. That’s okay. Please don’t miss the concept and heart of what was said. When we are so engulfed in the love of Jesus, there is no such thing as hurt. Not because the hurt doesn’t exist, but because with the love of Jesus, we are able to focus on what Jesus wants us to focus on. Our viewpoint shifts, from the pain and hurt we have experienced to the purpose God has for us. 

Thank you for reading this far, and my prayer for all the eyes that read this is simply this: My God direct you and encourage you to receive the fullness of His healing that He has to offer. Be blessed. 

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