Amanda and I (Austin) have attended New Hope for the past four years and have really felt welcomed into the church family. Although four years have gone by quickly we are encouraged to know that we have made friendships that will last.
Before moving to Manhattan we lived in Denver and had an incredible church home. It was definitely the hardest part about leaving so we knew finding a good church would be one of our biggest decisions. Over the first few months in Manhattan, we checked out several churches including New Hope. During this time, Amanda started attending Mom’s Life to begin building relationships with other women. In her words:
“I remember going for the first time and feeling intimidated to just ‘jump-in’ with a bunch of women I didn’t know. But there was a particular woman in that group that had a heart I was really drawn towards, which just so happen to be the wonderful New Hope Alumna, Carrie Beyer. We were going through One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp and it was exactly what I needed. I am so thankful for that group and the LIFE Group structure at New Hope!”
The thing that mattered most to us was the people we would get to know and spend our lives with and so it made sense that through this relational connection we would begin going to New Hope. Those we got to know had an honesty and vulnerability about them that we highly valued. We felt like we were accepted for who we were while encouraged to grow closer to Jesus.
What brought us here in the first place was beginning vocational ministry with The Navigators at Kansas State University. The Navigators are known for one-on-one discipleship and training how to be a disciplemaker, dedication to the Scriptures and Scripture memory, and evangelism. Over the past four years we have been trained and equipped through hours of Bible study, one-on-one mentoring, leading various activities (NavNight, Inductive Bible Studies, etc), and just going out there and building relationships. One of the most challenging aspects of ministry and most rewarding is the relational side. Being around people constantly can be draining. For me though, not only was it draining I also realized I had a debilitating social anxiety. I greatly desired to do my job well and help people know Jesus, but this was hard to do when I couldn’t even sit down one-on-one with someone without feeling dizzy. God’s faithfulness through this time looked like having an incredibly supportive staff team, a LIFE Group that didn’t pile on the expectations to perform (we could just come and receive and rest), and a wonderful counselor. A major lesson from this season was/is: God always desires our dependence on Him. We never graduate from needing Him!
We have recently accepted the position to be campus directors for the Navigators at the University of Arkansas starting next fall. We are thankful for all the lessons God has taught us which has equipped us for this next season. A major part if this is due to New Hope and our LIFE Group and we are so grateful! We are glad God led us to this amazing community and are excited about what God has in store for you in the future.
Please pray for us as we roll out of Manhattan in mid-June - that we would trust God in the mist of this major transition!
Together for His Kingdom,
Austin and Amanda Olinger with Wyatt and Claire