Hi! I’m Shannon Jenks! Here is an excerpt from my Mission Year Application so that you find out more about me:
Tell when and how you became a Christian and what’s been happening lately in your relationship with God. Be sure to include a description of your involvement in Christian fellowship and ministry to others over the past few years.
I grew up in a very Christian home so it’s not surprising to know that I accepted Jesus at an age of 6 years. My parents were very dedicated to my upbringing and home-schooled me from the time I was in Kindergarten all the way through 12th grade. Since my parents were in control of my curriculum I was taught Christian theology and apologetics alongside my normal education. In high school I really began to take on the Christian faith as my own and began to be involved in my youth group at church. However, despite my parents’ careful upbringing, I was a Christian who knew the Bible well and who always tried to obey God but knew little of the brokenness of the world. I didn’t have much understanding or compassion for those who appeared to be living a life apart from God.
All this changed when I moved away from home to transfer to UCLA as a chemistry major. There I began being involved with Intervarsity Christian Fellowship on campus. Intervarsity is a very diverse community and has a huge emphasis on relationships, crossing cultural boundaries and social justice for the oppressed. This group rocked my world. I began to see how much I lived the life of a “safe” Christian and that God wanted to be radically involved in my life. It taught me about the importance of pursuing relationships with others even when their differences in race or belief made me uncomfortable. I began to see Jesus as a real person worthy of being literally followed. Jesus wanted me to reach out to the poor and broken just as he did. In Intervarsity I joined the leadership and led a small group for transfer students. I also met the man who is now my husband.
As my life has moved from being a student to being a married adult God has been radically changing my life even more. Soon after getting married I began to notice parts of myself that I had never noticed before. I realized that I was trapped in a cycle of perfectionism, anxiety, and depression that was really limiting my relationships and my ability to love myself as a child of God. My husband had begun attending a Christian twelve step program called Celebrate Recovery for accountability in sexual addiction and hearing him talk of the healing it brought himself and others, I wondered if it would be a place where I would receive healing as well. Joining Celebrate Recovery has been one of the best things I have ever done for myself. Joining a twelve step group has helped me to let God heal the brokenness inside of me while also giving me the opportunity to have deep relationships with other people who are seeking healing from their brokenness. I have seen firsthand how God can take an utterly broken human being and change their life in radical ways and it has solidified my belief that God can heal ANYONE including myself. After completing my 12 step group I joined the leadership at Celebrate recovery and I am currently one of the co-leaders in a Women’s Open Share group. God has been teaching me lately how to trust him and his leadership even in the midst of pain and brokenness where I can’t always feel his presence. He is a God worthy of following even when I feel down and lost in my brokenness.