When you leave Hope’s campus at the end of four years, your story isn’t over. I promise you, your journey won’t be finished. These four years are only the beginning. There is so much glory left to come.
If you walked these sidewalks, sat in the dining hall, attended class, or set foot on a stair, when you leave, a part of you is left behind. You made an impact on someone, on a situation, on a plan, on a professor.
I guarantee that at the end of your four years, there will be someone left on campus who carries you in their heart in such a way that keeps a part of you here, keeps your presence near to the “hope” in this campus’ very name.
And for me, the person I carry near is Karen Harvey.
I met Karen through our Bible Study that she led through Hope College’s Campus Crusaders for Christ. There I was, a tiny, half-faith freshman, with the privilege to be led by a senior with a faith set on fire. With her permission, I write this as a testimony to the goodness of His love and mercy.
Karen is a May 2014 graduate of Hope, and will be leaving for Thailand in January 2015 to work with NightLight International Bangkok, ministering to women caught in the chains of prostitution and human trafficking through outreach in the red light district, childcare, administrative tasks, working in a coffee shop (how cool is that?!), and other opportunities available through the ministry.
Sweet, amazing Karen. She is a grace-led warrior, good fruit from the branch of God, and a light that cannot be quenched by darkness. She has inspired me by her faithfulness – ignited my soul – and I am overwhelmed with joy for her as she begins this part of her journey.
I remember a time last spring during May Term in which we were in her car, driving to the beach for an evening sunset. We both were at a point in our lives in which change abounded – for her, leaving Holland and trekking back to her home in Washington state for the summer, and for me, trying to discern the path in which God was leading me – and we were navigating God’s call for us, to be faithful, to give up our plans for His, the ones that we didn’t understand.
She asked me if I had heard about Steven Curtis Chapman’s new song, “The Glorious Unfolding,” and I replied that I hadn’t. Our conversation paused for a moment, and slowly, she turned up the radio. The song had just begun.
The lyrics that stand out most for me are as follows:
Lay your head down tonight
Take a rest from the fight
Don’t try to figure it out
Just listen to what I’m whispering to your heart
‘Cause I know this is not
Anything like you thought
The story of your life was gonna be
And it feels like the end has started closing in on you
But it’s just not true
There’s so much of the story that’s still yet to unfold
And this is going to be a glorious unfolding
Just you wait and see and you will be amazed
You’ve just got to believe the story is so far from over
So hold on to every promise God has made to us
And watch this glorious, glorious unfolding
I remember these lyrics hitting me right in the chest, stealing away my hurt, supplying me with His healing.
We arrived at the park, sat in the sand, and talked about life, Jesus, and all of His glory while we watched the sun set over the shore.
There are many days in which I wake up on campus wishing she was near, but I also know that she’s exactly where she is supposed to be, as am I. This fall, we’ve been pen-palling back and forth old-school style, which I love so very much.
May God bless her in the coming months as she prepares to leave and as she adjusts to life in Thailand, and protect her as she enters this space. I’m excited to learn where the Spirit will lead us – and I am hopeful that someday we’ll catch another sunset and a Beach Bum from Captain Sundae.
Want to hear more? Check out Karen’s blog here.
Keep up with me @hopesophie17, and if you have any questions or comments, please feel free to send me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Peace, grace, and love. Abounding love.