S T O R I E S

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Jospeh Deaton

“It’s a great program for people who want to find their purpose in life, but I’m pretty sure I have my life figured out”. This was my default response to LeadNow every time I heard about it at Relevant Church. After all, I had graduated college, obtained a job in my field, and confident I would be immediately accepted to graduate school for physical therapy. Life was exactly where I envisioned myself. When all my applications were denied, however, I spiraled into an identity crisis. Everything I had worked towards seemingly crumbled in front of me. I was angry at myself and God, jealous of my friends who were accepted, and distant to my friends and family. After much prayer I came to terms with my situation and built a new game plan to be patient and try again. It was at this point Ashleigh messaged me about LeadNow; saying God had told her to reach out to me. I immediately pushed back with my default response, but something told me “If she hears God calling just hear her out”. After meeting and discussing the program in more detail I felt my world rocked. I realized three major things were holding me back from my full potential: my inability to trust God to direct my life, ridiculously low self-confidence, and poor leadership skills. Still, I was hesitant to sacrifice time at work and give 10 months of my life to an internship. But God kept pushing at me through every area of life. Every movie, song, and sermon I heard was God telling me to be obedient and pursue in faith what he wanted for my life. Eventually I put aside my desires and followed His will. I can say with complete confidence I have not regretted the decision one single day. I am growing more in my faith and leadership during LeadNow than I ever imagined. I am building friendships and acting as a vessel for God to further His Kingdom. I’m excited to see how much more I grow though the course of this internship.”

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Whitney Flake

“Military wife and mother had been my titles for 8 years. I was a proud of who I was. I loved the amount of time I got to spend with my children and was always proud of my willingness to change my current scenery anytime my husband got new orders to move to another state. But things were about to change my youngest was going to attend school all day soon. What was I going to do with myself? I knew the day would come and quite honestly I was praying for it lol. This would be new territory. I cried when my baby started school. I cried of course because I missed her but also because my world filled with children at home was no more. I had always identified myself as mother and wife but I knew God had another calling on my life. I knew He didn’t equip me with the gift of teaching and mentoring just for my children but for the body of Christ. Every Sunday I would attend church and I would hear them talk about the internship. Every time I would hear about it a certain level of peace and pulling on my hear would come from God. I asked, “God is this what you have for me?” I knew that my passion had always been for Him and there was no greater love or desire in my heart than to do His will. The answer was yes! So I joined LeadNow having no clue what to expect. But I am thankful for this season to grow, learn, change, and become a better leader so that I may do the will of God on a greater platform.”

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Daniel Vaughn

“Just before LeadNow, my career was accelerating, with responsibilities and lucrative opportunities everywhere, but instead of growing, I was coasting, and ultimately not content. At the time, I was volunteering at Relevant but thought that what I was doing in that area was inconsequential. So when the director asked me about LeadNow, I was completely speechless. Despite the potential that she and others were able to see in me, I stubbornly viewed myself as unqualified, lacking the skills, and being too socially inept to be a successful leader and make an impact. My procrastination continued, and I desperately kept trying to find reasons that would prevent me from committing to it, despite knowing what my decision would be the moment I was asked. After many conversations with the director and the previous interns, I finally relented, surrendering to God's purpose for my life in this, despite the uncertainty. To say that I have been stretched and uncomfortable in these previous months is an understatement, and yet I have never been so fulfilled. Growth and innovation only happen under stress, when you take risks that are big enough to force you to trust in yourself and in what your creator can do through you.”

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Olivia Farley

“After graduating from high school in 2017, I went to college for one year. I soon realized that the college experience I had wasn’t fit for me. I couldn’t see myself succeeding the way I wanted to, and while trying to figure out my next pathway, I reached out to Ashleigh Owens because of her positive onstage presence. I didn’t think that a prayer request to guide me on the next part of my life would end up leading me to join the LeadNow program. So far it has only been two months into the program, and it has had such a positive influence on my life, from making close friends that I know are there for me through anything, to providing me with countless learning moments that I couldn’t have received any other way. The LeadNow program allows me to continue one of my lifelong dreams of working with children which I have been able to do through the children’s ministry. I am excited to see what God has in store for me through this journey.”

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Hannah Howard

“A few months before starting Leadnow I moved to Jackson, Ga from South Carolina. My parents had been going to Relevant for about a year then and I had come a few Sundays with them. I was not happy and just knew South Carolina was not where I was supposed to be. I finally made the decision to move so I could be closer to my parents and so I could start attending relevant regularly. Once I moved here I began going to a small group and quickly did what I needed to do so that I could start serving. I took my next step and got baptized in May, I finally felt like I was where I was meant to be. Through my small group leader, I heard of Leadnow but said no because I was scared of the thought of change and also for the financial piece of it. So, these were not the only things holding me back; I was also supposed to be getting in to my program for school come August. Well I did not get accepted in for this fall and I was still having a few people mentioning LN to me, so I took this all as God’s calling and plan for me. At that moment that it finally hit me, I texted Ashleigh and told her I was bringing her money. I told her not to say anything but to just accept it and pray for me. I am now in LeadNow loving it and embracing all of the changes.”

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Alex Donaldson

“After spending several months running from gods plan for me he basically grabbed me by the shoulders and directed me towards something that I wasn’t sure that I was ready for. Before lead now I was working full time and saving money for whatever the future may hold. I was making plans to move out of my parents home. Everything was going as “I” planned for it to. I was stable. I was comfortable. I was complacent. And I was miserable because I was living in my own ways. And then I was asked by my small group leader if I had considered the internship program with the church and I told him “no. I don’t see the benefit” and that same night I felt a pull on my heart that consisted of one phrase. “Trust in my plan” and I was shaken to the core. I spent almost my entire life believing in god and I couldn’t put my trust in him so a few weeks later I met with my. Small group leader and discussed what the program was like. And I made the decision to trust him and spend my savings and go down to part-time at work and its one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.”

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Danielle Freeman

“Graduating from college last year marked a huge milestone in my life, but it also brought on a lot of uncertainty. I was suddenly pulled away from the people I was closest to and faced with a lot of decisions. I moved back home and was struggling to find a job in my major. One thing that I was certain of was that I wanted to find a church I could truly become a part of. I came to know Jesus during my time in college, and I wanted to find community and a place where I could continue to grow in my relationship with God. I found those things and so much more when I came to Relevant. While that area of my life was growing, I found myself feeling stuck in a job that wasn’t my passion and not really knowing where to go from there. This was around the time that Ashleigh mentioned LeadNow to me. I was immediately interested and knew it was something I wanted to do, but I just didn’t think it was possible to do at that point. God had other plans though. He continued to put it on my heart and mind and finally one night at my small group, Ashleigh brought up LeadNow again. I really felt the final push from God in that moment and decided that night to commit to this internship. That was one of the best decisions I have ever made. I am so thankful that God is always chasing me down. He is growing me so much through this experience. I am growing as a leader and finding more confidence, joy, and purpose for my life as well as growing closer to God. I know without a doubt that I am exactly where He wants me to be. I am so blessed to be a part of LeadNow with nine other incredible people who have quickly become like family to me. I can’t wait to see how God continues to shape and grow us.”

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Amber McAllister

“Let me get this straight. You are PAYING for an internship, thats causing you to significantly CUT YOUR HOURS AT WORK??!" Yes, yes I am. This was the question asked by several people in my life. This decision was not easy, and when I felt the slightest push from God to be a part of LeadNow, I completely ignored it. I had every excuse in the book- money, time, and I already had a full time career as a hair stylist! "Hey God, do you know my schedule? This would be a huge inconvenience!" Also, I didn't have any desire to "go into ministry". Then I felt Him reminding me that working behind the chair in the salon is "MY MINISTRY". So right then, I was having dinner with my sister, and immediately went online to apply. Honestly, I didn't have much of an idea of what to expect. I do know that my goal is to own a salon one day, and I have no leadership or business knowledge. Sometimes you just have to put your own thoughts and plans to the side, and let God work in your life. This was undoubtedly a huge leap of faith, but I am completely trusting God in every step I am taking, and feel like each step is getting me closer and closer to Him. Only two months into this ten month journey, and now when clients or friends ask "How's the internship going?" they have to prepare for the answer because its a loaded question! I've learned more about myself, how to work with and care for people, and how to handle conflict and criticism in these nine weeks, than I've ever learned in my life!”

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Hailey Davis

“One question started it all. “What IS YOUR PURPOSE”? Ashleigh Owens, the LeadNow Director, asked me this one night over coffee. After she asked me this I couldn’t think of anything else. What is my purpose, and if I don’t know then how do I find out? Was LeadNow the answer? After a few shed tears and some wrestling between what God was calling me to and what I had always known I chose to take a big leap of faith and go for it. Doing LeadNow has taught me to trust God and know that He has me in this season for a reason. Doing this has been one of the best decisions I have ever made. It’s teaching me so much not only about myself but also about leadership, views on ministry, and making my relationship with God stronger. This program has taught me so much already, and we still have 7 months left. I don’t want it to end. I love this program and I am grateful I am for everyone who is helping me along the way. I think one thing I can take away from this is to really trust and listen to God. That’s really important because I don’t want to miss out on an opportunity He has for me if I don’t trust Him. If I didn’t choose to trust Him in my decision to do LeadNow I wouldn’t be where I am today.”