by Clay Stewart

When I left Louisville four years ago for college in Wilmington, NC, I wasn’t certain of when or if I would be back home here in Kentucky. However, God works in mysterious ways. A few months before graduation, after deciding I would be taking a gap year while applying to PA school, I was somewhat panicking about how I was going to productively spend this time in between. That is when I was reminded of the brief conversation I had previously had with this enthusiastic, kind-hearted Director of something called the Louisville Fellows Program, and thought, “Hey, it can’t hurt to apply.”

Well, here we are, three months into the Fellows Program, and I can confidently say that, despite my initial concerns and hesitations, this is one of the best decisions I have made to this day. As I prepared for the start of the program, I would be lying if I said that I didn’t have some worries. I’m a 22-year-old college graduate–am I really about to move back in with my parents? What if the church that I grew up in, our “host church,” has changed? What if they set me up with a job that I don’t like? What if I don’t get along with the other Fellows?

Boy, was I being dramatic. Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” Although slightly different than the conventional Fellows’ programming, being “hosted” by my own family and the church I grew up in has been such an incredible blessing. Having the opportunity to grow closer to my family while navigating the complexities that accompany this chapter of my life alongside them has truly been a gift. It turns out that my childhood church has changed, but in beautiful ways that can only be credited to God’s loving and faithful works. Additionally, by working alongside my old youth minister in leading the youth group, I have been blessed with the chance to pour into these youth and give back to something that had such a profound impact on my own faith journey. As for my job, it has been everything I hoped it would be and more, providing me with the perfect opportunity to acquire the experience I need while concurrently enabling me to learn from a mentor who demonstrates what it looks like for faith and vocation to coexist. And finally, the Fellows have provided me with a sense of Christian community I never knew I was without and friendships I hope to never lose. Looking back on the past three months and forward to the remaining six, I am thankful for what God has been doing and excited for what is yet to come.