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As many of you know by now I recently transitioned from international Youth Leader training with YMI to an international relief ministry with Samaritan’s Purse.

Those who have followed, prayed and supported my journey over the last few years know how difficult it was to change paths after we invested and sacrificed so much…but God had a plan, and as always He was in control.

I’ve written many words about the ups and downs, and bumps and bruises that come with going God’s way, but I’m afraid that my words and insights haven’t come close to doing justice to the fact that even though the Christian life is hard, scary, painful and downright confusing at times the cliché that we often quote “God is by your side” really is true, and really is powerful!

The song “By Your Side” by Tenth Avenue North, is a song that God has been using in my life pretty much all summer, and is a song that was ringing in my mind as I sat through overview meetings at the Samaritan’s Purse headquarters in Boone, NC.

You see as each leader rolled out their ministry that falls under the SP umbrella the lyrics to the song got louder and louder in my mind. God truly is by our side through it all.

Samaritan’s Purse is an international Relief agency that strives to be there for the “least of these” when war, famine, natural disasters and whatever else befalls the world’s neediest people strikes and strikes hard.

Whether it be children who need heart transplants in countries that don’t have the technology, SP responds with the “Children’s Heart Project“, or when disasters like Katrina, Tsunami, and Typhoons hit SP Relief and Development teams are often among the first to be there by the side of the victims with supplies and the love of Christ.

The World Medical Mission is there by sending Physicians into some of the most impoverished and devastated areas of the world, and the team I work with (Operation Christmas Child) is hard at work all year round mobilizing and inspiring people to give shoebox gifts, which are really power packed gospel opportunities that are launched into countries and into the hands of children who may only get one gift in their lifetime!

To say the least, today I was blown away! Blown away by what Samaritan’s Purse is doing around the globe to strategically empower national leaders to “earn the right to be heard” in their culture and on their turf.

These leaders are then asked the question “why did you do this for me?” and the answer they are able to give is “because God’s love for you is free!” I love that, and for those who know me well, know that response has been a driving force behind what I did in my nearly 2 decades of youth ministry, and is still at the heart of what I want my life to be about for the next period of years that God gives me on this earth.

I want people to know that God loves them, knows them, sent His son to die for them, and has a wonderful plan for them…and wonder of wonders, it’s totally free!

This past season of my life has been an incredible ride, a ride full of all kinds of experiences, experiences that I wouldn’t trade for anything. Has it been easy? No way! Has it been confusing? Sometimes…has it been fulfilling? Absolutely!

I admit that it’s been a faith stretching, and soul shaking time, but looking back on it, wow what a ride!

I don’t know all that God has in store for me as I continue to trust Him in this new adventure, but I do know that as usual in His relationship with me He used the powerful words of a person I had never met to encourage and affirm that I was doing the right thing by partnering with SP.

When I arrived at the Billy Graham Training Center at the Cove for a spiritual retreat with the Operation Christmas Child national leadership team, I was nervous, excited and wondering what God was going to teach me.

I walked into the packed lobby only knowing 2 or 3 other people, and out of the blue I felt a tug on my elbow. I looked down and saw this short, blond haired lady looking up at me and smiling from ear to ear. She didn’t know me from anyone, and I certainly had no idea who she was.

She looked right at me and said “I have a word for you, God specifically chose YOU for this ministry and He is going to use you to do big things!” She then prayed for me (not knowing my name, she inserted words like “this young man”, and “this one you’ve chosen” when referring to me)…again, I was blown away.

Later on I found out that this lady is the national spokesperson for Operation Christmas Child, and if you’ve ever read Franklin Graham’s book “Living Beyond the Limits”, she is the lady that he talks about in the chapter called “Mama Gump.” All I could say then, and all I can say now is WOW! God is good, and God is at work.

I don’t know what her words will mean in my life, but today as I was processing all the things that God is doing globally through SP, I was reminded again that He is and has always been by my side.

I want to encourage you that whatever it is that you are going through these days. God hasn’t forgotten about you, He loves you and has an incredible plan for you. It may not seem like it right now as the storms of life are rocking your world, but please know that God is right there with you…By your side!

May the lyrics to this song be used to “grab your elbow” and speak truth right into your soul…He’s by your side!

Brent Carl – Samaritan’s Purse
Regional Manager – Mid-Atlantic States
Brent is a 20 year youth ministry veteran who loves to teach, preach, train and engage with students and those who work with them. He loves to encourage students that God has a plan and they are a part of it!

Brent writes three different series of articles on youth ministry, and leadership development.

  • Lesson Learned” – Is a series of articles for Youth Leaders that chronicles some things he has learned as a veteran Youth Pastor that will encourage them as they continue to help students navigate through the confusing messages they get hit with every day.
  • “YMinsights” – A series of articles taken from his international trips that focus on spiritual insights and challenges that cause us to pause and praise God for His goodness.”
  • “Leadership Reflections” – A series of articles that help the reader take a look at how God has shaped them through their experiences to be the best leader they can be.

If you would like more information on Brent and His role with Samaritan’s Purse please contact him at bcarl@samaritan.org visit his blog at www.leadershipreflections.org or check out what Samaritan’s Purse is all about at www.samaritanspurse.org
Brent and his wife Bonnie, and 2 children live near Baltimore, MD.

Tenth Avenue North – By Your Side
From the album Over And Underneath

Why are you striving these days?
Why are you trying to earn grace?
Why are you crying?
Let me lift up your face
Just don’t turn away

Why are you looking for love?
Why are you still searching?
As if I’m not enough?
To where will you go child,
Tell me where will you run?
To where will you run?

Chorus:
Cause I’ll be by your side wherever you fall
In the dead of night whenever you call
Please don’t fight these hands that are holding you
My hands are holding you

Look at these hands, at my side
They swallowed the grave, on that night
When I drank the world’s sin
So I could carry you in
And give you life

Chorus:

Here at my side wherever you fall
In the dead of night whenever you call
Please don’t fight these hands that are holding you
My hands are holding you
And I, I love you
And I want you to know
That I, I’ll love you

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