CHAPEL HILL, NC—Saying that she felt “blessed and excited” for the opportunity, UNC freshman Kristin Simmons recently accepted a missionary position offered to her by Gary Brentwood, youth director of the Campus Christians’ Cooperative.
“It’s wonderful to be working under Gary,” said Simmons nervously. “I know that he offered me this position because he wants to spread God’s love.”
Simmons has attended Campus Christians’ Cooperative meetings regularly since last semester.
“I’ve never been in a position like this before, and I know it will take some getting used to,” she said. “The work is intense, and at times, it can even be a little bit tedious. It’s going to be worth it though. Gary says he has faith in me.”
Simmons has attended church all her life, but upon coming to college, she reportedly found herself confronted by feelings of confusion and directionlessness regarding her faith and her life. In that unlikely time, the thirty-one year-old Brentwood saw his opportunity to make a difference.
Casting a discerning eye over the young, trusting members of his youth group, the father of two said that he began imagining Simmons in a missionary position soon after she began attending his twice-weekly Bible studies last fall. However it was only after a long, serious conversation that the two had at over dinner at a local Chili’s franchise after a recent prayer session, when Simmons opened up to her mentor about various doubts and insecurities, that Brentwood offered her the missionary position. Simmons anxiously accepted that night.
The position has since taken Simmons to hot, unfamiliar climes for extended periods, requiring her, she said, to extend herself in ways she hadn’t before in reaching out to underserved regions.
“It was a little bit painful at first, and I know a lot of my friends didn’t get it,” she said, “but Gary told me to pray about it, and that’s eased my heart over time. Gary is better at [preying] than anyone I’ve ever met.”
“To be honest, this position is still a little bit overwhelming to me at times,” she said, “and I know it’s not exactly the kind of thing that my parents would be crazy about, but it’s what Gary says God is calling me to do right now. I still feel like I don’t always know what to do, but I’m blessed to have Gary to guide me.”
Simmons said that, at this point, her youth group leader has even suggested that she might be “called to serve” in other positions in the near future. “I hope this is the start of a long, beautiful walk of faith,” she said.
“With God,” she added.
Though Brentwood described his selection process for the missionary position as “casual,” he said that he gave careful consideration to several other members of the Campus Christians’ Cooperative before ultimately offering the position to Simmons.
“No question, Kristin’s acceptance of this position was rooted in her faith,” he said. “People like me are blessed to know such trusting souls.”
Brentwood added that, following the success he’s had with Simmons, he has not ruled out offering similar positions to other youth group members in the near future.