Drawing Near to Others & God at Summit

As I was dropped off at Summit Ministries in the summer of 2022, I was not certain what to expect. I knew I was going to attend fabulous lectures providing me with facts and information about how to defend my faith. For the entire two weeks, this expectation was met and even far exceeded. What I was surprised by, however, were the many ways I was encouraged to grow in my relationships with the Lord, my family, and my fellow students.

Morning foundations led by Dr. Matt Jones became one of my favorite aspects of Summit, despite the fact I’m not actually a morning person. Inside and outside of the classroom, Dr. Jones took the time to learn each of our names and get to know us individually. Each morning he would encourage all of us to stand up, use large actions, and silly voices to recite 1 Corinthians 9:24–25. Because he had taken the time to form relationships with us, a room full of 180 half-awake young adults willingly and excitedly joined in the crazy activity. This time of laughter and fun became a highlight for all of us as we memorized Scripture together. I have talked with many of my fellow students and we all still remember that verse and the way we grew closer because of it. This silly exercise has inspired me to memorize other Scripture! 1 Corinthians 9:24–25 is now one of my favorite verses and I have taught it to young children using the same fun actions and inflections inspired by Dr. Jones, helping them grow closer to each other and the Lord.

Dr. Kathy Koch was another speaker who encouraged me to grow in unique ways. In her talk “The 8 Great Smarts,” I was blessed as she helped me learn more about myself and my understanding of others. Dr. Kathy explained that people have different strengths in the ways they are smart. As she spoke, I could see excitement buzzing around the room as each person gained a better understanding about the unique ways God created each of us and how we see the world. I realized that I am more picture smart, meaning I think through pictures. My sister is word smart—understanding her has enabled our relationship to flourish. I loved getting to know the “smarts” of the people around me and I think it has helped me realize that everyone has strengths and weaknesses but, through them, we help each other in different ways.

I could see excitement buzzing around the room as each person gained a better understanding about the unique ways God created each of us and how we see the world

In the time outside of the classroom, I was especially blessed to grow through the many fellowship opportunities. At Summit I got to know people from all different backgrounds, lifestyles, experiences, and even different countries. We were able to connect during the spare minutes between lectures, as we filled the lobby with laughter from energetic games of foosball and cards. After meals, I often joined other students crowded around the well-loved, dark brown piano singing worship songs and praising the Lord in beautiful harmony. My favorite times, though, were when we gathered on the couches and shared our testimonies, openly discussed what we were learning, and how we planned to apply that information once we returned home. These times gave me insight into the gifts and struggles of other young adults and helped give me compassion for what others are going through.

I was surprised that during these times I did not just grow closer to my fellow students but also the Summit staff. During the small groups and even serving our food or vacuuming the floors, I saw their passion for serving the Lord and his people. That is what inspired me to apply to staff the following year.

Summit Ministries Student ConferencesI started filling out my application as soon as possible. I wanted to be in a community that pushed each other to grow closer to the Lord and to serve him in every aspect of our lives. That is exactly the experience I had working as staff. The longer I worked, the more encouraged I was to serve the Lord in more aspects of my life. I grew to love serving and experiencing joy in every moment. I was pushed to serve the Lord with my thoughts as well as my actions. One day I was talking with one of the ladies I worked with. Every morning we would both wake up and start vacuuming the hotel. This job took about an hour. She told me that she loved that time because she had the opportunity to pray for the students as she was vacuuming. That really challenged me. Before that conversation, I had been using that time to think about the other jobs I had for that day and anything else that came to mind. This was not a bad use of time, but it was not nearly as important as taking the time to pray. After that conversation, vacuuming each morning became one of my favorite jobs as well. Being staff at Summit gave me the opportunity to share in profound conversations with other staff members, students, and even the speakers. I grew to love truly thinking about different topics and hearing other people’s opinions. This helped me have deeper relationships with those people and to grow closer to the Lord.

I grew to love truly thinking about different topics and hearing other people’s opinions

Summit has taught me so much about myself and how I view the world. It was so amazing to be surrounded by others filled with joy and intent on growing in their relationships with the Lord and the people around them. I learned to think deeply, work hard, use my time wisely, and serve God in every moment. I learned that there are so many different people who all love the Lord and want to grow closer to him. Summit changed me for the better and I know that these changes will last for my entire life.

By Alexis Traum

Alexis Traum was born and raised in Colorado. She grew up in a Christian home with her parents and three sisters. In 2022 she attended Summit and in 2023 she worked as summer staff. She is looking forward to applying to work at Summit again in the future so she can keep growing closer to the Lord and help students do the same.