Heather Livingood graduated from Drake in May of 2018 with a degree in International Relations and Political Science. She currently works at the Iowa Secretary of State office. This is God’s story in her life which she shared at our college service her junior year.
Hello! My name is Heather Livingood and I am a junior here at Drake. I am a double major in international relations and political science and have a minor in French language and culture. I have been a part of campus fellowship for almost two years now. Tonight I am going to talk to you about how a mission trip led me back to God. The Florida trip holds a very special place in my heart. Through it God provided for me in ways I could never have imagined, I hadn’t expected to gain a whole community of people who genuinely love me, but God loves to show us the power he has. I will give you a quick little history of me.
I grew up in a Christian home going to church every weekend. My parents told me of the importance of having a relationship with Jesus. My parents were always encouraging me to get involved in the youth group at my church. As I went through high school my faith was in my parents, not in God. I didn’t truly understand God or trust His promises for me. For a long time I was convinced that I had blown my chance with God. I had messed up so many times that it was impossible that He would want me. In order to not disappoint my parents I decided that I would continue to go to church and “fake” my faith. By doing this I was able to pretend that I wasn’t broken and life was easier. When I came to college I became a part of Intervarsity in order to please my mom, but I was by no means looking to get involved in a Christian organization. When I went home for J-term I spent a lot of time in my church and had several conversations with pastors at my church about the importance of a one on one relationship with Jesus and just how incredible that is. When I returned to Drake I had decided that I wanted to get connected into a Christian organization, purely to make friends, I figured I could fake it and still be involved. The first Alive (our service on campus) I went to, Jacob had made an announcement that if anyone was interested in going on the Florida mission trip to come on down after Alive . That was the moment in time where I would have bolted out of the room and stayed as far away from a mission trip as possible, but I felt called to stay. I went down and listened to Jacob, left Meredith and called my mom and told her I had joined Campus Fellowship, oh, and I am going on a mission trip to Florida. To be completely honest my intentions for going to Florida were completely selfish, I thought it would be a great way to make friends.
SO then I was in a van on the way to Florida with people I didn’t know going to a campus to talk to people about the Gospel. Now I am sure at some point in my life I had heard all the different parts of the Gospel, but I didn’t really know what it was in whole. This led me to googling “what is the Gospel” as we were in route to Florida. Once we got to Florida I was shown what a real relationship with Jesus looks like. I felt like I had entered an alternate universe… these people were going on prayer walks, reading their Bible for long periods just for fun, asking me really personal questions after knowing me for like 2 minutes… I remember my first thought was “WHAT IS HAPPENING?”. Throughout the next couple of days I was completely thrown off guard by the power of the Gospel and the unconditional love of Christ. Hearing the Gospel in full completely shattered my pre-existing ideas of just how important Jesus is, and I was the one who was supposed to be sharing it with people. That week was honestly one of the most difficult weeks of my life, but also one of the most beneficial. I spent the two weeks after the trip healing spiritually, emotionally, and physically (seriously, wear sunscreen and reapply). I took time to dig up the past and God showed me just how broken I was… which prior to that week was the reason I was running away. However, after the week in Florida, I realized every one of us is broken, and God’s grace is more the than enough to cover all of our brokenness. I realized that Jesus came to die so I could be free from that shame and sin and live a life in His grace and love.
A few weeks after the trip I gave my life to Jesus and am now living my life free from the brokenness of the past. I am by no means saying that my life has been perfect since that day, I have stumbled, hurt people, messed up time and time again, but my faith is now in Jesus and what he did on the cross.