Name: Mallory Burk
Hey y’all! For those of you that do not know me, my name is Mallory Burk and I am a junior at WKU and have been apart of CRU ever since my freshman year. This is my third year going to Encounter. It is an incredible opportunity and experience that will make a great impact on your life and you will leave the conference feeling empowered, changed, and encouraged.
A little bit of background on my life, I was raised up in a strong Christian home by my incredible family who I am truly honored to be apart of, but even though I was raised by my parents who were strong in their faith, I never had experienced or let alone knew what it meant to have a good or solid “community,” especially during my middle and high school years. I had only just a very small hand full of friends throughout middle and high school who were Christians, so I just was constantly surrounded by friends who would always ask me for advice, who had difficult home lives, or who were not true followers of Christ. Fast forward to my freshman year at WKU, I got plugged into CRU during Masterplan and during my first week, I became overwhelmed with how there were so many people, my age, who not only loved God, but also had a passion to share the gospel with others. I saw and experienced so much love, acceptance, and intentionality from so many people that were apart of CRU and as I started going to the weekly meetings I began to realize that I was finally experiencing what it means to be apart of a “community” and felt like I was apart of one great big family.
During my first semester freshman year I kept hearing everyone at the CRU meetings talk and rave on and on about Encounter and how amazing it is and that I needed to go. At first, I had no idea what this conference was all about or what we would be doing in North Carolina, but after talking more with my Bible study leaders about it I became more interested in it and started having the desire to go. To me, going to a conference with people who were passionate about Christ and had a desire to learn and grow was exactly the kind of thing that I wanted to experience and be apart of. Going to Encounter in my mind meant that it was going to be a way for me to have fun, be with my friends/make new friends, make some great memories, and not have to be bored at home for the entire Christmas break, so naturally, of course, like a smart person, I signed up to go on the trip for those reasons.
Going to Encounter my freshman year was the best decision I ever made and have been majorly impacted still to this day from going on that trip. Not only was it really fun to go on a road trip with some of my friends and sing songs loudly during the car ride, but it was an amazing opportunity to get to know people that I didn’t know at all or know well, that were apart of CRU at western and allowed to become even more connected and closer with them. During that time, I had a major desire on my heart to go on a mission trip to Africa one day and so I had the opportunity to meet up and talk with Sarah Woodward, who is on staff with CRU at WKU, but was a student at the time. She got to share with me about how she went on a Summer Mission with CRU the previous summer to Senegal, Africa and shared some amazing stories and experiences that she had during her time on that trip. Listening to her share one story after another about the different things that her and her teammates saw God do, it made my heart feel as though it was aching and yearning to be apart of something similar to what she had experienced. I even remember that there was a moment when I was leaving Spencer’s coffee shop after my time with Sarah, that I felt as if the wind was knocked out of me, because I began to feel the deep and passionate desires of God’s heart for my life being placed into my heart and that I knew I was meant to go overseas and go soon. Once I got in my car to head back to my dorm I knew that I had to learn more about Summer Missions and start figuring out how I could potentially go on a trip to Africa.
During Encounter they had a breakout sessions that people could go to that had information on all of the Summer Mission locations and opportunities that students can be apart of over the summer. I of course went to one of the break out sessions for Summer Missions and went to the room that talked about the trip on Senegal, Africa. After meeting and talking with the directors that were leading that trip, I sensed it so strongly in my heart and spirit that I was suppose to go to Senegal and that God was calling me to go overseas that coming summer after my freshman year. After a lot of prayer, counsel, and preparation, I was able to have the amazing opportunity to finally fulfill my desire to go overseas and went on a Summer Mission with CRU to Senegal, Africa with a team of around 30 people from multiple college campuses, during the summer of 2014.
After going to Africa with CRU on Summer Mission I was completely changed and marked by the different experiences, hardships, memories, and friendships that I had made during my time there. Looking back, I thank God for placing people like Sarah Woodward in my life who were strong leaders within the CRU movement and who are obedient servants to the Lord and set high standards for me. If it weren’t for her and my Bible study leaders, I wouldn’t probably have even gone to Encounter or let alone do Summer Missions with CRU. I also praise the Lord for pushing me to go to Encounter my Freshman year, because not only did it help me understand more of whether or not I wanted to do/ go on Summer Mission with CRU, but it also allowed me to find more purpose in life and discover more of how God has created me and what his calling is on my life.
I am excited again to have the opportunity to be at Encounter this year! Each time I have gone, I’ve always had a different experience that has shaped me and through the different teachings and services during Encounter I have been able to gain more of a deeper truth and understanding about my relationship with the Lord and where my focus needs to be in life. This year at Encounter I desire to experience God in new, fresh, and tangible ways, to learn more of how I can be more effective in my faith, as well as to become even more connected and unified with other students from WKU.
I encourage those of you who are reading this, that you begin to pray and ask the Lord to reveal to you the desire’s of his heart for you and the destiny that he has called you into and that he would begin to reveal those things to you during your time at Encounter. During your time in college, this is a season where you begin to discover your identity in Christ and how God has intricately designed and created you to be. It’s also a time where a lot of growth takes place and where you begin to discover the plans and desires that God has for your life, for your potential career, and for other things that are to come that are important. I also encourage you to begin to pray and ask God to allow you to feel stretched by him and experience growth and transformation within your mind, heart, and spirit. Encounter is an amazing opportunity for the Lord to come and change your life and experience deeper connections with other students and leaders from CRU, especially from WKU. You will greatly be impacted during your time at this conference and you will never regret going! I pray that God would even now begin to stir and prepare your heart to receive everything that he wants to impart on you and revel to your heart and spirit through the various teachings, break out sessions, and worship services.
“And I am convinced and sure of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will continue until the day of Jesus Christ [right up to the time of His return], developing [that good work] and perfecting and bringing it to full completion in you.” - Philippians 1:6 AMP