I grew up in Boise, Idaho, with a couple incredible adventures outside the country that have left me with an insatiable desire to travel and a love of change. I came to the University of Idaho
immediately following my senior year in Singapore, chose to study biology, and expected to become a pediatric oncologist, exactly as I’d been telling people I would since I was 12.

Nonetheless, it quickly became clear that the Lord had other plans for my life. In November of my freshman year, I attended church for the very first time in my life and loved every minute of it. I grew up with friends whose families went to church, but it was simply something my family didn’t do. I had heard the name of Jesus, but honestly wasn’t sure if He was some fictional character, angel, symbol, or what. All I knew was that there always seemed
to be a lot of people who knew more than I did about the topic and, because I didn’t like not knowing things, I avoided it as much as possible. Until college that is.

A few months after my first church experience, a good friend explicitly shared the redemptive story of a God who loves His children so much that He would send his one and only Son to die
in their place. A love so unfathomable that I was at a loss for words. The people pleaser in me had spent my entire life doing whatever possible to make those around me happy, which
typically requires one to have no true feet to stand on. After all, you can only make everyone happy if you have no opinion yourself. It was on the last day of January at a small town coffee
shop that the fact that I needed to be free from the approval of others and be in relationship with a God who loves like that overwhelmed me and I knew giving Him anything but my whole life wasn’t an option.

Things have only picked up speed since that day. My lack of passion for the medical field became apparent and I switched my major to elementary education, a field far more suited for a girl who feels the tug of the nations all too often. I spent the summer after my freshman year in San Diego, learning what it means to live a normal life on mission day to day. The following year I led a freshmen focused Village and experienced the joy of life on life with young college students trying to figure out this thing called life. I spent the summer after my sophomore year at a Christian summer camp in East Texas where God made it abundantly clear to me that He can use absolutely anything and everything for His glory, including my weaknesses. This most recent summer I was able to go back to San Diego and lead girls just like freshman me, and help them learn how to live a life chasing after God. The Lord has packed these last three years with experiences galore and He continues to teach me every day. He is sovereign over all things and His power really is made perfect in my weaknesses (2 Corinthians 12:9).

God has shown me time and time again that I cannot live a life that is not dedicated completely to making His love known to all those around me. Living my life extending the same invitation to college women that was extended to me and helping them to chase after the Lord in all things - that is what I want to do forever and, for now, it is what God is allowing me to leverage my entire life for.

Contact Emily: emilygehlken@resonate.net

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