A Life-Changing Experience

July 16, 2012 • United States

By Maddie Pothour (center, above), a 20-year-old senior at Colorado State University who volunteered with Samaritan’s Purse to help wildfire victims in Colorado

The past three years since I have been in college, I thought I was living God’s plan. I went to church, I went to Campus Crusade. But I just didn’t feel as though things were quite right. I was constantly searching for more.

Several months ago, someone who I thought would be in my life forever left, which gave me the feeling that I wasn’t good enough. Despite much encouragement from my family, it was hard to shake feeling as though I was worthless.

As an engineering student, I haven’t had much time for anything except school. As spring approached I figured maybe it was time for me to be a typical college kid. I decided it was God’s plan for me to have fun. I was determined to make this summer memorable.

I have been going to Timberline Church in Fort Collins off and on for three years, but have never met anyone there or done any work with the church.

One weekend in June a friend asked me if he could join me for church. I hadn’t really gone all summer. I figured I would take him but was bitter we didn’t go to the early service as it was going to cut into my pool day with friends.

At the service, the Serve 6.8 team informed us that Samaritan’s Purse was looking for volunteers to help wildfire victims. I haven’t been able to donate much money to the fire relief efforts, so I thought maybe I could lend some time. As I left church in a hurry to go catch some rays, I stopped by the table to put my email down, just in case I could fit some volunteering into my schedule.

Emails began to go out asking for volunteers. I took off work on Friday, June 29, figuring I would “serve my time.” Little did I know the events that would follow would change my life forever.

That morning, I didn’t know anyone and kept thinking to myself that it might be a long day. I was placed on a team with Dennis Robinson along with other volunteers I had never met. We loaded up in a van and headed to Estes Park.

It was a decent morning, sifting through ashes looking for belongings for the homeowners. But it was at lunch that things really started to take place. Dennis began to share his testimony of how God has worked in his life. Dennis’ life story, his caring personality, and compassion were like no one I had ever met before.

Several other volunteers also began to share their life stories and testimonies. Throughout that first day I heard more testimonies of how the Lord has been working in their lives then I have in my short 20 years of life.

After lunch, I began working with Josie Gardner and Chris Love. The stories and laughs we shared that afternoon led to us being called “the three musketeers” by many of the other volunteers.

On our way back to Fort Collins, I felt that God was pulling on my heartstrings to return as a volunteer on Saturday. I cancelled my weekend plans. Chris, Josie, and I returned Saturday morning with smiles on our face, excited to find out that we would be working alongside Dennis again.

Two days became three, and then over a week.

There are no words to describe what has happened. Many have told me about specific times in their lives when God has been present and moved them, but I had never experienced that, never experienced God so present in my life, until now.

I have never before been surrounded by such amazing people. It really began to put things into perspective. People whom I have called “friends” the past few months I can now see are not the people I need to surround myself with. I now have two incredible friends and someone whom I look up to: Dennis.

After spending time with the team leaders, fellow volunteers, and the homeowners, I am completely positive that God is real, I am 100 percent sure that he has a plan for everyone—including me. I am now living my life to serve the Lord.

I don’t know where His path will take me, but I am confident that I am now on the right track, facing the right direction. Dennis taught me two very important lessons: Make no plans for yourself because God’s plans are always bigger then any we can make, and if you live to serve the Lord, you will never go wrong.

I cannot thank Samaritan’s Purse and Dennis enough for putting my entire life into perspective for me. I have tried so many times in my life to “live for the Lord” but I always have wandered back to following my own path. I am confident that this was God’s way of hitting me over the head.

See more about Dennis Robinson’s story in the video below.