In 2002 I was a Senior at Eastern Kentucky University (EKU). Since I felt a call to ministry in my life, I sought a way to merge my call to ministry with my recreation degree. As a result, I did an internship at the United Methodist Wesley Foundation where we were to execute “Operation Flamingo!” However, it never happened because God’s storm protected both me and other lives we never intended to touch.
In the Fall of 2002, my school was impacted by a Hurricane. Let that sink in for a second; a Hurricane affected Kentucky. It doesn’t happen often, but Hurricane Gustav prevented Operation Flamingo from happening.
See, Operation Flamingo was a thematic form of capture the flag where participants were to go all over campus to win. The winner would capture a “flamingo” to win. Due to the event occurring outdoors Hurricane Gustav canceled the event from happening. Knowing I’d not be able to finish my internship I initially disappointed. However, from my discouragement, God would teach me how storms bring His protection in the midst of a disaster.
For the internship to finish, I had to complete the requirements in the Spring of 2003. To accomplish this, both the Wesley Foundation Minister and I agreed that I would lead a “low ropes” team building event for the student leadership. One game was famously called, “Adventure Island.” To no surprise, the leaders resisted my direction over our planned retreat, but God ultimately used their resistance.
Under the leadership of the Campus Minister God allowed me to push and pull the leadership through challenge courses, I gave them. Each challenge taught them about their group dynamics as a ministry team. Some students resisted the games, some embraced the challenges, but all of them saw God show them new things over the weekend. Both individually and as a team, they became stronger in Christ.
The retreat was held about 5-6 weeks before Spring Break where the team went on a mission trip together. While on break they found a girl at the beach who appeared to be drowning. Though the girl had no family nearby, the team sprang into action. Each of them took different roles to support the overall mission: saving this girls life.
By God’s grace, they did save her life. When the Campus Minister debriefed them on their collaborative coordination, many stated that Adventure Island helped them come together as a team. Remember, Adventure Island would not have happened if God had not sent Hurricane Gustav – a storm – into our lives to interrupt Operation Flamingo.
This story is not only an example of the Butterfly Effect applied into reality. Rather, it’s also the truth that God planned His good when it appeared I initially saw just disaster. Yes, God has many plans for allowing Hurricane Gustav to become Tropical Storm Gustav that found it’s way into Kentucky. One of those purposes was to cancel a failed recreation game so he could later train Christian leaders to save a life. This sequence of events is humbling, yet encouraging because it reminds me that God knows what He’s doing in my life and in other’s lives too.
As life brings storms, may we be encouraged that God has a plan. We may not see His design now, we may not understand it, but God does. In response, let’s submit to His plan than fight against the storm of our agenda. The results are sure to be better than the attempts we make for ourselves. Plus, you never know who’s life will be affected or even saved. As some say, “that’s a butterfly effect worth the wait!” Some not! Either way, a butterfly can create lasting change or a destructive storm. The choice is yours!