Hello! My name is McKenna Johnson and I just finished my senior year at Walnut Hills High School. Over my past 6 years in the Vertical Impact ministry, I have done my fair share of Elevation testimonials about impactful moments on the retreat, fun events we participated in, and the joy that comes from spending such an amazing week with a fantastic group of people.
As I look back upon my 6 Elevations, from 12 years old to 18 years old, something really special sticks out as the lasting impact VI and Elevation have had on my life. You see, Kyle asked me to share how I saw or felt God on the move last week and the minute that prompt was given, a key discussion came to mind. While on Elevation, all the students are placed in “families” or groups of 8 students, grade 7-12. You also have 2 adult leaders in your group who are known as your “parents.” One night, my Elevation family was sitting outside after evening worship discussing the lessons we took away and the areas of our faith we felt we were struggling with. After a few minutes of discussion, one of our adult leaders made a very important point that has stuck with me since that evening. She pointed out that quite often in our walk with God, we are looking for these big signs that he is there, moments of undoubted clarity that he is listening. But if we spend our whole lives waiting for a momentous display of His love, we are going to miss the time we share with one of God’s greatest gifts – the community that surrounds us.
Vertical Impact has given me some of my greatest friends and sisters in Christ. Looking back on the past 6 years, God has truly shaped me as a person through the friendships I have made along the way. During our 7 days in Pennsylvania, I had the pleasure of living and working alongside some of my greatest mentors, role models, and friends. Every day we challenged one another to dive deeper into our faith and pushed each other to be God’s light in the lives of those around us. It is truly amazing how a group of 17 year old girls can preach His word to one another in a world where the emphasis is so often placed on hate rather than love. And the greatest part is that my amazing Christian community doesn’t disappear once we get back from Elevation. Because of the strong friends God has placed in my life, we can’t seem to get enough of His love in our every day. He has blessed me with friends who are willing to meet year round, every Sunday night to share in fellowship and accountability. Through these fantastic young women, I have grown in my faith and have become more than just a student, but a leader in the ministry.
Thinking about all the Elevations I’ve been on, I have always looked to other students for guidance and to see the force that God can provide in my life. But thanks to the 6 years I have had in VI, and thanks to the fantastic people God has placed in my life, I saw myself leading and advising other people in their faith this year. From little 7th graders who were just getting their toes wet with God to longtime friends who were struggling to follow His plan for them, I felt Christ pushing me to be more than a student or a casual friend. I felt Him calling me to be the light in their lives that I was so lucky to feel from others throughout the years. And because of that, I know that I can conquer college and stand up for my faith. Most importantly, when I say goodbye to VI, I know what a strong Christian community looks like because I haven’t just seen it for a week one summer, but rather I have seen it for 6 transformative years.