II Corinthians 1: 3-4 says, ” Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”
Today, we have the privilege of hearing from Amanda Barton, one of our current interns. Amanda is in the unique position of having received the comfort of the Lord as she walked through deep waters as a resident at Vision of Hope and now having the opportunity to share that comfort with residents as an intern.
Amanda Barton came as a resident to Vision of Hope (VOH) in 2015 and began serving as an intern in 2020. Amanda came to VOH because she had been diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder I and had been admitted into a mental hospital twice. She was put on medication that helped her remain stable, but she knew that living life reliant on these medications alone for help was not enough. Her pastor’s wife found VOH online and thought it would help her. Amanda states, “I flew out by myself to a place where I didn’t know anyone, and a church I had only seen online, people I had only talked to on the phone. No family, no friends, no one, except hope that God would change me and help me.”
Amanda comments that the hardest part of VOH was changing her mindset of what her actual struggle was. She had a fear of wanting to sin and a fear of what she might do to herself and others, and this fear was at the center of her struggle, not rebellion. Amanda says, “I thought that I had to be strong enough, I had to be smart enough, I had to trust my own judgement because no one else was trustworthy.” She did not realize at the time that Christ was trustworthy.
The best part of VOH for Amanda was finding answers to questions about God that she was always afraid to share. She found freedom in Christ instead of the tormenting she was facing daily. She learned that she can trust Christ, and to an extent, other people as well. She realized that Bipolar Disorder did not have to define her and that she could find hope and freedom in Christ.
The overwhelming love staff had for her impacted her greatly. They loved her despite the sin she had committed and despite the awful things that had happened to her, and she saw them love each resident like this no matter who they were. She states, “They never changed their countenance when they heard the things I’d done or the things that had been done to me. They just. . .loved me anyway.”
Amanda became an intern because she wanted to give back to VOH, serve the residents, and eventually become a biblical counselor. She says that the best part of becoming an intern after having been a resident was being able to understand the residents and the progressive sanctification that occurs. She is still every day applying the things she has learned to be a strong follower of Christ. God has been her anchor and that His perfect love is casting out her fears. She comments:
“So, in 2020 the year of years… I am an intern at Vision of Hope, facing innumerable “extra” challenges; along with the incredible team of Interns that I have the privilege to serve these precious broken souls with.
I am a handmaiden of the Lord and so whatever challenges we face during these uncertain times; I want to say with Mary the mother of Jesus; when speaking to the Angel Gabriel in the Book of Luke 1 :38. In response to the news that she would be the mother of the Messiah, “Behold I am the servant of the Lord; let it be according to your word.” That is the most exciting thing about being a graduate of Vision of Hope, now Intern of Vision of Hope. I get to be trained by the very same people that as the hands and feet of Jesus lead me though the darkest and most turbulent days of my life, into true and lasting victory over sin and into the arms of my Savior.”
God is continuously working in Amanda’s life and she is thankful to be an intern at VOH and for the opportunity to serve and give back to the program that changed her life.