A few weeks ago, I spoke with 2016 Cultivate Lebanon APC Dina Starodub. It was so encouraging to talk to her in such a formative and transitional point in her life. Read excerpts from our interview below:
When were you a cultivate intern?
Summer 2015 I was an intern in Lebanon, Beirut and Summer 2016 I am working as an APC in Lebanon, Beirut.
What is your job?
We work in refugee camps with Syrians, so whether that is setting up inflatables with children and passing out books, or putting on screenings of movies. We do a lot of work in camps with teens and children, ranging from working as a camp counselor to being kitchen staff. We do a lot of work in local schools here in Beirut and all over Lebanon. Other times we are in the office doing reports for the office.
What is your current job and how did you get there?
My job was working as a receptionist for dealership in Sacramento and I returned after Lebanon last summer. At the moment I’m definitely praying about God leading me where he wants me to go after I return.
How is God working in your life today?
On these internships you learn self-awareness and how to serve others. Your mind is opened to who you are, how you think, and what your strengths and weaknesses are. Your perspective is broadened, and coming here and talking to Syrian refugees who are also your age, wondering what they are doing with their life, and have the same thoughts and fears, is neat to see.
Is there a scripture passage that guides you through major life decisions?
One that I really love is 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, which says “Rejoice always, pray continuously and give thanks in all circumstances for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” A lot of us who are doing the Cultivate internship or APC ship are in a place where we want to serve God, but we don’t know his will. Ultimately, all the decisions we wrestle with are great, but the Bible says this is God’s will for you: to be joyful, prayerful and thankful. We are all at transitional points in our lives and even when things at the internship go wrong, we need to pray and give thanks.
How has Cultivate changed your worldview?
My thoughts on work in the future have changed. The global church is one of my passions and I think we tend to idolize it, especially the church persecuted in Muslim countries. We think the people there are saints and the people back home live in individualized comfort, but then when you work in places like this you see the people here are beautiful but they’re just the same sinners that we are. But at the same time, they serve the same God that we do. It’s amazing because you see that God is the same everywhere, he is great everywhere. I never really learned this lesson until Cultivate.
How would you describe Cultivate to young adults who are considering applying?
I would describe it as like a roller coaster ride. You’re working and serving, you will be strengthened, and you will go through hardships. But it’s all so good. Cultivate is a great way to learn more about what God might have planned for you, whether it’s OneHope or not. You will learn with what strengths and weaknesses he created you, and how to have amazing experiences with people all over the world in beautiful places.