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Rachael's Writings:

In Loving Memory of

Her Final Letter to Zana and supporters

May 16, 2004

Dear Zana,

            I am forcing myself to sit down and tell you all that God has been doing in my life.  It is hard for me to write about what He is doing because it is continual, so as soon as I sit down to write about something, He begins another revelation in my life and I want to wait until that is completed so I can include it…but, alas, enough waiting, it’s time to do!   This is going to be long, so please read when you have time, and if you can not read the entire thing at one time, I TOTALLY understand!

I’m not really sure where to start… so I’ll start at Christmas…

            During my break, as you know I had surgery, so the goals I had set for my break did not come to pass; although I did learn something during that time at home.   I got a glimpse of how hard it is going to be to keep my morals and standards as high as they currently are once I move back home.  I did not communicate with many friends, but even without that temptation, there were many more that crept up on me.  I learned that I have to find the deep root issues of my sin in order to get them out of my life.  I had some regrets of how I spent my time, but I pray that I learned from that and will not repeat my mistake.

            After I came back from Christmas break, my CA (Core Advisor) was asked to step down from her leadership position, so she decided to leave the internship.  We were not told the details, but she broke one of the Honor Academy rules and as the leader of 18 girls, they could not continue to have her in that position.   So we got a new one, and she is amazing!   She has stretched and molded me, she has become my mentor and one of my best friends.  She has made such an impact on my life, words can not describe… she brings out things in me that I never knew existed.  Her name is Tracy.

Accountability Partner

            My accountability partner’s name is Cathryn.  She is from South Florida about an hour from Ft. Lauderdale.  She is a sweetheart!  Our schedules are so busy that we can barely get together once a week and talk about what is going on in our lives.  If we have any problems, concerns, struggles, and even praises, we come to each other.  She keeps me accountable to make sure that I get everything done, and I do the same for her.  She and I have become very close, as you can imagine.  She is in my Core and works with me in my ministry placement.  If we ever have something happen and we need to talk to someone, we both know we can count on each other… whether it’s at 3am or during work, we “have each other’s back!”  She has kept me from much trouble this year.  I owe her a lot!

            I believe it is vital that as Christians we have someone who checks us and makes sure we are still on the mark.  No matter how spiritual we are, we all have a flesh and therefore no one is perfect.  “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor.  For if they fall, one will lift up his companion.  But woe to him who is alone when he falls, for he has no one to help him up.”  Ecclesiastes 4:9-10.  Without that accountability it is more likely we will slide back into what’s comfortable instead of pushing forward and trying to always grow.  I have seen this within the Honor Academy and can relate it to my life at home.  If there is no one you can look up to spiritually, then there is nothing to look at that inspires you to have a deeper, more intimate relationship with Him.


About eight weeks ago, I was selected to be what we call an ACA (Assistant Core Advisor) in my room.  I am pretty much the spiritual authority and disciplinarian in my room of 5 girls.  I also resolve any problems in the room.  The girls come to me when they have problems or just need to vent.   I sleep in the same room with them so they know where to find me!  Being an ACA has taught me a lot and has helped me realize my potential as a leader.  It has taught me that, as a leader, you will sometimes do things that people don’t like, but it is necessary.

I have also learned vulnerability.  I am used to being the strong one that everyone goes to when they need help or don’t know what to do.   But I am slowly learning that vulnerability is sometimes good and necessary in relationships.  When I am open with people and share something that I struggle with, I am opening myself to them and hopefully opening the door for them to be more open with me.  If people only see this strong, independent person who never has anything go wrong, then they won’t want to share their struggles.  But there is a balance; there is such a thing as sharing too much.  I wouldn’t want to broadcast my hardships over the radio!  So I am currently learning the balance between the two; not sharing anything and telling everyone every problem.


The weekend of Valentine’s Day, we fasted from food and communication all weekend. I did a lot of listening that weekend.  I didn’t really get any huge revelation from God.  Instead, He showed me what was already in my heart that I had been running from for so long.  I knew that I was a leader, but I didn’t fully realize that was my calling until that weekend.  He also showed me that it is my desire to have a family when I grow up, when before, I told people that I had no desire to have children.  So much for that!  He also revealed to me that I was going to not date for another year.  It was a hard pill to swallow at first because I am ready to get on with life and start what I am going to be doing for the rest of my days on this earth.  But now I’m glad!

This was the beginning of what has turned out to be a long process of God revealing the true desires that are in my heart.  Not what I pretend I want, but my deep, subconscious desires.


As I told you in previous letters, my ministry placement (what I do during the day) was recruiting volunteers for a youth convention in Indianapolis called StandUP!  It was April 2nd and 3rd, and WOW!  I have had many humbling experiences here, but I think that one is pretty close to the most memorable!  There were about 36,000 teenagers there and we ended up with 700 volunteers, which was actually more than we needed.  We originally thought 3,000, but we met with some people and shrank the number down to about 600.  It was so amazing to see the fruit of my labor.  All the hours on the phone, the stress of organizing all the details, and talking to these people on the phone for so long and I finally got to see them in person.

StandUP! was kind of like a huge Acquire the Fire.  There were speakers, bands, and Ron Luce!  They all talked about how the church is sleeping; how we’re letting the world put us to sleep.  I was privileged enough to get to see most of the event and get to know some of the volunteers.

During praise and worship, I kept finding myself just slowly turning around and looking at the thousands of teenagers praising the Lord with one voice and as one body.  It was absolutely amazing!  It was so humbling to think that God would trust me with His precious children.   All the extra hours of hard work and sleep-deprived tears were worth it: God used me!  He used me to bring together His children to worship Him.  During worship I thought, “If this is just one youth event, what is Heaven going to be like?”  WOW!

Now that’s over and I’m being moved to a different department in the ministry.   I was in Global Expeditions, working with the people going on a mission trip this summer, and I was recently moved to Extreme Camps which was the camp our youth group went to for a week in 2002.  I keep getting moved so I’m not sure where I am going to stay but I am experiencing a variety of branches of Teen Mania.

Close Friends

The one that I am closest to on campus, besides my AP (Cathryn), or my CA (Tracy), is Kelly. She is from Michigan, and I have learned something about people from Michigan…they all have to use the palm of their hand to show you where they are from.  They can point to the exact location on their hand where in Michigan they are from, as if the hand was a map.  It’s very strange to me, but I have grown accustomed to it!

Kelly is one of a kind.  She is encouraging, uplifting, fun to be around, and she loves to laugh!  She has a beautiful smile and loves the Lord through everything she does.   I have learned many things from her that I can not even begin to explain.  But I can try…She taught me how to love the Lord through everything I did.  From everyday dull tasks of calling rude people or cleaning my messy room, to random tasks like making a hot pot of coffee or driving friends to Wal-Mart.  She taught me to see God in everything, not just when the time is scheduled in my day to read my bible, but even in the small things I take for granted.   “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it.  For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.” Joshua 1:8.  Her friendship is very meaningful to me and has been crucial in my continual growth this year.

Another close friend of mine is Adam, also from Michigan.  He came in January and we have been friends ever since.  Just to calm any fears, he and I are strictly friends and that’s all we will ever be!  We both have absolutely no feelings for each other.  We are very careful to make sure that nothing ever happens!  He is definitely a life-long friend, though.  I remember one of the first things he said to me, “Rachael, I am here to stretch you.”   At first, I didn’t believe him, but I now know that he was right.

Right before I met him, I began praying Ps. 139:23-24 “Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”  I prayed that every morning until about a few weeks ago.  Adam is an answer to prayer.  Pretty much everything I do, consciously or subconsciously, he asks me: why do I do that, what am I thinking when I do it and what is my motive?  He makes me think about my actions, things that I have done for years and never had a desire to work at fixing.  He checks my heart on these things and inspires me to change.  He is an amazing person because he is so receptive to the Spirit!  He has been a key person in my intense growth this semester.

Gideon’s Road

Another thing that has contributed to my growth is what we call “Gideon’s Road.”   It is almost like rush week for a sorority, except Spirit-led.  Gideon’s road is a two-week-long test to see if you could be a Core Advisor.  (Core Advisors are pretty much the role models of the campus.)  There is an application process to get on the road, and during the road, there were two cuts made, where they eliminated people they did not think qualified.

On the road, I had many long nights, much memorizing, days I went all day crying, and my heart was exposed to everyone experiencing the road with me.  There were about 60 people on the road, guys and girls.     Unfortunately, I can not share with you the activities that we did, but I can tell you what God did in my heart.  The activities on the road are very secretive.  No one knows about them except the people who have participated in it, so I need to keep them private.

My relationship with the Lord doubled in just the first week of the road.  The road only taught us basic things about being a Christian, about true love, selflessness, and excellence.  Things that people overlook in the hustle and bustle of life but are the very root of what being a Christian is all about. 

We were each given a pin that we had to be wearing at all times and they had to be visible.   The pins signified our core, if we ever became Core Advisors.  The pins also made us stand out, and everyone on campus knew by the pins that we were going “down the road.”  So anytime anyone would walk by me, they’d look at me and smile, look at the pin and ask “How are you doing?”  It was like an automatic question when anyone saw it!  If you talk to anyone on campus and you mention Gideon’s road, they cringe.  Everyone knows it’s hard, because they see some things we do, but not the meat of it; they only see the fluff! 

So now we stick out because of our pins and people watch us; they watch our reactions, our attitude, and our overall conduct.  We were also required to be in chapel attire.  For a girl that means skirts and for a guy, that means ties.  We had to be 10 minutes early for every class to stand at the doors and welcome our classmates.  The Core Advisor Code is “We teach the standard, we raise the standard, we are the standard,” which means that people look to us to know what to do.  So by standing at the doors, we were setting the standard to be early for class.  The current Core Advisors sat in on our classes and watched us.  They made sure none of us fell asleep, that we were taking notes and were actively involved in the discussions.  It was very challenging to not fall asleep in class after our long “fun nights,” but, somehow, we made it through.

As I mentioned before, we were required to memorize A LOT!  The main thing we had to know is what they call the Treatise (Treat-is.)   It is about 3 paragraphs long, explaining the heart behind staying a second year.  If you stay at the Honor Academy a second year, you are not staying for yourself, you’re staying to enable others to grow.   Anytime during the day, except at work, a current Core Advisor could stop you and ask you to recite this Treatise.  Of course, we were given much grief if we didn’t say it exactly right.  But if they couldn’t trust us to memorize this, how could they trust us to disciple 12-18 people?   Right?  So during breakfast, lunch, and dinner, before and after work, on the weekends, and just around campus, we could not get from point A to point B without seeing a Core Advisor.  Oh, and they were not allowed to smile at us.  They called us Mr. and Ms., and visa versa, during the course of the road.  Needless to say, I just wanted to hide in my room and never come out!

Regardless, I learned what it meant to be a true Christian.  I learned that people are always going to be watching me.  Everywhere I go; people are watching me, because I have something different.  That is true for any Christian; I just didn’t know the intensity of it all!  I also learned about how selfish I am.  How often I think about how something affects me instead of how it affects others. On the road, I was constantly asked if I was thinking about how this was hurting me, or was I thinking about how it was affecting others?  Was I praying for my core, how well did I know my core, did I know where they were, or was I just thinking about myself?

One question that I will remember for the rest of my life was one that a Core Advisor asked me, “If my life depended on your prayers, would I still be alive?”  WOW!  I never thought about it that way!  How often was I praying for my core, for my room, or for my friends back home?  So now, before I do something, my thoughts are, “How will this affect them?” when before it was “How will this affect me?”  I have changed many things I do because of this very question!

Also, I learned about my priorities; how much time do I put into things that are eternal compared to things that are not?  I wish I could tell you how I was taught this, but I will try to think of another analogy.  So let’s say that you have the choice to either go to the movies with close friends that you spend all day everyday with, or you can stay at home with someone who you don’t know very well…which would you choose?  Spending time with the person you don’t know might be a little uncomfortable, but God might want to speak to them through you.  Before I would’ve chosen to go to the movies with the friends I knew well and already got along with.  But I now look at things with eternity in mind.  “Does this affect eternity or is it going to burn with everything else?”   This letter, I believe, is going to affect eternity.  Not sure how, but it will!

Well, I need a break, I’ve been here for a while, I’m going to take a walk, a refreshing and relaxing intermission.  Feel free to get some coffee, tea, and cookies, whatever, and I’ll be back soon!

Ok, I ended up taking longer than I thought…so a day later, here I am!  So let’s continue, shall we?

Gideon’s Road (continued)

I met with my Core Advisor for several weeks before the road started and she encouraged me in several things. First, be confident in who God has created you to be.  And I have finally reached that point in my life, I am confident!  She said that she would trust her core with me, which is a big deal!  She kept telling me that I could be a Core Advisor and that I had what it takes, but up until about half way through the road, I didn’t believe her.  It’s not pride that I now have, but confidence.  Not SELF-confidence, but GOD-confidence!

Second, she told me to “be yourself!”  On the road they ask many questions where it would’ve been easy to say the right thing, but the truth is better!  It seems more rewarding at the time to say what’s right, but in the end, when everything comes together, it’s better to just be yourself.  I was given many chances to try to please people, but I chose to be me.  It wasn’t the popular, easy, or fun thing to do, but it was who I was.  They want truthful answers so they can see the real you because, if you have a core, the real you is eventually going to show, and it’s better that they know ahead of time who you are.  The girls are going to live with you and they will see the good, the bad, and the ugly.

So, two weeks of the most stretching experience I have been through thus far.  And I came out remarkably different than when I went in.  It was kind of like going to the beauty parlor!  You go in with a hairstyle in mind, and after hours of cutting things away and showing you things you never knew existed, you come out looking even better than you could’ve even imagined.  The road turned me inside out; I was exposed to everyone.  The lovely and unlovely parts of me were as visible as could be; regardless, I held my head high.  This has become the most memorable, humbling, life-changing experience of my life.

The role of a Core Advisor is a serious one.  Once in that role, you are watched, looked up to, and responsible for the spiritual, emotional, and mental growth of 12-18 people.  They see everything you say… do… wear… act… and react to.  They live with you and look to you for spiritual-- and even everyday-- wisdom.  Core Advisors are the role models of the entire campus.  They determine what the year is going to be like for the people they are in charge of.  A week after the road, I was informed that I was accepted to be a Core Advisor for August 2004-2005.  I was shocked!

Post Gideon’s Road

I seriously thought that they had no reason to pick me after all the sin in my life that was revealed.  But a friend of mine made a good point.  He said, “You were picked because God sees something in you that the girls in your Core are going to need.”  My heart is to be a Core Advisor where ever I am, but I know that staying another year at the Honor Academy is where God has directed me.  I fought with this decision for several weeks, but once I was accepted, I knew I was supposed to stay.  I honestly did not want to stay because I knew how hard it would be and how much more growing was going to be involved and my flesh was screaming! “I don’t want to grow anymore, I don’t want to be stretched, and I just want to be!”

In one of our classes, Ron Luce, the founder and president of Teen Mania Ministries, taught about fasting.  I remember him saying that if you can control your fleshly desire to eat, something that your body requires daily, then you can control your flesh with anything, especially the things it does not require.  So I fasted.  I had a huge, life-changing decision to make, sure it’s only one year of my life, but it could change the rest of my life and many other people’s lives as well.  I had some intense meditation and prayer to do!

It is then that I realized how many souls were at stake.  I had mine, my family’s, the girls I would be mentoring, the people my girls would be mentoring, and the people those people would be mentoring.  There was a lot at stake, and I had to make the decision in exactly a week.  The decision that could change eternity was in my hands.

Then another class that Ron Luce taught came to mind.  He was talking about whether God wanted you to live overseas or in America.  He said to picture yourself in America, twenty years from now, lying in bed.   Will you be tossing and turning, thinking, “What am I doing here?  I should be over in a different country?”  Or will you be in a different country lying in bed thinking, “What am I doing here?  I should be in America?”  So I changed the scenario a bit and thought, one year from now, I am lying in bed in Oklahoma…would I be able to sleep, or would I be thinking I should be at the Honor Academy?  Then I thought if I was at the Honor Academy would I be thinking I should be at home?  My decision:  I should be at the Honor Academy.  After much prayer, meditation and fasting, I decided I was staying.

My Heart

As I mentioned before, I have been going through a long process of God revealing what’s truly in my heart.  He has shown me that girls my age are my passion, especially girls that look to guys for attention and to feel loved.  I want them to realize that God’s love is richer and more fulfilling than what any guy can offer.   His love is patient and kind, selfless and will never fail.

I also want to make other people’s experience of the Honor Academy better than my own.  My first semester was an experience I want to spare anyone.  I want to ensure that my girls have someone who is connecting with God daily and is in tuned to His voice.  I desire to make a difference in the girls’ lives I am going to be in contact with everyday for the next year.  I will be shaping and molding their very being every day, every week, and every month for the next twelve months of our lives.  It will require dying to my flesh daily and sacrificing a year of my plans to fulfill His.  I have no idea what is in store for me as a Core Advisor, but I know that that is where my path is heading.  I know that I can not fulfill such a role, but God can.  I don’t know why or how God chose me, but He did.  Now I am choosing to be obedient and follow Him wherever He may lead.

I know that I still have many areas of my life that need to change before I step into this role of mentorship and I am depending fully on the Lord to continue to pull those out of my life.  I’ve grown in many areas in this season of my life and I continue to see more strongholds that hold me from a deeper relationship with Him.  But “I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:13-14.


            As you know, I recently had my third surgery on my sinuses.  The doctor did not find as much in my sinuses as he had seen on the two CT scans right before surgery, but the operation was still necessary.  This one was different from the others in that it was in a different area than before; it was closer to the paper-thin bones around my eyes and brain.   So it was more complicated than before, but with less removal involved.  The doctor was surprised that he did not find the amount of bad stuff in there he thought he would.

            I am standing on the fact that this is my last surgery.  I am attacking this with many medications and faithful prayer.   I am healed by His stripes!


          In staying a second year, I plan to be taking college classes through an accredited Junior college that has professors who travel to our campus.  I plan to take enough hours (12) to be a considered a full-time student instead of serving during certain hours for Teen Mania in various capacities as I do now, such as recruiting volunteers for Acquire the Fire events.  I’m grateful the Honor Academy sees such a need and allows second-year students to work on college coursework while fully being a part of the Honor Academy experience.

          Zana, thank you for your continual support, even when you did not directly see what it was going toward.  I hope that you now see some of the fruit of your sacrifices and how your support is furthering the kingdom!  Your support is making all the difference for me to be able to stay and grow and succeed at the Honor Academy.

Faithfully His,
Rachael Barlow

 GI Treatise


As Graduate Interns we have responded to the call to aggressively and passionately pursue our own self-development and that of each individual within our sphere of influence.  It is our responsibility to clearly mark the path enabling others to follow as we follow the example of Christ.  We are perfectly united in mind and thought, standing as one spirit, contending as one man, proclaiming Christ as one voice to this generation.

            Our leadership is based on a selfless sense of duty that demands that we surpass what is expected of ourselves and of those with whom we serve.  We were designed for accomplishment, intended for success and endowed with seeds of greatness.  We are not limited by the place of our birth, color of skin, but the size of our hope and faith in our God.  We now live by His presence, we lean on His faith, we love by patience, we lift by prayer and labor by power.

            Challenges ahead will frequently bring pain, but pain is temporary while growth is permanent.  We believe that those challenges will form the strongest moral foundation that will produce the leaders that best reflect the legacy of the Honor Academy.  This is our conviction and true commitment to ourselves and to God from which we will not back down.


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