Yay Sisters: Allicia Bankuti of Ellel Ministries in Ontario, Canada
Friends, I'm super excited to introduce you to Allicia!
Allicia is the Communications Manager at Ellel Ministries, an international, non-denominational, Christian organization based in Ontario, Canada, seeking to fulfil the vision of Luke 9:11 where Jesus welcomed the people, taught them about the Kingdom of God and healed those in need. She's also a very talented creative (photographer and author!).
When the crowds learned it, they followed him, and he welcomed them and spoke to them of the kingdom of God and cured those who had need of healing. (Luke 9:11)
We met 33 weeks ago through... you guessed it: Instagram (which conveniently reminded me how long ago we met)!
I remember it clearly, actually.
When I first started The Yay Project, I spent quite a bit of time reading and commenting on other Christian posts by searching hashtags. I saw it as a fun way to make new friends, especially as I didn't have many friends sharing the gospel online, in real life. But with work getting busier, I hadn't had as much time to do this. But one day, I decided to make time and remember seeing one of Allicia's posts. She'd just started a mini series to "speak only life giving and positive words for 7 days" and her writing was so honest, vulnerable and full of hope, reflecting her tender relationship with our Lord Jesus. So I left a comment (and also a DM I think) and... we became friends! :)
(Note: don't be afraid to reach out to fellow sisters / use hashtags ;)
Over the past year, I've really valued her friendship and time as we got to know each other first through Instagram DM, then moving to Whatsapp, and even having a lovely, long phone conversation. We've celebrated when life is rosy, prayed when life seems tough. And said more than once how grateful we are to be able to connect on so many areas during this time in our lives.
If you're wanting a new friend who isn't afraid to get real - sharing her life or pointing you back to the truth - send Allicia a DM yourself! People often say it's hard to make friends as an adult... I hope it's much easier to find sisters. :)
Allicia Bankuti Ontario, Canada 34 Years Old
Have you ever struggled with identity? How did God lead you to his truth?
I’m not sure that I’ve ever met someone who hasn’t at one point in their life struggled with their identity, and I’m not different. I can remember constantly asking God, “what do you want me to do?” Or “who am I supposed to be?” I felt quite identityless once I became a believer in Christ, which seems very counter to what we’re taught in His word, because our identity is supposed to be in Him!
However when we’ve been in the world and of the world for a long time our identity gets caught up in our career, our spouse or significant other, our education, friends even our athletic ability. So when I became a believer and I was told those were not where my identity was supposed to lie, I all of a sudden had this large question hanging over my head, “then who am I?”
It wasn’t an immediate truth that came, but rather it’s been this Lordship journey over time, that as I invite Jesus to be Lord over every area of my life whether it be my worship, my job, my relationships etc truth has come to the deep places of my spirit and I’ve come into reality of who I am! When Jesus spoke into my finances, and became Lord over them I learn that He is my provider, and all of a sudden provider wasn’t someone I had to be for myself, instead I could be daughter.
I believe that it’s in the daily Lordship decisions that we find out who we are, because we find out who He is!
What does celebrating your God-given design mean to you?
Celebrating my God-given design to me is knowing that I am one of a kind, and when we are one of a kind it is pointless to compare. Comparison truly is the thief of individuality and contentment. It says that who God has made me to me, what He has done for me is not enough, or as good as it is for someone else. Comparison contradicts God’s plans for my life. I have learn that to celebrate who God made me to be, I have to keep my eyes on Him, and know that I won’t look or be like anyone else and that’s okay. I have learnt how to celebrate my uniqueness, the special way that God made me. I just want to say that doesn’t give me permission to stay in a place of hurt or brokenness and call it “uniqueness” and say “well it’s just the way I am”, instead it’s an invitation to celebrate the Christ-like qualities I see, and grow in the areas that don’t resemble Him. I’ve learn not to look to someone else to tell me who I am, but to the One who made me, and to take time to thank Him, even when it feels like I’m different or lagging behind friends who are different stages of life.
What has God shown you about your God-given design through your walk with him?
One of the things God has shown me about my own God-given design through my walk with him is that even in my darkest times when I was far from God I was still the woman He loved, and saw serving His Kingdom. Precious gems don’t look the way they do when they’re set in a ring, when they’re found originally. They’re rough, dirty and definitely not pleasing to the eye, however under that exterior is the same beautiful gem we pay thousands of dollars for. The gem is valuable from the moment it’s found, it just needs some refining to help it sparkle.
This is what God showed me on a plane heading to the UK for work. I asked Him to help me see who I really was in His Kingdom.
Do you know how he showed me?
Through burnt bangs (or fringe since it’s a UK story)!
I was straightening my hair after a long flight, and for some reason the smell of burning hair just didn’t register, blame it on the jet lag or my nerves. After setting off a fire alarm and realizing that my bangs were burnt to a crisp I cried. A lot. I was supposed to be speaking to a group of young people and I was embarrassed and feeling anything but beautiful. It was in that moment that the Lord broke in and said “but your beauty is inside, so burnt bangs won’t affect it.” This was the beginning of my journey of learning about who I really was. He has used moments like that to remind me that even when I was far from him, I still had the same call, the same purpose, I just didn’t see it yet, but He did. This helps me to understand grace, and that my destiny, call or purpose whatever you’d like to call it, is not based on my merit or what I can do for God, but rather who I am, His daughter.
How would you encourage someone who is struggling to embrace their God-given design and live out their God-given calling?
Living on a fence is extremely uncomfortable, when we are one foot in and one foot out in any area with the Lord we often lack peace. Embracing who God says we are, and stepping fully into the call He has on our lives I believe is simpler than we make it out to be. We always want to complicate things but the truth is often Jesus’ call is as simple as “follow me”. He didn’t give the disciples much more to go on that those two words, and we see how that invitation led to lives set apart for the Kingdom of God. He wasn’t looking for them to have it all together, the highest degree of education, or even for them to have all the answers, He was looking for willing hearts.
Are you willing?
It’s not about having all the answers, and sometimes we can get caught up worshiping and keeping our eyes on the answer, rather than the one who gives the answers. Saying ‘yes’ to God’s calling and ‘putting on’ our true identity releases His Spirit to work in and through us I believe in an even greater way, and all he’s looking for is a submitted heart. I always say that on a need to know basis, he’ll let you know what you need to know, so don’t wait and try to figure it all out and have all the answers, or else you’ll be waiting for a long time. Peter said yes when he was still called Simon. Daniel said yes surrounded by lions. Joseph said yes while in prison, Ruth said yes to a God she didn’t know, I believe your ‘yes’ has more in store for you than you can hope or imagine. (Ephesians 3:20)
[Note from Jenni] Here's the the post that encouraged me to write that comment / send that DM :) @allicia_nicole
Day 5: Peace 🕊
I took this photo in Israel when I was staying by the Sea of Galilee , the warm air flipped the pages of my bible and I sat completely content and at peace. Where and how do you feel most peaceful? I truly believe that contentment is the good soil for peace to grow, but like anything envy and comparison look to choke out any growth. I think if someone would have asked me what peace feels like 20 years ago I would have drawn a blank. Aside from a peace symbol sticker on my clarinet case (yah I was that person) and a few peace patches on my jeans (also that person) I wouldn’t have been able to tell you what peace felt like. What was familiar to me was feeling like an elephant was on my chest every morning when I woke up, or the constant sick to my stomach ache as if I was in trouble. Anxiety was a close friend of mine, but peace was not. I see my life now and i’m no skinnier then I was at that time, and no richer but I have a deep contentment that has produced a steadfast peace and it’s only come from Jesus. The more I learnt about who I am and my value, the less I looked to others with envy and comparison, the less I tried to lose the next pound to feel better, or earn a little bit more to satisfy. I stopped wanting what others had, and lived a life that I loved. Jesus constantly reminds me that I am beautiful, loved, and a precious pearl in His eyes, and it’s in those moments that I stop longing for something else or to be someone else, and truly enjoy all that I am and all that I have. I want to say this is not some quick fix, or simple add and stir formula to remove anxiety from your life, for those reading this feeling like I might be trying to provide a “simple” answer to a very deep and serious issue for so many. I have seen many counsellors, been on medication, processed with safe people, sought help, and received a lot of healing and it has been a journey not a quick sprint. This week during the seven days when the comparison comes, instead celebrate one thing you love about yourself, it might feel small but it may have a big impact.
Thank you for sharing your testimony! Are you open to receiving any follow-up questions? How can we contact you?
Yes I am very open to receiving any follow-up questions and the easiest way is through e-mail email@example.com.