This blog was written by 2015 Downline alumna, Riley Sample.
In June of 2014, Hunter Sample and I got married in our hometown of Little Rock, Arkansas. The very next day, we drove to Memphis and began our life as a new family – exciting, but scary! Hunter had already been living here for several months and had the opportunity to learn about being in the Downline Institute, and he was really excited to be a part of it. I was a little nervous about making such a big commitment in our first year of marriage, but it was truly one of the best, most unique ways to enter this season of life.
Hunter and I both grew up in Christian families and good churches, but the teaching in Downline completely changed the way we understand Scripture. We read passages we had heard our whole lives and began to see them with brand new eyes. Instead of reading the story of Adam and Eve and only seeing the fall of mankind and sin that came into the world, we were taught to recognize the hope that Jesus would bring as He is the greater, more perfect “Adam”. The Gospel became alive to us in every part of Scripture and revealed Christ in a way that was so new and so life changing.
Along with this new perspective, we were consistently encouraged to take this information and pour it into others. Even if we wanted to forget this part of the program, it would have been impossible because we were reminded to seek opportunities to share at almost every class. This actually proved to be pretty difficult for us. We both really had to work at being intentional to develop relationships in our new environments, as we hoped we could share what Christ was doing in us with others. A lot of times, these interactions did not go as smoothly as we hoped or planned, but we have both learned so much about what it means to abide in Christ. We learned what it looks like to be faithful, even when we do not see immediate fruit or positive results, trusting that the Holy Spirit is providing “far more abundantly than all that we ask or think!”
Being in Downline has grown a love and excitement in me for this city and for the work I see God doing in our communities. It has encouraged Hunter and I to have difficult conversations with each other about how we spend our time, how we use our finances, and what we want discipleship to look like in our family. Despite my introverted tendencies, I have been pushed out of my comfort zone for the sake of others and for the sake of Gospel. The Institute is a difficult and challenging program, but God has used it to change the way I see myself, the people around me, and ultimately what it means to follow Christ.