Missions -

Student hears God’s whisper atop Mourne Mountain —

By Tory McKinley

“Surely we aren’t going up this way,” I thought to myself as I watched my team ahead of me hike up one of the Mourne Mountains in Northern Ireland.

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” – James 1: 2-3 NLT "

I had wanted to be in this picturesque country since I heard about CIY’s European expansion at MOVE three years ago. And there we were – on our last day of the Engage mission trip earlier this month – on our way to the top of a mountain as one of our final activities in this breathtaking land.


Breathtaking … for me, it was literally breath-taking. I live with asthma and this “wee dander” seemed a bit too difficult for me.


But I pressed on – despite the unsettling feeling I experienced when I gazed upon the towering pines in deafening silence.


My legs started to hurt, it was getting harder to catch my breath and the trail provided more and more obstacles to ascend. I prayed for God to get me up the mountain – almost the same prayer I had lifted all week. I had faced my past, reflected, prayed, dug into Scripture and listened to other’s experiences to shift my perspective on my situation and was finally able to release the pain I had been holding onto for so long. I had even mustered enough bravery to share that last year was the furthest from God I had ever been.


We reached the summit and climbed the final stairs that led to the top. A stone wall lined the side of the mount, and I knew what I had to do. I knew I had reached the top with God by my side and I needed to scream it … After all I was on a mountaintop.


I hopped up onto the wall and let out a joyous scream. I finally felt at peace with God’s plan for me. I could finally remove my own selfishness and really lean into God’s way. My friend, Grace Guillote, joined me on the wall and we took turns hearing the echoes of our joy ring through the valley. It was truly one of the most freeing moments of my life.


There were so many transformative moments on the trip, but this was the moment when I heard God speak to me. My Father clearly said, “Tory, you can’t fix anything. Only I can. Let me have control.”


This spoke deep into my heart because prior to this moment I wanted to be in control. I wanted to control my relationships, future and even my own walk with God. It’s in my nature to do – instead of wait.


His message to me was so freeing because I know now that I don’t have to make the calls by myself anymore. I can lean into God and listen for what He believes is best and have full faith in His plan. It was almost as if my anxiety left my body when I was on that mountaintop – an almost indescribable moment.


Tory McKinley, 20, of Florence, Kentucky, is a junior at Asbury University studying media communications. She joined the first CIY Engage mission trip of 2019 to Northern Ireland.