Growing up in a Christian home, a church, and around faithful Christians, you would think that I would have accepted Christ at an early age. While I was baptized, marked by Christ, entering into His family shortly after birth, my faith didn’t become personal until much later.
Throughout school, I was always the quiet kid. Not popular, but not unpopular, it wasn’t until high school that I branched out – thanks to the love and encouragement of a dear friend, Davonna. She encouraged me to be an individual and to open up. Showing her love to my entire class, God had a different plan for her. Two days after I turned eighteen, Davonna disappeared – later we would find out that she had paid the ultimate price as a victim of domestic violence. It wasn’t until the last days of my senior year that her fate became known. The light that God had given me – the encouragement to step outside my shell – was now gone.
Coupled with financial issues that prevented me from going away to college and attending the local Junior College where I was with people I didn’t know, I became quite angry with God. Adding to this were a number of issues that made me keep God at a distance, in a box. And I prayed. I don’t know why, but I prayed. And God answered my prayers by having me enroll at North Central College, which is a private United Methodist college in Naperville, Illinois. Had I known that it was Christian affiliated, i would have gone elsewhere!
I arrived on campus, grateful for the new start, and determined to make new friends. Being a transfer student, I was in the minority in the dorm I was in – it turns out there were just a few of us transfers and tons of freshman. I was on the one floor with the transfers while the other male floor was housed with freshman. Not seeing any activity on my floor, I ventured down to the freshman floor and met some new people – also looking to establish friendships. As we decided what to do, the suggestion to go to the concert on a hill by the fieldhouse. The bands were Christian as were many of my new friends, it turned out. The Fellowship of Christian Athletes played a major role in this endeavor and I was invited to come. When classes started the next day I went to Marketing class. I struck up a conversation with a girl, Emily, who had seen me at FCA
, and the invitation was extended. She was nice-how could I say no. So I decided I would go once. I wasn’t and athlete and I wasn’t the type of Christian they seemed to be. I was happy to have God in my box, put away for when the bottom fell out.
The next Thursday I went to FCA, heard the story of a young lady who had felt abandoned from God and who had attempted suicide. I felt an instant connection to the feelings she had, realizing that Christians weren’t perfect. The worship leaders include one of the friends I met in my dorm…a matter a fact a lot of these friends were there. But I didn’t consider myself an athlete. I didn’t play Baseball, Football, or participate in Track or Cross County – which it seemed most everybody there did. I wasn’t going to go back. However, the next day Emily said she was glad I went and hoped I would come back.
The next Thursday I went back and God continued to speak to me. Then the invitation came, would you like to join a Bible Study. And I knew that at this point that I needed to live my life for Christ, said yes to the bible study, and let Christ take control of my life.
Over the next years I never really yielded fully to Christ, holding back, until a friend called me on the way I was living my life. Through the next years, I would have a journey that taught me a lot about Christ, leading me through times where I was tested, to a church that was on fire for Christ. As I continue I am finally beginning to realize what it is to live for Christ, fully, everyday.
Here are pictures of my home church, St. John Lutheran Church located in Wheaton, IL.