Here’s my story of how I came to know Jesus! My story starts before I was born. My parents both grew up filling a pew on Sundays but that was the extent. Both of my parents grew up pursuing their own dreams, but neglected to surrender everything to Jesus. My dad grew up with uncles and cousins who encouraged him to drink alcohol in which lead to my dad occasionally drinking with friends. Nearly 27 years ago though, my dad’s friend invited him to a service in which he accepted Jesus into his life and began a new journey together! They were both baptized in the Holy Spirit (following the Biblical pattern of the Acts church), and had their lives radically changed.
That’s where I come in. I grew up with loving parents who brought me to church every week, but more importantly, who would read the Bible with me, pray with me, and ask questions about my life. When I was a young boy, I remember accepting Jesus into my heart while sitting on the couch in our living room with my dad. I began to read the Bible and pray on my own. As I grew older, I began to LOVE sports. They were my passion. At the age of 10, I played on a baseball team in which we travelled throughout the state on weekends playing in tournaments. For the most part, we all continued to play together in the summers until we were 17. We travelled throughout the upper Midwest and even played in Missouri, Colorado, and Arkansas. Baseball was my life! The guys on that team became some of my closest friends. We did everything together during the months of June, July, and August.
I remember leaving the house as a young teenager and my dad would say, “Guard your ears, guard your eyes, and guard your mouth.” Those words would stick with me. As we grew older, the friendships I developed through baseball and school began to shape who I was, or so I thought. Some of them would talk about sexual experiences they had with girls. Some would be swearing. Some would watch movies or TV shows that had inappropriate materials in them. All of these things would bring me back to what my dad said. I knew it wasn’t right, but slowly I allowed it to change who I was. I slowly neglected to read the Bible and pray. I went to youth group, but I was only going through the motions. I began to leave out details of my life when I talked to my brother, pastor, and parents. I called myself a Christian, but began to engage in things that were the opposite. I started in a life of impurity, lying, and pride. I didn’t do SOME of the things my friends did, but I was still living a sinful life. I had no desire to show my friends who Jesus was. I was living a double-life.
My goal was to play college baseball. As a senior, things went right for me. I had conversations with a couple of coaches from smaller schools in North Dakota to potentially continue my baseball career. They weren’t the greatest offers at all, but it was still cool for me. But, during Christmas break that year, a guy named Josh came to Bismarck (friend of my brother from NDSU) and he asked me about my life, my walk with Jesus, and encouraged me to come to NDSU. I didn’t think much of it at the time. One day when I was talking to a baseball coach over the phone, all I could think about was that conversation with Josh and decided to for sure go to NDSU for college. Greatest decision of my life! On my first day of college, a guy named Dave took me to Applebee’s and shared his life story with me and I shared mine with him. He led a small group Bible study in my room that year through Chi Alpha Christian Fellowship. I got involved with Chi Alpha and with small group and it became my favorite part about college. Dave was an amazing leader who allowed me to come along side of him in life, as he became my number one fan, encouragement, and editor. I started to read my Bible daily again, and during a conference my freshman year, I had my heart burdened for students at my school that didn’t know Jesus (including some of my best friends). I began to pray for them! I started getting radical about the sin in my life and started to actively seek ways to live a pure life. I asked people to be accountability partners in purity, in my daily time with Jesus, etc. It was an incredible year of growth and also of God working off the rough edges of my life and revealing to me things that needed to change.
Over the next two years, I lived with amazing guys who encouraged me and challenged me every day, continued to seek God on my own, and seek ways to be more like Jesus! As a sophomore, I began to pray more. In that time, God started to give me a new dream for my future: college ministry. I read Nehemiah in the Bible and realized that in order to see God move, we need to pray! God began to give me vision for my campus and give me vision for my life. I lead small groups in which I decided to not only share the gospel with them, but also my life (1 Thess. 2:7-8). I began to give financially as the Bible instructed. I began to be radical in the way I lived my life, in order to set an example in speech, in life, in faith, in love, and in purity (1 Timothy 4:11-12). I made a decision to not defile myself (Daniel 1:8). I allowed the Word of God to teach me and mentor me. I was blessed with a job at the Wellness Center at NDSU in which God gave me favor there. God provided for me financially, he provided for me with an internship, and so much more. God used Chi Alpha in amazing ways in my life. He gave me amazing friends, amazing opportunities, and gave me Pastor Brad Lewis, who is one of my heroes and is an incredible man of God! Chi Alpha is a ministry in which hundreds of college students get saved from a life of insignificance and sin. Praise God! He used Chi Alpha to change my life completely.
I am at a place now, where I am not done yet. God has so much more for me. I am constantly asking for ways in which he can change me and make me more like him (Psalm 139:23-24). I realize that no one will come to God except through true repentance and relationship with Jesus Christ. I need him. I am nothing without Jesus! He has completely changed my life. He has given me purpose. He has given me a passion to see people saved and set free from sin and pain! God has a plan for me, and also a plan for the people around me. I am currently finishing my senior year in Public Relations and Communications as well as taking online courses to become a certified pastor. It is exciting! We have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). But God loves us so much that he sent his only son that whoever believes in him will not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16). It’s incredible that no matter where we have been or what we have done, God’s grace will meet us where we are at and save us. He loves us that much. WOW! It’s amazing to me. He’s not done with me yet! He’s not done with you either. He is King! He has a plan for your life (Jeremiah 29:11-13). He will provide and even when tough times come, he is still there. He will never leave you nor forsake you (Deut. 31:6). Cling to his promises! God is good! :)