Jessica S.

Jessica S.

from Missouri
Story #580
My story? It truly begins way before I was born. Why do I say that? Because without God’s divine nature, life would not exist. I also believe my story began way before I was born, because of the Holy Spirit interceding in the lives of my family and raising me in a household that honors our Lord Jesus Christ.

With that little introduction, you probably figured out already that I was raised in a Christian household. That I went to church since I was little. That I was raised in Sunday School. That I went to my youth group. And that I was the annoying, good two-shoes kid. For the most part you are right. However, for the longest time I thought this diminished my story. I thought it weakened my testimony. But I was completely wrong.

I was that kid who thought I was “born Christian.” I thought it was part of my DNA, like when I came home from the hospital I was already a Christian. When I was the young age of 9, I decided it was my turn to get baptized. So, I went to my parents and told them I was ready to get baptized. I could even tell them that Jesus Christ was my Lord and Savior. I could answer any question they wanted to ask me with the “church” answer. My parents knew this was/is a big decision, so they asked the pastor to sit down with me and discuss the true meaning of baptism. I went through a little class with the pastor, and the pastor also agreed that I had taken the right steps to get baptized. However, I had them all fooled. Yes, I knew the answers to all their questions. Yes, I could state that Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior. But, the only reason I wanted to get baptized is because I saw my younger cousin get baptized and it looked fun. I wanted someone to dunk me and clap for me. And why not, I thought that was going to save me from Hell because I had the “picture perfect” relationship with Christ that any 9 year could have. But Ha! Oh, how I was the one who was truly fooled!

For the next 6-7 years I continued to go to church, answer the questions in Sunday School, tell my friends I was a Christian, follow the rules in school, etc. But I was really only living vicariously through my family’s relationship with Jesus. I didn’t truly have my OWN personal relationship with Jesus. I only did the things that I was supposed to do, because I was a prideful adolescent who wanted the praise.

It wasn’t until the summer of 2007, right before my sophomore year of high school that I, Jessica, accepted Christ into my heart. Or let’s say – made Jesus as the King of my heart and Ruler of my life. I had the opportunity to go on a Group Mission Trip with my youth group to Oklahoma. This trip changed my life for eternity. It was a trip where I not only got to serve the underprivileged, but every night I got to learn about Jesus. It was on a Tuesday night; the message was coming from Colossians Chapter 3:13 specifically about how we are to forgive as the Lord forgives. It was about the grace and mercy He shows us. It was about how Jesus holds no grudge, even if we don’t ask for forgiveness. This perfect man, that I was supposedly living for, was forgiving me even when I wasn’t having an intimate, personal relationship with. Why? Why, was He forgiving me when I couldn’t even forgive a friend for offending me? How could I hold a grudge on someone who I was close to? How could I hold a grudge when the person had asked for my forgiveness? And just then, as I started running these questions through my head, the light bulb came on. I had my ah-ha moment. Or maybe if I am honest, I had the waterworks flowing down my face. It was this night that I made my OWN personal commitment to follow Jesus, to accept Him in my life, and to truly live for Him. I was no longer just a fan knowing all the statistics about Jesus; I was a follower who started to surrender to Him every day.

Up until that night I thought I was living, but I didn’t really know what it meant to be set free. I didn’t know what it meant to have true joy for the life I was given. Up until that summer night, I was just walking through the motions. From that night on is when the fun began. I am not saying life has been easy since accepting Jesus (it’s been quite the opposite). BUT what I am saying is that life has been better. Yes, I said that right – life is not easy, but it is better. Now when I walk through all the things life throws at me, I have Jesus to give me the strength to get me through.

I truly believe that we are all given gifts and talents by God, and since the summer of 2007, God has vividly illustrated and pointed out the gifts He has given me. I believe with these gifts, we are to build our story (or what others like to call testimony). I’m not sure why, but God has trusted me with the gifts of support and strength in times of tragedy/trial. He has put me in situations where I was only able to stand on my own two feet because of the strength He gave me. I could write a whole other chapter to this story, based on how I have used my gifts of strength and support; but I will only briefly share a couple. In 2010, my grandmother who was passing from ovarian cancer was taking her last few breaths and my grandfather asked me to be in the room with him and to pray over her with the family. Let me also mention that this grandfather of mine was not a believer at this time. I never thought— in my wildest dreams— I would be able to be in a room watching someone pass from this earth – let alone a family member. This night, I felt closer to Jesus than I had since that night in 2007. Now let’s fast-forward a few years: we are in 2015 and life is crazy. Yes, God opened doors and used me from 2010 to 2015, but we are going to focus on 2015. In 2015, both of my grandfathers were gravely ill, my father was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, a teenager from my youth was shot in the head, and my friend’s dad was killed in a plane crash. That’s only to name the major life struggles that year – however, because of the strength I have in Christ I was able to be the pillar of support for the families in need. I was able to be the shoulder to cry on, the person called to go to the hospitals all hours of day, the person to give the hug, and the person to have the listening ear. But none of that is to be said, without the acknowledgement of the strength, love, and grace God gave me that year. The joy I had in Jesus was real. Yes, I could be sad, but when I was able to go to work and still have joy was when I knew Jesus was walking side be side with me. The year of 2015 gave me more opportunities to witness to co-workers, friends, and families than ever before. Although 2015 was the toughest year of my life, I am oh-so-thankful for the opportunities God trusted me to witness to unbelievers.

Now that brings us to today— 2018—where my passion is serving Christ in my local church. I am fortunate enough to be co-leading Briarcliff Students and teaching teens about Jesus. I have been working with youth groups for 6 years now. Some may call me crazy, but I found that it is what energizes me, what gives me purpose, what gives me life, and what gets me excited. I love loving on teenagers. I love teaching them about Jesus. I love building Christian relationships. I love partnering with parents to make disciples. I love answering all the tough questions. I love being a safe place for them to feel welcome. I love being a disciple of Jesus Christ. And I pray that God continues to trust me with HIS STORY.

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