As Hope continues to grow, it’s impossible to know everyone. Even more than that, it’s impossible to know all that God is doing in each individual’s life. However, even as we grow, we never want to lose that vision and celebration of what God is doing on a personal, intimate level with each individual, as well as what God is doing on a broad, community level.
“Stories” is our way to help bridge that gap. Here we are able to share all the cool things that God is doing on an individual and corporate level, to continually remind us of the great God that we serve and why we do what we do!
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Have a story you’d love to share to encourage the rest of body at Hope? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org!
My decision to be baptized seemed like the most natural thing to do when it wasn’t staring me in the face. I grew up in the Catholic Church and was baptized as a baby. I jumped through all the hoops the Church laid out before me: baptism, communion, reconciliation, and confirmation. I never stopped to consider the implications of any of those actions. I wasn’t given a choice in whether or not I’d like to participate; it was expected. I went through life questioning the authenticity of God and His relevance for my life. It wasn’t until high school when a friend clearly laid out who Jesus is and what His sacrifice meant for my life. A month later, I accepted Him as my Lord and Savior. At the time, I didn’t think that that decision would require much of me.
When I got to the University of Minnesota in the fall of 2006, that same wonderful friend dragged me to a Campus Crusade for Christ meeting, and thus began a huge transformation. I learned that my faith requires great sacrifice. It meant alienating myself from my family. They thought my faith was the result of a cult. My sister, who is four years younger, was particularly angry. (It wasn’t until this year, when she arrived at the University of Minnesota, that she softened. She even comes to Hope with me. And, miracle of all miracles, she found a Church community that she loves. This is important to my Baptism story, I promise!) For seven years I’ve lived two separate lives: one life dedicated to the Lord and one that feared my family’s judgment and disappointment. That fear was strong enough to affect me at times when I thought I was most resistant to it.
For the past five years that I’ve spent in Minnesota and at Hope, I’ve watched time and time again as people declared their faith through baptism and, for five years, I’ve longed to stand up and declare mine. Something always held me back. I’m great at making excuses, and I’ve made countless ones. “I want my family there…” “I don’t feel like getting wet today…” “I want to wait until they do it at the lake…” “They’re doing it at the lake next weekend, but I will probably have homework…” “It’s June in Minnesota – the lake will still be frozen…” This cycle of excuses and procrastination continued until last Sunday, April 4, 2011. Sitting in the balcony, next to my beloved little sister, God was sick of my excuses. I answered the call to get up and go forward. It was the longest walk of my life. It was also the coldest water of my life. A Polar Plunge for Jesus, if you will. The best part for me – my sister witnessed it. As the Lord tugs on her heart and beckons her to follow Him, I did the only thing I know how to do. I lived my role as big sister – I set the best example I could. I desire only to show her Jesus, and I hope that’s what she saw.
My baptism was a testament to my heart, my desire, my love of my Redeemer, and my love of a family lost. I declared, publically, my heart for the Lord, and I hope that, in the process, I was able to fan the flame beginning to burn in the heart of beloved sister.
I grew up in a Christian home with a Lutheran background, but church was a Sunday experience that made you feel good. However, in the summer after my seventh grade year, I went to a bible camp that showed me that Christianity could be different than a Sunday morning chore. From there, I grew very slowly and steadily. The very next summer, I had the opportunity to go on a mission trip with my youth group to Denver, and God opened my eyes to a lot of new things that weren’t present in my small northern Minnesota town, such as poverty. It was a revelation of the greatness of God in even seemingly hopeless situations, and it set me on fire.
Yet, like all fires, it didn’t last forever. For the longest time throughout later high school, I was stuck in religion, trying to please God through bettering myself. I would struggle with that on and off, never really letting God fully pervade every single part of my life. Through the little things, though, he would teach me a little at a time, and I was growing. It was a slow process, but it was growth nonetheless. The major turning point in my relationship was coming to College. Being independent was a whole new experience, and at Northwestern College, I saw what letting God work in every area of my life could look like and got so excited that I could have that! I started attending Hope Community part of the way through my first semester, when they were just beginning the Gospel sermon series. I learned a lot about my own faith in that way, and saw it more as a continual process.
Since then, a recurring thing God has been telling me is to let him work through me to achieve his purpose, not me working for him by myself. I’ve seen so much transformation in my life in the last few months, and on Sunday, it just seemed that the Holy Spirit was moving in me, telling me that it was time to declare this through Baptism. I had seen Hope do some baptisms a few months ago at an evening service, and it had been tumbling around in my mind ever since then; I had been baptized as an infant and confirmed later, but I wanted something more tangible than a confirmation service where many of the kids were confirmed simply because their parents were making them.
Right now, I am at the place where I am trying to maintain Christ as the center of my life, and I’m working to get to the place where I would give up anything for him! He has transformed me through the years, and I’m so thankful to him.