Life Change Sparks Unquenchable Passion for People
The phone rang at midnight, and minutes later Tara Flood jumped into her car without stopping to grab a wallet or to put on her shoes. Clad in plaid pajama pants, an oversized sweatshirt and an ear-to-ear smile, Tara raced to Starbucks -- not for a mocha, but for ministry.
Lana Nenaydykah had prayed and received Christ, an answer to months of prayer by Tara. Amidst the aroma of coffee, the girls talked and prayed until early the next morning.
Tara, a 21-year-old junior at Marquette University in Wisconsin, has worked through multiple hardships in life. Now she has an unquenchable passion to transfer to her peers what she's learned about God's life-changing power.
Tara discovered how to overcome her obstacles by entering into a personal relationship with Christ through the Priority Associates spiritual-mentoring process. Through a process called discipleship, Tara navigates four young women through the same material. Lana is one of them.
"That's what I love to spend my time doing," emphasizes the full-time student with a part-time job. "Being with people, listening to them and praying with them. I pray that I can love other people like Christ loves them."
Shannon Smith, one of the women Tara trains, remembers watching Tara talk to a stranger about Christ's love.
She and Tara met for dinner at a T.G.I. Friday's. When their dark-haired, tattooed waiter approached, Tara asked, "How are you doing?"
"Just OK," he replied.
"Jesus loves you!" Tara responded. "That should make your day so great!"
During the rest of the meal, Shannon heard Tara tell the 23-year-old man more about Christ's love for him.
"[That time at Friday's] got me thinking that I can do this," says Shannon. "There are so many unsaved people that I know, and it gave me the strength to talk to them about Christ."
Jesus Himself commanded that His followers teach others what they've been taught about Him, and obeying that command fills every free minute Tara finds.
"I feel like it's my responsibility to let people know about Jesus," Tara explains.
She knows Christ can help people who are struggling and she's not afraid to help them find Him.
"People will think you are odd, but it's all in the delivery. Be friends with them and love them for who they are. Don't be scared to go where they're comfortable."
That compassion stems from struggles of her own.
Jim Grunseth, Priority Associates staff member, and Janine Rochwite, administrator at Tara's church, met Tara a little over a year ago when she sought help in dealing with the sexual abuse she had received in high school. After graduation, she also struggled with anorexia.
Through Jim's professional counseling and Janine's discipleship, Tara blossomed as the Word of God infiltrated her heart. While some insecurity remains about her physical appearance, Tara is bold when she talks about Jesus.
"She can't contain her excitement," says Jim. "I've never seen anyone so excited about the gospel and the Great Commission."
Proof of God's powerful healing resonates in her perspective.
"I am so thankful for everything that God allowed me to go through," says Tara, rarely seen without a smile, "because I know that He is going to, and has already used it to minister to other people."
On her way home from Starbucks that late night, Tara got pulled over. Shoeless and lacking identification, she owed an explanation to the policeman. So she jumped at the chance to explain how her friend Lana had just become a Christian.
Even law enforcement can't quiet Tara's passion for God.