Anastasia Spinola, a sophomore in high school, walked the halls feeling angry. High school is difficult enough. But for Anastasia, who was born with autism, it had added challenge. Social situations were more difficult because of her condition.
According to Anastasia she was consistently teased at school because of her autism. “It was a dark time,” she says. She was convinced that she was a nobody.
That same year Anastasia began attending Cru at her high school.
Darrell Kilcup, 46, and a volunteer with Cru, works with youth. He saw in Anastasia a desire to learn about God.
Anastasia says “I was a little nervous at first. I was very uncomfortable telling people how I felt, because I felt that no one was there for me. But then I realized that God was there for me. And He’s been there for me since the day I was born.”
Soon Anastasia came to Darrell’s church. His daughter and daughter-in-law, about the same age as Anastasia, adopted her as a sister. At her baptism, he says, “you couldn’t have held her out of that water… no one was going to stop her.”
Darrell’s daughter, Taylor, it’s exciting to know Anastasia, someone “who is really interested in following Jesus and making mistakes, learning from those mistakes and sharing everything that they learn with their family and friends.”
As Anastasia’s spiritual life grew, she still struggled with her autism. She might get angry easily or talk over someone. Taylor says that even in these areas Anastasia has grown. Now when they are on the phone, Anastasia will ask Taylor about her day and how she can pray for her.
Far from feeling like a nobody, Anastasia sees she has great worth. “God wouldn’t have created me if He didn’t have a purpose for me,” she says. Anastasia is living out her name, which literally means “reborn” or “resurrection.”
She continues, “It’s amazing to think that when I die, God will receive me.”