I was born and raised as the youngest of four children, with two older brothers and an older sister.
I’m very blessed to have grown up in a household where my parents accepted Christ when I was young. I went to church and Sunday school, where I learned about Jesus Christ and how I am sinner and in need of Him to save me. I trusted him as my Lord and Savior at the young age of 6.
One of the most important things to me is my family: I am very close to my siblings and parents. My biggest role model and best friend growing up was my brother, Michael, who was seven years older than me. I shared a room with him for about 10 years and during that time we became extremely close.
My spiritual life at this time was looking good on the outside, but my relationship with God on the inside was not. I went to church on Sunday and Wednesday and spent every summer at a Bible camp. However, I kept my faith to myself, didn't tell my friends about God and never really read the Bible.
Everything changed on a snowy morning in March of 2006, when I was a freshman in high school. My sister and I were pulled out of school to go to the hospital, where we found out Michael, at age 21, had been killed in a car accident on his way to work that morning. Just like that, my life was torn apart and I had a huge void in my life.
For a while I wanted to hide in my room and not go anywhere or talk to anyone, just to escape the pain. I constantly asked the question, “Why God? Why would you let this happen to me?” At that time I couldn't see God’s plan and it didn't make sense to me.
Up until that point my walk with the Lord has been pretty lukewarm. I knew how to be a Christian, but I never realized what it meant to be a follower of Jesus Christ.
Michael’s death has helped me learn countless things about myself, my family, and God. Instead of pushing God away when Michael died, my parents and other siblings clung to Him for support and trusted Him to provide for us. This and the fact that my brother was passionate about his relationship with God and served Him with his life made me realize that life could be over in a second, and all we could take with us is our faith.
Michael had spent a few of his summers at Crescent Lake Bible camp, where he impacted campers for eternity. There was one boy he had the opportunity to lead to Christ, and completely change his life forever. Everywhere he went, he made people feel welcome and loved.
Romans 5:1 says, “Therefore having been justified by faith we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” This verse tells us that we are justified, which means “declared righteous” in the sight of God by our faith in Him, and in the fact that he sent His son Jesus Christ to earth to live a perfect and blameless life, dying on the cross for our sins, and rise three later.
This has become the most important thing in my life. I cannot take money, fame, success or grades or anything else the world has to offer me when I leave this place.
My life has not always been continual growth since my brother died. I still struggle with things. I sin daily. But the truth is I’m not fighting my old sinful nature alone. In high school, I made changes in my life. I got more involved with my church youth group. I began reading my Bible more and started working at Crescent Lake Bible camp, where I could have that same impact in campers’ lives that Michael had. I made some friends that were very encouraging and constantly point me toward Christ when I would start to stray away.
As eternal beings, the time we spend here on earth is just a pinprick in eternity, but the truth is, it’s what determines our eternal life.
That is why we must make every effort in our lives to further God’s Kingdom and answer the call that we’ve been given in the Bible, to live lives set apart from our sinful world, by following Christ.