By Hannah Brzozowski
Growing up in church, there would always be those miracle stories told. Someone would make his way to the pulpit and share how he did drugs, partied and slept around. Then, he met Jesus, made a complete 180, and his life was great. He had a great marriage with 3 kids and a white picket fence. I would sit there, jaw dropping, in awe of how God completely transformed this person's life. To be honest, I was insecure that I didn't have a great story to prove that God worked in my life at all.
For me, I grew up with two parents, in the county, going to a private Christian school and going to church every Sunday. My mom taught at my Christian school, volunteered with the homeless ministry and led Bible studies. My dad was leading the board at my church, supported missionaries overseas, and was in a small group with the senior pastor. We prayed before every meal. And my parents never missed their quiet time with God.
And I was a major rule-follower. The worst thing I did was skip one class in high school. I can still remember seeing two police officers walking into Starbucks that morning and thinking I was going to get arrested because I was supposed to be in school. That's where my rebellion streak ended as quickly as it began.
All that to say, when it came to "testimony" time in youth group, no one was calling on me to tell my story. I think that does something to "church kids." It makes it seem like their story isn't worth telling or even doubt if they even came to know Jesus because they didn't have some dramatic turnaround.
I think our stories are worth telling.
But I don't think that's the case. I think our stories are worth telling. They are the stories of God's providence when you raise your kids to love Jesus.
To be honest, I'm not sure when I actually came to know Jesus. There was the time that I was in the bath tub and I prayed a prayer when I was four years old. But I don't know if that really "counts." Then, in 4th grade, I went through a class where they explained the Gospel to us, I believed it, and got baptized.
Then, there was the time I made my faith my own. At 14 years old, I went to a conference. Honestly, the only reason I went was because my favorite band: Superchick was gonna be there. (Check out their music and it will bring you back to a different time. Trust me, you won't regret it.)
I remember raising my shaking hand, realizing that I what I was doing was going to change to my life.
When I got to the conference, there were lots of lights, loud music, and funny skits. But what really stuck out to me was that Saturday night when the preacher on stage asked us if we wanted to make a commitment to follow God with our lives. I remember raising my shaking hand, realizing that what I was doing was going to change to my life.
The following Monday morning, I went back to school and told my friends that I was different. The big change: I wanted to stop talking bad about people behind their back. That lasted for about a day.... but hey! At least there was a desire to be better!
Fast forward to when I was a Junior in high school, I decided to be a part of the e-team (this was the *cool* way of saying evangelism team). This was the team that would go up to random people and talk to them about Jesus. Yup. We were *those* kids. I remember talking to all sorts of kids outside of my Christian bubble. We'd talk about what they thought about God and life. A lot of them thought we were weird (because *ahem* we were...) but some of them actually opened up and talked with us about what was happening in their lives. These were the moments that I realized what I wanted to do with my life. I wanted to help bring people closer to Jesus.
These were the moments that I realized what I wanted to do with my life. I wanted to help bring people closer to Jesus.
Note: Looking back, I can see how I was pretty judgmental of people who didn't know Jesus back then. Or if they did know Jesus but didn't live their life the way I thought they should, I judged them too. I thought it was my job to let people know when they were sinning. When I first started out serving in my church's youth ministry, I would try my best to get the girls I was discipling to be just like me. Honestly, this didn't work very well. Especially since I was still growing up myself.
After a few years of youth ministry, I was hired on to work full time at my church. At first, I was the secretary and then my position grew into leading the operations of the church. I became very passionate of seeing first time guests get connected and loved by the church community. I was happy with this and honestly, I thought I would work at this church until I was old and gray.
But then, everything changed. Nick felt called to leave that church we grew up in, got married in and had jobs at. He had always wanted to start a church. I didn't. Starting a church felt like an impossible task that took a lot of money and experience that we didn't have.
Eventually, after a lot of conversations and putting it off, I knew that I needed to figure out what God was saying to me, not just Nick, about our future.
So, I went to the most spiritual place on earth: Starbucks (this time I wasn't worried about getting arrested). I got some coffee and sat down to read. I had two stacks of books. One stack was my "super spiritual" stack. You know the type: boring looking covers with words like "Prayer" or "Humility" in the titles. Then, I had another stack: the cute looking books with nice pictures and fun stories that make you feel good.
I started with the super spiritual books and got no where. So, I reached for a book that a friend had given me: The Magnolia Story. I wasn't expecting anything out of this book, truthfully. I just had a curiosity of the Gaines' story. While reading the book, my eyes started to well up with tears. I read about how Chip was constantly pushing Joanna to take risks and pursue her dreams. I immediately had the thought: God wants me to have a story that's worth writing about.
God wants me to have a story that's worth writing about.
The rest is history. I went home, told Nick, and we began the process toward starting Anchor Church. Years later, I can look back and see how God was speaking to me right there in that coffee shop. Here I am, years later, telling you a story that I think is worth writing about.
Your story doesn't have to be a crazy transformational story. God works in all sorts of ways. Sometimes he works most in the little things.
Have you decided to follow Jesus with your life? If not, I'd love to talk with you and answer questions you might have. Feel free to email me.