By Crystal Golden
I grew up in a non-Christian home with some Christian influences (go to Church sometimes, saw my Mom reading the Bible once) but no real Christian teaching, like salvation… so we were mostly on our own to figure that out.
All the while Steph Williams became my best friend in high school. I’m sure being in a secular high school with a secular best friend was hard for Steph, but I’m thankful for her and for her family because they were the first example of a strong Christian family I knew, and that proved to be very important for me later.
Steph invited me to Image a couple times during our high school years. I didn’t take away too much because I wasn’t a believer, but these visits also proved to be important for me later. I went through my college years as a relativist, which was easy with most of today’s universities being such secular environments. There I met another one of my best friends, Sarah, and her family. Like Steph, Sarah was a strong Christian and challenged my beliefs with patience and love. She quickly became one of my best friends.
The summer after college I began attending a Church while working as a caregiver for another Christian family. During this time, God was really breaking down my heart and leading me to Jesus. I got saved on September 1, 2016. My friend Sarah really guided me through that joyful, miraculous, tumultuous time. I attended Church with Sarah for the first couple months, but didn’t really feel at home there.
In November, I visited Image with Stephanie, after not having been for a few years, long enough that I still thought we would be going to the warehouse in Dumfries that morning. I immediately felt more at home at Image because I had visited with Steph and met some of the people years prior. I also felt Image had an atmosphere that says “Hey, we’re just people trying to serve Jesus.” I didn’t feel like I had to impress anyone or be someone other than myself while trying to learn about Jesus, who I honestly didn’t really know when He saved me. This is so important for new Christians because when Jesus’s light shines on you, you can see how ugly your sin really is, and if you’re in an environment where you’re putting on a front and you can’t acknowledge the truth of your sin, you won’t be able to really get to know Jesus and what He did for us.
In addition to an atmosphere of honesty, I am thankful God led me to a Church that focuses so much on Biblical teaching. This became important for me working and studying on the same college campus that encouraged my previous belief system. I needed to know what I believe and why in order to combat the same secular, relativist views I used to hold, and to advocate for the truth.
I am also thankful to be at a Church that strongly promotes service, within the Church, within the community, and within our own personal lives. Every week service was either mentioned directly or subliminally. I began to pray regularly about how God would have me serve the Church with my time, my talents, and my treasure as Chris often says. I began using my talent for music, singing with Impact during the summer, and getting to know the students there and the leadership team.
When Ben announced a need for volunteers for Vacation Bible School this summer, God led me to the tent to sign myself up because caring for children is another one of my talents. I had such a blast with the kids, and was so thankful to be part of something that made such an impact. I was surprised to know that some of the same discipleship struggles we face as adults, our elementary school aged children are facing right now. As young as they are, they are soldiers for Jesus too, and they need the same basic spiritual equipment as the adults in their lives. You never know how your getting involved with them now will impact lives in the future. Any one of them could be to another child what Stephanie was to me growing up; any one of them or any of us could be the first and sometimes only example of Jesus’ love that someone might see.
As you can hopefully see form my story, God uses the little things we do every day to tremendously impact other people’s lives. How we live as believers, how we get involved, how we serve and invest our time, talents, and treasure really matters, even if it doesn’t manifest for a long time. I am here today because God placed strong Christians and their families in my life, and because these people were willing to serve. Now the torch has passed to me and I get to share that investment to grow God’s Kingdom, and that’s what it’s all about.
Read more from our members HERE.