Church was never forced upon me growing up; it was always an option. My sisters and I loved going to church with our mother, and at the age of 7, I got baptized. When I was in middle school, I began volunteering as a small group leader at my church, teaching kindergartners and 1st graders about God. At this point in my life, I considered myself a pretty religious person.
It wasn’t until high school that I realized what religion means to me. Starting in my junior year of high school I suffered the loss of a friend. I began to view the world through a new lens. Suddenly, I was very aware of all the scary, dark parts of life. Typically, for someone of my age, this rude awakening would throw a person into a frenzy of questioning everything in life, especially the validity and existence of God. To my surprise, I found myself more invested in learning about God than I ever had before. I started to attend church services for myself because I was curious about how the Bible spoke to me. Religion became the answer to the most difficult questions and God became my anchor, keeping me steady through all life’s obstacles.
Going off to college, I was nervous about losing my faith and not having a church to call my own. I was so incredibly blessed to have attended NIU at the same time as my sister because she introduced me to the Baptist Campus Ministry. Through this ministry, I was able to build friendships and connections to people in Christ like I’ve never imagined I would. My normal church experience was not attending church with people my age. So BCM was a very different experience for me to visit a Bible study and hear how other students saw religion. I found comfort in knowing that I wasn’t the only one wanting to learn more about Jesus.
Bible study has helped me grow tremendously as a Christian as I know more about the Bible and its stories than I’ve ever learned before. My past religious experience seemed like the lessons just brushed the surface of what each story and lesson contained. The Bible studies through this ministry have helped me connect lessons to the world around me. They help support my faith and allow me to grow stronger since I can recognize how God is very much present in my life today.
This ministry has been a second home for me in DeKalb, and the people have become my closest friends. Thanks to this ministry, I can see how valid and how very relevant the Bible is to my life and life in general. Learning about Jesus alongside my friends has been a fantastic experience, hearing about how much Christianity has positively affected our lives. I continue to grow in my faith and as a person alongside my friends by listening, interpreting, and applying lessons from the Bible to my daily life.