Andrea’s Story

Andrea Pattison

CM Alumni 2016

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Shortly after this year’s leadership retreat for Campus Ministry happened, I saw some pictures on social media from friends and right away had this feeling that I wished that I was there, experiencing it and getting ready for another school year at Grand Valley and being involved with CM. After taking some time to think about it, I realized that although my years being involved in CM were amazing and a time of growing in my faith, that’s not where God has called me to be for forever, although sometimes I wish it was. While involved in CM, there were individuals who came alongside me and were a disciple to me. I ended up being able to do that same thing for some girls as well. I was able to lead a life group, be a part of the care team, go on spring break mission trips, participate in activities and events, and go to Israel, all throughout my time in CM. God worked in amazing ways to show me what can happen when you surround yourself with an intentional community. When it was time for me to leave CM and Grand Valley in December 2016, I was fearful of how my faith would continue grow without CM, but I knew through it all, God would provide because He has in the past.

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In January 2017, I started a long-term subbing position and I found out that one of the teachers had just started a women’s Bible study that I ended up joining, loving and eventually felt called to share my testimony with the teachers. I also got asked by my church’s youth pastor to start being a youth group leader in January. I willingly joined and felt that God had opened such an awesome opportunity to connect to high school kids. In February, I attended the IF Gathering and felt God calling me to start a summer Bible study. So I got together once a week with girls from my youth group and a few other friends and had a Bible study. I used old life group study notes as my guide for leading it and I was able to share some things from Israel that I saw and learned as well. God was so faithful with multiple opportunities to grow in community and my faith.

So when I saw the retreat photos and wished that I was there, my thinking quickly turned to realize that God had used CM for 4.5 years in my life to give me the confidence, leadership, courage and the tools to go out into the world and live out my faith and share it with others. I wasn’t meant to stay in CM forever, but God was working in me while I was involved to prepare me for where He was calling me next.

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Sylvia’s Story

Broken Doesn’t Mean Out of Use

Sylvia Knight

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I used to believe that in order for God to use me I first had to be good enough for God. Honestly, I still think that a lot of the time. 

This past summer, I lived and studied in Nicaragua for 3 months. In July I got really, really sick and for about a week my greatest excursion was leaving my bed to go to the kitchen and try to eat. Eating was another battle of it’s own. I was weak and altogether broken. Once I started to feel better, I scheduled a tour guide to take me on a hike up an extinct volcano to a big cross on the mountain top, because I was getting better and once I was good enough and strong enough, I was going to celebrate by hiking up a volcano! I got better. I felt good again and it was awesome. Just to be safe and confident that I would in fact be strong enough, I scheduled the hike for the following week. Just a few days before my celebratory adventure, I got an awful migraine headache that lasted a couple of days. Simply put, I was sick and weak (AGAIN). I knew I should reschedule the hike for when I would be strong enough for it, but I was leaving the city at the end of the week. It became a choice between trying to do it in my fatigued, sick state or not at all. 

Being a logical person who understands that our human bodies have their limits, I chose to do what any woman with a sound mind would do. I hiked up the volcano. Really though, I didn’t do very much and God did a lot. Just the day before I was unable to even walk down the street without feeling exhausted, but God literally lead me to the cross. 

There wasn’t a trophy or ice cream at the top, no one applauded me (except for Joseph, my tour guide, was happy for me). Honestly though, there was no WOW moment, no moment that I said, “This was 110% worth the pain.” Because of that, I then believe that as a broken person, I can’t be used by God, the weak simply don’t get applauded. But, isn’t that sometimes life? I think as humans we often look for praise and approval for every little thing and we forget who is really DOING the work. 

Looking back, I learned that if God can make use of a very sick Sylvia and bring her to the top of a mountain, I cannot imagine what else He can do with me. I am still so broken, so tired, so weak and I will never be strong enough or good enough. Thankfully, I have a God who is always more than enough. He can and will always make use of me in whatever condition I’m in.

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Hailey’s Story

Hailey Ciesluk

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My whole childhood, I was told to believe in the power of God and trust in Him. That was always a great message, but hard to believe when you’re a small kid with no real proof of your own. So growing up, I didn’t put much of my faith in God though I still considered myself a Christian. I don’t demote myself for this too much, I was just a kid, after all. And it takes more than just sitting through service and praying at dinner to truly understand the power of religion.
And unfortunately, I didn’t feel the power of religion anytime soon after. My parent’s got divorced when I was around the age of 12. To me, this wasn’t too big of a deal because I’d seen parents splitting all over the place. Sadly, it seemed rather normal to me. So I kept how I felt about the situation bottled up inside. If I knew that keeping things internally plugged like that would lead to a downward spiral of severe panic and anxiety for years to come, I may have reconsidered. But I didn’t, so for my entire middle school and high school experience I panicked about everything. I let fear destroy me from the inside out and let other people influence my emotions because I didn’t know what it meant to truly feel free. I was scared and alone and trapped. And I struggled to stay positive throughout high school.
Then I came to college. It was fine, I had good friends, but I still wasn’t completely myself. I still felt the panic tearing at my heart and I couldn’t get away from it. That is, until I went to a meeting for a dance club I’m in and noticed someone wearing a Campus Ministry shirt. Being the art student that I am, I thought it looked aesthetic so I asked where it was from. Enthusiastically, she told me it was from GVSU’s Campus Ministry and asked if I wanted to attend a service.
Naturally, I was wary about attending. God hadn’t exactly been there for me the past few years, but thought I’d give it a go. So I went to the third Well of the year, and while there, I experienced something I hadn’t experienced in what felt like ever. All of my anxiety lifted away from me for the time of the service. I did not have a fear in the world; for the first time, I was listening to God speak to me and He was there to lift my fears from me. I was in disbelief that such a small miracle could occur in my life that I decided to sign up for a spring break trip with CM. I ended up going to New Orleans and can say that the experience lifted my faith in God so much more. A wise man on the trip who worked at a rehab facility explained to us that, in his eyes, there was a special place in every person’s heart for God. Sometimes, people are afraid to let God in, and fill that hole with distractions like drugs and alcohol, or for me, anxiety. I am proud to say that I am now filling that hole in my heart with what belongs to be there: God. My anxiety may not be completely be gone, I may still be working on becoming a better Christian, and it may take a while for all of that to work out. But I am becoming such a better version of myself; something that can only be a miracle of God. Now I am so blessed that I have God and Campus Ministry in my life.

Sarah’s Story

Sarah Coutts

Easter Baptism Story!

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Looking back at the last few years of college, God has completely redirected my life by bringing joy and hope that used to seem so impossible. I grew up lacking a relationship with Jesus, which resulted in a faulty foundation. In high school my parents decided to divorce and I was unable to handle that amount of change that accompanied. God met me at my lowest point and provided me with every opportunity to come and follow Him. He led me to Grand Valley and I left behind my past filled with depression, anger, and a broken family. I came to college and found myself in a new community, one who fosters my faith and God shines so brightly through. During my struggles before college, I was lost and hopeless. Once Jesus shined His light through my closest friends, I knew a relationship with Him is what I had been searching for all along. God has placed countless faithful servants in my life that have supported me, encouraged me to take numerous leaps of faith, and displayed what a servant’s heart truly looks like. I am forever thankful for the friendships that God had waiting for me at Grand Valley. Their boldness, vulnerability, and invitation to come and follow alongside them has impacted my faith tremendously. Jesus has been evident by leading me to go on mission trips, to sign up for leadership, and to serve kids as a teacher. He has transformed my heart, grown my passion to serve, and has shown me what it looks like to live and love with passion. God has continuously shown me that he is my hope, my guide, my redeemer, and my joy. He provides comfort in the deepest of valleys and brings light to every situation. He calls us by name to shine his light on the lives of those around us and play a role in his perfect plan. Jesus has laid a new foundation for my life that is built on his unwavering love. All of this has been God’s way of encouraging me to take the next step in my faith to be baptized and commit my life to following Jesus.

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Megan’s Story

Megan Kilts

Easter Baptism Story!

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I grew up in a Christian home, attending church with my mom, and was saved when I was 5 years old. My parents got divorced when I was 6, which was a very difficult time for my mom and me. I have struggled for a long time with anger towards my father and it is something that God is still working on in my life. As I got older, I became very involved in my youth group. I felt completely accepted by the older students there, some of whom are still close friends of mine. Unfortunately, my youth group went through many messy transitions between youth pastors, as did our church in regards to senior pastors. During these times, many students would stop attending, although some stuck it out. Luckily, my last youth pastors poured into me and encouraged me to volunteer with the middle school youth group. The summer before I came to college, however, was challenging because these new ministers ended up leaving as well. I was devastated, but God used this time as a period of growth for me, helping me trust in him. I ended up leading the youth group for the summer along with a family friend until I came to college, something I never would have imagined myself doing a year prior.

I have seen God work in amazing ways in my life over the past few years and I’ve grown immensely. Coming to a secular college has really helped me make my faith even more my own and I have had to lean on God a lot more. I have had to seek out my own church and Christian community and I have seen God answer my prayers in so many ways, from helping me find CM and good friends, to providing for me with finances and a ride to Life Stream Church on Sunday mornings. I have been blessed with an amazing Life Group, an RA who connected me to CM, the opportunity to go on a Spring Break trip to Dallas, and a roommate with many similar interests as me. Just seeing the Lord’s provision for me in coming to GVSU has really strengthened my faith.

I have felt God calling me to be baptized for a while now, and I believe that it is the perfect way to acknowledge my faith to both my community of believers and my friends who aren’t Christians. I want to take that next step by acknowledging that I am striving to follow and trust in God’s plan for my life and be obedient to his call. Even if I sometimes cannot see what it is that God is doing, I know that his plan is greater than anything I could ever imagine up for myself. I am choosing to lay down my worries at his feet because his ways are higher than my ways and his plans are higher than my plans. I love the lyrics from the song “Trust in You” by Lauren Daigle: “When you don’t move the mountains I’m needing you to move, I will trust in you” and this is the anthem I will keep singing.

Evan’s Story

Evan James

Easter Baptism Story!

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Well, I guess I’ll start off by saying that I’ve always grown up in a Christian home. My parents always took me to church, and I’ve always felt very blessed to have such a supportive family. I was saved when I was in the fifth grade, never baptized (Until recently that is, my parents wanted that to be my decision to make), kept going to church and attended youth group until about high school.

My high school years were pretty good. I’d found a small group of great friends which was great, since if you know who I am, I realize I can come off quite shy and awkward. However, as I look back it was during my high school years that I sort of drifted from God. I mean, I didn’t take up any bad habits, but I guess I just wasn’t as close as I should have been. My prayer life and my spending time in the Word lacked quite a bit and I guess I could’ve been labeled quite the “lukewarm Christian.” I still called myself a Christian and honestly believed in God, Jesus and what He’s done for me, but I just wasn’t as firm in my faith.

I eventually chose to go to Grand Valley, mainly because it was close by (I’m a commuter), but I’d also heard good things about the school. My first couple of years went pretty well, I was passing my classes, getting closer to my history degree (which I’m still conflicted about what I’m going to do with). I’m not sure if those who live on campus could understand, but being a commuter, full-time student, then rushing back home to work whatever hours I had left over really didn’t leave much time to socialize. My faith was still a little shaky, as I hadn’t heard of CM yet, and I just sort of felt alone.

But then I went to Campus Life Night my junior year, and stumbled across Campus Ministry! And to be honest, ever since I’ve been going to the Well regularly, joining a life group (which is made up of some of the coolest guys I’ve ever met!), and above all going on my first mission trip ever during spring break to DC, I feel like my life has made a complete 180*! I’ve met some amazing people who have encouraged me, been there for me and built me up in my faith. I’m proud to say that my relationship with God is better than it’s ever been, and I honestly think it was God that led me to stumble upon that CM booth. I know the phrase “on fire for God” gets thrown around quite a bit, but growing up as a “lukewarm Christian,” I feel that I can proudly say that I now am!

Michaeleen’s Story

Michaeleen Rood

Alumni – 2010

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How were you involved with Campus Ministry or how did God use CM to impact your life while you were in college?

I had the privilege of being a part of the worship team and also leading Spring Break Trips with Campus Ministry. Before GVSU I didn’t understand what following Jesus even meant or even to have peers that were seeking a relationship with him. Campus Ministry gave me opportunities to join a small group and finally start to build deep relationships; with women especially. My freshman year I decided to go on a Spring Break trip to Tallahassee FL, and that trip forever changed my life. We worked with Habitat for Humanity and the guys on the trip were incredible examples to me of men who loved Jesus and respected women as their sisters in Christ. I also returned back to Tallahassee 3 more times as a trip leader and met some of my best friends there (including my husband…cliche, I know..but boy do I love that guy!).

I honestly showed up at GV with the intentions of not having a faith anymore, but God showed up in BIG ways for me through CM and through so many friends. I learned how to seek after God, how to help others find Him, and what my passions were (even if I didn’t realize it then). I met my two best friends through CM: My husband Josh, and my best friend Katie!

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Where are you and what are you doing now?

I can’t even begin to explain how God used CM to lead me to where I am. When I was a student, Young Life was a part of CM and I was also very involved with YL in college. It’s crazy to think that 11 years ago I was attending Young Life for the very first time at GVSU. And now my job is leading Young Life at GVSU! Through CM, I learned how to figure what gifts God had given me and how I could use them to advance God’s kingdom. Josh and I are both heavily involved with Evergreen Ministries (our church!). We are both still a part of the worship/productions team there, and I spent the last 4 years as a high school youth leader. We are also currently huddle leaders for Life Group Leaders at CM and we love it. They’re good people!

Going to GVSU as a freshman, I barely even knew if it was the right place for me. But God used Campus Ministry and Young Life to shape me, teach me and stretch me. I will forever be grateful for this ministry!