Nick’s Story

This Summer

Nick Schweitzer

This past summer, I had the blessed opportunity to work at SpringHill as a New Frontiers Counselor for middle schoolers. Throughout the summer, God kept blowing my mind week after week with how He could move in and through those at camp to transform the lives of the campers. By presenting the Gospel to campers each week, the relentless and unconditional love of Jesus Christ was put on display for campers to experience — sometimes for the first time. It was so awesome to see many of the campers open up their hearts to Jesus to experience His love and letting Him work in each of their lives in very powerful ways. For some, this meant being vulnerable and exposing sins and other things they struggle with in their lives. For others, it meant committing their life to Christ for the first time. To see God work so powerfully that a camper would go from maybe not ever knowing about Jesus Christ and His unconditional, relentless love to being determined in pursuing Him, learning more about Him, and drawing nearer to Him has to be the coolest thing ever!

In seeing how these campers were impacted by the love of Jesus Christ and the Gospel, I was able to see God in new ways. There were layers to the Gospel that I had never seen before and new depths to layers I knew about that allowed me to draw nearer to God and to experience His love in new ways too. He even used the campers and what they were struggling with to show me about myself, where I’ve been, and who I have become since committing my life to Christ 15 months ago as some of them are struggling with things I used to struggle with. I came to SpringHill to serve, not to be served. But God did His crazy awesome thing, and I could not have asked for a better summer where I got to witness His love being showcased in so many powerful ways!

 

Tanner’s Story

An Ordinary Guy from Ordinary-ville

Tanner Rubin


Hi, I’m Tanner. I grew up in a suburb near the northwest side of Chicago called Hoffman Estates, which is about as stereotypical of suburbia as you can get.

Less than a month before the trip, I committed to go on a two-week study tour to Israel with Campus Ministry @ GVSU. The trip was incredible, and I learned so much about the life of Jesus, the Bible, and who God is. I see Bible stories in a whole different way, and everything became so real. The mind-blowing information satisfied my intellectual side, and the hours of hiking and exploring each day quenched my adventurous side. So many sites, and so much learning. The days went on with this pattern…then we arrived at Bethsaida.

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First, though, a little back story: I grew up in church and have always called myself a Christian. I don’t have some crazy, miraculous God story of how I came to faith, and honestly that bothered me for a while. There are so many stories about ways God uses those former drug addicts, gang members, and atheists to do amazing things for his kingdom. How could I ever live up to the example set by those people?

Bethsaida is a town from the time of Jesus situated in an area called the religious triangle, filled with followers of the law and devout religious people. These people grew up following religion, guaranteed. Andrew, Peter, Philip, James, and John all lived there. They were all fishermen, following the family occupation. In other words, here were five ordinary guys from Ordinary-ville. None of them had drastically crazy stories, yet Jesus called them all to follow him. And they did.

Andrew lived a life telling everyone about the gospel, then was crucified on an x-shaped cross as a martyr. Peter spoke insane amounts of wisdom to the masses, Jesus himself told Peter that he would build his church upon him, and Peter was crucified upside down for the gospel. Philip had simple yet incredible faith, and he was hanged for his beliefs. James preached the word of God to the masses unashamedly, and was beheaded because of it. John ended up writing multiple books of the Bible before his death. These five guys were a part of the movement that revolutionized the world with the message of Jesus. Margaret Mead put it this way: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

The fact that they refused to denounce their faith was evidence of what they were witnesses to, and here’s what hit me. I am a witness to the story of Jesus in my own life & Jesus has called me to follow him just like those five guys. Who knows what he has in store exactly, or to what extent my story will be as chaotic as theirs, but I did learn this: Jesus has called someone like me to follow him, and it has been, is, and will continue to be the ride of a lifetime. God not only can use ordinary people to do miraculous things for Him, but He does regularly, making an ordinary life a life full of excitement and purpose: to serve God & glorify Him with everything I have.

Melanie’s Story

Opening Doors

Melanie Marquez – Class of 2011

I became involved with Campus Ministry the first service of the semester when I was a scared freshman, trying to find some sense of community/friends. I joined a small group my first semester and joined one every semester after that. My sophomore year, I led a women’s small group and my junior year led a huddle as a small group coach. CM became the community I was looking for, and more importantly, helped me grow in my faith and deepen my relationship with Jesus.

Besides being involved in small groups, I also went on 3 spring break trips. In 2009, I decided to go on the Mescalero trip. Little did I know how God would use this trip to completely change the course of my life. On this trip, I made some of my closest college friends and my heart was broken for so many kids that I met. I left with a desire to make a positive difference in their lives and continued writing letters to some girls I had met for the next 3 years.

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The next year (2010), spring break trip time came again, and I knew I had to go back to Mescalero. I had to see the kids I had continued writing again. God opened the doors for me to do that, and I left an even bigger piece of my heart in that place as I deepened relationships with more people in that community. In May 2011, with Mescalero still strong on my heart, God provided the means for me to return to this incredible place and I ended up spending a month volunteering at the Reformed Church and also at Mescalero Apache School. I left changed again and hoping I would be back soon.

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After graduating in December 2011 with an elementary education degree, I still felt the tug on my heart about Mescalero. I prayerfully decided to look for any teaching positions at the school on the reservation in the spring of 2012. In a matter of weeks after applying, I interviewed, accepted a job at Mescalero Apache School, and drove across the country to move to New Mexico to begin my first year as a kindergarten teacher. I also continued my involvement at Mescalero Reformed Church by volunteering, leading, and participating with the children and youth ministries, Sunday School, women’s ministry, and other church activities.

Fast forward 4 years to 2016 and I am now beginning my fifth year of teaching kindergarten at Mescalero Apache School and am a ministry associate at Mescalero Reformed Church. Over these last 4 years, I have fallen in love with this place and these people. My heart has broken for so many of “my” kids here both at church and at school and I know this is where God wants me to be to make an impact on their lives for His glory. In the midst of a lot of challenging experiences, God has been faithful to my calling to Mescalero. Some of the greatest highlights of my life here have been getting to lead the CM Spring Break and other work groups that come to Mescalero, coordinating our yearly VBS and seeing 100+ kids singing praises to Jesus, building relationships with the Apache people, and seeing the girls I wrote letters to 7 years ago graduate from high school.

God used Campus Ministry at GVSU to strengthen my faith and trust in Him in order to do things that otherwise would seem impossible. God used Campus Ministry to show me a beautiful people with whom I can share His hope and His love and can equally experience it from them. Although this journey has not always been easy, I’m incredibly grateful to be part of God’s work here in Mescalero, New Mexico. And it all first began for me at Campus Ministry at GVSU!

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Jill’s Story

A Year Of Experiences

Jill Gornick

So this year I decided not to make a New Years resolution and instead I simply prayed and asked God to make 2016 a year of experiences… by this I meant new friends, spontaneous plans, plenty of traveling, going to a bunch of concerts, and of course that my whole summer at SpringHill would be full of adventures and God moments. But as we all know, God has a funny way not always answering our prayers in the ways we expect Him to….

It was probably the second or third week after being back from winter break and my friend and I had this idea to get dressed up and go back into the ravines behind Calder and have a little winter photo shoot together. So it’s a beautiful day and everything is going well and we go all the way back through the woods and eventually get to the frozen river. My friend suggests I take a couple steps onto the ice and she would take some cool pictures of me. Now, I’m a pretty adventurous person, but I’m definitely not reckless. So I cautiously took a step onto the ice and it felt solid enough so I decided to take another one. After about 3 or 4 steps I began to get nervous and it didn’t help that the ice was beginning to make that weird shifty noise. At that point I decided it would be better to be safe than sorry and began to turn around. It was at that moment that the ice shattered beneath my feet and within a split second I had plummeted into the icy water and was completely submerged. Now I don’t remember exactly what happened next except that within a split second I was gasping for air and screaming at the top of my lungs. The fight or flight immediately kicked in and I began attempting to get out by pulling myself up on top of the ice surrounding me. Unfortunately, that ice decided not to be solid anymore either and cracked the second I put any weight on it so I was unable to get out on my own. After what felt like eternity, but was probably only 40 seconds from the initial fall, my incredible friend pulled my sopping wet, muddy self out of the icy river.

I tell you this because so many things could have gone wrong that day, yet I’m standing right here in front of you all today. I mean this is a river I fell into and rivers have currents. I’ve heard countless tragic stories of people falling through ice and being pulled under the ice and had no way to get out from underneath and drowned. I even could have hit my head on the sharp ice and been knocked out, but no. Instead I walked away with only a slice on my hand and now a scar to remind me of this moment because He never left my side, and never will. About an hour or so after the incident, it occurred to me how my accident really wasn’t even an “accident,” but instead was God giving me exactly what I had asked for… experiences. You see, sometimes we begin to think we can do stuff on our own and that we’ve got life under control. That memorable January day reminded me again how His plan is monumentally greater and perfectly flawless compared to mine, regardless of if His plan for me for the day includes a very wet detour in the Grand River! I obviously still have a lot I need to work on in my faith but because of this day I’ve gained a new perspective and cannot help but rejoice daily in His almighty love and unfailing faithfulness.. and this is why I worship!