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.


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.


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