Hailey’s Story

Hailey Ciesluk

cm_photo

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.

Evan’s Story

Evan James

Easter Baptism Story!

dc_fam_pic

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!

Erin’s Story

 

Erin Francis

erin.jpg

It is simply amazing how much Campus Ministry has impacted my life. When I was a sophomore in high school something happened to me that changed my life forever. My older brother, Levi, passed away in a car/deer accident. From then on my life was completely different. I was mad at God. I didn’t know why this would happen to my “perfect”, happy, Christian family. As I went through High School I struggled with who God was and who I was in Christ. My Senior year was tough as I tried to cope with this loss in healthy ways like striving for boys attention at school. I tried drinking alcohol to numb the pain, only to find out it just caused its own pain itself.

When I came to college at GVSU I wasn’t in a good place. Sure I still believe in God, but I can’t say that I was following Jesus. As a freshman I entered into a relationship with a guy that was extremely unhealthy. He was controlling and abusive in different ways (emotionally, sexually). I let this go on for too long, although I knew it wasn’t right to stay with him and my best friends told me it wasn’t smart.

Then something began to change. I started getting serious about coming to the well. One of my new best friends, Julia Stejskal, encouraged me to continue to go. We ended up moving together to become roommates for the second half of freshman year. I went on a SB trip to Mescalero and learned what it meant to serve the Lord! Over that summer I finally broke up with the boy who was hurting my heart.

From then on my spiritual life took hold. I became a life group leader my sophomore year through CM. I started to understand how much he loved me despite my brokenness. I was able to go on a trip to Israel with Ben and Stacey Post in May of 2016. I got to see how God blesses us with living water that cleanses us. The next Spring Break I lead a mission trip to Denver Colorado and experienced God’s beautiful creation in the mountains. This year I am continuing to understand God’s love for me and His provision. I am leading the SB trip to Dallas and I am so excited that I get to work with kids there!

God has healed me through CM in ways I never thought were possible. I still miss my brother at times, and I won’t ever forget how awesome he was as a big brother. But I know I will unite with him again in Heaven someday where there is no pain or suffering. God is good. And this is why I WORSHIP!

erin_and_julia

Rylie’s Story

img_2150

Rylie Leete

Let me tell you a little something about the girl I used to be. She was lost, insecure, seeking acceptance and love in all the wrong places. She was well known, and well liked (this is debatable), and she thought she knew was she was doing, but boy was she wrong. Guys, I was a hot mess, and not in the attractive kind of way. My identity was built on the acceptance of boys and my ability to throw back shots. I know, it wasn’t the greatest skill set, but it was what I thought I was. I want to tell you a bit about her story.

Not having a firm foundation or understanding of my identity as a daughter of the King of the Universe lead me down a dark road in high school. I quickly got myself immersed in the party scene and thought I really enjoyed living my life in a constant blur. It was fun. I had a lot of silly moments, and this was what being young was all about, right? Over and over I was met with the reality of my sin– the guilt, shame, self-hatred, and not feeling like I was enough was killing me. But, I squashed those feelings down and continued on in my quest for fulfillment in this way for four years.

When college rolled around, I had decided that I wanted to turn over a new leaf. My reputation was garbage and my dignity had gotten lost along the way. I didn’t want to live ashamed anymore. I decided to move fourteen hours away to a large southern school and begin this new life as the real Rylie. Unfortunately, the only Rylie I had known was the Rylie that was four shots deep and trying to gain the attention of a hottie across the room. My soul was thirsting for more, but I had no idea how to satisfy it. I didn’t know who I was, and I didn’t know who I wanted to be, so my fail-proof plan led me back down the path I had always walked. I decided to rush a sorority.  I didn’t know it at the time, but God was about to show me who I really was through this new life.

As I began to try and fit into this new lifestyle, I found myself out with my new sisters one night a bar. It was like any other night at first, until I found that the girls I had come with had left. Here I was in the middle of a bar chatting with a young man I had just met, intoxicated and on my own. He said he would walk me home when my panic became visible and so I gathered my things and we left. I was assaulted that night. I found myself drowning in loneliness, shame, and I felt like it had all happened because I was just too broken of a person for anything else to have been the end result of a reckless night out. In the midst of that moment, I was hopeless.

One of my new sorority sisters must have recognized that in me, because she went out of her way to invite me to something she called “Fam time”. I had no reason to tell her no, so I went. I walked into her house for the first time and was confronted with warm smiles and bibles. To be honest, I hadn’t ever really considered the word to be an answer to anything before and didn’t understand why people prayed when they were hurting, but that day, that moment, opened my eyes to pure love. Those girls truly and deeply loved one another, which in and of itself was a crazy thing to me. I didn’t know friendships could look and sound like that where they genuinely cared for one another.

They opened up the Word and began to read. I don’t remember what they said. I don’t remember what we were even reading. I do, however, remember this message filling my head: You deserve so much more than what you are giving yourself. You’ve been searching and searching for love, and I’m the only one that can give it to you. You are cherished and you are my daughter. He told me that I was perfect to him, and that he died for all of that. He said that this was why he had come, and to stop letting my mistakes own me. He told me he had more for me if I would only trust him. I know this sounds crazy, but it felt so right. My heart reached for him in that moment. My soul came to life. God’s hand had been extended toward me for so long, and I was finally reaching back.

My life changed that day. I wasn’t immediately healed from the hurt that had piled up over the years, and the heaviness I felt didn’t all of a sudden disappear, but I finally felt something real and I wasn’t going to miss out on it. I started making life changes that felt necessary and watched as God blessed my obedience.  He met me in my darkest hour and shone his light more brightly than I had ever seen. He walked with me through the hurt, and reminded me I wasn’t alone. From the beginning, God looked at me as his beautiful daughter, capable of far more than I could imagine and lovable beyond measure. Since letting Him in, I have grown to love who I am. I have embraced my identity and stopped filling my life with garbage. I have become proud of who I am, and the only person I have to thank for that is Him. God saved me from myself, from my past, from being overcome by the world, and he wants to do just that for you as well. Trust him. I promise it’s the best decision you will ever make.