Updated: May 29, 2018
my chi alpha story starts when i was 19 years old.
I was raised in church, as most testimonies start out. I went to a small, little house on the prairie type church in an old coal camp in Amonate, VA. There were only about 15 people in the whole church, and that was on a good day. When the choir would go up to sing, they all would go up and it would be just me sitting out in the audience, bored to death. My sisters were very involved in, well pretty much everything. Me, not so much. They are about 10 years older than me, so by the time I was 12 they both had gotten married.
After they were gone, it would be just me and my mom going to church. My dad never really had any interest in any of it. When I was around 13, mom and I were on our way home and she asked me, "When are you going to get baptized? Your sisters got baptized when they were 13." This is a good question if you're a christian. To which my response was, "I don't know if I even believe in God." She seemed pretty taken back by my answer but just stayed quiet about it after that.
She spurred on my thoughts of, "Why do we go to church?" and "What is the point of God?" You see, I've always been a very practical thinker and I started putting my practicality to use in my faith. I have always suffered with insomnia, and so late at night I would look up all these different theories of God-what atheists said about Him and what christians said about Him. At the end of it all, I just saw Him kind of flawed and not needed.
Fast forward to my senior year, I was now really bitter towards God, and especially hypocritical christians. I hated the fact that so many people claimed they knew God, and they lived these holy perfect lives on the outside, but then would be partying and everything else on the weekends. What I didn't realize at the time is that God hated that too.
One night, my sister invited me to a church service. My whole family knew I was an atheist, but my sister and brother-in-law had been so nice to me, it was hard to say no. I remember thinking it was the least I could do for them. They had been so good to me, taking me places and buying me good stuff, the least I could do is hear someone yell about sin for an hour then say something nice like, "Thanks for inviting me. That was nice," just to get them off my back.
As I sat in the audience and watched people worshiping their God, I had this thought, "They are either nuts, or they're right". It was so black and white in that moment. For the rest of the night I kept thinking, "I know I am right, but what if..." I settled it into my mind that I was going to go ask for Jesus to come into my heart that night, but it was so I could walk out of there knowing if I didn't have the same experience those people had, then I will know I am right, and they are nuts.
After the service was completely over I went up to the preacher and said, "Hey, yea I want to accept Jesus into my heart". I think he was taken aback by how callused I sounded. He said, "ok well repeat after me." I said the sinner's prayer, and do you know what I felt? Nothing. I thought, whoa, I am right after all. As we were driving back, my sister said, "I noticed you went up to get prayer tonight. Do you feel any different or anything?" To which my response was, "Nah, about the same but it was nice for him to do that." There again, just trying to be courteous. My sister seemed really sad by that answer, so I felt bad but I knew it was true.
As I mentioned before, I have suffered with insomnia my whole life, and that night I slept like a baby. I woke up the next day feeling better than I ever had before in my whole life. I thought, man, that is really strange. As the day went on, I chalked it up to the same as talking to a psychiatrist or even really good friends and getting some stuff off my chest. I thought, well, maybe that's it. Maybe it was just a fluke.
That whole week was revival service, so a different person was coming in. I thought if it was a fluke I should go again and do the same thing and see if it happens again. This time I knew my sister wasn't going because she had work, and I thought maybe I went up there to make her happy or some sort of emotional pull to do this. That night, I thought, ok, I am taking all emotion out of this. There was a new speaker, no sister or brother-in-law, no feeling of, "I am suppose to do this." To top it all off, I asked my other atheist friend at the time to come with me and for some reason he agreed to come.
We got there a little early, but the place was packed out. We got some seats about 10 rows back. Once the service got started, I was sitting there just taking it all in again. Once worship was over the preacher got up to share. It was honestly still to this day the oddest service I have ever been apart of in my life. He made the guy stay up and play keys while he spoke, so he sing-songed some of his message. Then he proceeded to kick the piano player off the keys and then he then started to sing and play. While he was speaking, he picked up the first pew and people were sitting on it.
I looked over at my friend and said," the guy last night was a little calmer, but this guy is nuts". I said, "Let's get out of here!". Once those words had come out of my mouth he slammed his bible and said, " Whoever is sitting in the back lock the door, because I am praying for every soul in here tonight!" I was scared out of my wits. The whole congregation then flooded the alter and we couldn't get out because we were surrounded by people. My first thoughts were, well this is it, someone is going to bring out the cool aid.
After he prayed for about 10 or so people while I stood there still trying to look semi-interested, he looked at me and said, "You, you come up here. I believe the Lord has a word for you." I thought, what in the world is this guy talking about? I started to walk up there and people were moving and making room for me to come up. Then he said, "As you were standing there I felt like the Lord wanted you to know that he knows every doubt you've ever had. Tonight he wants you to know that He is going to reveal Himself to you so you never struggle with doubt again." He then started to prophecy over me and tell me I was going to lead God's people one day. He said, "All I want you to do is to open up your hands and face them towards the sky and say, "Jesus, come into my heart." I simply did what the man had asked, and in that moment I felt the most real thing I have ever felt in my life. I felt love, power, desire, passion, tenderness, everything I honestly had never felt in my life. I fell to the ground under God's power and laid there completely conscious but couldn't move.
After that, I was 100% all in for Jesus. I didn't know what that looked like, but I knew I had to follow this Jesus forever. I became the talk of the school. I had students asking me about it, I had teachers asking if it was true. In turn, I got to share the Gospel and the story of what happened with many of my unbelieving or lukewarm friends. In turn, I saw many of them rededicate their lives or be saved.
After going to church for about a year, I was just sitting in the pews learning and reading my bible all the time I thought, I need someone in my life to mentor me. I set up an appointment with my pastor and went into his office and explained how I wished to be used in any capacity. I didn't just want to keep the seats warm. He told me that what I was looking for was someone to disciple me. He responded, "Yeah, I don't do that".
I left that church and went to one where I had more of an opportunity to be used and asked the pastor if there were any areas of need in the church. He said, "yes, the youth need a lot of help". So that Wednesday, I went out to the service and expecting there to be a youth pastor. I walked in the back and one boy was playing his DS and the girl was reading a twilight book. I asked them, "Where is you're youth pastor?" The girl lowered her book and said, "I guess you're him". I was so confused in that moment, I had been hoodwinked.
I was getting my associates degree in general education at the time, as well as working full time, and youth pastoring. I had no real direction, I was just working at everything in hopes to figure it out. After youth pastoring for about 6 months, I knew it wasn't for me. One night before service got started, I was on my knees before the Lord asking, what am I suppose to do? And I heard that small whisper of "Chi Alpha."
Honestly, I didn't want to do that either. It was going to take too long and be too hard. My other sister and brother-in-law had done Chi Alpha at Radford from 2000-2009 and I saw how they lived and how hard it was for them. I didn't want to do that. I remember the Lord then telling me, "You won't be happy doing anything else". That is one of those words from the Lord that I still hold onto today when things get hard I know there is nothing else I would rather be doing.
I got my associates degree and transfered to Virginia Tech for communications. I got to be apart of their Chi Alpha for 2 years as a student and learn what it looks like to lead a small group, to have a one-on-one with someone, and many more things that make Chi Alpha. I graduated from VT in 2015 and got married to an awesome girl named Morgan.
We have been striving now to get to where the story is honestly just beginning to unfold.
“The will of God is always a bigger thing than we bargain for, but we must believe that whatever it involves, it is good, acceptable and perfect.”― Jim Elliot