For those of you who have only known me as an adult, you might be surprised to know that I was a somewhat shy kid growing up. I kept to myself around strangers and tried to avoid saying or doing things that would cause me embarrassment. I was somewhat self-conscious, and had fears…like being alone, the dark, being alone in the dark…
I believe I accepted Christ at a young age, but I got it into my head that I needed to know the specific date I became a Christian. When I was 13, I went to a weeklong camp called Circle C. The first night, a speaker explained what it meant to be a Christian and asked us if we wanted to accept Christ. Since I wanted to be sure, I responded to that even though it was familiar to me from attending church for as long as I can remember. But, I had my specific date: July 13, 1980.
I’d been going to church all my life—it was a normal part of my week. But it wasn’t until later, at college, that I began to understand better how God wants to be involved in every aspect of my life, and not just be a part of it. That was when a friend invited me to attend a Campus Crusade for Christ (CCC) meeting on the campus of the University of Buffalo.
I immediately liked what I saw there: students who weren’t embarrassed about singing songs of praise and worship, telling how they had explained their Christian beliefs to people they knew (and didn’t know!), and friends who would pray for me and encourage me to grow spiritually. With them, it was normal to interact about spiritual matters.
One of the most valuable things I learned was how to easily tell someone what it means to be a Christian. Distilled to its essence, the message of the Bible is that God loves you and has a great plan for your life. Sin keeps each of us separated from God, who is perfect. Jesus lived a perfect life on this earth, and died in our place to pay the penalty for all of our sins. He rose from the dead, and now each us needs to receive His gift of eternal life. Whoever does that has eternal life with God!
My involvement with CCC continued throughout my college career. I was in small-group Bible studies, led a studies of my own, shared my faith on campus, and went to every conference and retreat I could. I also understood more about the Holy Spirit and how God lives through me as I surrender my will to His.
As graduation neared, I started to think about what I wanted to do with my life. It seemed that it would be a good idea to work full-time with CCC. I wanted to know that I was having a direct impact on the lives of students. In 1993, I joined the staff of Campus Crusade for Christ. I first went to the University of Maine. In the fall of 1999, I moved to Orlando to help out there for a year—and then decided to stay!