This June, a diverse group of people publicly declared their faith through baptism at Christ Community Church. Each of them has a story to tell of how they came to know and walk with Jesus Christ.
Their stories are powerful and life-changing. What's YOUR story?
Blackberry Creek Campus
St. Charles Campus
Their stories are powerful and life-changing. What's YOUR story?
Blackberry Creek Campus
|Alina Rodriguez||When I started going to Kids World and began learning about Jesus and who he was and is to us, I knew I wanted Jesus to be part of my life and that is when I decided to accept him as my Lord and Savior.
Then I heard about baptism and what it meant and I wanted everyone to know that God is truly in my life and I too am a Christ follower.
I always feel safe knowing my parents, sister and brother are there for me, so now knowing that Jesus is here for me I am very happy. He is the one and only true God who saved us. Everything we have is because of Jesus. As I continue to learn about Jesus on what is right and wrong it is helping me make the right decisions.
|Caitlin Czepiel||I can't remember exactly when I became a Christian but I know that Jesus is my Savior and Lord. However, I do remember the day I became closer to Jesus. My family and I were going through difficult times. I was in my room and I told my mom that I was thankful for all of the hard times because now I wanted to read the bible more and pray more. I opened the bible and read "Be still and know I am God" (Ps 46:10)
Now, I notice friends and other people who don't know God and I give them bibles or read the bible to them. I also see people who need prayer and I pray for them.
My favorite bible verse is "do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit rather in humility, value others above yourselves not looking to your own interests but to the interests of others" (Phil 2:3-4)
|Dave Retterer||I spent the early years of my life going to church. I believed in Jesus, learned about him, knew right from wrong and lived a Christian walk. At age 10 my parents got divorced which crushed me. I spent a few years living with my grandma who was a second mother to me, but she was killed in a car accident.
That is when I shut down and the partying started. From the time I was 16 until my early 20’s I dropped out of school, started drinking and became addicted to the alcoholic life - all while still attending church.
When I was 23 I realized that I was causing my wife, my mother and others around me the same pain that I hated from my past. I couldn’t take it anymore and had to change. Through it all God was pulling me back and eventually, with his help, I overcame my addiction and surrendered my life back to Jesus.
|Idalys Rodriguez||I didn’t really want to go to Genesis when my mom first took me but I am glad I went because I met Cece O’Neil and Taylor Parrot there. Cece is very genuine and has become like an aunt to me and Taylor is like the great older sister that I’ve never had. Both have helped me grow in my relationship with Jesus.
I've always accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior but until I came to Christ Community Church I really didn’t know how to have a relationship with Jesus. Now the void in my heart is filled and I am at ease.
Who would have thought that the lyrics of the song LET IT GO could hold a deeper meaning?
"Here I stand"
Me being baptized and proclaiming my love to Christ and standing by it.
"And here I stay"
I will stay loyal and resist temptation to the best of my abilities.
"Let the storm rage on"
The storm is my love for Him that will never cease, my relationship that will forever grow, and the Holy Spirit raging to be set free and to do great wonders in my life.
So as of today, I take great pride and pleasure being baptized as a Christian and hope others will do the same.
|Jennessa Retterer||Before I found and trusted in Jesus I was a young teenager who had been sexually abused and turned to experimenting briefly with girls and other sexual indecencies, drinking, drugs and shoplifting. I was quickly falling into a hidden lifestyle that at any moment could have easily destroyed my future.
My parents dragged me to church where we eventually got connected with a particular lady who lead me to start my journey with Christ. Since then it hasn't always been easy and the change was slow. After meeting my husband and seeing him live the example as a Christian and get more connected, it has really challenged me and helped me to have a deeper faith.
Being a Christian for over 10 years and having two beautiful girls with another on the way is a huge blessing in my life. Taking and showing this step of obedience is not only for me but also for Christ to use me and my story to help others.
Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
|Kim Wendling||I was baptized as an infant but never grew up going to church. My parents taught me right from wrong and honestly I never thought about God. I remember on my first date with my husband, Russ, 23 years ago, he asked me what religion I was and I said “I am not anything.”
After getting married, we didn’t go or talk about church until after our daughters, Kaitlyn and Anna were born, then we did start attending the Kaneville United Methodist Church. Over time, we did start attending regularly and with the support and patience of many wonderful people, I learned about God and accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior.
We attended the Kaneville church for 15 years and a year and a half ago, we were invited to Christ Community by Nick Zarakas. Since attending this church, I have met many great people, like Pastor Jon and members of my community group that have encouraged me. I learn many new things each week while listening to the message. Many times I feel my faith is far behind those around me, but I am looking forward and continuing to grow. I hope to be the person that God would want me to be. I know I fall short many times, but am willing to keep trying and sometimes even step out of my comfort zone.
|MacKenzie Jung||Before realizing that I needed Christ in my life, I lived with an unclear idea of right and wrong. I cared more about myself and my wants and needs than anything else. When I moved in with my Aunt Cyndi and Uncle Jim they opened my eyes to what I had been missing in life.
I began attending Christ Community Church with them and was introducing to the most caring people I had ever met. I joined a Mosiac and now have incredibly supportive friends who listened to my stories about greed and selfishness and helped me realize that I can be redeemed and that I can lean on them. With the help of my aunt and uncle, the church and my house group I learned that even though I sinned I can put my trust in Jesus Christ and know that he will save and forgive me.
Now I feel happier and more at peace with myself and my past and I have a new outlook on life. I feel empowered to do great things. I wake up everyday with Psalm 118: 24 “This is the day the lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it” running through my head and it gives me hope and reassurance for the future.
||I used to live in Africa in a big house where they take care of lots of kids. I learned about Jesus for my whole life, at first we would all go to a big church with the bigger kids, and then they made a kids church where tauntes (caretakers) taught the little kids about Jesus.
When I came here, I went to school and my teacher Mrs. Raske told me a lot about Jesus. I know a lot of stories from the bible, and I like to tell other people about Jesus and ask them if they know Him. I love Jesus so much. He saved my life when He died for me and for everyone and because of that we are forgiven and He is my Savior. I also love him because He sent my mom and dad to come get me in Africa.
My favorite stories from the bible are when Jesus got baptized and the Holy Spirit came down like a dove. I am happy to get baptized like Jesus today. I also like when Jesus came back to life after dying on the cross because he saved us from our sins.
Thank you Pastor Jon for getting me baptized today, and thank you to the people who came to be with me today.
||I believed and accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior a long time ago. Having my two daughters make their decision to be baptized made me realize that even though I had already accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior that I needed to make it public through baptism. Having Jesus in my life continues to change me every day and it makes our family stronger and more united in all aspects possible.
|Russ Wendling||As a child, I was raised in the Catholic Church, attended CCD classes through the 8th grade, and went through confirmation.
As a young adult, I believed in God and considered myself a Christian, but didn’t go to Church or lead a Christian life even though by the world’s standards, I was doing fine. For a number of years I flew chartered airplanes for a living. I had a few close calls, but chalked it up to good fortune. When Kim and I were first married, we didn’t attend Church, I didn’t honor God or my wife and our small children never heard me pray or speak of God.
One frigid day as I carried our 3 year old - now 19 year old daughter on a walk in our small town, God took me by the collar , lead me through the doors of the local church and let me know it was time to meet his Son and time to lead my family.
Many Godly people, were placed in my life to plant and water the seeds of my faith. God has blessed me so richly, with a loving wife, 2 awesome daughters, and an amazing Church.
As God’s word tells us in Jeremiah, He has always had a plan for my life. What brings me here today , is truly God’s undeserved favor on my life.
Thank you Jesus!
|Angie Martillaro||I was baptized as an infant and always believed in God, but did not seek a relationship with Him until I was an adult. Like many people, I had no clue how to connect with Him. I thought if I try to be a good person and was already baptized, I would go to heaven.
When I was 26, I suffered the loss of both parents within the same year. I was given the lead role in financial and estate matters, medical decisions, etc. I felt I had to be in control of everything and did not feel qualified for the position. This produced a lot of anxiety. It was during that time that I first asked the Lord to come into my life. I felt His presence at that moment and had a great sense of peace even through my loss and sadness. I went to church regularly, met with my pastor, and joined a bible study group. For a long time, my church was the only place I found comfort and understanding.
About a year later, I found myself facing a divorce. I stopped going to church for a while and lost focus on God’s Word. I felt very unsure of my decisions and the direction for my life.
I first visited Christ Community Church about 8 years ago. I’ve learned so much about the Bible, who Christ is and how to grow in faith. I no longer fear that I am not good enough for God. He knows I am a work in progress and have a great desire to walk with Him. He knows where I’ve been and where I’m going. I have confidence in my relationship with Him and in His provisions and will for my life. I know he hears my prayers and forgives my sins when I ask.
I believe there is no greater goal and nothing more satisfying, than knowing Christ and having Him to lean on.
|Anna Walker||Before I trusted in Jesus the most important thing was what others thought of me. I always went to church growing up, but when I got married, my husband didn’t believe in Jesus and thought I should stay home from church and take care of him. My second husband said Jesus didn’t exist. I realized Jesus saves.
At Christmas time in 2012 there was a lot of fighting at home. I got tired of being abused and just wanted peace. I knew Jesus died for our sins and I wanted the peace and love of God that His salvation could bring. My oldest daughter suggested moving back to Illinois to live with my mom. She invited us to church with her. Then, all of the sudden I experience a lot of health problems - even the scare of cancer. Prayers have helped me and my belief in Jesus is stronger.
The scripture verse that comes to mind is John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”
|Diane “Annie” Sanderson||I had a firm foundation in Christ growing up, but quit going to church during my late teens and twenties. At 29, I was blessed to marry Dan who was instrumental in bringing me back to Christ. Our two children came next and I realized what a precious gift life is and that ultimately we have no control over it. That is the first time I turned to Christ in honest prayer and asked for forgiveness and help.
The next 17 years were filled with teaching Sunday school and in turn learning for me! We were introduced to Christ Community three years ago and with Pastor Jim’s teaching and encouragement I read the Bible with better understanding, pray out loud daily with my husband and attend a community group. I find that the closer I get to our Lord the easier this life becomes.
It’s hard to describe how compelled I was to be baptized and yet how I’ve held back. For a long time I felt that until I could give 100% control to God and not sin I was not worthy or ready for baptism because my faith just was not where it needed to be. But, it is not my strength or the strength of my faith that will save me - it is what I am putting my faith in that will save me – and that is Jesus! He has the strength and wisdom and power and has already made the sacrifice. When I fall short He will be there. Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “It is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.” I am thankful and blessed and excited to proclaim to all that Jesus is my Savior!
|Blair Walker||Before I trusted in Jesus my possessions were more important to me. I didn’t want anything taken away from me.
My big sister Beverly got me going to church with her. I learned a lot at Sunday school. I trusted in Jesus to save me because I didn’t want to be mean. My big sister encouraged me that God is the best way to help me.
My favorite scripture verse that comes to mind is John 3:16. I know God loves me and will take care of me. I will keep praying. It does work!
|Chloe Walstrom||I have grown up in a Christian home and gone to church for as long as I can remember. When I was around four years old, I remember hearing about hell and being terrified that I would go there. My mom asked me if I wanted to accept Jesus, and I said yes. I’m not sure if I understood exactly what I was doing at the time, but as I grew older, I was afraid that I hadn’t meant it when I accepted Christ. I often felt guilty and I thought I wasn’t good enough to get into heaven. So, I would pray to accept Christ into my life again. Sometimes this also caused me to doubt my salvation, because I wasn’t exactly sure when I had become a Christian.
One summer, I did a Bible study on assurance of salvation. We looked at verses at the end of Romans 8, which say that nothing in all of creation will be able to separate us from the love of Christ. Since then, God has shown me that it is only through His grace and death on the cross that I can be saved. According to Romans 8:1, “…there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.”
Over the past few years, I’ve had ups and downs in my relationship with Christ, but through it all, I can see that He has been pursuing me and helping me to grow closer to Him.
One thing God has taught me recently is how he can use anyone to accomplish His will. When I was younger, I used to think that because I was shy, God wouldn’t be able to use me in any big way. Now I see, both in the Bible and throughout history, that God can use absolutely anyone, despite their failures and imperfections, to accomplish His purposes. He wants me to submit to Him and focus on Him rather than on my shortcomings. I now know that God doesn’t make mistakes. He has saved me and freed me, and He has an amazing plan for my life.
|Diane “Dee Dee” Small||Turning my life and my will over to the care of God was a “no brainer” for me. I had nothing left in my life but emptiness. I was ready to try church. I had nothing to lose, yet, so much to gain! Later that evening it was mentioned to me that the ladies from Christ Community Church, who use to visit our house often, were offering rides those of us who would like to attend. A prayer answered? I think so!
My first attendance was a baptism service. How moving that experience was for me. It felt so beautiful. I now attend Christ Community regularly thanks to my new dear friend, Susan, and her trusty “steed”. I now pray throughout my day. My life has become a true blessing. Yes, Lord, my eyes have been opened and my heart receives you with such joy and peace. Thy will be done always.
|Haley Thomas||Ever since I was little, I have gone to church and learned about God from my parents and grandparents. When I was around nine years old, I accepted Jesus into my heart. In times when I feel alone or scared I know He is with me and I know that God has a special plan for me. Getting baptized is my way of showing Him that I love Him and trust Him.
|Hunter Thomas||Having been raised in a Christian family, I never had any doubt as to my beliefs. I accepted Christ into my heart at a young age, and have tried to live my life with him at the forefront ever since. That being said, I often let life get in the way of the most important things; going to church, and even praying. That, in addition to sins like greed, anger, and materialism just goes to show how imperfect I am. Luckily we are forgiven for our sins.
Until recently, I never really knew much about baptism. I had always seen people be baptized, but never really understood why they were doing it. Knowing what I know now, I realize that baptism is a way of proclaiming your faith. And so, being firm in my faith, I am being baptized today as a proclamation of my faith in The Lord.
|Jackie Gibson||I grew up in a Christian family and regularly attended church. I thought being a Christian meant doing what was right and staying out of trouble. I publically accepted Christ as my Savior in third grade and I have been blessed to be surrounded and supported by Christian family members and friends for as long as I can remember.
In college I put a lot of my energy into making friendships. When some of these friendships fell apart I felt hurt and alone. It is at that point that I began to rely on Jesus and recommitted to a relationship with Him. I spent a lot of time reading the Bible and in prayer, seeking healing and understanding.
After graduating from college and moving home I began attending Christ Community with my sister and brother-in-law. I got involved in a Community Group and God has blessed me with friends who also have a heart for the Lord. I continue to learn more about God’s desire for personal relationships and I am constantly humbled by his love for a sinner like me. In Psalm 138 verse 3 David praises God saying, “When I asked for your help, you answered my prayer and gave me courage.” I'm so thankful for the prayers God has answered and the community of people He's placed in my life.
|Kathleen Walstrom||All of my life I have gone to church. I have listened to my parents pray and read Bible stories. This definitely planted a seed and taught me how to live, but knowing how to live and doing these things wasn’t what made me accept Jesus as my Savior.
The thing that prompted me to accept Jesus was fear and love combined. I was terrified of death because if Jesus came back, I was not ready. One night when I was seven, I had a nightmare about death. I went to see if my mom was awake. She was not all that bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, but she was awake so we talked about my dream. She asked me if I wanted to accept Jesus into my heart. I decided that I did, because I loved God. With her help, I prayed.
Since then my life has changed. My love and interest for God has gone from a little thing to the main thing. Romans 8:28 says, “God works for the good of those who love him.” I see that truth now that Jesus is my best friend.
|Kim Thomas||I was blessed by being raised in a Christian home and attended church regularly. At a young age I accepted Jesus as my savior and probably a half of a dozen times after that just in case he didn't hear me the first time. As a baby I was dedicated to the church family but baptism wasn't something I ever did, even though I've always wanted to. It's easy for me to get caught up in all the commitments and busyness of life and push God away even though he is constantly by my side. I'm stepping forward proclaiming my faith. He is my source of strength in this crazy world and I want to get to know my heavenly father on a more personal level. I also want to set an example for my family and friends and anyone else that I might inspire along the way.
|Mitchell Gable||Growing up in a home where my dad was baptized Lutheran, and my mom was Catholic, we went to church a couple times here and there, but not all the time. Since it wasn’t a weekly thing for me, I thought there wasn’t really a need for Jesus in my life.
Then one of my closest friends, Andrew Crane, introduced me to a High School student ministry known as Mosaic when I was a freshman. I wasn’t really sure how it would go considering I knew nothing about the Lord, or anything about the bible. But, I was welcomed with open arms and a bunch of people, whether they were friends or people I didn’t know, did the most they could to help me. Going to Mosaic helped me learn about how Jesus died for my sins because He loves me no matter what. I was able to look deep inside and discover the sins I was struggling with; greed, lust, and so on. With the help of Andrew Crane and Sam Odom, I confessed I was wrong, and asked Jesus to forgive my sins and to take control of my life.
Since then, my life has changed tremendously. I pray before I go to bed every night, I started doing serving opportunities like Hope Haven, and Love Inc., I go to worship nights, camp retreats, and I have started studying the bible to learn verses and gain more knowledge about it. I know that I will have challenges down my path that will either come out positive or negative, but Philippians 4:13 says “I can do everything through him who gives me strength,” and I plan on working through it.
|Nolan Bunger||For as long as I can remember, I have believed in Jesus. When I started thinking about what I would put in my story, I tried to remember when I first accepted Jesus as my personal Lord and Savior. I talked to my parents about it, and my dad said that when I was about 5, I asked him, “How do you get to heaven?” And my dad prayed a prayer with me.
I chose to get baptized because I felt like it was time for me to take the next step in my faith. I have wanted to do this for a while, and when this opportunity came, I took it.
|Rebekah Nielsen||When I was little I thought every time a person sinned you had to ask God to be your Savior and ask Him to come into your life. Then one day I asked my mom how many times you had to do this. She said only once when you really want Jesus in your life. I was in 2nd grade when I asked Jesus to be my Savior and Lord. Since that time I am trying to learn to obey God and ask Him to help me.
I've had a lot of fears and have been scared of many things since I was little. God has helped me so much to get over my fears. I memorized a verse and it goes like this:
”I sought the Lord and He answered me. He delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to Him are radiant. Their faces are never covered with shame. This poor man called and the Lord heard him and he saved him from all his troubles. The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him and He delivers him. “Psalm 32: 4-7.
I am ready to be baptized.
|Scott Thomas||I’ve wanted to be baptized for years but was always “too busy”, “didn’t have time” or “couldn’t fit it into my schedule”. It’s easy to be busy in this life and work to “get ahead” or even “keep up”. When I was younger, finances and possessions were important to me.
I grew up in a Christian home and have always believed in God and Jesus but didn’t have a complete understanding. I drifted away from God in my late teens although I still believed. After our first child was born I began to deal with anxiety and the stress of providing for a family. I wanted our children to have a close relationship with God and knew I needed to make Him a priority in my life. Attending Christ Community several years ago for the first time really made me aware of my need for Jesus. The music and message were so powerful, they brought me to tears because I knew my life would be different as Jesus became my focus.
The stress of life no longer causes anxiety like it used to and it’s amazing how calm I feel when I let Jesus take control. Today my family is joining me by being baptized as well and I can think of no greater Father’s Day gift. I can only assume that my Father in Heaven feels the same. The music and messages are still powerful to me and, if you look closely, you may still see tears. Only now they’re tears of joy!!!
|Tiffany Walker||Before I trusted in Jesus, school was more important to me. Things at school like grades and friends kept me from the Bible.
I was at church with my big sister and I decided to surrender to Christ. I was in third grade.
I try to read the bible every day when I don’t have much homework. I moved in with my grandma last August. She is the one that brought me to Christ Community with my sister and my mom. We try to go to church every Saturday night.
I would say my favorite part of church is communion. My favorite verses are Mark 1:9-11. It talks about when Jesus got baptized. “At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. As Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: ‘You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”
|Valerie Davis||I have always felt a pull towards Jesus, but just felt I didn’t need to come to church to express my belief.
My marital standing was leaving me feeling depressed, alone and helpless. Family friends, Bill, Donna and Katie O ’Hagen introduced Christ Community to my son and I. I came and felt right at home. Later when things started getting tough for me, Mellissa Coppert invited me to Penny’s home for bible study - that was the moment I felt spiritually awakened. These ladies made the difference…I feel accepted, LOVED, and ready to walk with Jesus.
I now have the strength to accept my calling. I have always loved volunteering in many areas of my life, and now I don’t feel guilty for doing something that fills my heart and soul and impacts other as well. I feel complete. I have accepted him as my Savior and feel a part of the family here at Christ Community. At dismissal when they say, “be the church” I am no longer confused. I walk out proud and ready to spread the words and acts of Jesus.
St. Charles Campus
|Adaliz Ward|| I stepped away from the faith after I was given back to my mom at the age of 13. From that point on, there's been a void in my heart and my life. After so many disappointments and struggles, I woke one morning and spoke to God. I told him I’m willing to give up everything just to meet the right person and get back into my faith so I can start living the righteous way.
After marrying my husband, I was invited by Michelle Ryan to come to Christ Community to reconnect with Jesus. I no longer wanted to walk the sinful path of anger, hate and thinking I'm alone. I knew I wasn't living the Christian life. I needed and wanted Jesus back in my life and he only way that I knew how to have that was to go back to church and to surrender my mind, body and soul to the Lord.
Since then, my heart is now filled with faith and love. I've learned how to pray with the help of my wonderful community group which I’ve been part of for almost 3yrs. My husband I both now have a place we can call our church home. We also don’t have to fear any problems we may have in our marriage, because we’re not alone, we have God and a wonderful support group that will help us in any way they can. Having Jesus in our life, we have gained great love and more understanding of why we all should be disciples of Christ and live the Christian life. Isaiah 41:13 " For I am the LORD, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you."
|Ali Cook|| Two things that caused me to need Christ was knowing there was an emptiness inside of me and going to church but never really getting into it. But then something clicked and I started listening to the sermons and getting more into the worship services. I knew Christ would fill the emptiness that I felt. As I progressed onto the path Christ wanted to take me, I became depressed and began to stray away from God. I kept thinking that God would hate me or that my life was over. Then I prayed, and God helped me through. I knew that Christ was looking out for me and I was going to be okay.
My Mom, Lisa, and my Dad, Ed, introduced me to Christ when I was younger, but I never knew what it meant. Since then, I have been going to Christ Community and meeting new people. I have known Christ ever since I received a Coming of Age book (somewhere around the 6th grade) and prayed to ask God into my life. I accepted Christ because I knew there was something I needed and God was the answer, he always helped me through those rough times and I knew he had my back.
As my depression continued and my friends started to move away from me, I started praying to Christ and got more involved in church. I became happier and knew that Christ loved me. I’ve started hanging out more with my friends again and even made some new ones. My family has also helped me get to know Christ and support me through the rough times I’ve been having. Overall, Christ has given me love and support through everything that I have been going through and given me faith and hope.
|| I accepted Jesus as my Savior in school when I was 9 years-old. I wrote on a card and said, “I accept Jesus as my Savior.” I prayed to Jesus that he would forgive me and lead me to the right answers. To me, getting baptized means showing people and the public that I believe Jesus died on the cross for my sins. I am going to live my life differently by changing and working harder to not sin.
|| I knew of Jesus and claimed to be a Christian for most of my life. But until I let Him into my heart and trusted Him completely, I always felt as if something was missing in my life. I felt that I was ultimately in control of my own life.
My brother first introduced me to the idea of having a relationship with Christ and of His love and forgiveness, and I was saved as a teenager. Though he lit the spark, I still struggled with my relationship with Christ until I met my husband, Daniel. He explained Jesus and the relationship he had with Him in a way I never knew was possible. Though it has been a slow process making my scientist mind listen to my heart, I can finally say with full confidence that Jesus is my one true Savior, that He has forgiven my sins and that He loves me beyond comprehension.
Though I don’t know the day or even month that this transformation finally happened, I know that because of it Jesus has changed my life and my husband’s life in ways we never thought possible. We have a stronger relationship, a passion for community and a calling to medical missions. All because of the love of Jesus Christ.
|Ben Steinke||As a child I regularly attended church with my family. Spending time at Awana, on mission trips and retreats, I devoted many hours to my church, and to the Lord. However, I soon discovered I never did it for the Lord. I did it for myself and the social aspects.
Upon attending Northern Illinois University, I prided myself on being self sufficient by paying for all aspects of my education, living, transportation etc. Believing I was in total control of my life I rarely attended church. Soon, I was lost with no direction. Devastation beyond explanation within family relations, personal relationship heartbreaks and financial issues sent me into a state of prolonged anger towards God. Though God had been in my life since my childhood acceptance, I forced him out of my life out of anger.
Upon attending church with my family, I was struck hard by the Holy Spirit. No amount of will could stop what was about to come, a waterfall of emotion. During worship my emotions ran free. I felt a voice inside calling me back, my stresses, angers felt lifted, manageable.
It was not until recently, I fully, open-heartedly asked the Lord our Savior to enter my life, so I may serve him in all ways he commands. Even as life starts to pull me away, I will never live a life without him again.
|Caleb Sutton||I grew up in a Christian home and accepted Jesus when I was three years-old. I was in the car with my mom and I asked her "how do I get into heaven?" and she helped me accept Jesus. I was always taught that Jesus would be there for me and that he would always take care of me, but to me, it was just another fact.
Later when I was seven, my foster sister, Andrea, ran away because she was mad at us. I was very sad and I prayed that God would bring her back. I prayed every night like I was taught. Nine months later, Andrea called her case worker and said she wanted to come back to our house. I was so happy and I realized how powerful God was.
From that day on, God wasn't just a fact, he was a real friend. Now I try to live my life like Jesus and help other people come to know him. This summer I am going to Brazil and I am really looking forward to sharing Jesus with the people of Brazil.
|Casey Mullarkey||My life before Jesus consisted of me being my own king, and not a good one at all. It was very selfish, self-destructive, and generally unfulfilling. I always believed in God and prayed to him a lot when I was younger, but through my 20’s , I lost that spirituality as I developed an issue with alcohol. I feel like I somehow made it to success financially but just always like I was struggling--something was missing in my life. It always seemed I was at the bottom trying to climb up a slippery slope and failing.
What brought me to Jesus was my problem with alcohol and that my life was unmanageable. I finally admitted I had a problem and sought help to stop. I enrolled in an out-patient treatment program about 3 months ago. That first week I felt a calling, telling me to go to church that Sunday, and when I went it was a life changer for me. Jesus was sending me a message and pulling me back into his grace. It was a baptism ceremony at church that Sunday, March 16, 2014, and everything I was struggling with was answered that day by Jesus through the church. It was like the entire service and message that day was meant for me to be there experiencing it. Jesus showed me that if I accept him into my heart, that I am not alone. He will be there to take the burden of all my problems and help me through this hard time. I firmly believe he called me on this specific day to this specific church because I was ready to accept him into my life. I had my Alcoholics Anonymous 24-hour coin in my pocket and was fumbling with it in my hand while I watched the ceremony and listened to the songs. One after another, the songs spoke directly to me and it was everything I was looking for. It was a profound experience that I will never forget. I am thankful every day.
The time since I found Jesus, as brief as it has been, has been the best time of my life. It has been the most rewarding, fulfilling, and happy time I can ever remember. I married my wife last September but we have had a rocky start due to my alcoholism. These last 3 months have been the best we’ve had and I really feel like this is where I need to be in my life. Jesus led me down a path to recovery but he didn’t stop there. My wife and I just bought our first house, I just got a new job--a huge promotion, I live a healthier life and have lost 15 lbs, and I just feel content and happy. When I come to a hard decision or life-changing event, I pray for guidance and it has relieved all my anxiety and impatience. I also feel like I am in some ways inspiring others just through my story in a positive way. Life is good.
||Dad and Mom brought me to church when I was little and I gradually learned more and more about Jesus. I used to lie all the time. I snuck stuff at night and when I got caught I felt bad.
Andy is a Christian and he was my group leader at camp Kishwaakeetoe. He talked to us about sin and our need to trust Jesus for forgiveness and to go to heaven. Andy helped me pray to put my faith in Jesus last summer at camp Kishwaakeetoe. I was 8 years old.
Now I feel confident knowing I will go to heaven when I die and I feel bad when I lie and sneak things at night even if I don’t get caught. Getting baptized is a way to show who the real “me” is, I am a Child of God.
|Chris Nosewicz||I have been raised in a Christian environment and knew all the answers, but I never knew God. I always thought I was a bad person and I would never go to Heaven. I picked up multiple next steps packets, each time feeling I needed to start over because I’d been bad. I asked God to forgive me so many times. It wasn’t until Christmas, 2012 where I felt the Holy Spirit talking to me, that I needed to do this for real.
My life has definitely changed since then. Whenever I feel temptation I know I can count on the Holy Spirit to help me through it. I also feel that whenever I need a friend, God is always there to help me.
My Mom and Dad helped me a lot with taking these steps--without them I would be completely lost right now. Being baptized means to me that I have finally put my faith and trust in Jesus Christ my LORD.
|Cole Manczak||My story started when I was 6 or 7 and our family friends invited us to Christ Community Church. The first time I went I loved it and all the things they said were new to me. I guess my parents liked it too so we started going to church there every week. We also started bringing God into our lives in other ways like putting crosses onto walls and we also started listening to almost nothing but Christian music.
Then my parents made the life changing decision to get baptized. I didn't really understand what it meant but I knew it was a great thing. For about 2 or 3 years, we went to church every weekend and I started serving and taking care of the 2 year old's at church. In spring of 2014, I decided I wanted to put my trust in Jesus and make him the Lord of my life. Now he guides me through life so that the life I lead is devoted to loving Jesus.
|Collin Michels||I want to show people that I have put my hope and trust in Jesus by being baptized.|
||I’ve grown up in a Christian home and knew lots about the Bible. My family went to church regularly and I loved hearing God’s Word. I wanted to surrender to Christ in order to live my life more like His and be closer to Him.
I was seven and went to my mom, Sherryl Frank and told her I wanted to ask Jesus to be my Savior. She told me I had to pray a special prayer and I prayed it with her. In John 14:6 it says, “I am the way, the truth and the light. No one comes to the Father, except through me.” I knew I needed Jesus in my life to get into heaven.
Since then, my life’s completely changed. 6 years ago, our friends, the Pritz’s, invited us to Christ Community. We loved it and have been attending regularly. My mom was my Awana’s leader and I loved going. Now I’m a Genesis student and love it! My relationship with God has really grown. I love to help others as much as I can. My Genesis group is doing an ongoing service project with Lifespring and serving those families. I’m so happy I have Christ in my life and can’t wait to see what He does next!
|Denise La Cure||When I look back I think how superficial my life was; just going through the motions of each day. When my husband David had a massive stroke, I found myself caring for a totally disabled human being. That is when I found purpose in my life. One who has experienced this dramatic change of life knows that you are carrying “my, his and our” load. At times I’d reach a plateau and could not do “one more thing”, and of course that is when something else “happened” that had to be dealt with. Somehow, I would reach “deep down inside” and pull out strength and wisdom and rising to the next plateau of care. That is when I knew I had someone helping me; I could not have taken care of David without it, and that is when it hit me that I was getting help from a higher place: God through Jesus Christ.
After David’s death, none of things I enjoyed or valued in the past held any meaning. In my search for a meaningful life, I met people who had an extraordinary influence on me. My good friend, Tom Fuller, who has helped me “find my way”, taught me kindness in the way I think and treat people, to pray for my adversaries, stand up for myself, and to “dream” again. In the difficult political arena that I am in, I have met many good, hardworking, devoted Christians that stood out to me: some taught me courage and wisdom in dealing with adversaries, helped me through defeats in caring for David; some who showed me how loving, caring and happy devoted people of Christ are; and some who are helping to propel me full throttle into life as a Christian. Then there are my neighbors and friends, Jacque and Jim Fortcamp, who showed me honesty, friendship and how important it is to attend church services as well as my dear friend Betty Lemmon, who has “showed me the way”, consulted with me many times, and helped me wholeheartedly embrace Christianity.
In March of 2014, Betty read to me The Prayer of Salvation, and asked me if I believed with all my heart that Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior and God raised him from the dead, and I said, “I believe with all my heart that Jesus is my Lord and Savior, who died for my sins and was risen from the dead.” and I was Saved.
I now attend weekly church services with Betty. I stay active in my weekly Coventry Prayer Group along with our monthly Deep Waters Book Club. I am also enjoying reading numerous books on Christianity. Still, the coolest book I have read is the Bible. Another friend gave me a booklet on how to follow the Bible, and now it is all making sense to me. I have now also attended GPS (Great Place to Start—our church membership class) and “am on my way”.
|Elijah Sutton||I grew up in a Christian home and went to church when I was little. I wasn't really following God. It was more like being good but not following God, I was following my parents. Then one day I saw my sister doing something with my mom and I asked what she was doing. She said she was accepting Jesus as her Savior. It sounded weird so my mom explained it. Jesus wasn't just my Savior, he was God and deserved to be obeyed.
After that I wanted to accept Jesus too, so my mom helped me pray to give my life to Jesus. Since then, I have learned a lot about God. I love reading my Bible and asking questions with my dad. I am very fascinated and interested. When I learned about baptism I asked what it was. I learned that it was showing the world that you belong to Jesus so I decided to get baptized.
I'm looking forward to serving in Kids World and going on mission trips after I get baptized.
|Elise Chamberlin||I first invited Jesus into my heart when I was three years-old. My Mom prayed with me in bed one night. All I really understood was that I could go to heaven to live with God if I put my faith and trust in Him. Now, at age eleven, I know that I am a sinner and the only way to heaven is to be saved by Him.
I would like to thank my grandparents, parents, and Sunday school teachers for helping me grow stronger in my walk with the Lord. I would like to get baptized to publically show that I have put my faith and trust in Him. When I grow up, I want to write books about God.
My favorite Bible verse is Psalm 56:3-4: “When I am afraid, I will trust in you. In God whose word I praise, in God I trust. I will not be afraid. What can mortal man do to me?”
|Elvee Clemons||I grew up in a catholic-based faith & always believed Jesus to be my savior. However, I never took the time to actually open the bible and learn about Jesus or his love for me. All I knew was to pray for better things and to always try to be a good person, turn the other cheek (although that made no sense to me). For many years, I went through life being mistreated and not doing or saying anything about it. My father abandoned me and my siblings when were very young and my mother later came to this country when I was 7 years-old, leaving us in the care of my grandmother until I was 16, when my mother was finally able to bring us all to the United States. During those years we basically lived as orphans. My grandmother did her best to care for us and taught us to always give glory to God--that even when we felt unfortunate, we were very valuable and loved by God. I listened to her but always wondered how can God love me? He let my father walk away from us, he let my mother go to another country and leave us behind and surrounded by people who know we are alone and treat us however they want because we were alone.
But then I would pray. God had to be there with us, even when I couldn’t understand how. I thought that was faith, so why should I go to church? Why should I read the bible? I’m a believer--isn’t that all it takes to go to heaven? All these events made me bitter and harsh toward many people but didn’t really care.
Then one day I was invited by a friend to Christ Community Church. She must have felt I needed Jesus in my life, so I came and didn’t really know what to think about it but then I came back again a few more times and got more and more interested. I always left the service thinking how blessed I was to have it all: my own family, a husband and healthy children, who would be raised by both their parents unlike my upbringing. God really loves me. Then my marriage took a turn and I was left wondering…why? I stopped coming to church for a few months and decided that if that’s what God wanted so be it. I made the decision to divorce and communicated this to my Mom and Brother.
My brother came to know Jesus a year prior and he started talking to me about how he always prayed for my marriage, for God to bless it and that I would never go through things that he, himself had put other people through. For me to hear my brother talk about Jesus was ironic because I thought “ if he of all people is going to tell me that, there is something good out of this horrible experience” and he said maybe this is God’s way of making your marriage better--to start over without lies and dishonesty. God wants you to come to him and build a relationship with him, and once you have that, you’ll have everything.
I listened but laughed inside. I thought again, who is this guy and what happened to my brother? My brother would never speak like this. But it was my born-again brother talking to me about the grace of God. I thought if God can turn his life around then he can make my life better.
Now I am a happier person. I accepted Jesus In my heart long ago but today I am getting baptized to honor his love for me and I pray he continues to teach me the way to be better. I pray that he blesses my family and my marriage and that he opens my eyes and ears to understand his word and that he will use me to help others come to him.
|Ethan Isola||When I was in fourth grade, I lied to someone and after a while I felt really bad about it. I felt so guilty one night that I started praying because I wanted Jesus to forgive me for my sins. The next day I admitted it to my parents and they told me to apologize. The next chance I had, I went to the person I lied to and apologized. They weren’t mad at me like I thought they would be. They forgave me and was grateful I apologized. It felt like a weight was lifted off my chest. I then realized that God didn’t want me to feel like this because he loves me and cares about me.
Since then I have always tried to do the right thing. Sometimes it makes me stand out and I don’t feel guilty a lot. I still make bad choices now and then, but I try my best to do what the Bible tells me to and make the best choices I can. I now know that Jesus died on the cross for the same reason he doesn’t want us to lie, because he loves us.
I want to be baptized because I want people to know I’m devoting myself to following Jesus.
|Jamie Daily||I’ve always had a personal relationship with my Lord and Savior though, at many times, I have wandered from His path. Before professing my desire to obey Christ, I always tried to do things my way. I didn’t consider the consequences of my actions and secular choices. I trusted in myself to create my happiness and personal journey.
In recent years I have moved further from family, friends, and my home church. It was during this time I truly began to rely on God and His will for me and my family. I learned things about myself and developed a desire to have an intimate relationship with my Creator. Because of the faith and upbringing modeled by my loving parents, Scott & Jane Kline, who embedded their love for our Lord in my heart and because I was introduced to Christ Community Church at the beginning of this year, I have truly felt called to renounce my selfish ways and make known my yearning to follow and serve Him.
Since deciding to make this public declaration of my faith and desire to follow and obey Christ wholeheartedly, I have encountered a sense of peace. I am not in control. He is. Relinquishing this need to control my life onto Him has brought me joy and comfort. As Romans 10:9 states, I will declare with my mouth that Jesus is Lord, I believe in my heart that God raised Christ from the dead, and I will be saved.
|John Nelson||I first asked Jesus to come into my life when I was 16 years-old at a Youth for Christ conference at the Super Dome in New Orleans, LA. But because I was brought up in a church that practiced infant baptism, I did not get baptized because in my mind I already was.
Although I had accepted Jesus as my savior and I understood what it meant to be a Christ-follower, I don’t believe I was emotionally committed when I asked Jesus into my life. Even though I was saved, I felt that I knew better how to live my life and made many poor decisions.
In February of 2002, only 18 months after moving my family to Chicago from California, I was laid off from a company that I had been with for 12 years and had felt I would retire with. I was devastated. I was also scared. What was I going to do? In an effort to help, my wife Michele gave me a business card she had picked up and on it was Philippians 4:6-7:
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your request to God and the peace of God which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus”
I was at a low point and I needed help. I could not sleep at night I even got physically sick worrying about what I was going to do. It was at that point, I decided to listen to the words of Philippians 4:6-7 and I brought it to God. No, the problems did not disappear but I did come to know the Peace of God and the comfort that He was in charge. It was at that point, I decided that I had been fooling myself for all those years and I prayed that prayer again to have Jesus come in and be my savior. This time, there was a connection and I understood.
It’s not easy and there are days I struggle to be obedient, but as I look at how my life has changed and the blessings that have been given to me, I am grateful for having Jesus in my life.
|Jon Hoffman||I was baptized as an infant in the Lutheran tradition and attended Lutheran parochial school and church but quickly drifted into the “earthly world ways” when I went to college. After our daughter was born, my wife got me going to church again and I became actively involved in the Lutheran church. After some time, I had a “falling out” with that church and stopped going.
When my wife became ill, she convinced me to attend church again and we “tried” CCC and really got a lot from the services and sermons. During the past five years, we both grew and matured in our faith and belief in Jesus. Since my wife’s death, I have continued on at CCC and my belief and trust in Jesus has been steadily growing. I knew that “surrendering” to Jesus was the way God wanted me to go.
I now look forward to a “public” commitment of my faith in Jesus through Baptism at CCC. My spiritual life and growth have been remarkable during the past years. I am in a Community Group and regularly attend service and I volunteer through the church. I know that life is not “easy” but with Jesus’ help , I will continue to grow and mature in my faith, trust, and belief.
|Joshua Williams||I always knew Jesus but never believed in him because of all the bad stuff happening in my life. But one day, I went into the DCFS system and felt like I had no one to talk to so I started giving Jesus a chance and he gave me my first foster home. I felt like it was a good foster home, but they had no experience in taking care of a child and I started to get mad a lot. I then went to a shelter again searching for another home and I found a home with the Suttons and they told me that God still had a plan for me.
I started getting really confident and I got back into going to church and now I feel like my life was a challenge because it was a test to see if I would keep believing and I also feel like Jesus deserves my loyalty for all the positive and good things he brought into my life.
I now believe Jesus is my Savior and died on the cross for me and forgave me for all of my sins and now I obey him as Lord of all. Also, with my faith I plan on serving in Kids World and in general in Jesus’ name, how he would.
|Kate Prestemon||Before I made the decision that I needed Christ, many things were different. I always thought that when I would go somewhere new or see an old friend that my appearance meant everything.
The biggest person who has influenced me to become a Christ-follower is my brother, Matt Prestemon. Though my parents’ divorce has never been easy on him, he’s always kept his head held high—knowing that whatever happens, God is always there. Throughout this past year, my decision to follow Christ has become stronger. Being in the Genesis program and Kids World has shown me how God has appeared in my life. I now believe that you’re never alone even through the darkest times.
After my decision to accept Jesus as my Lord & Savior, I can really say that my life and way of seeing things have changed. I participate in many more things, including the Second Saturday community outreach. My mom and I have also been talking about participating in the GO team trips. I feel that I have been closer to some of my family’s spiritual conversations and the pastor’s teaching. I also feel that by understanding and knowing what God has done for me, I can help people become Christ-followers. I know my mom has a very special friend that is not a Christ-follower and it makes me wonder what I can do to help him open his eyes to the possibilities of God.
||My name is Katelyn Keenehan and I am a follower of Jesus Christ. Ever since I was a baby, my parents had me involved with the Catholic church. Of course I believed in Jesus, but my faith was limited inside the walls of that church. I just went through the motions and recited my bedtime prayer Our Father each night. I prayed only in times of need such as when I got in fights with friends, after arguing with my sister, before soccer games, and during tests. Often these prayers were recited from memory and had very little personal value to me. I would get mad at God. I believed that God should be able to remove all hardships from my life. When I was 12 years-old, my family got the news that we would be moving from our home town of Danville, California all the way to Geneva, Illinois. I was heartbroken and instead of asking God for help, and guidance, I yelled at him--upset that he would take such a good life away from me. Before I truly found Jesus I didn’t talk about my faith, or my religion unless someone asked. Even then it was hard for me to explain my faith journey because as far as I was concerned I didn’t have one. Now I know that I do.
After the move we decided to try a Christian church, which is how we found Christ Community. My mother was the one who was most skeptical considering she had always belonged to a Catholic church. After one service my family knew this church was the one for us. We began attending every weekend. None of us complained because it was so interesting to hear the bible described to us, teaching us how to grow in our faith. About three weeks later, my best friend brought me to Genesis. I had the time of my life, it was a community of middle school kids that joined together every Wednesday to worship their God. I really enjoyed it. As my family accepted Christ Community as their home, I accepted Jesus as my savior. I believe that he died for me and my sins, and that I was put here to make a difference.
Since accepting Jesus as my Savior, I have begun to pray on a daily basis. My prayers are no longer from a book but from my heart. I don’t only pray in times of need, I pray thanks on good days, and I pray for guidance on the bad ones. I realized that God doesn’t remove all hardships from your life, he just walks with you through them. He has a plan for me, and maybe at the time I thought moving would ruin my life, but I know that God makes everything work out for the better. Like It says in Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” I trust in God. I am so glad that I was given the opportunity to accept God into my life.
|Kathina Ballines||I wanted Christ in my life because I lived a sinful life. I would not obey my parents and I did not do what the bible said I should. I would lie to my mom and dad.
Then I started going to Genesis and Pastor Pete told us the truth about God. I asked God to forgive me, and help me to do right. Then when I went to church, they were talking about baptism class and I felt God pull on my heart to get baptized.
Since then, I have been changing and asking God to change me. Before I would lie a lot, now I catch myself when I lie. Before I do something I say to myself what would Jesus do? I know that God will be there for me as it says in Philippians 4:13 and Jeremiah 33:3.
|Kelly Bird||Growing up I was never educated about religion. I’m not even sure to this day what my father’s beliefs were. From the age of ten I grew up in a very small farming community with one church that had a constant pastor turnover and attendance to its weekly service was driven by a social commitment to which my family feel obligated. I’ve always had a feeling that there was something “bigger” than the physical world that existed around me and I’d always been a spiritual person.
It wasn’t until my collegiate art history studies that my eyes were opened to an entire world of spiritual beliefs and traditions. It was in college that I met my friend Lauren. We quickly became friends and though fairly new to Christianity herself, she was very involved in her local church and able to answer any of my questions. Visiting her contemporary church and witnessing her baptism was life changing for me and set me on my journey to seek the relationship with Christ that she and so many others had found. I spent years with an open mind casually building my beliefs and very basic knowledge of the Bible but never really developing a personal relationship with God. Three years ago I met a co-worker, Amanda, who quickly became one of my closest friends and introduced me to the teachings of Joyce Meyer. We attended Joyce’s Women’s Conference and in an arena filled with tens of thousands of faith driven women, it’s hard to doubt something that so many people believe in so deeply. God’s love and presence was undeniable. I began to implement a daily routine of talking to God and using devotional teachings to transform my life.
Trusting in Jesus wasn’t easy for me. I didn’t experience an “Aha” moment or go through any life threatening experience where I came out the other side “re-born”. I have a very analytical mind and it is hard for me to believe anything that I can’t see or touch. I had to make a conscious effort to try and make Jesus a part of my life. I would experience difficulties in my marriage or other relationships, have trouble accomplishing goals at work or financial troubles and would find myself in search of answers. Instead of being angry, confused or frustrated about problems I couldn’t resolve, I trained myself to pray about them. I’d listen to sermons or faith based motivational speakers to get myself into the right frame of mind to let Jesus into my life and when I started praying and putting my problems in His hands…He answered.
Knowing Jesus has brought a peace and happiness to my life that makes His presence unquestionable. Praying is now instinct and I walk with Jesus through everything. Though I still have so much to study and learn about the Bible, I know how blessed I am to have God to guide me and can’t imagine life any other way. My husband and I are growing in our relationships with Jesus every day and have committed to raising our three children in a Christian environment with as much knowledge as we can provide so that they are never without His presence in their lives.
||I was baptized as an infant and my family went to Catholic Church until I was about 10 years old, when we started going to a Presbyterian Church. I also attended Baptist preschool when I was young. My mother had grown up in a Christian household and my father gave his life to Christ when he was a teenager. Both of my parents felt it was important for me to have a personal relationship with Jesus.
According to my parents, I was three years old when I asked Jesus to be my Lord and Savior, but I never really considered being re-baptized until recently. This past year, I joined Athletes in Action at UConn and have been able to discuss my faith with my teammates and floor mates.
I have decided that I want to be baptized as an adult, to show that I am saved and want to live my life for Christ. I am very excited to be baptized with my sister, Lillian, on Father’s Day.
|Lillian O’Connell||I have grown up in a Christian household. I attended church and Sunday school and I have seen my faith grow as I have grown. I have always loved Jesus and want to live my life for him. I have asked Jesus to be my Lord and Savior. I am excited to be baptized with my sister.
|Logan Harbaugh||I accepted Jesus Christ as my savior when I was in kindergarten. However, little did I know the trials that I was about to face. Throughout my elementary years, school was a tremendous struggle for me. I found out I had a learning problem towards the end of the fifth grade. Soon after this, I fell into a deep depression, pushing God and everyone else out of my life. I felt unloved and unwanted for the longest time, trying many ways to try to feel better. I knew my parents were trying to help, but I still felt sad and lost.
In 8th grade, I decided that I needed help - that I couldn’t go down this path alone. One night I decided to recommit my life to Jesus Christ to help lead me in a way that will honor and glorify him.
Since then I do feel better. I have had a good year in high school, I’ve made new friends at a new school and I’m able to control my thoughts better. Life is still a challenge for me, but I know I’m not alone. I’ve decided the next step in my life to strengthen my faith and show my obedience to God by being baptized.
|Lori Frascona||Before I trusted in Jesus I thought that I could handle all my problems and difficulties in life all by myself. But I was wrong.
I started going to Christ Community Church regularly with my parents, Paul and Linda Campbell. I noticed that going to church eased my anxiety and gave me peace. I prayed and asked Jesus to help me and give me strength and guidance. I surrendered my life and all my problems to Jesus, asking him to take control of my life.
Since then, my life has changed. I still have difficulties in my life, but I know with Jesus in my life and by my side, I can handle anything with Jesus's love, strength, and guidance.
Psalm 28:7 The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him.
||I’ve been a Christ-follower my whole life, but never really got that serious about it until this past year. Before God was really prevalent in my life, I always worried about small things and spent too much time on myself, letting other things beside God become idols in my life like: sports and hanging out with friends.
The summer of my high school junior year, I started really wanting to become closer to God, so my friends Abby Miller and Angelica Villa and I decided to start going to house groups. Since then, house groups have completely changed my life.
I don’t know where I would be today without God in my life. I have so much more love for others, as well as faith in God during times of doubt and hardship. My relationship with God has given me so much wisdom and maturity. I love the person that God has made me into today, and I love the person that he is still making me to be. I’ve realized that spending time with God is more productive than anything else I could be doing and I don’t need to worry about anything in the future because God is going to have my back through it all. Instead of striving for worldly, meaningless things like temporary beauty or approval from others, I strive to be like the noble wife described in proverbs 31. “She is clothed in strength and dignity and she laughs without fear of the future.” Proverbs 31:25
|Lucy Mullarkey||I was raised in a Catholic home. I always hated going to church. I thought it was boring, and I always got in trouble afterwards for talking, or not paying attention. As I got older, my parents stopped going to church, and so did I. I would now and then pray to God when I needed him, but for the most part I was living a pretty selfish life. As I got older and graduated from college, my life was centered on me. I did what I wanted to do, when I wanted to do it, and justified my bad behavior because I wasn’t hurting anyone else.
What brought me to Jesus Christ was shortly after marrying the love of my life; the fairytale marriage I had always dreamed of started to fall apart due to my husband’s alcoholism. Months of suffering went by before he hit rock bottom, and got the help he and I desperately needed. The first week of his sobriety he said, “Let’s go to church this Sunday.” I was shocked that he suggested that, but was happy and excited he wanted to go. We went to Christ Community Church because we had visited in the past and enjoyed the service. That Sunday, I believe Jesus Christ and God talked to both my husband and me, through Pastor Jim Nicodem. He spoke about not living a selfish life in sin, particularly alcoholism. His service moved my husband and me to our core. We continued to go to church every Sunday, and during one service in particular, where they held communion, I felt Jesus Christ come into my soul. Tears began to build and before I could stop, I was crying. It was an out of body experience, which I have never felt before. I knew that Christ Community Church was where I needed to be and putting my faith, trust and love in Jesus Christ was the right path for me.
|Mason Kuttnauer||I grew up attending a Christian school and I went to church, but not often. I knew who God was but didn't have a personal relationship with him. A number of circumstances led me to live with my Aunt and Uncle, Tracy and Chris Baer.
They made me go to church and house group. Off and on I tried to have a relationship with Jesus, but I continued to feel empty. I attended an Easter service here at Christ Community Church and Pastor Jim was talking about making a decision for Jesus. I finally decided that I was all-in. I stood up to acknowledge my decision, and went to the welcome center for a next steps packet and prayed with a nice man.
Since I asked Jesus into my life, I feel more calm and in control of my behavior and actions. God is increasing in me a love for others, and a desire to help people.
|Megan Frascona||Before I truly trusted in Jesus, I thought I was a follower but a big change happened in my life that made me realize that I was wrong.
I had a child while I was in high school and my life got flipped upside down. My grandfather, Paul Campbell, and my grandmother, Linda Campbell, were the first to see that I was lost. About two months ago, my grandfather sat me down and asked me if I knew how to accept Jesus as my Lord. He told me that all I had to do is say a prayer to accept him as my savior and that God loves me no matter what may happen. That night in my room, I confessed my sins and asked for forgiveness so that God could take control of my life.
Since then, my life has changed considerably because I know that Jesus is by my side no matter what I do or what mistakes I make. I feel closer to my son. I feel so much more relieved in life. While at church, I love feeling open to express how I feel about my Lord and Savior with other Christ-followers around me. Romans 10: 9-10 “If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord”, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.”
|Michele Nelson||Before Jesus became my Lord and Savior, my life was centered on the ways of the world. My moral compass and the way I lived my life was aligned with what is acceptable and common by today’s standards.
God began placing people in my life that were Christ-followers. In 2001, I began attending a Bible study with some friends and after numerous and repeat invitations, my family and I began attending Christ Community Church. Through all this, the focus of my heart changed. I felt within my entire being how much Jesus loves me and I began to love him back. This change compelled me to want to surrender my life to Jesus.
I have made many changes in my life since I became a follower of Jesus. My beliefs, my thoughts, and my actions are becoming more aligned with Jesus every day. I am reading my Bible, serving the church, giving more generously, and focused more on serving others. I am so blessed and thankful that God pursued me and never gave up on me. Eph 1:4-5 says, “For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will.” Amen!
|Nick Childs||Before I gave my life to God, I always disliked the end of sermons. I could see the “give your life to God” prayer coming and I never knew what to think of it. I would just sit in my seat, nervous and scared of what would happen if I accepted God as my Lord and Savior.
As many of those invitations passed, I started to understand more and more what it meant to surrender my life. I remember when I finally did it, I was sitting in the front row with my dad, feeling convicted because I was so ashamed of what I had done. I gave my life to Christ because I was tired of dealing with all my sins alone.
Now I try to understand God’s commands and put them into practice every day. I know that with the help of God, I can overcome the trials of life, even though it takes courage and perseverance.
|Payton Isola||I’ve wanted to follow Jesus ever since I can remember. I remember my family going to church and my mom and dad told me I was going to learn about God and play and meet new people. I had a lot of fun and I’ve been going to church ever since I was born.
I am a follower of Jesus because A. it’s the right thing to do. B. I believe that Jesus is holy and the Son of God. C. I want to live an eternal life. D. I’m thankful for Jesus dying on the cross for us.
I want to get baptized because I want people to know I am a follower of Jesus and I have been washed clean from sin. And I will always love and praise God.
|Rayce Haden||I really wasn’t going to church on Sundays or making a commitment, but one day about two years ago my mom got a call in the middle of the night that my dad got pulled over for a DUI. I was really scared for my dad. We met up with him at a diner at about 1 a.m. He told the family his story and that Sunday we went to church. That sermon was my favorite sermon because it talked about how everything was meaningless.
After that sermon I knew that I had to make a commitment to follow Jesus. I started thinking about the right choices I should make and all that stuff and a couple of months after that I started praying every night. I asked God to forgive me because I was lost and I wanted to be found. The people that helped me a lot were my parents. My dad kept encouraging the family to go to church. My mom always talked to me about God and prayed with me.
Baptism means that I’ve been born again and I can say, “I’ve been baptized!” I’ll live my life differently because I will always know that God’s got it and that I have someone to look to in tough times.
|Ryan Way||I was baptized as an infant, raised in a Catholic church and have always considered myself a Christian. This was before I understood what being a true Christ-follower was all about. I had grown away from the church as a young adult and did not have a consistent church home.
When my wife and I moved to the South Elgin area with our young family, we were looking for a new church. I talked my wife into trying a church that "looked too big" off of Randall Rd. I now know that God brought us and kept us here so that I could truly know Jesus, and have a more personal relationship with God. With the help of my wife, family, community group and the services each week that really inspire me to take action on my beliefs I have developed a reborn relationship with God.
Since establishing this new relationship, I find myself in more regular "conversations" with God as I pray throughout the day. I am energized as I learn more about the Bible and I continue to be amazed at the things God keeps doing in my life. It changes my perspective on life entirely now that I know without a doubt that I am saved. Being re-baptized is an incredible opportunity for God to show the significant change Jesus has made in me in front of my children and family.
|Sean Anderson||I've been going to Christ Community Church since I was born and have grown up believing in Christ. I know that God is the creator of the earth and he created us. I know Jesus died on the cross for me and he took away our sins so that we didn't have to die for our sins.
My parents helped me understand about God and Faith and the reason we get baptized. I know God will watch over me and I know He loves me so I should love others. I want to get baptized because it shows that I'm a believer and I will someday go to Heaven.
|Steve Bird|| I was raised in the church by my parents and have always had a relationship with Jesus, though for most of my adult life it has been lopsided. Jesus was there for me but I wasn't always there for Him. I went about my life knowing Jesus was a part of it, somewhere in the background, not really noticing him unless I really needed Him.
The real turning point for me came when my wife started listening to Joyce Meyer. She would tell me what Joyce was saying and how it was giving her answers to questions that she had prayed about. I think this is what really awakened my faith in Jesus and started me down the path to being a true Christ-follower. It was then that my wife and I decided that we needed to make a commitment to ourselves and our family. We decided to come back to Christ Community Church as a family to follow Jesus, grow spiritually, to enjoy the fellowship of other Christ followers and to give to back.
The faith we have in Jesus has made our marriage stronger, our family happier and our lives so much richer. We are committed to Jesus Christ and what better way to show it then to be baptized in front of our family, friends and our Father in heaven on Father's Day!
|Steve Martin||Before I gave myself to Christ fully, I lived only for myself. I believed the way to comfort myself, pacify myself really, was to self-medicate. I would look for love in relationships outside of marriage, comfort in drugs, and in alcohol.
Then I finally came to realize that there was no fulfillment in those things. I started praying to Jesus and asking for forgiveness. I began reading the bible regularly, and I joined a men’s community group. Also, I started participating in the couple’s community group more fully. The more I turned to Jesus, the more peace I had in my soul. I remember when I was first re-introduced to a relationship with Jesus, my mother read Philippians 1:6 to me, “And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.”
I’ve also come to the realization that there might not be time to get right with Jesus ‘tomorrow,’ so I choose to give him my 100% now. Even though there is a daily struggle to not live for myself, I am more regularly at peace with my decision to not act out selfishly. I desire to follow one law now, which is Jesus’ law (Galatians 6) to love the Lord and my neighbor above myself.
||Growing up, I knew God exist and that he is watching over me. However, I did not want anything to do with him and was conveniently busy. Shortly after my father’s death, my friend Noy invited me to Christ Community Church to meet and catch up. During this time, I struggled with my father’s death and did not want God’s help while I grieved. In fact, a small part of me was angry at God for letting my father suffer and die from lung cancer. I did not want to participate in or be near anything related to God and Christianity.
I am not sure why but I agreed to meet with Noy here at Christ Community and arrived early enough to listen to the 9AM service. Afterwards, I felt some relief from the pain of my father’s death and wondered if God had anything to do with that. I decided to attend another service and afterwards, felt even more relief. I was convinced that God was helping me cope with my father’s death and realized that God had not abandoned me, even though I had ignored him for many years and was angry at him. The amazing thing about all of this was that I did not ask God for help, he just took it upon himself and helped me. God is grace-filled.
I now invite God into my life. I pray and ask God for help with my troubles and frustrations. I may not agree with all of his responses but I know that God has a plan for me and that he has my best interests in mind. God is my Savior and I trust him. Thus, I decided in early April of this year to take the next step and get baptized to honor God and my father on Father’s Day.
|Ty Haden||Before I found Jesus, other things such as friends and video games were more important to me. Then the words I heard at church finally got through to me one day and I realized I was a sinner.
So I went to my parents and they asked me to think about baptism. I knew this was a big step. After thinking about it for some time, I finally decided it was time. In Romans 10:9 it says, If you declare with your mouth Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. This verse really helped my decision.
I am more focused having realized Jesus is my Lord & Savior.