Blackberry Creek

Cameron A

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Cameron A

For as long as I remember, Christ has been in my life, but once my Nana introduced me to Christ Community my relationship with Jesus has increased more than I could ever imagine. Around five years ago I started coming to Blackberry on a regular basis. Recently, I have felt God telling me I should be baptized and make the commitment to follow Jesus. 

Over the years, I have learned that Jesus loves me no matter what and I can trust him in difficult situations. Christ has a plan for everyone, and while I have yet to find mine out completely, he has given me a fantastic life with my wonderful family and pets. Whenever I'm at my Sunday home, I know Jesus is watching over all of us and will love us no matter what we do.

Jennifer Atkins-Baert

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Jennifer Atkins-Baert

I was raised catholic but never really felt a strong connection with God. I struggled with knowing, understanding, and trusting him. I was going through the motions of what was expected (Church, Sunday school, confirmation, etc.) with no real emotion attached.

During my late teen years, my family began attending a Christian church where I became somewhat more intrigued. Following a tragic event in my family and with consistent encouragement from my Mom, I soon realized I shouldn't be pushing God away, but rather pulling him near. I eventually saw it was the only way out of all the depression and negativity I was battling daily.

For the past 10 years I have experienced what life is like knowing, loving and trusting Jesus as my Savior. Since finding Christ Community my faith and relationship with God continues to grow daily. I have learned to understand that following Jesus does not mean life will always be great and things will always go my way. Jesus has taught me to never question God and His plans because they are always better than my own. Getting Baptized as an adult has been pulling at my heart for a few years now. My son started expressing serious interest and God used this to confirm it was time for me, too.

Matthew 8:27 states "What kind of man is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!" Through all of the storms in my life, I have learned to trust in Jesus.

Casey Clark

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Casey Clark

In the days before I had Christ in my life, I found myself drifting without purpose and not really seeing or believing in a bigger picture.

One night, I was actually watching a preacher on TV. At the end of his sermon, he led me in a prayer to ask God to come into my heart & make him my Lord and Savior. He instructed me to find a good, Bible-based church & give Jesus first place in my life.

From that night, I've just tried to have the goal of winning each day in the competition of becoming a better follower.  I feel as though a burden was gone and that Jesus took over to guide me through ups & downs. He led me to my wife Rachel, which has led me to him through prayers, groups, sermons, and long conversations.

Rachel Clark

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Rachel Clark

Before accepting Christ as my Savior, I grew up in a loving home where we made church a priority and we tried our best to be good people. But over time, I stopped attending church because it was more important to sleep in and hang out with my friends. Even though I wasn’t going to church, I considered myself a “pretty good person,” at least compared to most, and believed that would get me into heaven.

Soon after, my sister gave me the book, A Purpose Driven Life and I realized my time on this Earth was far more important than my ability to be a good person. I began to ask questions and soon understood the stories of the Bible were more than just moral lessons with Jesus as the main character. He walked the Earth and experienced real trials, heartache, and temptation. It was at this time in my spiritual walk that following Christ evolved from a meaningless act to a desired choice.

Since accepting Christ as my Savior, I have been through many more trials, but I now have a Rock to lean on who will never leave me nor forsake me. I have experienced answered prayers and I know each aspect of my life was orchestrated with great purpose. I am forever grateful for my salvation and relationship with Jesus Christ.

Deanna Sommerville

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Deanna Sommerville

From as long as I can remember, I have always believed in Jesus but over the past year I wanted to understand what it meant to be a Christ follower.

My parents, Jeanine and Luther Sommerville, invited me to Blackberry and I saw the work of Jesus through their volunteering in the Church. I became more aware of my need for Jesus and began making church and worship a priority. I used to believe that a true relationship with Christ was for “perfect” Christians until I read the words of Jesus in Luke 5:31, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.  I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”

I gave my life to Christ and over the last couple of months I began to read the Bible on my own and truly understand what it means to follow Jesus. My 4-year-old son Landen attends KidsWorld and we now discuss the Bible on a regular basis at home and it has been amazing to see him understand Jesus and discover his faith. My renewed faith has also compelled me to serve and I have recently volunteered to be part of the medical response team.

Morgan Weber

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Morgan Weber

Before I trusted and followed Jesus, I was selfish and worried about what other people thought of me. I also worried more about what I didn’t have, instead of looking right in front of me.

I always grew up believing in Jesus Christ and knew that Jesus died for me. But I wanted to know more and learn more about the Bible. It wasn’t until I almost lost one of the most important people in my life that I started to talk more about Jesus and look into the Bible.

I’ve decided to give my full life to Jesus and have him wash away all my sins. I’ve really changed after serving in Christ’s name and I pray and read the Bible daily. I can honestly say I’m happier and more positive than I have ever been in my life. I know there will still be lows but Philippians 4:13 says “I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”

Travis Williams

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Travis Williams

I attended church for many years when I was young but I came from a non-religious family and was only taught to believe in God when it was useful in a teaching lesson. For a long time I was confused on how to fully believe in Jesus.

After many years of not following the Bible, I am now striving to learn more and fill a hole in my soul and my life. I mentioned to my son Jacob that I thought a lot about coming back to church and he told me about Christ Community and about how much he loved it. I have been here every Sunday since.

I am starting to understand a lot more and to be more patient. I now know that Jesus is Savior of my life and I have a personal relationship with him. He has given me peace in every aspect of my life.

Susan Wirtz

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Susan Wirtz

I was baptized as an infant and attended church regularly for many years. While I can't remember a specific time, early in my life I believed in Jesus and received the forgiveness of Christ. I always prayed quietly to myself but I never learned how to read the Bible.

My son and daughter-in-law, Brandon and Amber Wirtz, were instrumental in me starting to attend services at Blackberry Creek a few years ago. The more I came, the more I felt compelled to worship here. On an Easter Sunday, I began the process of becoming a member at Christ Community. I was met with such great enthusiasm and even an inspiring personal text from Pastor Jon Culver that day.

Brandon and Amber gave me the gift of my own Study Bible for a Mother’s Day gift and I was able to share what I was reading and learning with my mother while she was in the process of dying.

I soon joined a women’s Community Group where we read the Bible together and I learned to begin praying out loud. The first important scripture pointed out to me by Martha Pisczcek ("Grace and Peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ") is one that I need to constantly repeat to myself! I know that I want to take this next step of obedience by being baptized today.

DeKalb

Abby Bartel

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Abby Bartel

I grew up in a traditional church, but didn’t understand how Jesus wanted to be a part of my life. My aunt brought me to Christ Community several times when I was in middle school and I found church could be fun.  Then, when I was in 8th grade, my friend, Audri, invited me to Genesis, the middle school group here at Christ Community.  I liked Genesis and was learning a lot about God. I also realized I had been pushing him away.

Then, last year as a freshman, I learned my family might move. This made me realize I needed to make my relationship with Christ a priority. I shouldn’t rely on Christ Community to be the only thing fueling my faith. I needed to take the next step and commit my life to him. I trusted him to be in control no matter where I go. So in April, I went into my room and prayed asking Christ to be the focus of my life and to forgive me for pushing Him away all these years. I also asked him to keep my family in DeKalb.

Here I am!  We did not move. I pray every day, am serving in the church, and am growing in my faith. Psalm 34:4 says, “I sought the Lord, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.”

Samuel Baylor

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Samuel Baylor

Before coming to Christ, I was floating aimlessly through life; being pulled in so many directions I lost sight of any type of ground. Faith was just an abstract concept.

But for me to experience Christ, I realize now, was through people he placed in my life. The day actually came on my sister’s wedding. Emily and Brendan Nelson were the two most influential pieces in my journey towards God. I remember thinking in that moment as they began their lives together, “…God is love incarnate.” It was then I surrendered to Christ and asked to pray with Emily and Brendan. With Brendan's help, I was able to express vocally what I felt inside, that my heart was now Christ’s.

Romans 12:2 is a verse that most reflects this change in myself, "Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is- his good, pleasing and perfect will." Since that day, through him changing my heart, I've been able to see the Spirit of Christ and the Love of God so much more in my daily life. I will never be without struggles and trials, but with God all my mountains can become marbles. 

Zach Cipra

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Zach Cipra

The song Who Says from artist John Mayer was one of my favorite songs growing up. The lyrics say, “Who says I can’t be free; From all of the things I used to be;
Rewrite my history; Who says I can’t be free.”

I was raised in a religious household but never truly understood my faith. In high school, I wandered away from the church to search for meaning on my own. I could feel God watching me but never saw him in my life. I relied on myself after having my trust shattered and stopped leaning on others entirely. I was strong, but often I ended up face down in my own self failure. I’d picked myself up only for life to throw me back to the ground and eventually I began to break.

During that time, I found the spark of love that stirred me to learn about being a Christ follower and I found an even greater love, God’s love, and the love that Jesus had for me. I learned to let go and to rely on God’s strength instead of my own. I gave my life to Christ and could finally be free from my burdens and began to rewrite who I was. It has not been easy, but with Christ in my life, for the first time, I am genuinely happy and can look forward to the future.

 

 

Quin Dukes

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Quin Dukes

I grew up in a Christian home going to church with my parents and learning about Jesus. My Sunday School and AWANA teachers in our church in Iowa also taught me about Jesus and how he died for our sins.  When I was five years old, I asked my Mom to help me pray for Jesus to be my Lord and Savior. I did this before bed one night during harvest season.

I continue to learn about God’s story and plans for me through Genesis and reading the Bible. I have a hard time with being nervous a lot and one of the ways I’m working on that is by praying for help. In 1 Peter 5:7 the Bible says to “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you” so I’m trying to do that.  I’m choosing to get baptized today to show everybody that I’ve accepted Jesus and want to follow him even more.

James Freestrom

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James Freestrom

As an infant, I was baptized and continued to be raised in the Catholic faith. However, I realized at a young age I was a sinner because of picking on other kids at my school. I only had a few friends left and knew I needed the Holy Spirit to guide me. "For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me." (Psalm 51:3)

By accepting confirmation in middle school and allowing the Holy Spirit to enter my life, I began to turn a new direction. In adulthood, I served in the Navy and participated in life-impacting service projects like the clean-up of Guam after a typhoon hit. I then attended Northern Illinois University where I met my terrific wife, Kate. In the beginning of our relationship, religion was a challenge because she was of the non-denominational faith and I was of the Catholic faith. When we moved to Sycamore in 2007, we both decided to consistently attend Christ Community.

My faith continued to grow in Jesus by serving in the church and belonging to community groups. But even though I was baptized and confirmed in my youth, Jesus needs me to profess my faith freely and willingly as an adult, as it says in Matthew 28:18-20, "Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’"

Jared G.

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Jared G.

I grew up in a faith-filled house, going to church most weekends and praying before meals and bed.  When I was about 6 years old, I remember hearing a message at KidsWorld about Jesus dying on the cross for our sins.  At the time, it didn’t mean much to me. Soon, I would realize it would change my life forever.

Through my early years of elementary school through 6th grade, church wasn’t a big priority due to travel sports on the weekends.  My parents told me I should consider going to a church thing called Genesis.  They said it was where you would hang out with middle school kids and learn about God and the Bible.  I was excited to go.  

Once there, I met my small group leader, James.  He played a big part in growing and developing my faith.  I also told my friends and they started going.  I learned about a summer trip to Silver Birch Ranch.  I went and heard a life-changing message that would bring me to Christ.  I clearly remember being inside the small gym while we were praying.  There, I asked God to be my Lord and the Savior of my life.  The pastor later said if we had made the decision to let Jesus be our Lord and Savior then to stand up.  I stood up!

That was two years ago. Today, I am ready to publicly proclaim my life to Jesus.

Jeremy Grubbs

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Jeremy Grubbs

I came to know Jesus at a young age through my grandparents who brought me to church.  Although I attended regularly, I grew up in a blended family that had its share of dysfunction. I never had a loving father to teach me what it meant to be a man, father, husband, and friend.  I was selfish, looked out for my best interests and went after what made me feel important or satisfied my desire at that moment.  As a young teen, I was baptized but kept Jesus in my back pocket, only calling on him when I thought I couldn’t make it on my own.  Each time, He was there and would see me through.

After getting married and starting a family, my wife, Lori, and I wanted to find a church to attend.  It was then I realized I couldn’t keep Jesus at arm’s length anymore.  If I was going to ask for his gift of salvation, I needed to allow him to work in me.  This involved putting Jesus in charge of my life and asking forgiveness for some longstanding resentment, anger, and regret.

Now, I don’t just call on him when I’m in need, but try to talk to him every day through prayer.  The more time I spend in his Word, the more I see that, although I didn’t have an earthly father to rely on, I do have a heavenly father who continues to love me and demonstrate to me how to be a father, husband, and friend.  I will follow him all my life and will proclaim his good news to others.       

 

Maddie H.

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Maddie H.

Ever since birth, I’ve been attending church. I asked Jesus into my life when I was about 6. I didn’t really understand what it meant at that time. When I understood, I prayed it again at 9, and then again at 10. I was really concerned Jesus hadn’t heard me.

After turning 11, I realized I had been focusing way too much on the salvation prayer and not enough on living for God, telling people about God, and showing his love to others.  Now I really try hard to do so, especially going into a new school.   Showing love to others has really helped me to form strong friendships.

I was able to invite my non-Christian friends to things like Insania-Mania and Uproar. I’ve really been able to see how God’s love and compassion have worked through many lives, including mine. I’ve seen him work miracles, and I now have a strong foundation of support and belief. Whenever I’m sad or angry, I know I can go to him. Or even just to praise him for his marvelous creation! I’m continuing to show God’s endless love to others and tell others about him.

Rachel H.

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Rachel H.

Before I trusted Jesus, I never really wanted to go to church or listen to any of the stories from the Bible.

Then my family moved to Illinois because my Dad got hired at Christ Community Church as a Pastor.  I felt more welcome here and I met two of my best friends, Hope and Maddie.  I now go to Genesis every Wednesday night and get to hear God's Word.  My Mom and Dad have always been encouraging to me.  One night, while lying in bed, I confessed my sins and asked Jesus to forgive me.

Since then, God has changed my life.  At Genesis, I have two awesome leaders and have made many new friends. I am not afraid to share stories about my life and I enjoy hearing other's stories. Every night I pray for my small group and things at school.  I have a verse on my wall that says, "So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God." 1 Corinthians 10:31

 

Hunter Harris

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Hunter Harris

I lived a life full of self-hate and looked for love in all the wrong places.  I knew about God because my Grandma planted that seed in me. I just was blinded by sin. I felt no self-worth.

I found God while reading the Johnny Cash biography in September 2015.  I would call my Grandma and talk about Cash's testimony. My grandma died on January 12, 2016. The day after she died, I turned on my car radio and heard Hank Williams’, "I Saw the Light".  Directly after that, "Walk the Line", by Johnny Cash, came on. I immediately felt these where signs from Heaven to give me comfort.  I gave my heart to Jesus in the following months.

After I gave my life to Christ, I found hope and unconditional love by Jesus. I know he is always with me and can bring me through anything.  2 Kings 20:5 says, "I have heard your prayer, I have seen your tears, surely I will heal you."  That passage brought me so much hope and comfort knowing that Jesus sees my tears and has brought me out of all of my hurt and depression. I finally saw the light.

Lauren Jacobs

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Lauren Jacobs

For most of my life I knew of Christ, but I didn't know him. The things I heard about him I pushed to the side and ignored. Back then, I was focused on myself and materialistic things that brought temporary happiness.

In middle school, with help from students and leaders, I was introduced to Genesis, our church middle school youth group. There, I learned and began to understand God’s Word. For the next few years I continued to grow and understand how build a relationship with God. A year ago I attended Silver Birch Ranch, a Christian summer camp, where I finally made the choice to put all my trust in Christ. 

Taking this step has greatly improved how I live. Challenges in my life are less daunting and it is easier to reach out to people and build relationships. I am more understanding and forgiving of those around me and take into consideration how my actions reflect God. 

Emma K.

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Emma K.

I am 11 years old. I have grown up knowing God. I believe that Jesus died on the cross to save me from my sins. I trust that God is in control of my life. When I was 10, I was diagnosed with celiac. It was very hard for me. I felt like I couldn’t do anything about it. I was confused. I didn’t know if I would ever get better. I prayed every day that God would heal me. Through all the hard times I remembered this verse: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4: 13. I started feeling better day by day.  In about a year I felt like I was almost back to normal. God answered my prayers. He healed me. Now I know that no matter what, God cares about me.

Candice Kralka

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Candice Kralka

I grew up in a traditional home which helped lay the foundation for my spiritual life. I knew about God, but didn’t know I could have a relationship with him. During my freshmen year of college I headed down an extremely destructive path. I was lost and lonely, desperately looking for validation in all the wrong places.   

I started attending Christ Community where I learned I could have a relationship with Jesus. I realized that Christ sacrificed himself for me and my sins were forgiven. With the support of my husband, Kyle, I accepted Christ as my Lord and Savior. At the 2015 Christmas Eve service, I fully surrendered my life to Him. Isaiah 42:16 says “I will lead the blind by ways they’ve not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them.”

Since surrendering my life to Christ I feel a true sense of peace. I previously felt anxious and worried. In Matthew 11:28-29, Jesus says, “Come to me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”  I am thankful for the opportunity to be baptized

Kyle Kralka

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Kyle Kralka

I was raised in a traditional church and even went to a religious-based school. However, faith was something that was assumed and never talked about at home. We never prayed or even discussed God.

As an adult, I stopped attending church and seeking God. Six years ago, I met my now-wife and she convinced me to join her and her mother at Christ Community. I was pretty hesitant at first, but I went and I found a church that actually made sense to me. Through Christ Community, I finally understood what faith meant and eventually surrendered at a weekend service.

After surrendering to Christ, my life has never been the same. My wife and I attend community group and weekend service regularly. I can see God acting in all parts of my life. We now have a son and I realize my role is more important than ever in leading my family to God; as stated in Joshua 24:15, “As for me and my house we will serve the Lord.”

 

Lauren L

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Lauren L

I have been going to church since I was a baby with my family. I attended Kidsworld, Awana, and Genesis, because my parents made me. When I started attending HouseGroup, I enjoyed going and made it a priority in my life.

Through HouseGroup, I started learning more about God and Jesus and what He did for me. Jesus died on the cross for my sins and I want to follow Him. Since I started following Jesus, I don’t care about what people think of me as much as what God thinks of me. I also started serving in Kidsworld with younger preschool kids. Next summer, I’m going on a mission trip to Florida to help run a camp for kids with cancer and teach them about God. I’m getting baptized today to show my friends and family that I belong to God.

Carla Lemons

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Carla Lemons

I grew up in a non-practicing Christian family; I didn’t know much of Christ aside from what I heard occasionally. I’d always been curious about religions, but was never sure which one was right. To me, Christianity never sounded appealing because I couldn’t understand the trinity. At college, I met a lot of Muslims and was told about Islam. It sounded attractive so I became Muslim when I was 18.

After 5 years, I began to question the religion I chose. Instead of believing more in Islam, I started to wonder more about Christ. I would occasionally go to Bible studies, watch religious debates, and read books defending Jesus. I finally came to the point of no longer believing in Islam when I read one of Nabeel Qureshi’s books. Out of nowhere, I decided to go to the church’s website and saw Pastor Jim’s interview with Nabeel. Before I knew it, I was having coffee with Pastor Jim and Sue, and they helped me sort through my reservations about becoming Christian.

Since then, I have become more confident in my faith and know Jesus is with me in everything I do. I no longer doubt if I have made the right choice or wonder if I will make it to heaven. I trust Jesus with my life because I know he paid for my sins with his life.  

Teddy M.

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Teddy M.

I am 10 years old. Sometimes my life is uneasy. When it is this way, I talk to God. Even if I forget, he still remembers me. I know I am a sinner. I know that God is the Lord of my life and I accept and cherish his gift. The reason I want to be baptized is to make a public statement that I want to follow Christ.

Jill McDonald

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Jill McDonald

I accepted Jesus into my heart at age 8 at Vacation Bible School. True story: I also asked him into my heart at age 9 and 10 at Vacation Bible School because no one else raised their hand and I didn’t want Jesus to think no one wanted him. 

In my 20s and 30s, I drifted away from Jesus and was focused on myself.  I felt if I went to church, I could check that off my to-do list. I hardly prayed and when I did, it was to ask for things to go my way.  He was very patient and gracious during those years.  The verse that reflects my life is 2 Peter 3:9, “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient towards you, not wishing that any should perish but that all should seek repentance.”   

When I finally realized I couldn’t make it without Christ, my life changed dramatically.  I’m married to a wonderful Christian man who helps me raise two boys that fill our lives with joy.  We recently joined a Community Group to meet new Christian friends and are walking closer to the Lord than ever before.
I realize this doesn’t mean that life will not bring about trials, but he is faithful, just, loving and forgiving. I love him for the gifts of salvation and eternal life, and, for the life He has given me here on earth.

Todd McDonald

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Todd McDonald

My dad was the one in the family most serious about his faith. The rest of us had a “when we could work it in" attitude about church. I held this attitude throughout my youth. I was baptized as an infant, was confirmed as a church member, and did participate in some service work. I would say that church rubbed off some, but this was to show I was just a bit better than most. A personal relationship with Jesus was not of primary importance.

I came back one weekend from college feeling broken and out of control. I confessed many things that night to God and my dad. He walked me through how Jesus died for me. I accepted Christ that night at the dinner table.

I cannot say that there were never rebellious times after that. I did rebel and suffered for it, but knowing that this is a God who died for my sins has always brought me back to him and grown me in endurance and character.

Hope N.

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Hope N.

All my life I've been going to church and my family has always talked about God. When I was 7 years-old, I was talking about Jesus with my grandpa on Thanksgiving and realized I should give my life to Jesus.

One of my favorite things to do now, to show other people God's love, is to serve.  I enjoying serving in KidsWorld, Second Saturday, and in my neighborhood.  I am going to Genesis and I really enjoy learning about God with my friends. My life verse is Romans 15:13: "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit."

Emily Nelson

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Emily Nelson

During confirmation at age 13, I took communion for the first time. At this point in my life, I acknowledged Jesus as my Lord and Savior. My prayers were frequent and I truly loved other people.

It wasn’t my intention to become selfish, but during school I let busyness take a front seat to my relationship with the Lord. My love and patience for people dimmed while my concern became how to take care of myself first.

I thank God for surrounding me with people, especially my parents, who confront my behaviors that are not a reflection of Jesus. During a time of waiting after college, through his Word, God revealed that selfishness does not have to rule my life. He offers freedom when I put my trust in Him alone. Romans 5:8 is as amazing as it gets, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” It is my desire to respond with obedience as he continues transforming my heart to be more like Christ.

Seth Sanderson

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Seth Sanderson

I was very blessed to grow up with parents who were active in church.  My mom taught Sunday School and led youth groups and my dad was in leadership positions.  I continued to grow in my knowledge of God and how Christians should act, but didn’t have a relationship with Jesus.  My head knew what to do, but my heart wasn’t in it.

My sister first attended Christ Community and when we heard how excited she was, the rest of the family soon followed.  Since attending, and with the encouragement of my wonderful wife, Lauren, I realized faith in God is not simply knowing the right things to say and do, but having a personal relationship with Jesus who lived and died for me. I learned my identity doesn’t come from relying on my own talent and ability, it comes from being a follower of Christ.

I had many excuses for not getting baptized: I was baptized as an infant, I was confirmed, and, I believed. So why did I need to? Jesus instructs us to be baptized as soon as we believe, and he himself was baptized as an example for us. Because my desire is to obey him in all aspects of my life, I stand here today, ready to wash away the sins of my life and live for Christ.

Autumn T.

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Autumn T.

Before I trusted in Jesus, there were things that were more important to me like what other people thought about me.

Then my friend showed me Christ Community Church where I learned more about Jesus and how he died on the cross for our sins because he loves us. I realized just how much I sin and decided I wanted Jesus to take control of my life.

I pray every night and I always feel comforted when I think of God and how he is always with me and watching over me throughout my day. I enjoy going to Christ Community and worshiping Jesus. It has truly been a great experience for me!

Rachel Tripodi

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Rachel Tripodi

I grew up in a Christian home; I went to a Christian high school and attended a traditional church…I was in what some might call a “Christian bubble.”  I knew stories and facts about the Bible, but nothing that helped me to understand what a personal relationship with Jesus Christ actually meant.  

I left my bubble to attend college at a secular university where my Christian foundation was rocked. I was sexually assaulted my freshman year, which left me with a feeling of shame that broke me. I spiraled out of control.  

I carried this shame around with me for over a decade before I moved to DeKalb and found Christ Community Church.  It was here that God’s desire to know us personally finally made sense to me.  Because of his forgiveness and grace, I have been able to put down the burden of shame that I carried for so long and walk upright in God’s love.  

I know that what happened in the past can’t be changed, but God can forgive it, cleanse it, and use it for good.  Amen!

Steve Wicklund

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Steve Wicklund

Before I decided to put my faith and trust in Christ's hands, I had my faith and trust in my own hands. 

Then one day at Hobby Lobby, I saw a rock with Matthew 11:28 inscribed on it, "Come to me all who are weary and heavy burdened, and I will give you rest." This opened my eyes to my desperate need for Jesus and I began my journey for truth.  Over the next few years, I realized my sin had taken over and the only way to escape it was to put my faith in Jesus. 

Since making Jesus the center of my life, I've realized he has washed my sin away on the cross. If I have a question, I turn to God. No matter what emotion I have, I thank God for letting me feel it, because I know he's there for me through the storm as it says in Psalm 23. I also thank my dad, Bob, for always being an amazing Christian role model.  My prayer is that everyone finds what I found - the love of God through his son Christ Jesus. 

Jessica Wojdyla

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Jessica Wojdyla

Before I accepted Jesus into my heart and as my savior, I was selfish and didn’t care much about the feelings of others.

When I was 19, I was having a hard time in life.  Two of my coworkers, Janice and Emma, were amazing Christian women that helped me understand God and his unconditional love.

They prayed with me and I accepted Jesus as my savior.  It was so  life changing, I couldn’t believe there was a time I didn’t trust in him. I try everyday to live for him and dedicate my life to serving others.

Megan Zbinden

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Megan Zbinden

My walk with Christ has been a long journey. There has been a lot of challenges that have made it difficult for me to stay faithful. When I am battling through life, it’s hard to understand that everything happens for a reason.

God has a plan for me. My baptism represents my reliance, faith, and trust in God. I believe God will give me challenges that I will not be able to handle all on my own. I will have to trust and rely on God’s strength to guide me through it.

St. Charles

Savanah Vega

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Savanah Vega

Before Christ I was in a dark battle with depression. Not feeling good enough and placing my value on my relationships. I drove past church on several occasions and felt this sense of curiosity. I never had a relationship with God and didn't really believe.

I got connected to a community group a month later. The girls were so inviting and compassionate. That Sunday I attended service by myself and was moved to tears and that's when I knew he is my Savior.

The love, affirmation, and forgiveness I feel now has made my battle with depression and anxiety much more manageable. I have more meaningful relationships with everyone I meet. And when the going gets tough I pray. I pray my heart out and give it to God. I know he is always there for me and my trials are serving his purpose.

Samantha Wright

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Samantha Wright

Before I found Jesus, I was living a lie. Nothing I did was for anyone, not even me. I did things out of impulses and didn’t care about consequences. My life was a mess and was falling apart. I needed Jesus because I realized there was no way I could keep living on my own.

The very first service my friend introduced me to at Christ Community Church was the Christmas Eve service in 2014 and it was a life changing experience. The first time that I felt God was in April of 2015. It was the most wonderful feeling. The way the community here worshiped and spoke about God was something I’d never seen before and I knew that this is the kind of life I wanted. It opened my eyes to something words cannot describe. I started praying all the time, when something great happened or when I just needed him. For a long time, God was the only one I wanted to go to.

Through my faith journey I have learned to love everyone and accept everyone. I want to live out a love that reflect Jesus shown in 1 Corinthians 13. I am now involved in groups here and continually growing my faith.  I feel more at peace, loved, and cared for with Christ in me.

Kaite Allen

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Kaite Allen

Before Christ, I don't remember much. I was six years old when I accepted Jesus in my heart. I do however remember that before Christ I was scared and not always happy.

I accepted Christ one night 18 years ago when I was a little girl. I was in bed and getting ready to go to sleep and as I was laying there and I remember feeling this urge or calling you can say to talk to my parents about Jesus. So I called to my parents and they came up and talked to me about God and then I made my decision to become a believer.

Honestly I don't know where I would be or who I would be without Christ. I know for sure my faith and God has helped me through a lot of tough times growing up. However a few years ago, five to be more exact, I started to become more distant from God. The more distant I got the more I could feel different and life in general was harder to manage, then I found my way back to God and I can see the change in myself, and it is great!

Jeff Allison

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Jeff Allison

Before I believed in Jesus I thought I was in control. If I tried hard enough I could make things right. My efforts; my hope was in me to accomplish. Really. My hope in me. Me broken me. Angry, frustrated, prideful, severely flawed, sinful me. It always felt wrong but I only knew how to be me. The complete trust and peace my mom and dad have in God and Jesus made me want what they have.

So I began to try hard to believe. I went to church regularly and was challenged by Pastor Jim to read the Bible and to pray. I tried hard for many months to believe and I failed. God stepped in and showed me I could not do it alone I had to surrender my will to him. Finally on March 1, 2015 at Christ community church with the loving compassionate words of Pastor Clayton and the power of the Holy Spirit I accepted communion. I accepted Jesus inside of me.

Now I have an overwhelming desire to be obedient to God and his word and an overwhelming feeling of love and compassion for others and their needs. I am far from perfect but now my hope is not in me, my hope is in God and his son Jesus. Baptism is a way to do something physical to show my faith in God. Jesus says in John 3:5,6 very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh but the spirit gives birth to spirit.

Joe Arcano

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Joe Arcano

I grew up in a Christian family and accepted Christ at a young age, but I was a lukewarm Christian for most of my life.  Though I was generally "good", my heart was not close to God and I was living for myself.  I believed in Jesus as my Savior, but hadn't really made Him my Lord.  God was a part of my life, but not really a priority.

Around the beginning of 2013 I began to grow convicted about taking my faith seriously.  I realized that if I truly believed in the Gospel then it should be affecting how I lived.  In April of that year, Christ Community began a daily Bible reading initiative with the Scripture Union Bible reading guide.  I decided to make daily Bible reading a priority and used that guide to read through the entire Bible in a year.  At the same time, I rededicated my life to Christ, asking Him to forgive my sin and selfishness and finally making Him not just my Savior but also Lord of all areas of my life.

Consistently reading the Bible and praying daily has changed me. God has been working on my priorities, speech, and character to be more like Him and helping me to rely on His strength rather than my own.  I have a growing desire to learn from and obey His Word, and I love serving on the worship team here.  God has blessed me with a beautiful fiancée, and together we are committed to building our marriage and family on the Word of God, obeying James 1:22 which says, "Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says."

Howard Arihoona

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Howard Arihoona

Before I knew Jesus I guess I just lived a quiet but heedless life, if you know what I mean. I gave my life to Jesus at age 9 and I believe as far as I can remember, as a kid my big brother and I used to hang a plastic cross on our bedroom wall and pray. I got to know who Jesus was through my Mom, She taught me my first hymn. Then by GOD's grace alone I had the opportunity to grow around my Grandmother who was the fire-starter of my entire family's faith. She taught me so much growing up about GOD's undying love. I remember vividly as she spoke "My child,  it hurts me to see a lot of people who haven't lived in His glory and experienced His grace.”  Like few kids in this world that did not stick for long. I grew up in my teenage years somehow rebellious. Innocent from the outside but deep down within me I was empty. I quenched  for compassion I just chose life of comfort without GOD. I joined the wrong crowd, made bad impulsive decisions a typical Clyde character. Not to be mistaken with Bonnie and Clyde of course. Even though I was aware of Christ at a tender age, the loss of my brother at a young age, and then the death of my dad when I was in high school, surely brought me to the edge of despair.

Then there I was years later fighting for my own life because of Hydrocephalus fluid that had accumulated in my brain. This brought my family their knees in prayer. I heard people rarely survive search occurrences. I guess this came to prove God is God and He has a purpose for me.

My life’s still like a roller coaster, but on the bright side God’s in the control panel. He runs my life according to His will. So I don’t need to worry about tomorrow. I cherish every moment now, family and true friends who add to it and hold me accountable. My life’s not perfect. And it never will be, but am blessed to say I serve a perfect GOD who has called me according to his will. And I can’t wait to see what he has in store for me.  

Emma Battin

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Emma Battin

My testimony started when I was a baby and is still being written today. Every since I was little my mom and dad have brought me to church. I loved Sunday school and would go to Awana as a little girl. I have always believed in God but never really fully understood it until I was older.

The first time I committed my life to Christ I sat down with my mom and prayed with her about it when I was 8. As I got older I learned more about God through Sunday church and being able to go to the adult service as well Genesis. In middle school when I was becoming a teenager and facing many struggles I was always searching for something bigger and never knew what it was because I knew I had God in my life but never really committed myself to him. In 2014 I went on a mission trip to Brazil through Christ community with my twin sister and best friend. I went into the trip thinking it would be fun and God would use me in a powerful way and I would grow in my faith, but it was much more than that. It was truly life changing seeing God work through other people and myself! I got to help people commit  their life to Christ and pray with them. I also recommitted my life to God on this trip. When I came back I wanted to keep serving and sharing the great news of God and how he has worked in my life.

The following year when school started I fell back into the same pattern, not really living for God in everything I say and do. Junior year of high school something really clicked for me and God really just showed himself in my life. I really dived into God’s word and started living for him in everything I say and do and put the rest in God's hands. Throughout the school year he has truly blessed me with school, sports, and everything else. God truly connected the dots for me.

Eva Boer

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Eva Boer

My journey in being a follower of Christ has taken me a long way. Before I committed my life to Christ my parents always took me to church. I grew up in Christ Community Church, so that impacted me a lot in my faith. I chose to follow Jesus when I was in 3rd grade, but I really didn’t know what it meant. Then over the summer going into 6th grade I went to SBR. When we were in chapel at SBR I could feel the presence of God in the room. It opened my eyes to what everything God can do. It was at SBR when I realized really what it meant to follow Jesus. Then I really wanted eternal life with Jesus.

The next thing I am doing to follow Jesus is to get baptized. Matthew 3:13-17 talks about how Jesus got baptized from John the Baptist and Jesus says that it is proper to get baptized to fulfill all righteousness. Jesus wants us to get baptized once we put our faith in him, so we can go out to the world and say that we are people of Christ. Also so that we can make more “Fishers of Men”.

After I chose to follow Christ I started to get involved in more community groups and volunteering. I am going to try to get out of my comfort zone and start praying in groups and for other people. Serving God is going to be my number one priority in life because he deserves it. I know my life changed a lot from when I was younger. But it was worth it.

Rachel Boer

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Rachel Boer

I was raised in a Christian home by two loving parents.  We went to church every Sunday, and I went to a Christian school and college. I knew I was a sinner and that Jesus died on the cross to take the payment for my sins, but for a long time I was trying to find joy and satisfaction by selfishly pursuing things that I thought were important—admiration of peers, success, material things—instead of what God wanted me to do with my life.

When I was 21, I professed my faith in Christ Jesus and publicly declared my desire to follow Him and make Him Lord of my life.  I am not perfect, and I haven’t always made decisions that put Jesus first, but in 1 John 1:9 it says “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”  I am so grateful for His grace, faithfulness, guidance, and patience, and it is my daily desire to live my life for him.

Now almost 20 years later I am being obedient to Him by being baptized.  This is affirmation of the decision I made to follow Him years ago, as well as a recommitment to Him as Lord and Savior of my life.  I’m so thankful for our church and my community group that has encouraged and challenged me to grow in my faith and in my personal relationship with Christ.  I actively serve in KidsWorld, EPIC, and with my community group, and I look forward to continuing to grow spiritually and uncover God’s plan for my life.  

Devan Bucholz

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Devan Bucholz

I don't really remember my life before Christ because we have been a Christian family for as long as I can remember, but we didn't really have a church that we went to until we tried CCC when I was about 5.  We have been going there ever since.  

I was sort of just raised to follow Christ by my family and the leaders at KidsWorld that taught me about God's word and I eventually learned to accept Jesus in my life.  I have grown spiritually since then and have decided to surrender to Christ because that is what any believer should do.  "And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him." Hebrews 11:6  

Christ has affected my life in many ways.  Attending church has shown me who God is and what life is really about.  I go to him when I need help and he has done many great things for me and my family.  I have chosen to be baptized to show my faith in God and because that is what he says we should do as soon as we believe.  I definitely believe and have faith in the Lord.

Luke Bucholz

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Luke Bucholz

I was two years old when I started to go to church.  I don't remember anything before that. Before we went to Christ Community Church we still believed and prayed.

The people at church helped when I surrendered to Christ myself.  I surrendered my life to Christ because it is what I need to do as a Christian.  

Life with Christ has made life a better life.  I am close to God.  I can't even imagine life without Christ.  Not accepting Christ is like not eating food for the rest of your life. Surrendering to Christ has made me take another step as a Christian.

Ron Bujko

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Ron Bujko

My mother abandoned her children and marriage when I was 11 years old.  Afterward, I tried to earn love and affirmation through my performance in sports, school, sin, whatever venue would provide the acceptance and love that was missing in my life.  

Accepting Christ as my savior has been a process over time for me, not an instant moment. After decades of failing to find unconditional love and acceptance based on my performance, I was invited to attend a men’s Bible study.  For the first time in my life I was among men who were honest and sincere when they admitted they were flawed sinners and were also Christians.  They gave me their time, understanding and acceptance.

I am eternally grateful to Art, Bryan, Hans, Ned, John, Simmie and Pete for their patience with me.  They have all shared a valuable and irreplaceable gift with me, their time.  

My days of calling upon God only when I was needy and then me quickly abandoning him when my life improved are over.   I thank God that he will never abandon me.  And that he loves and accepts me unconditionally, with my flaws, regardless of my performance.   I am significant to God!    

Bethany Cadle

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Bethany Cadle

I have been going to Christ Community since I was a baby.  I do not remember anything before that, but I have been to different churches that have also helped me understand Christ.  Through volunteers at churches, I have been able to surrender to Christ.  

I have gone to church my whole life and they said that the Lord wants people to follow him.  If I don't I would have a big sin stuck with me.  I have been been thinking about getting baptized for a while, but I wasn't sure if I was ready yet.  I have since realized that there is not a specific time to wait for, and I should not wait.  I decided to surrender to Christ at Christ Community when they mentioned the baptism classes.  I decided to surrender to Christ because he wants people to believe in him and surrender to him.

I also want other people to understand that I have surrendered to Christ.  Life without Christ would be terrible and cause so many bad things.  People would have no one to pray to, and no one to look up to.  With Christ, people do not need to worry that they would have no one to look up to.

Brooke Cadle

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Brooke Cadle

My dad told me that I have been going to church since I was a baby, but of course I don't remember it when I was a baby.  As I've been growing up I have been taught a lot about Christ by church leaders.  We moved farther away from the St Charles CCC campus, and now live close to Blackberry Creek, where we just started attending.  

Christ has changed my life in many ways.  I have learned about the ways that I can let the Lord in my life and heart.  Christ has brought me closer to my family too.  I have learned about what it means to be baptized.  We were given shirts to be baptized in, and the shirts say, "Die to Live".  What this means to me is that when I will be laid back into the water during my baptism I will come back up as a display to everyone that I will live my life for God.  

In a book that my mom is reading it says that it is not whether we want to get baptized, it is required.  In baptism class we talked about how you still can go to heaven in you don't get baptized but you have to have a prayer saying you believe and you let the Lord in your heart.  I want to show the world that I have.

Rebecca Capen

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Rebecca Capen

I was baptized as an infant and grew up attending a Lutheran church and school. I believed in God from an early age and always knew the truths in the gospel. Regardless of this head knowledge, I have often felt throughout my life that my faith lacked true obedience. I was living on my terms, rather than God's.

After attending Christ Community Church for many years, last summer I started getting serious about becoming a disciple of Christ. I joined a wonderful and supportive women's community group and grew in my bible reading habits. It was through encouragement and conversations in my community group, as well as the poignant message from Pastor Clayton- that God placed baptism on my heart. The Holy Spirit made it clear to me that baptism is a step of obedience in my faith journey that I had been avoiding while living on my own terms.

Since making the decision to be baptized, I have felt a closeness to God I hadn't felt before. Taking this step of commitment to live for Christ and as He called us to has been both humbling and freeing. I am looking forward to growing in my faith and as a disciple of Jesus. As Galatians 3:26 says, "You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourself with Christ". I am ready to be clothed with Christ!

Rondell Caraos

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Rondell Caraos

Before I trusted in Jesus, other things in life were more important to me like my family, my friends, my social life, and my possessions.  I was all about having a good time and that normally involved going out a lot to social gatherings.  I was very materialistic… my image and what people thought of me was a main part of who I was.  I did grow up in a Catholic Church, attended Sunday School, and had all three of my initiation rites for a Catholic.  I had my Baptism as a baby, my First Holy Communion, and also my sacrament of Confirmation.  By completing these three, it is said that the faithful are sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit and are strengthened in their Christian life.  My family and I went to Church almost every Sunday growing up, but that faded away and so did my faith as the years went by.  My mother was the one that wanted us to go to church every Sunday as she was the most religious one in our family.  Unfortunately, we lost her to Cancer in 1994.  I never understood why God chose to take such a wonderful and sweet woman from us so early, I was only 18.  I became very rebellious after her death and was consumed by my wicked ways.  Our family would then go to Church only on holidays and/or weddings or baptisms.  We still believed in God and Jesus Christ but our practice to worship was very slim.

It wasn’t until I met my wife Jenessa who re-introduced me to Christ and a Church called Willow Creek in South Barrington.  She grew up in a Christian Church and asked me to join her a few times while we were dating.  I was open to try something different other than what I was normally acclimated to in a Catholic Church.  I actually get more out of a Christian Church than I ever did in our Catholic Church.  I remember, during a Christmas Service in 2009 at Willow, God spoke to me that night and I chose to surrender my life to him and start living my life for the better.  I actually teared during the service… I have never felt so much emotion where I would start crying, especially in public.  It took me by surprise and I knew right then and there that God was speaking to me directly and he knew I needed his help.  My eyes were opened to all the sin I have done throughout my lifetime and I was embarrassed of who I was becoming… changes needed to be made.

Since then, we have gotten married, bought a house, and have two beautiful children.  We attend Christ Community Church as it is more intimate than Willow Creek and it is much closer to our new home.  I started to listen to Christian Music more often, and you could see some changes in my life happening.  I carry myself differently, I act differently, and I start to think more cautiously about my actions.  I want to be more like Jesus and I would have God on my mind more and more with every day that passes.  I don’t want to upset Him by committing more sins.  I started to get really curious about the Bible and the stories in it.  I started listening to an audio version of the Bible on the way to and from work.  I would also read a story here and there when I had a moment.  I watched DVDs about the story of Jesus.  I was addicted to learn more about my faith.  I can say that by Jenessa bringing God back into my life, she had saved me from self-destruction!  I was heading down the wrong path.  Yes, I have a long way to go and I have a ton more to learn… but I’m happy with the decision I have made to follow the path of Jesus.  I believe that God sent his one and only son Jesus Christ to wash away all my sins and believe that I shall not perish but have eternal life.     

Kari Christensen

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Kari Christensen

What caused me to see that I needed Christ was the longing for something more out of life, but not knowing what I needed. I kept my calendar full of volunteer and social activities (often involving excessive amounts of alcohol) – as I like to now say, spinning my wheels and getting nowhere.

My first time at CCC was an act of God, but I didn’t know it at the time. I was at my lowest point; I had never been so depressed. Unable to deal with socializing I found myself spending Christmas alone. Something made me want to seek out a Christmas Eve service even though I hadn’t been in a church in 20 years. I could hardly hold back my tears as I sat through the service and sometimes I didn’t.

A couple of months later I decided to attend a regular Sunday service and Care Night was one of the highlights in the weekly welcome. I went to the CCC website during service and found the Women’s Mixed Issues group and once I learned the book they were studying was titled, “Stuck” I registered while sitting in the service. While I’m still facing challenges I am better able to deal with those challenges. The one aspect of life I rejected most, God and Church, is now what has had the greatest and most positive impact in my life.

Lindsay Copler

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Lindsay Copler

As I grew up in a primarily Catholic home, I had always been taught about God and knew about Jesus. However, interaction with God was reserved for mass on Sundays and recited prayers chanted before meals and bedtime. After my family placed me in a Christian school and we began attending Christ Community Church, I began to learn that God wanted to be a part of every moment in my life, not just on designated occasions.

The night I gave my life completely to Christ was at a camp retreat before high school. I remember sobbing with relief and joy at God’s magnificent and redemptive grace through the death of his son, Jesus Christ. However, as the years passed and the radiance of that night dimmed, I began to disobey God and placed my faith on the back burner. I never walked away from God, but I did not fully surrender to him. After graduating from a Christian college and entering the workforce, I began to see and experience more secularity that I had ever before. My Christian bubble had been popped, and I saw the reality of this broken world and how much we needed our Savior, our one true source of hope, fulfillment and perfect love. I started releasing my selfish grip on areas of my life and returned to pursuing God wholeheartedly, knowing that my life’s purpose was to obey God and bring glory to Him through Jesus Christ. {Philippians 3:7-14}

As of late I find myself passionately pursuing God in every area of my life. In my spiritual life, through attending church at CCC, a weekly bible study, and daily scripture reading. In my finances, through tithing and through the lessons learned from Financial Peace University. In my relationships, by trying to love people fiercely, graciously, and gently, and by surrounding myself with believers like my parents and younger brother, my boyfriend Alex, The Reilly family, Anna Robbins, Rebecca & Marsha Streets, Chelsea Miller, and so many more. I now seek God as the one that sustains me and give me hope, the one that picks me up when I stumble from own sinful whims, and the one that I can rejoice and praise forever.

Carie Cox

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Carie Cox

I was only eight years old when I surrendered my life to Christ. I was baptized as a baby and was raised as a Catholic. I'm not sure who told me about Jesus, but attending regular religious education classes planted many seeds. I understood then that I was little and He is big and that I needed to trust in Him in order to properly navigate my journey ahead. I got down on my knees and asked Jesus to be the savior of my life and to forgive me for past sins. At that time I looked up to God as my best friend, hero, and role model.

Over the past 28 years I made the decision to explore nondenominational churches and found a few church homes. It wasn't until about eight years ago that my husband and I started attending Christ Community Church regularly as a family. Christ Community Church was where my husband went (when they first started) as a young child. We love that they teach from the Bible and always give great application tips. The longer I continue to walk in Christ the more I am convinced that at the end of this life sharing Jesus with as many people as I can will be what is the most significant. As a very curious child of God I love exploring the many ways I can use the gifts he has blessed me with and how he will use me to further His Kingdom.

It took 28 years to commit to the decision to be baptized. I allowed my human nervousness and dislike for being on stage in front of so many people prevent me from committing to such an important decision. As I strive to be more like Jesus every day I heard God so clearly asking for this. What an awesome way to continue to walk with Christ and follow His example by doing as He Himself did. Praise God!

Caitlyn D.

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Caitlyn D.

Since I was born, I’ve always been brought up in a house that revolved around Christ. I was christened as a baby and attended Sunday school every Sunday.

I came to Christ Community at age 13, not really ever fully understanding who Jesus and God were. As I sat in the crowd every Sunday, my whole faith seemed to be restored. I had never been told how Jesus lives in your everyday life before, and for me it was real eye opening.  I recognize that Jesus is my Savior, he died for my sins, and believing in Jesus will give me life everlasting.  Being baptized is a way for me to reconfirm my faith.

I now see how Christ is involved in my everyday life. I feel so much more connected to him than ever before. Jesus knows me and what I need.  Sometimes this does not match what I want, but He will be right beside me.  I can feel his presence and He helps me find peace.  “Be strong and courageous” Deuteronomy 31:6 is a scripture I like because it always reminds me with God, you can do anything. Coming here to Christ community has really changed my life and has brought me to a better relationship with God.

Hailey D.

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Hailey D.

I have always been brought up with Jesus in my life.  I went to church, I prayed, and went to Sunday school.  Both sides of my family are Christians who have faith in Jesus.  I used to love to sing basic Bible songs every night before I go to bed.

Before I went to Genesis and Kids World a lot of what I learned never made sense and was just a story.  I came to understand the importance of Jesus at the center of my life and how I can relate the stories to my life.  I remember the stories in the Bible now and the importance they can mean in my life.  I want to confirm my faith that Jesus will guide me through my life and will always be by my side.

Since I have been growing in this new way, I can see how Jesus is working in my life in so many ways.  I pray differently and more often and I like to share my faith with other people.  I want to bring my friends to Genesis who have not been there before.   One verse that helps me is Phillipians 4:7 “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving present your requests to God.”

Josh D.

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Josh D.

Before I trusted in Jesus, video games were a lot more important to me and I was much more sinful, like I didn’t respect my parents as much as I should have.

As I got older I was able to understand more and more about Christ. I was also able to understand and learn more from the sermons every week. The more that I learned, the more I was able to grasp that Jesus had died for my sins and I wanted to ask Jesus for forgiveness of my sins.

Christ has changed my life in many ways. Video games are near the bottom of the list of importance and other things like God and family are a lot more important. I feel that I am less drawn towards doing the wrong things and instead I find the better choice. I will always feel good knowing that God loves me.

Tia D.

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Tia D.

Before I trusted in Jesus, I never understood the reasons behind why things happened the way they did. I would give up easily, because things didn't go my way.

Then my grandma introduced me to Willow Creek Church. And my friends introduced me to Genesis (Christ Community). I went to Genesis weekly. I learned who God was, and his great plan. I began to love God, and my faith started to grow. I was amazed at the fact that no matter how flawed I was God loves me unconditionally. Also that I was forgiven for my sins.

Since then, I understand that God's plans for me are better than the plans I have for myself. Just like it says in Jeremiah 29:11, ' For I know the plans for you declares the Lord, Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future'. Also I can't get upset when things get difficult because God gives his hardest battles to his strongest soldiers.

Gracie D.R.

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Gracie D.R.

 I received Jesus Christ into my heart on an ordinary turned extraordinary day.  When I was younger and playing with my brother, I told him, “We don’t like Jesus, do we?” Then my brother told my mom and she helped me understand that Jesus is our kind, merciful, and forgiving Savior who left Heaven’s glory to live a perfect life on earth, die on a cross for me, and rise again three days later to save me from my sins.  I began to understand the error of my ways and I trusted Jesus as my Lord that day.  This just goes to show that sometimes a tattling brother can be good!

Since that day, I have been trying my best to love, serve and act like Jesus everyday.  Some days I don’t feel worthy of Jesus and His blessings, but Luke 12:32 says otherwise. “Don’t be afraid, little flock, for your Father has chosen gladly to give you the Kingdom.” One reason I love this scripture is that it reveals to us that the Lord cares about each and everyone of His sheep; no matter how far away and lost they may be.  If we are part of His family, we are HIS!

Ron Ewing

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Ron Ewing

My journey before Christ consisted of alcohol and drugs for eighteen years.  Believing that I could do things my way and control my own world.

When I realized that my way was not working any longer I started to invite Christ into my heart.  I began to realize how large and complex the world was and how small I was in it.  Once I was willing to admit there was a power greater than myself things began to change.

Since that day 30 years ago it has been a slow and consistent journey to today.  I have been part of the church community for the last 20 years but only in the last 10 years have I added serving in the church, tithing and participating in a small group.  I now have found my church family.  My community group holds me accountable and keeps me learning and stretching my faith.  I owe this to them!!!

Ethan Fitzpatrick

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Ethan Fitzpatrick

I grew up in the church; from Sunday School-age to becoming a member, I was actively involved in many aspects. It was as a sixteen-year-old in membership classes that I asked Christ to come into my life.

On paper, I was a devout Christian, but wouldn’t understand what it meant to have a close, personal relationship with God until later in life. By the time I was in college, school, work, and social relationships consumed my life. I reached a breaking point where I knew I couldn’t handle things alone anymore; I needed to throw my whole self into my relationship with God.

While that act of surrender was certainly difficult, giving all of my worries to God lifted a huge weight from my shoulders. I am able to live each day in confidence, knowing that He has a plan for me, and that he is in control.

My decision to be baptized comes from realizing the importance of following Jesus’ example. Following the words of Acts 20:24 – ‘My life is worth nothing to me, unless I use it to complete the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus…” I feel compelled to take the next step in my faith, and am excited to share this act with my new church family.

Sarah Garvin

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Sarah Garvin

I was baptized Methodist as a baby so as I grew up I was exposed to Christianity. My family went to church on Sundays and I absolutely hated going to Sunday school. I was bored and distracted as I sat listening to the pastor giving his sermons. So when my family stopped going to church, I never thought anything of it or realized what I was missing in my life.

It wasn’t until middle school when my parents got a divorce that I asked God for help. The separation of my parents hurt me so much, and I prayed and prayed to God for them to get back together. When the divorce became official, I was furious at God for not helping me and I turned my back on God again.

I did not have just one moment but several revelations which have brought me back to my life with God. When my grandma fell deathly ill, I prayed to God to heal her and God heard my prayers. I also prayed to God after my friend passed away. God again heard me and helped her family and friends deal with their loss. I then went on a mission trip to Brazil with the church. I felt so close to God during my trip. I saw so many young friends except God into their lives. I started to attend church and house group on a regular basis so that I could learn more about the words of God.  My life took a turn for the worse when I entered into high school. I felt lost and lonely and I had very few good friends. I ended up in the wrong crowd and did things I should not have done. I fell into a deep depression and suffered with anxiety. I ended up missing almost my entire 11th grade treating my illness. It took a toll on my life, my families, and everyone that cared about me.

God has blessed me with so many angels during my journey to recovery. Doctors, nurses, counselors, pastors, family and friends. God surrounded me with so many beautiful people who helped me to heal. But there was one therapist in particular that I know that God sent to me to show me his presence. When I was at the residential program, I had a Christian therapist who alongside of God taught me and encouraged me to follow the word of God and let God heal me. It inspired me to help others at the program be exposed to God. Some of the girls had never gone to church. I held a bible study one night which led to some of the girls starting to come to church with me and praying. Even when I was in the deepest of depression, I felt that I was still needed and was being used by God to help others.

When I accepted Christ into my life I could feel the Holy Spirit in me. The power of God was giving me hope. I cried tears of joy as I prayed and accepted God in my life as my savior. It was an indescribable experience. It was like a wave washing over me and washing all my sins away. After I accepted God into my life, my life didn’t just turn around, I still had to put a lot of work into my recovery. But it was different now because I knew I had God alongside of me. I made the decision to get baptized when I asked myself what am I waiting for? God has saved my life and now it is time for me to make my public commitment to God.

 

Tom Girdler

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Tom Girdler

My story is a story of redemption beyond my imagination. I am a 74-year old Marine from the Vietnam War. My battles were many over the years – whether from being sent away from home to a military school at the age of 8 to finding out my father’s desire was for my mother to abort me. These realities were deeply rooted in the feelings of never being loved or wanted. There was no “family” to speak of growing up as I was many years younger than my 2 other siblings.

After 10 years of combat in Vietnam I returned home even more lost and less welcomed by my father than before I had left. Visits with my mom were done in private without my father’s knowledge or approval. The next 46 years were spent traveling the world playing and teaching tennis. I never established roots anywhere. I never had meaningful relationships. I had nothing to offer anyone. My life was spiraling down with no real direction or feelings of connection to any one person or any real purpose.  

Fast forward to April 2016 – I am teaching tennis to a group of women as I have done for many years. I make a comment about Bible believing people and how hypocritical they can be. One of the women (Lisa Zanke) whom I was teaching over heard me say that and immediately came to me and with a conviction in her voice said, “I am one of those Bible believers.” Immediately after she said that my curiosity about the Bible increased. Just a simple – “I believe the Bible” by her touched an emotion in me I had not known I had. As I later learned this encounter and the next was a divine appointment. Lisa asked me to have coffee with her to interview me for a Ravi Zacharias class she was taking on worldviews. She clearly saw me as having another worldview other than a biblical one. During that interview my deepest emotions came out. I told her I knew I could never be forgiven for the things I had done in Vietnam. I told her about how I was left for dead by my fire team. This led to major inner emotions of abandonment and never knowing how I could be loved by anyone. Lisa looked at me with the most heartfelt look and just said, “You can be forgiven. Jesus forgives all who turn to Him in repentance and receive the sacrifice He made on the cross.” She told me God loved me and I could spend eternity with Him if I made the decision to trust Jesus as my Lord and Savior.

That one meeting led to her purchasing a study Bible for me. Her husband and three boys have opened up their home to me showing me Christ’s love and have included me in their lives along with bringing me here to Christ Community Church. Lisa reminded me and this has stuck with me – Jesus was in that jungle with me every moment of my time in Vietnam – every step – He was beside me. He knew that at this time – in this place – this family would help me put my life back together by encouraging me in my faith in Jesus for the forgiveness of my sins. I now have a Father – a heavenly Father. It’s never too late – I am living proof of that.

Thea Gironda-Sandmann

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Thea Gironda-Sandmann

I was taught about God at a very early age and have never doubted his existence. However my childhood was spent fearing God and not knowing or experiencing much about His love and compassion. Through the years I have never walked away from God or my faith and even though I learned a lot more about Him and what Jesus did for me I never really grew as a Christian.

Shortly after coming to the US, meeting and marrying my husband we went through a truly difficult time where both our faith and love were put to the test and it was only by holding on to the promises of God and the love and mercy of Jesus Christ that we got through this.  During the years following this experience God has placed some amazing people in our lives to teach us more about his love, grace and compassion for us as sinners.  In Matthew 13 we learn about the seeds falling on different soils and what happen to them.  My life has been like one of those little seeds that fell on hard and rocky soil, was choked by the weeds of this world yet survived because my Savior Jesus Christ has bought that little seed and paid for it with his own blood.

Slowly and steadily it has been growing stronger through the great teachings of Christ Community Church and the example of people like my friend Anita Massingale who has taught me so much about strong faith, obedience and selfless service.

This plant may still have difficult seasons to come but with a deep and strong root system it will be sustained through these as well, and continue to grow and help others to find the same joy as I am experiencing. One of the biggest blessings in my life recently has also been that my son Tyrone and daughter-in-law Maggie has accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior and is being baptized here with me today. God is truly great and I and my household will serve Him all the days of our lives.

 

Emma Glennon

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Emma Glennon

Before I accepted Christ my life was very different then it is now. I didn't always go to church. Until I turned 7 the only time we went was for funerals and every once in awhile when my grandpa took me to Catholic churches. So when we went to our old church before Christ Community I didn't like it or understand it. I associated church with death not life. I eventually just stopped going. Then in middle school I was bullied really bad. For 2 years I was being told what I know now to be lies that I started to believe.

Then my friend Kirra invited me to Mosaic house group. This is where I learned a lot about who God really is and how I can have a personal relationship with him from my small group leader Amy Adams. This summer I went to SBR with Kirra and her mom Christina where I started to see Matthew 19:26 which says, "with man this is impossible but with God all things are possible" I did things there that I didn't think I ever would do. I shot Erik Eclov with a paintball gun. I didn't think I would hit anything especially a pastor. On June 28th 2016, I accepted Christ. Eric Hays was the first person I told. We had a few talks earlier in the week including one about me zip lining and his fear of heights. I probably made no sense when I told him that I accepted Jesus because all I said was I did it, and he thought I went zip lining. That was the next day. I went to the zip lining and so did he.

Since I have accepted Christ it has not always been easy. Mark 5:36 says, “don't be afraid just believe”,  that is why I wanted to get baptized.  I ready to tell everyone else and take the next step. I want to work in ministry someday to help others the same way I was helped. The thing I love most about the Bible is no matter how much you think you know there's always something more to discover!

Joe Glennon

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Joe Glennon

Prior to understanding the need for Jesus, I was focused on my career, material things and providing for my family's future. I always believed in Jesus, than one day in November 2000 when my unborn daughter, Emma's water broke at 25 weeks and my other twin daughter LeAnn still intact, I knew we needed some help dealing with the upcoming challenges Lisa, my wife, and I were going to have to overcome.

I prayed consistently.  Lisa was able to keep our daughters 30 weeks before delivering.  I was far from perfect, but still did not understand why our twins were born with special needs.  It took us years but we realized Emma and LeAnn were given to us for a reason and I now feel God working through them.  Lisa was responsible for exposing us to the Christian church.   

Over the last year at Christ Community I have seen Emma grow and accept Christ and Lisa and I have revitalized our commitment to Jesus

Erin Goelitz

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Erin Goelitz

I grew up going to church regularly and attending a parochial school.  I knew Bible stories and major events of Jesus’s life.  I didn’t understand the meaning of a real relationship with God.

During my freshman year of high school at Wheaton Academy, something clicked.  During chapel services, I would listen to stories about personal relationships with Jesus, and I realized that even though I thought I was a Christian, I did not have a relationship like that.  It was during one of those Chapel services on a Wednesday morning during my freshman year that I prayed to God and asked him into my heart and started spending time with God through prayer, Bible reading, and journaling.

Although I have had a relationship with God for quite some time, I have never been baptized as a believing adult.  I was baptized as an infant, and it has been heavy on my heart over the past year to be baptized again.  I found many excuses as to why each upcoming baptism was not the right time.  I realized I was just being disobedient to God.  During one of Pastor Keenon’s recent sermons, he reminded us that God calls us to be baptized and take communion, and taking communion without being baptized is like wearing a wedding ring without having a wedding ceremony. This was the wakeup call that I needed.  I am excited to take this next step of baptism.

Jeff Goelitz

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Jeff Goelitz

I grew up attending church, but it was mostly just a chance to hang out with my friends and learn a few Bible stories along the way. In college, I moved into a Christian guys’ house--mostly to avoid the dorms--thinking I was a Christian because I had gone to church growing up and was a pretty good person. Attending church as a college freshman way back in 1997, I came to realize two essential truths: (1) we can’t earn our way into a relationship with God and (2) even if we could, I fell way short of God’s perfect standard. Instead, I made the decision to accept Jesus as the one who sacrificed himself for me.

That decision was liberating, but it didn’t instantly solve every problem in my life. I still had questions, doubts, and temptations, and it was still hard to let go of certain things in my life. One example is baptism. I was baptized as an infant but never was baptized in college or in the 15 years since. I made up plenty of excuses why I didn’t need to be baptized, or why I wasn’t ready, or why the timing wasn’t right.

But the bottom line is I was resisting God’s call because it made me uncomfortable. In recent months, I’ve come to realize--again--that we need to be willing to move beyond our comfort zone to follow God’s calling in our lives, so I’m finally taking the step that has been years in the making.

Emma Haegeland

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Emma Haegeland

I grew up in a Christian home, and went to church every sunday. In church, I learned that I needed Jesus to save me from my sins.  

When I was 8, I decided to give my life to Christ in church because I understood that I needed Jesus to save me. After that, I have prayed to Jesus everyday and I also read the Bible every day.

Erik Haegeland

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Erik Haegeland

I don’t think I ever didn’t believe in Christ, but when I was younger I hadn’t come to the decision yet.

Then I prayed the sinner’s prayer and gave my life to Jesus. I decided to give my life to Christ at an early age because I felt a need to come to Christ and I wanted to go to Heaven and have a stronger relationship with God. So I prayed the prayer and gave my life to Christ.

Since then I have prayed at least a couple times a day and it has helped me daily with the actions I take and the words I speak. I am very glad that I have made that decision and that is why I am ready to be baptized.

Ethan Haegeland

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Ethan Haegeland

My parents taught me about Jesus at a young age. We need God because we’re all sinners and he needs to wipe away our sins so we can be with him forever.

As my parents taught me more and more about Jesus and I started to go to school, I gave my life to Jesus.

Since I surrendered to Jesus I feel like he’s changed my life. I have been praying every day since then. And I have also been doing Genesis.

Beth Heimbuch

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Beth Heimbuch

Growing up in my family, religion was not a large part of our daily life. I was raised to be kind and caring to others and that was the extent of my faith and understanding of Jesus. I always knew there was something greater than us, however what that was has always been a question mark to me.

My husband Mark, my two children Ty and Ella, and I have been coming to Christ Community periodically for the past 6 years.  Mark and I discussed the commitment to get baptized. Accepting Jesus fully in my heart has been a slow process with many questions along the way.  As Mark and I grow as individuals and as parents in our faith, we wish to set the example for our children so they too will have a heart for Jesus and a confidence they are never alone. As a family, it is my desire is for us to give back and be kind to others, especially those who struggle. I pray that as parents we are able to show our children the importance of Jesus in our lives and how kindness always matters.

Since I have fully accepted Jesus in my heart, I feel more peace in my life than I ever have. I now understand why we are put in situations where we struggle. Each struggle Jesus has placed in our lives has made us stronger and closer as a family and to Jesus Christ. Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

Mark Heimbuch

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Mark Heimbuch

Before I trusted in Jesus, religion was only a small part of my daily life.  I was struggling to find the correct balance, a balance (I felt) that should have already been in my life.  I often wondered if Baptism would help me to my destination.  My wife and I, along with our two children, having been coming to Christ Community Church periodically for the past 6 years.  On many occasions I found myself asking what my purpose was.  I finally decided to start praying on it.  I quickly recognized my sins.  I found that I really lacked patience, and wasn't able to see my blessings through the self-centered lens I was wearing.  

During the past 20 months I have had 7 different eye procedures done to try and restore my vision.  This process has been extremely difficult for my family and I and nearly broke us apart.  I prayed for an answer every night (and many times throughout my dark days) and ultimately found that patience was the only answer, and that this situation would be resolved on God's timeframe, and NOT mine.  Since my final surgery, I have come to realize that God has healed more than just my eyes.  I had been in consideration of surrendering my life to Christ for years (gaining steam with the birth of our first child), but the pivotal moment was when I prayed with Mike Hurn after service for a successful upcoming surgery and for clarity in regards to the purpose of why my family and I were going through this struggle.  The struggle ultimately brought our family even closer together and a whole new outlook on "paying it forward" to others!  

God has opened doors that I could have never opened on my own.  He has blessed me to be more patient, to be more caring for others, and I have come to recognize that He is the source of my strength!  He has brought new talents to me, and I have been able to help others throughout this journey in ways I never thought were possible.......talents I will never take for granted and will be utilized for the rest of my life!  My wife, Beth, recently brought the following bible verse to my attention, and I feel in my heart it sums up everything I am feeling......Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.  In all ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths.” We have since made a blog about one of my surgeries to help others with questions they may have and we have also just co-hosted our 2nd annual Halloween party where guests bring a bag of non-perishables for families in need (idea brought to us by Christ Community Church during this period of struggle) This journey has lead my wife and I to where we are today, and we are ready to be baptized and begin the next, exciting chapter of our lives.

Andrew Helsper

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Andrew Helsper

Before Christ, I was just going through the motions of life. I had a very weird feeling a long time ago, a feeling that I had labeled, ¨normal¨. But, in fact, it was Christ coming to me and wanting me to open the door into his kingdom.

I have followed that feeling ever since I started to be a worship leader at my housegroup. Now, I am a true believer in God the Father Almighty. He will accept me into his kingdom of glory. This transformation will make me anew: I will partake in daily bible reading, worship at housegroup, etc. I will die, but will be reborn as a new person, that is alive on the inside.

None of this would have been possible without the support from my family and from my amazing, Christ-loving friends. They have pushed me further into the faith and will continue to challenge me. Surround yourself with people that love Christ and who live by the Word of God.

LorriAnn Hoan

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LorriAnn Hoan

I was brought up in a Christian Family. We went to Church twice a week and always said our prayers before every meal.  As I grew older I drifted away from my faith, but still believed in God and that he would always look after me. I did not go to Church very much, but still said my prayers at night. After my son was diagnosed with Autism, my life completely fell apart. I tried so hard to keep it together for my kids, but became very bitter and lost my faith.

My oldest son had attended Christ Community with his classmates and told me about how much he liked this Church. Last Christmas I had asked my children if they would all like to go to Church with me and see what Christmas is about, not just giving and receiving gifts.  We came to Christ Community Church and I could not stop crying, I felt so guilty for drifting away from my faith. At that point we started coming on a regular basis. On a Wow weekend, Pastor Jim ended the service by saying that if you have never asked God into your life, you may do so now by praying this prayer with me. At that time, I asked God to forgive my sins and accepted him into my life. I went to get my Next Steps Packet.

Since accepting Christ back into my life, it seemed like every service had something to do with what was going on with me. Like God was speaking to me, guiding me in the right direction. It hit home one day when the service was about a family with a special needs child, and a group for special needs families. Again, I cried, but I felt at that time that I had found a home.  The next service was about baptism and that’s what brings me here today.

Adam Hubbard

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Adam Hubbard

I can’t remember a time where I did not have a relationship with Jesus. I was baptized and raised Catholic. My family attended church almost every Sunday, I went to Catholic grade and high schools and I was even an altar boy.  Religion was a routine. By that I mean it was something I did without thinking. I would simply go through the motions during service: sit, stand, kneel and repeat. I listened to the scripture but never really heard the message.  I never thought that reading the Bible was an important part of my faith. I thought that weekend service was enough.

Now that I am older and have found Christ Community Church I am learning that faith is more than just routine. It is something I must be an active participant in. I’ve begun reading the Bible, something we rarely (if ever) did during my eight years in Catholic schools. Baptism to me isn’t a starting over because I never stopped believing that Jesus died for my sins; it’s more of a reaffirmation. It’s making the decision as an adult to walk with Christ. I know now as a father that I need to show my boys what it is to live a Christian life. That faith is not just a routine it’s something that needs to be lived and nurtured daily.

Amber Hubbard

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Amber Hubbard

“No regrets, not this time I’m gonna let my heart defeat my mind. Let Your love make me whole I think I’m feeling something” – The Motions, Matthew West

I do not have a moment in my life without Christ. Raised Catholic, attending Catholic school for eight years, I have always known of Christ and believed in Him.  However, before I had a personal relationship with Christ, I was just going through the motions of a religion. Family and friends challenged me many times in my life as to why I believed what I did as a Catholic and simply to find where these beliefs were in the Bible. THE BIBLE! I was so intimidated of the Bible; we only opened it once a year in school and that was it, back on the shelves it went. But their questions stuck in my head.

A very special person in my life gave me a Bible in 2003 with the phrase “Enjoy your journey” written inside. She handed me the answers to all the questions in my head through the years. I realized that it was through Christ alone, I am saved. No amount of good deeds, or actions will save me. Nothing I do will never be enough for the sacrifice He has done for me.   

I have been struggling with the idea of being baptized for about five years. I am an OVER THINKER and stubborn. I thought because I have always known of Christ, there wasn’t a need, and I didn’t want being baptized at 37 to “void” my life with Christ up to this point (see, totally an over thinker!). A recent service at Christ Community, talked about surrendering to Christ, in that moment, I felt it in my heart that my struggle with my decision was over. I wanted to commit to and foster my personal relationship with Christ and continue on my journey with Him.

Caleb J.

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Caleb J.

My name is Caleb and I am 9 years old.  I grew up in a Christian home where God was very important in my life.  When I was 6 years old, I came home from Christ Community Church one day.  We had just learned about putting our faith in Jesus at KidsWorld, so I prayed to put my faith in Jesus when I was in my room.

My life is different now because I have the Holy Spirit in my life.  I will follow Him no matter what and I will be known as a child of Christ.  I can't wait for God to raise me to heaven after I die.  

Ellie J.

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Ellie J.

I was raised catholic, so I always knew about Jesus, but it took a while for me to realize that there was a difference between knowing Jesus and knowing about Jesus. I spent the majority of my childhood knowing about Jesus. I went to the catholic church on Sundays and I went to Awana, and eventually Genesis on Wednesday nights. During my sixth grade, I really didn't like school, and Genesis was a nice break in the week for me. In seventh grade, I hated school and I never had a positive outlook. I always just wanted to get through the week to have a couple of days of weekend so that I didn't have to do schoolwork.I never looked for the good things in everyday life. Once again, Genesis was nice, but to me, it just felt like a break in the week. I began to wonder what my purpose was and what I was passionate about.

In eighth grade, I decided that I had only one year of middle school left, and that I only needed to get through it. Then, something changed. My Genesis leader, Angie Russell, began engaging me, and I loved Genesis in a whole new way. I started to pay attention at Genesis, and I even started taking notes during the teaching, not because I was told to, but because I wanted to remember the messages and how they made me feel. One of the teachings reminded me of a song that I had heard at Genesis the year before. I know this came from God because it was totally unexpected, but it was totally needed. The song is called "We Are" by Kari Jobe. God really spoke to me through this song, and I felt like I had a purpose and I knew who I was. Eventually, I knew all of Kari Jobe's songs by heart and I began listening to other worship music as well. This is one of the most powerful ways that God has spoken to me. I was hooked on Jesus and I craved more. I was in love.

I'm now a sophomore in high school and God still speaks to me through people, music, and prayer. I go to housegroup with an amazing group of girls and we have a wonderful leader named Kelly Arvanites. (Most of us just call her Mama K). I have a strong relationship with Jesus, and it's amazing. There are always ups and downs. I'm a work in progress, but He loves me just the way I am. I'm on a walk with Jesus, and I'm loving every step. He has a great plan for me. "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." ~Jeremiah 29:11

Christian K.

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Christian K.

I’ve grown up in a Christian family throughout my whole life and I believe God is the way to all good. He has a plan for everyone and everything is set in motion for you to change the world. I think being baptized will move me in the direction of changing the world for the better.  

My decision to become baptized was because of my dad, he wanted to do it, so I decided to go along with him in his journey to a new and cleansed life because of Jesus. I feel that as a 15 year old male and in my early stages of understanding God, I should reconfirm myself to the Lord and give him the power over my life. I believe that because of Jesus death on the cross, I can now be part of God’s plan in leading others to Christ. I can now have my hope in God over things that don’t matter.

I have known Christ my whole life and have been walking with God through my journey and I trust him to lead me to change the world.  Being baptized will just show people that I am going to make a difference by His name and I will follow his path to true freedom. I want to live my life for God and not material items of this Earth.

John 3:16 For God so loved the world, He gave His one and only son, that whoever believed in Him will not perish but have eternal life.  

Joren Kaiser

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Joren Kaiser

I grew up in a middle class home that on the outside looked like the all American family, but on the inside was full of depression, disappointment and despair. Because of the pain that existed in the home, I ended up turning to alcohol, drugs & sex as a solution to the problem. A majority of my friends also had similar home-life environments which lead to destructive behaviors.    

After experiencing many destructive effects of being inundating in the alcohol, drug and sex culture, I began asking questions. As a young teenager, I thought this culture would lead me somewhere good. I had no idea that in the midst of medicating my pain, two of my friends would die and several of us would be seriously injured and imprisoned. After meeting a young girl at the age of 20, my eyes began to be opened. We had conversations about God and He was now on my radar.  I realized, through circumstances, that God was pursuing me.  And yes, eventually I began seeing things as God sees them. His plan through His son Jesus Christ became clear to me. When I was age 25, I consciously began following Jesus Christ as Lord and savior.

I’ve been faithfully married for 30 years to the girl that started talking to me about God. We have created a home that has a foundation which is centered in Christ. My 15 year old son has been able to benefit from the mistakes I made when I was younger. He understands the importance of having a relationship with God through His son Jesus. I have come to know that God has a purpose and a plan for all of us. Jeremiah 29, 11: For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not harm you, plan’s to give you hope and a future.

John 15, 5: I am the vine and you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit, apart from me you can do nothing.

Jim Kaynish

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Jim Kaynish

Growing up in a church going family, I have been a believer in Jesus Christ since I was a young child. I never had a problem with believing that God could do anything. I believed in miracles as long as it was in His will.  However, I can’t say that I was “all in” and Jesus was truly living inside of me. I always kept one foot out of His circle and questioned the relationship many times. Does all this really apply to me? Am I worthy or significant enough? Shouldn’t I be more self-reliant? My issues are trivial compared to the problems of the world, so why would He care about them?  Many of my “religious” practices were performance based, done out of guilt, ritualistic and perhaps superstitious. I feared that I would get zapped if I did something too egregious or skip church. This was very tiring!

I didn’t fully understand the impact of the Cross and how it personally applied to me until much later in life. I confirmed my faith and surrendered to Jesus at a Promise Keepers conference in Chicago the summer of 1996.  That’s when I started to learn the importance of love, repentance, forgiveness and a deeper understanding of the commandments. Through much prayer from others (especially my wife and kids when I fall), the CCC messages and community, I have learned a tremendous amount about the Lord and myself.  Through all of this, God’s love was demonstrated to me. As a Christ follower, I want to do this for others as well. Proverbs 27:17- As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.

Even though I surrendered my life to the Lord, I struggle with anxiety, control and seeing others through God’s eyes, but I can honestly say that I take refuge in the Lord more times than not and I am working on these issues as well as being more thankful!  I am the consummate “Work in Progress” and I need to continue to be courageous as I battle on. Psalm 31:24 - Be of good courage and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the Lord.  I am being baptized today because I need to be obedient to the Lord’s nudges to do so and represent that I am “all in”.  We don’t have to be perfect or even near it; he takes us as we are! I am still responsible for my sins. My sins are pricey, but the good news is that Jesus died to pay the penalty for my sins. There is no greater love than this- not even close!

Jeremiah Kranig

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Jeremiah Kranig

Before Christ, I was losing faith in humanity. I became angry, short, and impatient with my family and others. I felt myself being consumed by a world that to me was ruled by hatred and fear.

My wife Valerie was seeing a chiropractor by the name of Curt Buss. He recommended that we find a church to attend to get some positivity back into our lives. he recommended Christ Community. From the first time I walked into the auditorium I was hooked. Being a musician myself the live music really spoke to me. I began to feel the hole inside of me begin to fill and a huge weight lifted from my shoulders.

My family and I have been attending Christ Community regularly for almost three months. Our 6 year old son loves to read his bible stories every night. My wife and I began to attend Alpha and we try our best to keep up with our Bible Savvy journals. Having that hole filled in by Christ has been the best gift ever. I've found myself to be more patient and empathetic towards others. Becoming a Christian has been the best decision of my life.

Valerie Kranig

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Valerie Kranig

My life before Jesus was a mess. I felt lost, with no direction or sense of self worth.

I had an almost constant feeling that something was missing, though I did not know what. I tried, in vain, to fill this void with my own selfish wants and desires.

My Chiropractor, Dr. Curt Buss, saw my struggle and recommended Christ Community. Through attending services, Alpha, Bible reading and prayer, it became clear that the void in my life could only be filled by Jesus! During WOW weekend, I confessed my sins and prayed for forgiveness.

Since that day, I have seen several positive changes in my life. I feel as if I now see the world through different eyes! I find I am more kind, patient, and hopeful overall. I know that there will still be struggles. But now I know, I am loved and not alone. I truly look forward to seeing myself and my family, learn and grow in faith together.

Christy Kuechler

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Christy Kuechler

Before Christ, I use to think “I’ve got this.”  “I can do this on my own.”  At times, it was lonely and overwhelming.  I felt shallow, self-centered, and was living life just for myself.  I saw God as an accessory; something to pull out of my pocket when needed and put away when I was finished.  As I slowly and cautiously put my faith and trust in Jesus, I realized that the more obstacles I placed in God’s hands, the less my burden became.  And eventually, I very humbly and foolishly realized, it was never in my hands to begin with.  “Be still and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10

My personal decision to surrender to Christ did not come with one of those ‘ah-ha’ moments like some experience.  I have always been a believer; I was raised that way.  Like many, I was baptized as an infant, not knowing God or having a relationship in faith with him.  I attended a baptism service roughly one year ago and discovered that, though I had been baptized as a child, I too could take part in the baptism services at CCC.  In fact, as a believer, it is what God has called us to do in obedience to him.  This past spring, I was encouraged even further when watching others take that next step in getting baptized and thought to myself “What is holding me back from fully surrendering?” “Why haven’t I done this yet?”  “Was I waiting to work through some of my imperfections first?”  It was during this very service that I began to understand that  it is God who has been waiting for me; waiting to accept me just as I am, in full faith and understanding that he is my Savior who created me and therefore I am already perfect in his eyes.

Since Christ, God’s light has shined on me.  I attend Church regularly with my family, and have been for nearly 10 years.  I actively participate in Second Saturday serving opportunities, began tithing last year, joined the 30s+ Singles group this spring, and hope to become a member of CCC  by years end.  My decision to be baptized is long overdue.  It is an exciting moment in my faith story.  God has recently blessed me with so many new opportunities in my life.  I look forward to what God has in store for me as I continue my walk in faith, my new life in Jesus Christ.

Carter L.

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Carter L.

I realized I needed a relationship with Christ because I remember the only times I went to church were when my parents dragged me along and I complained. I also had my nose in a book and wasn’t even listening to the things Pastor Jim would talk about. I was just bored.

What made me want to accept Christ was one time at church. It was Saturday and I looked up from my book to listen to Pastor Jim talk about the seven deadly sins. All of them weren’t what I expected and it opened my eyes. I was sometimes envious of someone’s things and it was neat listening to him. Now I want to go to church, I want to listen, and I want to talk about it after with my family. I want to follow the path of Jesus, because what scares me the most, like a majority of Christians, is spending eternity in Hell, I want to earn my place in Heaven alongside Jesus, and seeing my dead relatives. Now I understand why practicing my Christian faith is important, and I realize the importance of baptism.

Since I made a commitment to church and Jesus, all during my football season I would say a little prayer to myself before every game, I would pray for him to watch over me, and let me play my best. I can feel Jesus looking out for me during sports and helping me grow into a young man.

Colleen La Plata

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Colleen La Plata

I was raised attending church and once I was confirmed, at 13 years old, it was as if that box had been checked and I stopped going regularly.  Looking back I may have accepted Jesus in my head, but never in my heart. I have largely lived a life of self-centeredness.  I was mostly concerned how I could succeed in life and what best suited my needs.  I felt I was in control and if asked, “Yes, I was happy.”  Why would I need anything else?  But, without ever experiencing true JOY (which is entirely different than happiness) how would you ever know what you are missing?

I met my husband, Joshua La Plata, and through him I began my faith journey.  Josh’s spiritual leadership was quiet and not forceful, but through him I found myself thinking about my lack of faith and relationship with God.  We started to attend Christ Community Church seven years ago and through regular attendance GOD really opened my heart and I fully accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior.  I immediately started to experience that “JOY” that can only be received through a relationship with Jesus Christ.  Since than I have had two low periods in my life where our marriage has struggled and during those times has been when I’ve been distant from God.  Each time that I lost sight of the most important relationship in my life my marriage relationship suffered, too.  And, each time I regained my devotion and living for God my marriage and life improved.  It is clear to me, following Jesus lifts my spirit, gives me hope and brings me joy.

Everyday I am encouraged to prioritize the long list of things to do against God’s priorities.  I now find myself asking, “is this really important?”  “Would God want me to spend my time doing this?”  I feel this has helped me weed through the unnecessary things of life that take too much of our time and open it up for what really matters.  Jesus said, “The most important commandment is this; The Lord our God is the one and only Lord.  And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.”  The second is equally important: “Love your neighbor as yourself.  No other commandment is greater than these.” Mark 12:29-31.  Jesus wants us to serve one another, to be social beings, to care for one another.  My heart and eyes have been opened to look for ways to serve.   I have joined a bible study with a group of wonderful women and I am planning on going on a Go Team trip.  

Garrett Landin

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Garrett Landin

Growing up, I never thought I really needed Christ. I always thought I could direct my life on my own and I would be just fine. My own strength got me into a lot of sticky situations. God used so many people to keep me at least one foot in the door of Christianity and the most influential were my parents.

I eventually came to see that my life, and everything wrong with it, was the culmination of all of the decisions Ive made without considering the words of wisdom passed down to me and without prayer. I was tired of life on my own, I needed a change. My life depended on it.

Since my decision to fully envelop myself in Christ, my life has changed dramatically. I still face the consequences of decisions made in the past, however, the power of the Holy Spirit has given me a peace that transcends understanding. I now serve in my community of fellow 20 somethings and attend a weekly small group as well as being a small group leader for an awesome group of high school guys. I have felt the love that is God and will follow Him for eternity!

Kate Lauger

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Kate Lauger

Hi, my name is Kate Lauger and I have been going to Christ Community for as long as I can remember. What caused me me to see that I needed Christ, was I just missing something, like I was trying to fill that gap between me and God which, I thought I did by finding what I thought were “good friends”, and I thought I had to be perfect and do everything right.

My decision to surrender to Christ was I have been going to Christ Community, but I would go to the adult service, and I would just draw on my hand-out, and didn’t really listen. But now I have started making making an effort, and taking notes and listening, and they have really spoke to me. Who really brought me into this, and made an effort, is my dad.  When I did decide to surrender my life to Christ was at Church service on a Sunday, at the end of the service Pastor Jim was saying it would be a perfect time to surrender your life to Christ right now (if you’re ready), and I just had an urge to do that which I did surrender my life that day.

Roger Lauger

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Roger Lauger

Growing up in a Christian family and attending church regularly I had a heavy dose of bible based Christian teaching.Getting into my early teen years I thought I could manage on my own and ran into many dead ends and empty feelings. After stumbling on my own and trusting in friends and people who were not moving in the right direction and letting me down in many ways, I was ready for a change. I had the fortunate experience of having incredible youth leaders and teachers that helped frame my early birth in Christ.

While attending summer camp I accepted Christ as my savior knowing I would always have him to lean on and I would never be alone, even when I was alone!     After accepting Christ as my savior, through my teen years I had found a continued community in my church family and youth group. Along with that, I bounced in and out of sinful ways and recommitting to living a Godly life, but struggled to be consistent in my walk. Only after meeting my wife, who also had a desire for God and living a Christian life, did I find a greater sense of peace and commitment in my walk.

We have attended Christ Community for 10 years and make a point to never miss a Sunday.

Attending the Baptism services always pulled at my heart, saying why don't you do this? What is holding you back?Even though I had Christ I still felt that my daily sins kept me from really being clean enough to be baptized. I would tell myself I will work extra hard till the next one and do it then. I have come to understand, I will never be worthy, and fully accept that Jesus took it all at Calvary. I am free of those chains that kept me from publicly declaring my faith. It was actually Pete Sutton's message that called me to "arms" on "Men to be Baptized" there is nothing wimpy, unmanly, or that it is not for men! I am worthy because he took my sins, paid the price, and I want to thank Jesus for that and let it be known I stand for him! It is one of the manliest things I can do!

Over the past year I was lucky enough to have my loving wife encourage me to join a men's group. "Go find some Godly Men!" I have been in a men's group of God loving men. It is honestly the best day of the week. (except for Pastor Jim's message, of course!) I want to thank Steve, Al, Ryan, Ryan, Ron, Gary, Mark, John, and Joe for their mentor-ship, devotion to the God, our group, and prayers that really work. I want to thank Steve for inviting me to "come kick the tires." I want to thank God that he brought my wonderful wife Jackie to me and us together as we grow stronger together in our faith. I also want to thank God for my 3 children who I hope to inspire and mentor as they grow in their own faith.

Alex Lichner

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Alex Lichner

I’ve been going to Christ Community Church for as long as I can remember. I’ve gone from Kids World to Genesis and I remember asking Jesus into my heart when I was in 3rd or 4th grade.

If I look back I feel like I have been putting off baptism for a long time. Since the first time I got home from SBR I have had the feeling that God wanted me to get baptized, but I always found an excuse. I was saying no to God and I could feel myself drifting away from him as a result.

I’ve been struggling with my faith but going to house group I feel has really helped me. Being able to get back into a group that I can talk about God and ask questions has been a great way to start of high school. It’s good to have that weekly reminder that even though it sometimes doesn’t feel like it, God is with me. I’ve been ready for a long time to get baptized and I am finally saying yes to God.

Cassady Lloyd

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Cassady Lloyd

I grew up in a Christian home but didn't really understand everything and felt like going to church was something that I had to do. In 7th grade of last year  I was very depressed and had a lot of anxiety attacks. I was cutting school and in a bad relationship with a boy I should have never been with. I was selfish and tried to be a people pleaser which included swearing but that didn't help me it only made my problems. I was going to two different churches at the time on Wednesday nights CCC and another church. My group at the other church wasn't very helpful and I didn't really connect with them as well as I did at Christ Community Church where I had people from my school in my group.

I connected more and have more fun and understand the lessons and realized that I needed to be happy and positive. They took the idea of God and the lessons more seriously while at my original place there was that were only there for their friends and I couldn't focus because they were being so negative and always wanted to leave early because they wanted to get back to their friends and not learn about some bible stuff. But that “stuff” meant a lot to me and I wanted to be a better and faithful person to God and learn how to make my way towards perfection in him. So later on in the year at Genesis I gave my life to him.

I've been better as a Christ follower and I've been sharing my faith more and I'm not swearing.  There are still problems in my life but I know how to handle them better, and I go to God for any of my problems. I love being happy and positive and living my life for God. Now I'm ready to show everyone that I am ready.

Miguel Loera

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Miguel Loera

Before Christ I found my identity in the things that I did such as: working out, playing video games, and being good at my job. Even though I found myself improving in all of these areas, I still felt like something was missing from my life.

During this time, I played soccer for two years on a club soccer team that my Christian friend Cory organized. While I was there, Cory got to know me personally and would talk to me about Jesus. Before long I was going to church and reading the Bible to find out why being a Christian was so different than being a Catholic.

What I found out was that I desperately needed an everlasting, never-failing, and unconditional relationship with my creator. After I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior I read the bible and prayed to God every night.  Now I don’t have to find my identity in the things that I am good at because I know that I have a creator that loves me unconditionally and wants to have a genuine relationship with me. That makes all the difference.

Gracie Lou L.

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Gracie Lou L.

Before I accepted Christ, I followed him just because I was told that it was the right thing to do. I only prayed when I needed/wanted something, and complained about going to church. I had a picture book version of a bible, which I read many times, but looking at a real bible or at least a teenage level bible never seemed to cross my mind. My grandma and my friend were my two biggest influences on deciding to accept Christ.

I accepted Christ at SBR in summer 2016. It was morning and my two friends were sitting at a table with me during TAG time (Time Alone with God.) I was flipping through my teenager-friendly bible and came upon a page that had some space for you to sign your name and write the date of when you finally accepted Christ. I thought about it for a few minutes, thought about how it would be the perfect time since I was at church camp and having the best time during worship, as well as finding the evening services moving. Finally, I decided to do it, right there. I showed my friends, who both started tearing up. We hugged and got back to our bibles. Later that day, one of my leaders, as well as my two friends, helped me pray the prayer that was in the bible for when you did decide to make that decision, and then we went to the evening service.

After I accepted Christ, I started to look at things differently. Not just in the present though, in the past as well. I started thinking about how much God had done for me and my family in the past that I had never thanked him for. Since I came to that realization, I decided to thank him for all that he blessed me with in the past and all that he will continue to do for me. That was the start. I started praying every night before going to sleep, gradually adding more and more to the prayer every night. I read the book my leader gave me at camp carefully and highlighted everything I thought was important to remember. I found a prayer cube when I got home that has 6 prayers that come up at random when you roll it, and added that to my nightly prayer as well. I am so thankful for everything God has done for me and excited to see what else he has planned for me!

Calum Lowe

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Calum Lowe

There is not really a huge event in my life that has changed the connection between Christ and me. Ever since I’ve been to church I’ve always wanted to know more about God and Jesus.  I talk to God daily, and want to show God how much I love him by being baptized.

 

Lila M

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Lila M

My name is Lila and I am 9 years old.  I have known God since I was born.  I love God so much so I decided it was time to put my faith and trust in Jesus.  I’ve started to work with the preschoolers in KidsWorld because I like helping kids know about God.  I would like to get baptized so I know that I will be with him forever!

Dan McCullough

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Dan McCullough

Before I came to know Jesus as my Lord and Savior, my life was a very self-centered one. I only wanted to do things that made me feel good and things I wanted to do. I was all about having more and wanting more. I was not grateful for the things I had acquired or accomplished. I took for granted my family, especially my wife and did not have a clue what humility was.My life started spiraling out of control due to my addiction to painkillers, alcohol, and my own self serving behavior. I lost my job due to this and went into rehab. When I was released from rehab I attended AA but religion was pretty much kept out of my program.  Because of a DUI and a shoplifting charge, I was not able to find the kind of job I was accustomed to. Still in the self serving lifestyle, I decided to drink again and that very night I was pulled over for another DUI. At this point my life felt completely ruined and horribly depressed.

I ended up in the parking lot of Christ Community Church. I came in and was able to sit down with Dwight Dally. He is a great listener and had great compassion for what I was going through. We made a plan to speak again in a day from then. The next day I was back at Christ Community giving my life over to the care of Jesus with Eli Zavala. My life was out of control and I was making everything worse. With the help of Dwight and Eli, I decide I wanted God to run my life.

Since then I pray at least twice daily, read the bible on a consistent basis,attend Church services every week, attend Care night, and am a member of a Men's group. I have a lot of trials in my life right now. We are trying to make it on 75% less income, my wife and I are working full and part time jobs, our home is going through the short sale process, and I maybe going to jail for a few months. Through all of this I know God is with me. Too many events have happened in my life after prayer, to think anything else but God is working in and around me and my family. My prayers are always for his will to be done and for the welfare of my family. My prayers are for my family are for spiritual, emotional, and physical health. I did venture to praying for financial help, but My friend Pete Sutton is helping me see that if we have God front and center in our lives, we need for nothing.

Susan Michalak

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Susan Michalak

I was going through some difficult trials in my life and the hopelessness of a marriage that was falling apart. In my anguish and desperation, I realized my need for Jesus, and His love and peace that I could draw from, and it is there I found my refuge.

While attending Christ Community Church, I truly began to learn about Jesus and gained a greater understanding of the Bible. I started to develop an attitude of worship and praise in my heart as I grew in Christ and his faithfulness, and I was ready to surrender my life to Christ.  Starting to serve at church and joining a small group study has further connected me to His church and other Christians.

I've discovered a deeper love for Jesus through my relationship with him, which has opened my heart, mind and soul.  Prayer and Bible study has become essential to my life.  I have found new hope in Christ, my marriage has started to heal and become stronger, and I'm filled with gratitude to the Lord.  May I recognized the gifts I've been blessed with and use them for his glory.

Coffy Mueller

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Coffy Mueller

 My mom died when I was four years old, my parents had been involved with Voodoo and my dad couldn’t take care of us anymore so he placed me, my 2 brothers and sister in King’s Garden, a orphanage in Haiti.  I believed in God  when I arrived at the orphanage but around eight years old,  I started questioning if God existed.  I was having bad dreams and felt discouraged by stuff going on right outside the orphanage.  I truly felt like I was in a spiritual battle and I kept trying to live my life on my own.

Missionaries, such as people from Christ Community, that visited King’s Garden and Dr. Morquette, who oversaw it,  shared Christ often and told us stories of Christ.  One day, I finally said , God if you exist, show me.  One night I had a dream about Christ and He seemed so real to me in the dream.  I started asking questions, watching people who were baptized and seeing a difference in them.  At 10 years old , I accepted Christ with Dr. Morquette and asked Christ to forgive my sins and I truly believed in Him again,  I was baptized the next day.  Our baptism was oil on our foreheads and I know after attending Christ Community Church, we are to be immersed in water as the Bible says.

After Christ, I had no more of the bad dreams, I felt free from the battle I was in.  I wanted to sing songs about God and speak about Him, I felt loved.  A few years later, dad and mom started my adoption and I know that many people whom I have met over the past years from Christ Community had been praying for me.  I couldn’t wait to get here to see them and now being baptized here is exciting.

Jackie Murray

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Jackie Murray

As long as I can remember, I have felt God’s presence in my life even though I was not raised in a religious household.  I had a curiosity about the Bible but did not pursue studying it.  I was very focused on my plans for my life and controlling the outcomes.  When we had our children, we did have them baptized but only attended church sporadically.  

It was not until we moved to St. Charles five years ago and started attending Christ Community that I really developed a deeper understanding of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross for me and I welcomed Him into my heart.   I joined a wonderful women’s community group four years ago and every study brings me closer to Him and strengthens my walk with Jesus.  

My life has been changed.  I have learned to let go of my controlling nature and to give my worries to God through prayer.   In July, I went to Nicaragua on a GoTeam trip and it was after that amazing trip that I decided it was time to be baptized to show my commitment to Jesus.

David O’Connell

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David O’Connell

When I was a child I loved God and Jesus. I enjoyed having Bible stories read to me before bedtime.   I used to say that I wanted to be the first married priest with kids.  As much as I loved Jesus, He was not my Lord and Savior.

One of my older sisters became saved when I was a teenager.  Shortly thereafter she would talk to me about the changes in her life and what it meant to be saved.  The things she discussed with me and the Bible version she shared with me laid heavy on my heart.  In time I was ready to give my life to the Lord, that day I called a number at TBN and prayed with someone and gave my life to Jesus.

In the nearly 30 years as a Christ follower, I have felt the presence of the Lord nearly every day of my life.  There have been many trials and difficult times, yet I have been blessed in more ways than I can describe.  I was baptized as a child, so I never felt like adult baptism was necessary, even though my wife and kids were baptized as teenagers. That all changed recently when I was reading Nabeel Qureshi’s book, “Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus”.  I was inspired to finally be baptized.

Andrew P.

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Andrew P.

At a very young age, I accepted Christ as my Savior and for as long as I can remember I have been a Christian.  I have always gone to church, but I went because I had too, and I really didn't like it.  Then on a Wow weekend I felt a deep connection to what was being said and felt I need to be following Jesus for real and not just going through the motions.

That Sunday the pastor asked everyone to stay seated, bow their heads, and close their eyes.  He prayed the prayer to accept Christ as your savior and said if you prayed this prayer, and you meant if from your heart take the next step and stand to your feet to affirm your decision.  I prayed that prayer and I felt God's presence telling me to stand to my feet, even though it took me a bit to get the nerve to stand up, I did it!  At the moment, I decided nothing is more important than Jesus is in my life and I want to follow Him.

I continue to follow Jesus, I pray with my parents every night, and I ask Jesus to help me and guide me throughout my day.  I am not perfect, and I know this is a journey I am on.  The one thing I know now, is that I can trust in Jesus and he will be with me always.  Today, I am getting baptized as a step of obedience and to follow the example of Jesus.

Samantha Pahadi

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Samantha Pahadi

I grew up going to a small town country church in Nebraska.  I have always felt a strong connection to Jesus. I had some very vivid dreams as a child and felt called to serve the Lord in my teens. That was a little scary to me and I remember talking to my mom and saying "I don't want to be a pastor."  

As I went on to college, I decided to choose my own path and wandered for several years. I meant my husband who was from Nepal and was Hindu. We had a family and decided at that time the best way to raise our family would be to "honor" both religions. We spent the next five years going both to church and to the temple. I felt at that time I was truly seeking and questioning what is real, who is the one true God?  I felt confused and overwhelmed by all of the questions that were going through my mind. I did a lot of talking and praying to God asking Him to help me. I felt lost, confused and empty inside. I had spent my whole life believing in Jesus, really not even considering anything else...

Jesus lead me to a dear friend who was also married to a man from Nepal.  We connected instantly, she is American but had been raised with her parents who were missionaries.  We began to meet routinely, and started digging deep into the word of God.  I felt a new fire, passion, desire burning within  that I needed to decide once and for all if I was going to stand with Jesus or going to continue to be wishy-washy in my faith. I made the decision that night with my friend about eleven years ago and recommitted my life to Jesus.

Since my recommitment to Jesus those 11 years ago, amazing transformations have truly happened not just for me but for my whole family. We live our lives differently, we are not perfect and continue to still fail and sin. The difference is now we have the peace that can only be found in Jesus.  Jesus is my friend, I talk to Him all day long. I fall on my knees in prayer and I jump to my feet in joy to praise Him. I was baptized as an infant, I gave a testimony in front of a whole church sharing my story of re-commitment, but I kept thinking I have never been baptized as an adult. I kept feeling Jesus pulling at my heart, saying this is the next step, this is what I command you to do. Today, I am getting baptized with my son and the joy that goes through my heart  is exploding.  I keep feeling that Jesus has bigger plans for me, plans to continue what he started in my heart when he "called" me at such a young age. I feel this is the new beginning today, getting baptized and proclaiming to the world that I am his and he is mine and I truly feel that his journey for me is just beginning.

 

Hieu Phan

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Hieu Phan

Before I trusted in Jesus, I felt lost and a spiritual emptiness inside of me.  I used to feel like God did not care about me because of all the challenges and hardships I experienced growing up.  I grew up being confused about religion.  My mother is Buddhist and my step-father is Catholic.  I was never formally taught either religion.  It was not until I was a young adult that I began to believe in God.

Erin and Jeff, my brother-in-law and sister-in-law, introduced me to Christ Community Church.  I began attending church with them on a more frequent basis starting right before Easter 2016. It was through the Pathway and Holy Spirit series that I had a yearning to get to know Jesus better.  I enrolled in Alpha and this is where I began to learn more about the Christian faith.  I realized I wanted a more meaningful relationship with Jesus and decided it was time to give my life to Christ.

Since then, my life has changed in many ways.  I have learned to trust Jesus and now live a life of contentment.  My wife and I have been going to church regularly with Erin and Jeff.  My spiritual journey and relationship with Jesus continues to grow everyday through prayer.  I am attending Alpha 2 and Financial Peace University.  I have also served on a 2nd Saturday opportunity.  I am far from living a sinless life but it is through Jesus that he gives me strength to become a better person.

Michael Plantz

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Michael Plantz

I was raised with the Catholic church as an important part of my youth.  I felt a connection to God, but I struggled when I reached college age with all the customs that appeared were followed purely out of tradition.  I drifted away from the church when I made myself the center of my life, and my faith evaporated away.  

After getting married and starting a family, my wife Tina and I started looking for a church home.  I became involved, and started looking forward again to church and the many serving opportunities.  By attending small groups I started to learn more of what the Bible actually said; which was a very new experience!  When it finally sunk in what my Savior Jesus had done for me, I realized that my pride and worries about success needed to end.  His grace was the gift I needed; it was not something that I could earn through being a good person.

I’ve since been blessed with opportunities to serve and give joyfully.  I meet with my men’s group on a regular basis, where I continue to learn and strengthen my faith in Jesus.  I don’t worry about what will or could happen, as I know Jesus is there for me and my family.  I started praying again, something that I had not done since I was a youth.  I realized that I needed to publicly proclaim my faith in Jesus by being baptized today. (83)

Mike Plocinski

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Mike Plocinski

I was raised Catholic by my parents and I was baptized as an infant.  I went through the traditional Catholic rituals of communion and confirmation as well.  The problem was that I never had a relationship with Jesus.  It was very apparent these were “checking the box” types of moments for me.  After I made my confirmation, I took the approach that I was done with religion and living only for myself.  Nearly 20 years of selfish, “me-centered” living would pass.

The passage in Revelations 3:20 is key to my faith story.  “Here I am.  I stand at the door and knock.  If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in.”  My journey is a series of “knocks” by Jesus and each one would get louder and louder.  He never gave up on me and He always pursued me, even when I was so very far away.  In my late 20’s, my brother in law, Tom MacAdam would invite me to church to take part in men’s bible studies.  I look at those moments as one of the first “knocks” by Christ.  My wife would then drag me to church kicking and screaming.  Another “knock.”  After a couple of years we would attend church regularly, but we did not commit our lives to Christ.  Years would go by and I looked at my faith as something that was growing but there was always something missing.  I did not want to go “all in” mostly on my self-centered lifestyle.

My family and I settled in the Fox Valley area.  We were looking for a church and Christ Community seemed like a great fit.  Yet another “knock” by Christ.  Finally, after several devastating and life altering events, the knocking by Jesus at the door was the loudest it had ever been.  When you are so down in life, you have nowhere else to look but up.  I opened the door and realized that He was with me the entire time.  Patiently waiting until I humbled myself and had my eyes opened to His truth.  What I experienced was life-changing and most importantly, lifesaving.

Today, my family and I live our lives for Christ.  My wife and I have taken part in couple’s bible study.  We both belong to men’s and women’s groups.  Our three boys are being raised to know Jesus and love him with all their heart.  I am so blessed that God entrusted me with a loving wife and three great children.  The joy I’ve experienced is immeasurable and the glory all goes to Him.  I am excited about today and the future to continue to learn, grow and give all I have to God.  My life is not perfect but I know I have a Savior who loves me and forgives me.  It was His persistence and His consistent “knocking” that wins the day.  What a great gift I was given and what a great showing of love and grace.    

Ali R.

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Ali R.

Growing up in a non-religious family, I didn't know who Jesus was until I was 13 years old. My whole life had been absent of a God and I didn't truly believe in one until I heard the gospel at SBR church camp 4 years ago. I was filled with the Holy Spirit and surrendered my life to Christ.

Coming home to a non-religious family was difficult, but for a year I read the bible, went to church, learned my facts, and at the age of 15 started an attempt to convert my family. In 2015 my dad gave his life to Jesus, and this year my 79 year old Grandma felt the Holy Spirit enter her life for the first time.

God has taught me he can work on someone at any age in their life. He has blessed me with this journey and throughout these few years, I have become a new person through the Holy Spirit. God has called me to work in children's ministry and spread his love further. I am hoping to become a pastor one day and devote my life to spreading His word.  I have found my friends of a lifetime at CCC and it has become a home for me. At times in my spiritual journey, being surrounded by non-believers was hard, but Matthew 28:20 always reminded me God is always with me and that I am never alone.

Samuel R.

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Samuel R.

My name is Samuel.  I'm currently in 6th grade (middle school). I want to be baptized because I want to be closer to Jesus.  I like what I've been learning about him, and I feel like it's the right thing for me to do.

What helped me to form my decision are my parents, my school, Sundays at Christ Community Church, and perhaps some subtle hinting from my older brother (he believes in Jesus).  It seems like everything was pointing towards Jesus.  About a month ago I told my Mom on the way home from school that I wanted to be baptized.

Christ has been changing my life. Before I would go along with what the other kids were doing. I didn't want to be the odd kid out. Now I feel like I can have my own opinion and I don't have to follow the crowd. I also feel like I'm slower to get angry when things don't go my way. I have learned a lot from the Bible!

 

Sylvia Ramirez

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Sylvia Ramirez

I grew up not knowing what a church was. My mom and dad went to church without me or my brother. My dad got deported back to Mexico and my mom met the wrong person and my brother and I were put into foster care.

The foster parent family took us to Christ Community Church in St. Charles every Sunday. And when we went to go visit my mom she would take us to church. We finally found a church near my mom in Villa Park and we love it. And every time that we were with my mom we would find a new church with her. When we were in between both homes we went to Christ Community and other church at the same time.

We're finally put back with our mother, and she can take us to church and we continue to see foster parents. My brother and I love Christ Community Church because of all the people there and because this is the place where we got to know Christ.

Art Reed

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Art Reed

I grew up in Naperville.  My mom always went to church.  I went through the confirmation process at a Lutheran Church during junior high.  All I remember is that I had to memorize the names of the New Testament books!

Our family has always been very close – we love each other, work hard,  etc.  However, I never thought I could become a member of a church because I have made mistakes and I would not be good enough.

Thank God for my daughter, Ali Reed.  She became very involved in Christ Community; she attended the church regularly for years by herself.  She prayed for me and asked the Holy Spirit to enlighten me.  I decided to attend a service and Pastor Jim “spoke“ to me.  He told me/us that we are all sinners (REALLY!) and that Jesus loves us all.  A ton of weight was lifted from my body.  The Holy Spirit entered my body and my life has been changed.  I generally have felt happy – but never before have I felt the joy that Jesus/Holy Spirit provide me today.

I am very active in the church – have made some great friends. (Thank You!)  The Reed family is very excited now to have three generations attending the church and being baptized together.  Thank you to Christ Community for accepting me.  And a special shout out to my daughter Ali: without you, I might be happy or sad, but I would not have the joy without your prayers and “pushing” me to join CCC.

Sharon Reed

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Sharon Reed

I have been a Christian all my life, almost 80 years. I was baptized as a baby, confirmed as a teen, married as a young adult, and even buried my husband all in my wonderful traditional church.

Recently I moved to Batavia, and my granddaughter, Ali Reed, brought me to Christ Community of St. Charles. WOW! Something truly awesome happened to me here… something new, something unexpected. I prayed to receive Jesus as my Savior and Lord in the Welcome Center. I always knew our Heavenly Father was here for us, all around us, loving us, forgiving us.  But here, the Holy Spirit came to me… not “out there,” but into my heart.  A new dimension of my faith.  

The Holy Spirit spoke to me, a prayer that I now use daily: “Dear God, I pray that I will know Joy from the handiwork of the Father, Forgiveness through the Son, and Peace through the Holy Spirit.”

I am ready to be baptized anew. I will continue to be active at Christ Community, because it enriches my life and my faith. Here, God’s people reach out, the pastors transform us, and God's message reaches us all.

Brittany Reidsema

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Brittany Reidsema

As a child my family stopped attending church. A couple from church: Gerry and Lyle took notice and showed up at our doorstep and asked if they could take me on Sundays.  At that time I hadn’t known Christ had placed them there, however I appreciated them greatly. They moved away, and I lost my way; as time went on my earthly desires became more important than my relationship with Christ. It had been a winding road with feelings of guilt, shame and loneliness.

I began reading scripture everyday and truly grasping it in another light. Christ led me to the field of Social Work, praying for my clients and with my clients felt incredible, in those moments sharing my favorite stories of Jonah losing his way and seeing a client’s growth made me appreciate the Lord more than I had ever noticed.  I thanked Jesus for always steering me back to where I belong.

Since then, I can honestly say I’ve been reminded there will always be trials and joys in life.  I met a beautiful man whom I married who places Christ in the center of our marriage.  I’ve struggled with an immense trial this year and Christ has provided me with the strength, and it has been undeniably clear that I must appreciate where God has placed me & to trust in Him and His time. “ We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure” Hebrews 6:19

James Rewis

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James Rewis

I have called myself a Christian all my life but never knew what being a Christian truly was. My past had taught me that it was up to me to make life work. For 30 years I’ve accomplished many things that truly were not satisfying and left me craving more.

At the suggestion of a Christian counselor, I started attending Christ Community two years ago. I first met Pastor Eric, who suggested I attend Care Night to meet some guys (Jim, Jerry and Kevin) who share similar life stories as I do. On Care Night, I began to dig deeper into the “why’s” and soon discovered it was about “WHO!”…Jesus Christ.  

I called out to Christ 4 years ago to help me surrender my life and he began to change my heart from the inside. My wife and I were close to divorce and now we are being healed in our marriage. My workplace relationships have changed and I’m not the angry person I once was.  When I listen to God, (1Kings 19:12), when He speaks and I obey by faith, He changes me. My conversation recently with Jack Goldthwaite about my initial baptism at 7 years old convinced me that I should be re-baptized to tell everyone that I really mean what my heart is saying.  

Brandon S.

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Brandon S.

I had always grown up in a family that followed Christ, however, as a child I had never been mature enough to understand and place my faith in Jesus. Things changed when my mother was diagnosed with stage 2b breast cancer.

It was through this process of my mom fighting cancer over those few years where I truly discovered Christ and saw the way He had driven our family through this time of struggle. We had found guidance and comfort in Christ which would transform our family.

Since then we have all been closer to Jesus and found our guidance through him. We have found ourselves confident and able in helping others move through similar times of difficulty who may be lost in faith as well as giving back to cancer awareness communities and current cancer patients. I now put my faith in knowing Jesus is my mentor and savior.

Kaylee S.

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Kaylee S.

I gave my life to Christ really young, but because I was only 4 I didn’t really understand what that meant.  In middle school, before I REALLY put my trust in Jesus, I didn’t like myself very much.  I didn’t like the way I looked or acted and I was constantly angry at myself and blamed myself for everything.  

Just recently I realized that I’ve been trying to live life on my own and that I can’t blame myself for things that aren’t really a problem.  I need Jesus in my life, and one random night I truly accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior and I asked him to take control of my life.  That day was very recent but I can already notice myself as a more happy and optimistic person.  I decided to try to go to Wednesday night house group and Sunday morning church every week consistently.  

I want my relationship with God to become closer every day and I’m excited to see what God will do with my life.  “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” - Jeremiah 29:11

Tanner S.

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Tanner S.

Prior to Jesus, everything in life seemed to be going downhill. There was a whole in my life that I had no idea how to fill. One day I found out that my Dad had been laid off and that was when I started looking for something to solve my problems.

I finally realized that God wasn’t only the solution to my current problems, he was the solution to all of my past and future problems too and he was with me the whole time. I gave him control of my life and my life has never been the same.

I’ve joined the greeting team with my family. And I also became the vice-president of the Christian students club at my school where I try to bring others to the same realizations that I came to.

 

Linda Saflarski

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Linda Saflarski

Before I trusted in Jesus, I lived my life in fear.  Fear had led me to try and control my circumstances which then led to a reliance on myself rather than on God.  I came to Christ Community Church in the midst of a bitter divorce 5 years ago, because my son, Matthew Lee suggested that we give it a try.  What I experienced at CCC was different than all the years I had sat stagnant in church pews of the Lutheran churches I grew up in.

At Christ Community, I heard the good news of Jesus taught boldly with scripture explained in ways that I could apply to my life right there in the moment.  I enrolled in Care Night and met Mike and Linda Hurn, who taught the Divorce and Separation Care class on Tuesday nights.  They prayed with and for me when I needed it the most.  Then I attended Celebrate Recovery for a year and continued to grow in my trust and faith in God, while connecting more and more with God’s Word on Sundays at Christ Community.  What I discovered is that the strongholds that were holding me back from surrendering my life to Jesus, namely, fear and control, needed to be laid down permanently.  

Since doing this at a service nearly 3 years ago at Christ Community Church by praying the prayer of surrender, I will say that when my strongholds try to resurface, I have learned to recognize them, and turn them over to Christ.  I have learned to give thanks in adversity and to see trials and troubles as opportunities to grow in my faith.  I understand and firmly believe what Paul says in Romans 8:38-39, “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present or the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Maggie Sandmann

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Maggie Sandmann

Before I opened my heart to Jesus, I had no real direction or passion to live my life to the fullest. I had a good head on my shoulders mostly, but never really knew what I wanted out of life and took the easy way out whenever possible. I was not raised around religion or going to church. When I was blessed with my beautiful and healthy son, Zakai, in August 2015, I knew that there was a greater power I didn't understand but never had a true sign to solidify my faith and I remained skeptical.

My mother in law and father in law, Thea Gironda-Sandmann and Nick Gironda, invited my husband Tyrone and I to Christ Community Church. We started to attend service somewhat regularly and I began to pray when I needed guidance. When Nick got a job offer on the East coast, Tyrone and I laid out our dream of eventually joining his parents and making a change of lifestyle, possibly a few years down the line. The very next day, we had a knock on our front door, a nice woman wanted to buy our house. It was not on the market, she was just hoping we might want to sell to her. God sent this woman to our house to allow us to see the changes that we could make happen in our lives.  I had now witnessed a miracle in my own life. As I rocked my son to sleep that night, I prayed for everyone in my life to feel His love as I do and I surrendered my life to Jesus.

My eyes have been opened to the power of Christ, the importance of a relationship with him and the love that he has for us all. I now pray each day and live my life to the fullest with God and my family at my side. I no longer have any doubt and I move forward with that strength. "But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind." (James 1-6)

Tyrone Sandmann

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Tyrone Sandmann

I was baptized as a baby and grew up going to church, but during my teens a lack of guidance and some poor decision making on my part lead me away from God.

I found my way back to God's path less than two years ago. My mother had been subtly trying to get me to go to Christ Community with her and at the same time I had gotten to a point where I had more questions than answers and I felt unhappy with everything in my life. At the end of a particularly rough day I found myself reading from a daily devotional book my mother had given me and it was as though God was calling and welcoming me back to him.

Since starting my road back to Christ I have changed many things in my life, most of them changes in myself. I got married to an amazing woman who has recently found Christ herself. We had a baby boy who has been the greatest blessing the Lord has ever given me and though our lives are still filled with trials, I find myself far more confident and content knowing that He is always by my side.

Justin Schumacher

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Justin Schumacher

I’m thankful for the love and guidance that I received as a kid growing up in a Christian home.  Despite the knowledge that I had regarding the bible, it was evident that my life was not a reflection of Christ, but one steeped in pride, performance, and selfish decisions.  

I had some solid friends and mentors in college model lives that followed Christ.  I saw the shallowness of my faith and how left to myself, my decisions were pretty self-destructive.  My efforts had left me feeling shameful and guilty.  I needed what they had.  I needed Christ.  

Following college I made some good decisions.  Namely I married my wife.  And it is through my marriage that God continues to show me what grace and forgiveness looks like.  He’s taught me that my failures are not things that disqualify me from his love, as if my salvation was based on anything I do, but instead help me relate to those around me.  Through these past several years, God continues to stretch me in realizing the extent of His grace, His love for the people He has brought into my life, and my need to extend grace as freely as I received it.

Joshua Schwarting

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Joshua Schwarting

That save a wretch like me (faith story) When I was a kid, I would always be scared when pastors would say “I believe the end times will come in my lifetime.” Fast forward to after getting back from Air Force Basic Military Training, I realized that I took pleasure in many bad habits. I knew they were bad and I knew I needed to stop partaking in them, so I tried and tried, but to no avail. I looked into other religions to help and guide me, but nothing seemed to help. Finally, I decided that I'd give Christianity a shot (what I grew up with).

It started with me reading the Bible every day, specifically Proverbs (literally, only Proverbs). Then I began attending an Alpha course at Christ Community Church where I came across two "aha" moments. Then there was this phone app that I had been reading through that explained who the Holy Spirit is in a way that I had never heard before. And on a long car ride home, listening to some serious dubstep, I began to "Domino effect" all the fruits of the spirit until I couldn't help but imagine what Christ went through to give me this gift of the Holy Spirit. It was on that long car ride home that I burst into tears and gave my life to Christ.

Since April 4th of this year, God has helped me bring my bad habits under control. Instead of self-indulging, my time is put towards reading scripture, growing relationships, and praying. Even when times are hard and chaos seems inevitable, I find peace and love in God. I now have this God-given hope. It’s a knowledge that no one can take away from me: that I’m going to be in heaven. God has given me a “no doubt” kind of confidence that I know won’t ever leave me.

Steven Sorbo

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Steven Sorbo

Throughout my adolescent years, my parents introduced me to Christ by attending church and sharing their faith in our home.

During  college, a Jewish friend, Steve Keller who was seeking  as well, invited me to meet a young couple who led a small home bible study. This couple had a passion and fire that created a desire to seek what I was missing. For a year studying the Bible, I  learned that only God could fill that void.  Thus, I invited Jesus into my life. I realized I needed Christ because he died for my sins. And because of His sacrifice I'm forgiven and my slate is continuously wiped clean. Daily I strive for Him to take control of my life.

During the early 90s, our family began attending Christ Community. With small group studies and fellowship, I was able to go through my ups and downs. With  my daughter Liz's baptism on a  Father's Day, the encouragement from my wife and my small group, I am professing in Christ today.

Camryn Spiller

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Camryn Spiller

Before I came to know God I focused so much on things that don't really matter, like how people perceive me and material possessions. I wasn't confident in myself and didn't really always like the way I treated others.

My best friend Bailey introduced me to House Group my freshman year and week after week I would return, trying to learn more about Jesus and my identity in Him. It’s truly because of the support of my friend and my encouraging youth group leaders, Amanda and Jake McNutt that I have continued growing in my faith. I learned not to care so much what others think of me, but what Jesus thinks of me. I surrendered my life to Christ for the first time one day in church around Christmas time last year. “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you.”

Since then I have been really working on dedicating my life to Him. I have noticed a change in myself and an appreciation for life that I did not have before. I worry less about things that don't matter, and care more about things and people that do. I have begun serving in KidsWorld and made an effort to attend House Group and service on a weekly basis. Although I am not always perfect in my faith, I know that the Lord is always with me and have nothing to fear as long as I put my faith in Him. “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10.

Michell Spruth

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Michell Spruth

I’m a planner and an engineer… I have planned and pretty much everything and have met every goal I have had in my life. I traveled the world and stayed in England where I met my husband. Although the marriage was difficult from the start, God blessed me with 2 beautiful boys.  I tried everything I could to not get a divorce, because I viewed divorce as failure.  But in the end, God showed me that a divorce was the only way I would be able to lead a healthy life where I could support my boys.   

The transition was difficult, emotional abuse, lack of financial support, and totally depleted. During the 4 years of court, after 1 painful loss to go back to the US, I lost my job.  Without a job and financial support to provide for my sons, I had no hope.  Totally depleted, I prayed that I could not do it myself and I gave God the reins of my life.   If there was a way, God was the only one could only provide the path.

I could not plan this one …  God did it, the court gave permission and with my last funds we flew back to the US.  God provided the plan, path and gave us our freedom so that we could have a better life.  With every obstacle he has provided a path has taught me over and over to put my trust and hope in him and not to rely on others for support.  He is the only one who can provide the support required for my family.

Kendyll Stevenson

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Kendyll Stevenson

Before I trusted in Jesus, popularity was very important to me. I would take a quantity of friends over quality friends! I started to realize that no matter what I did, I just wasn't fitting. My sister Syd showed me Christ Community Church and after coming to Kids World and to church sometimes, I learned about how Jesus loved me for who I was. He actually designed me to fit differently, and to bring something new to the table!

So I realized I needed Jesus when he opened my eyes to all the bad stuff in my life like selfishness, disrespect, lust, and greed. Because of Jesus, my life was flipped! I lost lots of friends, but it helped me to see who my true friends were. I have a much better relationship with my family, and it's because Jesus taught me to see things from other people's points of views. I realized winning wasn't important! Sydnee and I stopped getting upset with each other and arguing so much. Also, now I do what my parents ask me to instead of being disrespectful, because God says to honor your mom and dad. Jesus got rid of the lust I had and my life, and he got rid of the greed too. I don't value my possessions too much anymore, because Pastor Pete taught us that all of it belongs to God anyway!

I love giving away things every year to people who need it more than me. I learned that when you let Jesus take over, life still isn't perfect, but if it was we wouldn't have anything to pray about! Also, you can feel comforted that when things go wrong you'll always have God, and he's the only one that's right!

Cohen T.

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Cohen T.

 I grew up in church.  I went to KidsWorld and Awana and now EPIC.  My dad does a devotional with our family every night. One night I knew I needed Christ.  I was with my Mom and I told her I wanted to accept Christ and we said a prayer together.  This choice has affected my life by how I try not to sin and have better behavior. I am excited to be baptized and to encourage others.

 

Jonah T.

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Jonah T.

I grew up in a Christian home, but simply went through the motions until I realized that my sinful behaviors like greed and anger hurt me and the people around me.

My brothers decided to go to a Christ Community Church and dragged me along, but when I went I realized the importance of God's salvation and love.  I recognized my sin and realized that I needed to depend on God, not myself to live. I prayed to accept Jesus into my heart and asked for his strength to heal me.

Since accepting Christ my life has become so much better. I healed many of the wounds I caused to my friends and family and grown closer to good Christians who help me grow in faith. I've begun reading the Bible daily to stay connected with God and learn as much as I can about him. I'm a part of the student community group, Mosaic where I can go to learn new wonderful things about god every week. I'm so grateful to have God in my life and I thank him every day for the things he has given, good and bad, that help me grow in my faith.

Zach T.

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Zach T.

Before I trusted God, I didn’t really think much of faith. I went to church on occasion for Christmas and Easter. I put my happiness and idolized possessions. The service that really changed my thoughts on faith was the “4 Truths" sermon that Pastor Jim gave. That got me really interested in Christianity as a whole: faith, community, and the Bible.

Shortly after that sermon, a friend brought me to House Group. But, when I really surrendered my life to Christ was at Winter Retreat. The topic of Winter Retreat was our I.D. and how we see ourselves in the body of Christ.

Ever since that, I felt the urge to get baptized because I wanted to take that next step in my walk with Christ. Like Mark 1:9 states, “At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan.” If we are called to follow in his footsteps, then baptism seems like my next step in my walk. I've volunteered at the church and I'm glad to be a child of God.

Christopher Ting

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Christopher Ting

Prior to surrendering to Jesus, I lived a bitter and hateful life that led me down to a lonely life. I saw the church as nothing more than hypocrites, and often, a place where hurt and division started. Since then, I rejected the Biblical doctrine for my life.

Then I went to CCC. From the very first service, I knew that this church was different from what I was used to. I found it accepting. After a year, my youth group leader asked me about where I stood and explained to me that not every person who called themselves a Christian is one [Mathew 7:21].  After grappling with my faith for six more weeks, I gave up my life to Christ at 16.

Since then, God has helped me to forgive all those who have wronged me. I am free to not hold hatred toward anyone. I see Christians in a new light, and I do my best, with God’s grace, to become more like Christ and to give up the old ways of this world.

Elena Vesselinova

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Elena Vesselinova

Growing up in Bulgaria, the concept of God, let alone the idea of close and intimate relationship with God, never crossed my mind.  I, like many others kids in my area, did certainly know about God. But, the prevailing belief was that God was a distant entity who had little interest in people's daily lives. I recall when I was about 7 yrs old, I asked my parents for permission to accompany my friend to an Orthodox Church where she was to be baptized. Permission granted, I went with her and her family and I ended up being baptized too, without understanding what it actually meant. Even though,years later, I occasionally attended church, that baptism had no significant meaning to me.

When I moved to the US in 1998 , church or God still wasn't part of my life. However in 2004 I was giving a book as a gift, titled "A Purpose Driven Life” by Pastor Rick Warren. I accepted the gift, but instead reading it , I put it away for about 2 years. When I started reading it and looking back what my life had been to that point, I became overwhelmed by very strong emotions, which I couldn't adequately explain. I would cry every time I read it until I finished. It was during this time that I gained a different understanding of God and Jesus Christ. Contrary to my previous views, I came to see them as no longer a distant entities with little interest in our daily lives. This was the time I decided to accept Jesus as my Savior.

That decision let me to find a church and I started attending regularly. I spent the few years attending different churches, but without feeling any kind of connection or understanding of God or the bible. My search was over when friends of mine invited me to Christ Community Church. Right away I new this is the church where I needed to be. I finally started to read and understand the Bible and get to know and understand God, who became more and more present in my life. Many times I felt His presence and He helped through tough times. Most importantly, I don't feel alone anymore. Recently I started reading “The Purpose Driven Life” again and made the decision to publicly proclaim and commit to follow Jesus Christ. I have consciously chosen to become a new me, in Christ's name. I have chosen to follow Him from now till the end of my time on earth.

Kenton W.

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Kenton W.

Before I began to trust in Jesus, I almost never prayed or read my Bible. I prayed every other month or so at the dinner table when I was asked to. But I was in an amazing bible study and that’s where I read my bible and prayed every Wednesday, and I thought that was enough.

One day Justin, the bible study leader, pulled me aside and asked me if I had ever given my life to Jesus. So, we talked for awhile and eventually I decided that I needed to, so I gave my life to the Lord.

Now, I’ve tried to read my Bible every day and I’ve noticed a drastic difference in my life and the way I live. I used to fight with my siblings all the time, especially my brother, over random things. But I find myself fighting less and wondering what Jesus would do.

Jenna W.

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Jenna W.

Ever since I was diagnosed with an anxiety disorder at six years old, I have struggled with worries and doubts about my faith. I felt that I was never perfect enough and compared myself to the other Christians who had overcome bigger hurdles than me.

My journey in faith has been a steady process. I went to KidsWorld in elementary school and to Genesis in middle school. In Genesis, I became intrigued by my small group leader, Alixx Nott, whose faith inspired me to live by faith like her. This summer, I spoke to my family friend, Alex Hopp, who talked to me about how I will never be perfect because of my sins and Jesus is the only way to wash me of these sins. This conversation ignited my passion toward Christ and helped me decide to get baptized and show the world my faith.

Because of this, I pray every night before bed, volunteer every Wednesday night at Epic, and attend a teen bible study at my friends’ church. I have decided to live my life by the scripture of Psalm 55:22, “Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved”.

Kaitlyn W.

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Kaitlyn W.

Before I accepted Christ as my personal savior, I was intentionally disobedient to my parents, and I had never truly sought out friends that would have be a positive influence on me and lead me in the direction of God. I grew up in a Christian household and “believed” in Jesus throughout my childhood.

In the summer of 2014, I created my own little devotional that I did every night. I wrote down a verse every day of the year, and one day I decided to look through my journal and noticed that Isaiah 25:1 popped up consistently. There was one night that I couldn’t sleep, so I slept in my parents’ room and the next morning I woke up and made the decision with my parents.

After this decision, I began to obey my parents, and seek out the spiritual friendships I needed. In the many places I have lived in my life, I have made many friends that have drawn me closer to God, and although I still have struggles today, I always will, but I know that I can trust God in all things.

Ryan Whitwell

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Ryan Whitwell

I was dedicated as a baby at Christ Community Church and it has been my home church ever since.  I have also attended Awana, Camp Commotion, and now I’m in Genesis.  

I decided that I wanted to get Baptized when it was discussed at Awana last year and also when I saw Matt Forte.  I have always known the love of Jesus being raised in a Christian home and attending a Christian School.  However, if I accept Jesus as my Savior then it is my duty to make a public display of my love for him and decision to accept him as my Savior.  

Having Jesus in my life has made me feel powerful, safe and confident in knowing I always have him by my side in any trials I may face in my life.

Elizabeth Wituk

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Elizabeth Wituk

Before I put my trust in Christ, I was trying to do everything on my own. I was going to be a great mom, great wife, great teacher, great friend, great daughter, and an overall great person. Of course, I couldn’t maintain those impossible standards and I felt like I was failing at everything.

In the Fall of 2015, I was once again overwhelmed by life. My husband and I were fighting a lot and I was struggling with how to find a balance between work and home life. I had been coming to Christ Community for about a year and so many of the messages rang true to me. However, being raised Catholic, I always felt like I wasn’t good enough to have the great relationship with Christ that other people had. I thought I wasn’t doing enough to earn it. Finally, I decided that I can’t do it on my own and went to the Welcome Center to pray the Prayer of Faith in Jesus. I was basically begging Jesus to help me because things were obviously not working out with me in charge.

*Side note: A few weeks ago Clayton said, “You weren’t invited to the table because of your worthiness, you are worthy because Jesus invited you to the table.” This totally changed my perspective on my worthiness to have a relationship with Jesus. It was this quote that made me decide that I want to be baptized and truly commit myself to Him.

At first, I didn’t really notice a big change. However, I began praying every night with my 2 young sons. We would talk to Him about what we didn’t do so well that day, what we wanted to do better (with His help,) and what we were grateful for in our lives. Eventually, I started to see more of the blessings in my life as opposed to what wasn’t going right. I still struggle with focusing on what isn’t perfect because that is what I’ve done my whole life. However, I do feel happier and more at peace since saying the Prayer of Faith because I am recognizing more of the blessings. I can also see that I have a more positive attitude at work. Again, I have a long way to go until I automatically see the positive in everything but I have definitely noticed a change for the better.

Roberta Wright

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Roberta Wright

I was born and raised in a Catholic family so I alway had a belief in Jesus and God, not really knowing too much about either of them just that there was someone that my parents felt was important enough for us as a family to know about and His name brought up whenever they needed.   For example, if we were not behaving.  "God knows and He will punish you." Very little information was really ever given to me about my true God or his Son.  Just, go to church and be a good person and everything will be ok. 12 years of catholic teaching and NEVER opened,or really OWNED, my own Bible.  Never saw my parents with one either.

After my father passed away, I really began searching for more about God.  I really wanted to know Who He REALLY was. Was He truly going to love me?  AND was He going to take care of my dad, like everyone said, now that he had " GONE TO A BETTER PLACE".  I had wanted to be in a Bible study for a loooong time and never could really bring myself to be assertive enough to find one.  Made a lot of excuses.  Then my daughter was about 10 and got into a Bible study with some close friends of hers that met at someone’s home weekly.  The person taught them for a summer and then had to quit and the girls were very disappointed.  So I was asked if I would just have the home where they could hold the sessions and I said sure.  Well as it turned out, they asked me to facilitate as well.  I told them we really would be learning together and that is EXACTLY what happened. I took a HUGE leap of faith that God would guide me and these young women together.  I might mention too, that in the interim, I found a Women's Bible study to feed and grow me. That is where my true journey began to learn to Love and learn about the true Christ and God our Father and the promises he made for me.

Now, about 17 years later, I can not get enough of God's word!!  I love learning more and more about His love for me and how He has fulfilled soo many promises in the Bible.  How I look forward to Him coming again to bring us home to be with Him in eternity.  My priorities in life have shifted tremendously and I am soo thankful.  I know God has a plan for me and my life and I trust Him to be in control and guide me His way and not mine.  I love being in a deep relationship with Him.  I know now how to LIVE for GOD and not this world.  It gives me such a sense of peace and joy!  I can not wait to show my outward love through Baptism and living every day for Him!!!

Streamwood-Bartlett

Jamie Eul

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Jamie Eul

I used to think the way to get to heaven was through good deeds. I’d never step foot in a church before.  All I knew about church was that I needed to be baptized but I didn’t know why.

At 8 years old, I met my neighbors Rachel, and Rachel’s parents Pastor Paul and Ms. Laura Giersz. They started bringing me to Lamplighter Bible Church and Awana. I accepted Jesus as my Savior in Kid’s Church. The next day when Ms. Laura gave me a children’s Bible I amazed her that I was already up to Chapter 21 of Genesis (in a small print Bible from church).  

Over the last 4 years I’ve been attending church, Awana, and youth group regularly, and two Christian camps.  I stand up for my faith with courage to non-believing friends. God helped me when my dad was hospitalized. He gave me strength and peace to get through it. I know I can always pray to God especially when I need help or forgiveness. 

Mallory Laye

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Mallory Laye

I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior this past Easter. I had a pretty painful childhood. I grew up in a broken home filled with mental abuse, cheating, lies and neglect. I now know that God was by my side throughout it all, protecting me even when I made my own bad choices. He moved toxic people out of my life and guided me through the dark. He was my lamp, my light! I was in the dark for a long time, I'm not saying that my life is a walk in the park now, but I have turned away from lust no longer putting myself in bad situations. I am with God now and not against him. I am free from bondage and the past no longer has a strain on me.

I could not have made it without the help of two loving parents Mr. Moran and Mrs. Moran and their son Mason, my very best friend. He has been the only one who didn't take advantage of me in my brokenness and who didn't turn his back on me. He showed me the way to God by bringing me back to Church and introducing me to Elyse and Mike who run Student Ministries. They have been there for me since the day I met them and accepted me with open arms and helped restore my faith with the Lord. I know my future is bright; it may never be perfect but I have my faith, and I trust in the lord to guide me. I will forever belong to God.

Jeremiah 29:11 says "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."

Samantha Penry

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Samantha Penry

Last year, my mother and father died a few months apart.  Driving back from California to Illinois, I fell asleep at the wheel while driving through Iowa.  I don’t remember 4 hours of that drive.

Finally, a State Trooper was able to get my vehicle under control and save my life and many others.  I realized then, I could no longer turn my back on Jesus.  And from that point on, I slowly found my way back to him, but still hesitated.  I felt I had to right my wrongs before fully giving myself to him.  But then situations started to happen when I veered of my path.  Everyone I met from that point on was a Christian and had a message for me, whether they knew it or not.  Thank you Scott Richman, Willow Creek Member, for being a true Man of faith, by being an example, truly living the Christian lifestyle, and for telling me about Jim Nicodem’s ministry.  Last month I spent 22 days in Jail in Iowa as a consequence of my actions the year before.  It was there where I found my direction, calling, and faith.  I was released on a Saturday, and was seated in Bartlett Christ Community Church Campus the next day.  Here I heard the teaching pastor say that you do not have to be perfect to get baptized, but to have faith in Christ.  I now knew I was ready! 

Since then I have joined a Christian Woman’s Prison Outreach Program, and have found groups within the Church to be involved with. I am learning that the overwhelming feeling of Joy in my heart is because of living with Jesus, as my only Master.  I put everything I do in his hands every morning, to do his will in my life.  Everything has changed and I feel humble and grateful everyday now, instead of full of anxiety and resentment, and feeling lost.  I have been found!

2 Corinthians 5:17 "therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!"

Chelsea Walsh

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Chelsea Walsh

I realized I needed Christ through my teacher. My teacher was talking about God and I decided to follow Jesus because it seemed very fun and all my friends were saved and I wanted to get saved, too. 

When I accepted Jesus, it was amazing.  I felt like a better person.  Ever since then I’ve wanted to help more people.  I help with the Basket Brigade ministry because I like seeing people get the baskets.  They don’t know who we are when we deliver them but they are still thankful.  

I feel like a nicer person and I REALLY want to help more people since I have been saved.  God helps me when I am sad.  He helped all of my friends get saved too.

My favorite scripture is: John 3:16 For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, so that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

Lindsey Walsh

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Lindsey Walsh

I knew I needed Christ, because if I didn’t have Him, I wouldn’t have eternal life and have fun in Heaven.  Instead I would go to Hell and that would be terrible.

I was in my old house and I was with my sister and after we said prayers I wanted to accept Jesus.  I thought it would be a good thing and it was! Now I have a better life and Jesus helps me and guides me through tests and hard things in school.

Since then, I enjoy helping people and giving people a lot of things. This week I passed out candy and I always help people when they need help with their math in school.

My favorite scriptures are:

John 3:16 For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, so that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

James 1:12 Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial.  He will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.

Romans 6:4 We were therefore buried with him through Baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead, through the glory of the Father, we too may live in a new life.