Until recently, I lived with the mentality that my testimony could only carry power and influence if it ended in complete victory and deemed me as credible. I would hold back from sharing the whole truth about struggles and alter my testimony to what I thought people wanted to hear. I would dramatize or deemphasize certain details of my life... maybe edit it just a tad, end with how everything has turned around, and how I no longer struggle with much of anything (because everyone loves a happy ending, right?)
There have been too many times when I feel God nudging me to share an aspect of my past or a current struggle, and I either share the more “socially acceptable” struggles I have faced or exaggerate how changed I am now. That way, my image is not tainted and no one can judge me.
Reality: My testimony is not really MY testimony!
This past year, God has really been teaching me the purpose of vulnerability. He has been showing me that there is so much power in sharing current struggles and the not-so-glamorous aspects of my past that I prefer to keep to myself. I have learned that although I have strayed from God, and although I still fall into temptation, God is working in incredible ways even when it feels like I am too far gone. When I look back over the past year, five years or fifteen years, there is not a moment that He was not looking at me with open arms. Even on my darkest of days, even through my greatest mistakes, even through my current sin, He is wanting to give me another chance and set me on the path of righteousness.
He is always doing right, even when I am doing everything wrong.
What I realized through all of this is that my testimony is not about me. It is not about how far I have come or how many tragic things I have overcome. My testimony is for God to use to bring others back to him and give others hope. It is to remind fellow believers or nonbelievers that God is ALWAYS working. Through the past, through the present, and even the future, there is something miraculous going on behind the scenes that we get to be a part of.
We have no idea who will be sitting in Somsen Auditorium tonight. We cannot guess their past mistakes. We cannot guess their current struggles. We cannot guess what they might face in the future. All we can do is listen, trust, and take that leap of faith.
It only takes one minute to be vulnerable and let God do the rest.
WSU Chi Alpha Senior
Many people ask me, “Why should I get baptized? What is the point of it?” Well, baptism is the public declaration of your faith in Jesus Christ, making Him the Lord of your life. By going under the water, you are choosing to wash away your sins and your old ways, your dirt and your shame. And when you rise up, having been cleansed by the water, your stains have been made whiter than snow by His amazing grace. Baptism in itself does not ensure salvation, but baptism is the physical act of the living water bringing the dead to life.
Although I was baptized as a baby, raised in a Christian home, and have been a Christ follower my whole life, I decided to be re-baptized last spring at the Chi Alpha baptism service. I made this decision because since coming to college I have truly made my faith my own. I have made it clear that my faith is no longer dependent on my parents or the people around me. Being baptized last spring was an opportunity to publicly rid myself of my past and step out in complete faith; giving my heart to Him completely.
Last spring, God was teaching me a lot about what it looks like to walk in obedience to Him, each and every day. He started to show me that where He is calling me is not the point. The point is whether I am willing to trust Him and go wherever He is calling me. It’s about deciding whether I am going to make the choice to follow Him obediently and completely, or not.
As I stepped out in faith and publicly committed my life to the Lord through water baptism, I was really committing to walking with Him whole-heartedly and following Him obediently. I was making Him the center of my life for real that time, and not just saying it and going through the motions as I usually did as a ‘regular church kid’. April 10th was the day that I seriously yet joyfully gave Him my everything; every situation, every fear, every triumph, every hope. He has all of me. My whole heart. And I can tell you that my life has not been the same since I was baptized last spring. I find so much truth in the following lyric from Jordan Feliz’s song, “The River”:
“I’ve seen it move in my own life Took me from dusty roads into paradise All of my dirt, all of my shame Drowned in the streams that have made me born again"
WSU Chi Alpha Media Team Ministry Leader
Chi Alpha is a college ministry at Winona State University. We strive to help students discover their God-given purpose, inspire students to have a relationship with God and love others and lastly strive to transform our campus, community and world. Together, we are a group that encourages and welcomes students from all areas of life.
There are times when we are presented with an opportunity to help others. WSU Chi Alpha was presented with the opportunity to help the non-profit Tree Top. Tree Top Farm is run by Tony Geselle and his wife Jill. Their mission is to provide a safe and fun environment for under privileged children in low income households in the Twin Cities area. Most of these kids come from trailer park homes; environments with divorced parents, child abuse, and malnutrition. Tree Top provides hope for these children through equestrian learning with horses, teaching animal care and life skills, and a unique family table experience to model family dynamics centered around God. Their mission statement simply states “Modeling Life, Faith, and Family — Building a Farm and a Future,” followed with the goal to “model healthy living in the four quadrants of life: physical, mental, spiritual and social.”
Winona State Chi Alpha has had the privilege to support Tree Top Farm through donations and hands-on help such as building facilities at the farm. We have been able to contribute to Tony and his family for a few years now, but are asking for your help and blessings for this hope-filled program. Tony has put in tremendous efforts to turn a few acres of land into a place that can provide endless love to children, but still has a ways to go. His dream is to be able to have an ATV to help with farm chores, but also provide fun rides around the farm to the kids. We would like to make this dream a reality.
This Thursday, Chi Alpha will be taking an offering at our 7pm service. We have asked all of our students and staff to pray about this offering for the past three weeks to raise money for this family; who has given everything to provide a better life for kids. In hopes of being able to provide these funds, we are asking all of you to open your hearts and help contribute to this incredible family and farm. We have WSU Chi Alpha staff and alumni that decided to give a matching offering to the money the students raise. This means every dollar you give is doubled! Whether it be $1, or $20 your donation will be doubled.
We ask and pray for you to come along side us in prayer and if possible financially. This is not about us, but about helping Tony, his family, and his dream for Tree Top. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts for taking the time to read this post, and for helping out this incredible cause. If you are interested in donating to help support Tree Top with a new ATV please do so here.
Thank you again for your support and prayers,
WSU Chi Alpha
Do I matter?
Do I have value?
These are two essential questions women grow up seeking answers to. When they are left unanswered, we start to identify with the labels society puts on us or we put on ourselves. We start to believe we deserve less and in turn settle for whatever the world throws at us. But it doesn’t have to be that way. I’m here to tell you that those labels are not who you are. Let me say it again, those labels do not define who you are.
I was raised in a home devastated by the actions of an abusive and alcoholic father. Consequently, that environment left me with a warped sense of where my worth came from. I thought that in order to gain value, I had to first gain the approval and “love” from everyone by whatever means necessary. I searched for my value in any type of attention I could receive. And when the attention could no longer sustain my need for approval, I concluded that I didn’t actually matter. I labeled myself as damaged. I was convinced that I was too damaged to hold any type of value. After that shattering realization, I battled with substance abuse and mental health for years until by the grace of God I was able to find that my value was in my identity that came from him alone. I realized I didn’t need to gain God’s love or approval, I already had it.
Unfortunately, my story isn’t unique. It’s one you may know all too well. The Valued Events were created to put an end to women living lives that don’t reflect their true identity of being valued.
We want you to know that your life holds incredible value
Despite past circumstances or past mistakes
Regardless of what you’ve done or what’s been done to you
No matter where you’ve been or where you are now
YOU ARE VALUED
WSU Chi Alpha Women's Ministry Leader