Hi my name is Nina. I am going to tell you a little bit of my story of coming to Jesus which is different, I think, than - well, we all have unique stories, but mine’s a little odd.
So I grew up in a Christian household that was kind of half Christian, half not-participating. Mom took us to Sunday School when we were kids every Sunday so I was certainly exposed to the story of Jesus all along, but I never made a connection. Then I found in my middle and high school years that I was no longer involved in a church, and that had to do with moving and circumstances. So I kind of never fell away from the church but was never really engaged in the church. I wasn't really engaged in the story of Jesus and in the story of God. And yet it was always present in my life, and I know that more now than I did then. Through my college and early twenties, when I would find myself in times of crisis, loneliness, or transition, I’d go to a church. I didn't know why I was going to a church, but I would still go to a church, and so I still knew something was there.
Later in my life, when I turned fifty, I had a moment of Well, you're either a Christian or you're not, so you gotta figure this out. So I did what any rational person would do and that is you go study. What I wanted to know is why are people Christians and why should I get on board with that. So I sort of approached it first from a historical point of view and a factual point of view because that's easier than a faith point of view. And it gave me a foundation. I also did a few things where I stepped out of my comfort zone very dramatically and that is - I joined a Bible Study group, or a small Connection Group.
I had never done anything like that before, and I think it made me really vulnerable because I knew we would talk and share our ideas and our feelings and our thoughts, and that is incredibly scary when you have no clue why you're thinking or feeling any of these things. It was through that particular group, which was led by a pastor and his wife here at our church, and at one point, after the millionth time of me saying but I don't get it … but why would…., the pastor just leaned over and said “God is talking to you right now.” No one had ever said that to me before, and I didn't know what it meant at all. But He was, and that was the moment when I realized what faith is, and who God is, and that I wanted to know more of the stories. That's how I came to Christ and that’s how I came to my faith.
Since then a lot has happened. I learned to let God lead me. I reflected back on my life, how He had led me, that a lot of things happened for a reason, a lot of things I did in my life, where I lived, jobs I took, people I conversed with. Now it was time for me to let God lead me, opposed to me thinking I'm leading me.
And so a lot of things happened at that time. I made some very conscious changes about the music I listened to, about the books I read, some of the people that I chose to hang out with. I also made some very conscious decisions in my professional life. I still continue doing what I do as a professional organizer, but I do it with a different consciousness. I also made a real conscious decision to get involved in the nonprofit world. I had absolutely no idea what that meant or what that could possibly be. I woke up one morning in January, the beginning of the new year, and I said, I'm going to write grants for somebody. I'm going to raise money because I know I can do that. I've never written a grant in my life I have no idea what this world entails, but I’m going to figure it out.
So I gave myself thirty days. I did a lot of research. I took some online courses. I read Grant Writing for Dummies. I jumped into a friend with a nonprofit, called Grateful Gatherings, and I said, “the good news is I'm going to write grants for you because you need money. The bad news is, I’ve never done it before. But the good news is I'm also free.”
So I've kept my professional job but I did this on the side, and for two years submerged myself into the world of grant writing, which also led me deeply into the world of what nonprofits look like, particularly Christian nonprofits, and just the love and the desire to help people and to grow and to do it in God's name and to do it with Jesus’ blessing us and to keep learning from the stories of the Bible of how we can apply that every single day in our lives. These were some big changes that all came from learning who Christ is, accepting him into your heart in a meaningful and truthful way, and then saying, now God’s going to lead me by taking all the experiences he's given me so far and bringing it together.
So the second half of that story, though, is - I'm still on my journey. I'm not there yet so grant writing, for example, is not the end-all-be-all. It's a stepping stone, and I don't know exactly what that means or where it's going to take me, but it's taking me somewhere, and I know that. I think God is continuing to talk to me, and I continue to talk to him more than ever, to just say be patient, let You lead me, and doors are opening all over the place. They’ve been exciting, interesting, and hopeful. That’s pretty much where I am right now. I’m at the continuation of my journey.
Special thanks for Maki Brunnschweiler for transcribing Nina’s story.