“Be sure to invite your friends!”
These are words that we often hear when it comes to church-related activities and services.
We hear those words so often that they probably go unnoticed. But for one student, it turned a life of turmoil into a life surrendered to God.
A young college student that we will call Sarah, was born to a single mom who struggled to make ends meet. When Sarah turned 10, her mom met a man whom she fell in love with and married. Over the next several years, Sarah’s stepfather became verbally abusive toward her, and it slowly transitioned to physical abuse.
As the situation grew increasingly worse, Sarah ran away from home in hopes of finding an escape. That decision landed her in a juvenile facility for a brief time, and Sarah’s life continued on a downward spiral. Sarah’s life was about to encounter some major changes when her stepfather gave her mom an ultimatum that led Sarah to move in with her birth father, whom she hardly knew.
Sarah was now living in a new town, with a new family, and with no friends.
As she began to make friends, one of them gave her a simple invitation to go with her to her youth group.
Sarah agreed and quickly became active in the youth group. As she became more involved, she was able to attend summer camp and began to take steps toward following Jesus.
After Sarah graduated from high school, her church asked her to go back to camp, this time as a counselor. It was during that time that she began to truly understand what it meant to have a relationship with Christ. She had struggled with why God had allowed her to go through so much trauma in her life, but she also began to see how God had led her to her new town and to new friends who had invited her to church.
Sarah began college, and another friend invited her to the Baptist Collegiate Ministry. She came a few times her freshman year but never got involved.
That summer, this same friend encouraged her to attend Collegiate Week, where she solidified her relationship with God. Sarah is now very active in the BCM and is growing steadily in that relationship.
She recently shared how she can clearly see that God was orchestrating different events that allowed her to be where she is now.
Part of that orchestration was a friend who simply invited her to church. That invitation made a huge difference in Sarah’s life.
Whose life might be changed by you extending a simple invitation?
EDITOR’S NOTE — This story was written by Mike Sandusky and originally published by Arkansas Baptist News.