Jessica is a CofC sophomore majoring in Hospitality, Travel, and Tourism. She found the Journey shortly after going from being an atheist to a theist in high school. She now believed in God, but Jesus as God–much less the Trinity–seemed bizarre to her. Christianity just didn’t make much sense. Yet, this October at the beach retreat, after encountering Jesus in a way that was more than just intellectual, Jessica gave her life to Christ. This is her story.

unnamed (1)When I was in in high school, I moved to South Carolina. By this time in my life, I considered myself an atheist, but some new friends invited me to their church. I didn’t believe in God, but I liked learning what I thought were good “life lessons.” Yet one day I looked over to a group of people singing in worship across the church, and suddenly, in a very subtle way, God appeared to me. It seemed like His presence was hovering above this group of people. And I was able to recognize what Christians understood to be God. Though this was not the day I started proclaiming God, it was the day I had an interest in pursuing him as possibly real. I didn’t know right then what to expect as I began my journey with Him, but to ignore His call, whether I had deemed it authentic or not, was not possible.

Flash forward three years later to my freshman year at the College of Charleston. Not knowing anyone, I started visiting worship nights at the Journey. They talked a lot about Jesus being God. Jesus, however, was another thing entirely. In my mind, Jesus was not at all the same entity as the God I had recognized three years ago. I could not understand Jesus’ niche within the Trinity no matter how much I engaged Colin on the subject. Without an answer that rang true to me, I could not link him with the Father and Holy Spirit who I related to. It was not enough for me to be spoon-fed by a book or by others in my community. Jesus had to present himself directly to me, like when I experienced God, and he had to be identical to the God I knew.

It wasn’t a lack of belief in miracles that kept me from believing. Nor was uncertainty in whether God could perform such an act as coming to earth in human form. Rather, it was a question of did He or didn’t He. It may sound strange, but I did not want to accept Jesus as God for fear of committing idolatry—believing in a false god.

By this summer I finally felt I understood Jesus well enough in way that helped me understand His role a little more within the Trinity and how it could work. It was an exciting moment, but it fizzled out quickly. There was still no relationship. A concept, a learned fact, or different interpretation was not the same and was no substitute for His real presence. Though I was still not convinced, God did not discourage me from pursuing an understanding of Jesus’, His character, and His place in God’s story. His character warmed me, but the fear of committing idolatry still held me back.

I had been on the verge of something. I had been left raw and open to Him. This October, I attended the Journey beach retreat where I was challenged to take something said during the sermon and commit myself to believing in it. But it wasn’t just Colin saying it, I felt that God had placed it on me to make a decision. In our discussion after there was one student, a Citadel cadet, who had described for me his love for Jesus. I could tell it was a love for someone he had a deep relationship with, and not just the appreciation for a historical figure, or fictional character. Then it hit me. Jesus is really alive.

During worship, I felt Jesus show himself to me just as I felt that God did years ago. I began to cry as I heard Him ask me, “Here I am! Will you follow me and be mine forever?” and I responded “Yes.”