At our campus ministry known as LifeLine, we make it our mission to help young adults by cultivating a space where they can experience the presence of God, ask questions, voice their doubts, and be in a community of people who are on the same journey to find, follow and serve Jesus. For those who walked away from God and are not sure what it is that they believe, we are a place for “prodigal” sons and daughters to come home. This is the case for Samantha*, one of our students, and her journey back to Jesus.
Samantha grew up in a Christian home with two hard working parents. She went to church on Sundays. All that changed, however, in her pre-teen years when her parents got divorced. As she lost contact with her dad, it had a deeply negative impact on her faith. Samantha then began to notice things she saw going on in her home and at church and was cynical about religion because they didn’t “practice what they preached”. Eventually, she took a full step back from God and stopped praying and attending church. During this time, her mental health declined, and she became suicidal, deciding one night at her lowest point that it was time to end her life.
Before this, she wanted to make one last ditch cry out to God, begging Him that if He was real, He must make Himself known to her. That night in her room, Samantha recalls feeling a peace come over her that she never felt before. She said it was like God met her in her room. From that day forward, Samantha knew she wanted to get back into a relationship with God.Now, fast forward a few years. Samantha still struggled connecting with God. After enrolling at Toronto Metropolitan University this past fall, with encouragement from others she decided that she should join a Christian group on campus. She eventually came to LifeLine. On her very first night, she heard our pastor’s story and struggle with mental health. After that service, Samantha reintroduced herself and told me that “God wanted me to hear this word tonight… I wasn’t going to come, but my mom encouraged me today.” Ever since then we’ve been walking with her and sharing how to be a follower of Jesus while still struggling with mental health.
After regular discipleship meetings and coffee-chats this year, Samantha decided it was time to publicly rededicate her life to God. She was just a child when she was first baptized but mentioned how she felt pressured to make that decision and how as a young woman she wanted to take that step of faith for herself. So, she did! This past spring, we had the privilege of baptizing Samantha as she publicly confessed her faith in Jesus.
Samantha’s encounter with God was a quiet voice, a peace passing all understanding that changed the trajectory of her life. She experienced the life-transforming work of Jesus. We are all so incredibly proud of Samantha, as she listened to the voice of God and allowed Him to work in her and begin to heal her emotional wounds. Be encouraged. God is still at work on our Canadian college and university campuses!
Samantha’s JOURNEY TO JESUS can be your story too! Perhaps you struggle in the area of your mental health. Or maybe you are going through life aimlessly, wondering what your purpose for living really is. We encourage you to find others who follow Jesus – get close to them, learn from them, let them encourage and inspire you, and make a daily effort to be in God’s Word. Make the decision to follow Him and you will have a transforming experience!
*names are changed for privacy purposes.