Reflecting on Foundations

You have been taught the Holy Scriptures from childhood, and they have given you the wisdom to receive the salvation that comes by trusting in Christ Jesus. — II Timothy 3:15, Holy Bible, New Living Translation

By Dr. Steve Heitkamp
The Flame Volunteer Writer

I was raised in the church. In fact, many of my earliest memories came from being inside the church building. The building where I worshiped brought me comfort and peace; a sanctuary – a holy space. It was set apart for Him, and taught me the importance of things and people being set apart for Godly purposes. The community of faith shaped me, and many of these faithful Christians built the foundation for my future salvation.

Looking back, I realize that being raised in the church does not always mean being raised in a Christian family. In fact, the outward appearances may imply something much different than reality. The picture is sometimes unclear until years later.  As a child, I experienced many difficult things, which I will not go into here, but these events caused me to turn inward, and shy away from people and the world around me. My experiences as a child caused me to look at things differently than others. I look for what is not evident.  Those experiences, although painful, formed in me a heart of compassion to be with people during their own difficult circumstances. The following verses have forged and shaped me towards this mandate.

“He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others.   When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.  For the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with his comfort through Christ.  Even though we are weighted down with troubles, it is for your comfort and salvation.”    II Corinthians 1: 4-6, Holy Bible, New Living Translation

I came to a personal faith in Christ at family church camp, and the faith of the centuries became personal at the age of 12. I was one who heard our Savior call and knelt at a bench during a closing song, and Jesus became My Savior. In the years to come, He not only became my Savior, but the Lord of my life. It takes a moment to accept him as Savior, but years to grow in discipleship, as He becomes Lord. Even now, I am still learning daily.

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God not as a result of works, that no one should boast.” — Ephesians 2:8-9, New American Standard Bible

Three things shaped my growing and emerging faith.

Work
At a young age, I started mowing yards for church widows and former school teachers. After mowing, I listened, and people found interest in our conversations. Quickly, I began to understand that God was growing me to do something more. This experience of life, through relationships outside my home, expanded my world. Numerous years of education toward counseling and ministry, along with mentoring by others, would follow me to walk alongside others during their own significant times.

Mindy
We started dating in high school.  We were teenagers when our relationship began, and we grew up together.  With Mindy, I found ways to be articulate and explain my faith to help her journey to come to faith in Christ – which has shaped who I have become.   I would not have been able to express myself as much, had I not had this formation of assisting in her faith journey.   Mindy was the first person to discern the call of God to ministry before I did, and God has used her to reveal His will to me and us over the years.

Asbury College
This Christian institution became a Christian parent to me at just the right time, as I was emerging into adulthood and my faith in Christ. Here, I witnessed the depth and wisdom of many devoted Christians. During this time, I listened and grew under some of the greatest teachers and preachers I have ever known. I cannot say how grateful I am for the experience of a Christian community that propelled me to yearn to be like Christ.

I came to know Christ when I was young, but my greatest growth happened emerging into adulthood from the influence of mature Christians.  Look around and consider the influence you may have on a young adult maturing into His likeness.

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