It Started with Crayons, By Phil (Brooklyn, NY)

It started with crayons. And craft paper and kids’ scissors –the ones with the green rubber handles. My coworker, Katherine, was preparing to volunteer in Honduras where she’d build a classroom and do art projects with young people. I was new at our firm, and was happy to support the cause. I didn’t know her well, so when Katherine came to thank me, I used the opportunity to learn more about her and this “missions trip.” We talked and I was mildly intrigued. She extended an invitation to join her at church if I was interested. I wasn’t.

This happened on a few of occasions during the three years we worked together. Shortly before she left to take a job abroad, Katherine invited me to visit church again. This time I said yes, but I came with a friend. I found the sermon intriguing, and was surprised how ‘normal’ everyone was – not like the folks telling captive subway car riders to repent.

Katherine left a week later, and didn’t even know I kept attending, until we emailed about it months later. I wasn’t aware of it at the time, but the Gospel was starting to make its way into my soul. The sermons exposed me to the Gospel and I met Christians who were cool, nice, and not the scary, proselytizing types I had imagined.

For me, it was a confluence of the right people, the right time and the right exposure, that led me to a personal faith in Christ.

Over the summer, I heard about Beta Groups and I was curious, but thought if I joined one, I’d be exposed for not knowing anything. Then, I discovered there were groups especially for explorers, skeptics and seekers like me.  My group was as varied as New York with different backgrounds, ages, experiences, and beliefs – atheists, believers with questions, and those who had left the church. Our group was a safe space to wrestle with tough questions, and to explore in a respectful, though sometimes heated, way. I needed proof of the resurrection and it was my group’s openness, permission to express doubts, willingness to listen and process with me, that was invaluable. Most of all, there was no pressure. For me, it was a confluence of the right people, the right time and the right exposure, that led me to a personal faith in Christ.

As I spent time in this community of faith, I began to understand that my self-worth and value was not in the good deeds that I did, but rather it was about being saved by grace, and realizing that Jesus died for me and took the judgment I deserved. For me, there wasn’t an ‘a-ha’ moment, but over time I came to realize my understanding of Christ had changed. Absolved of the burden of trying to earn my self-worth, was liberating, and instead I wanted to serve and live for Christ because of what He had done for me.

I now live to honor God and not myself. I’m more open about my faith, as it is the core of who I am and what I believe.

I’m continually surprised at how God reveals himself to us. And amazed and grateful for what crayons, craft paper and those crazy scissors with green rubber handles can lead to.

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