Nathaniel was baptized in fall 2022 at our annual kick-off. If you have interest in getting baptized at Hope Community Church, you can learn more by visiting hopecc.com/baptism.
My upbringing was centered around the importance of God and Jesus. My parents encouraged my belief in God by having me baptized as a baby, taking my brother and I to church every Sunday, having me confirmed, taught me how to pray. However, things got really tough for me when I was a teenager. When I was in the middle of my sophomore year of high school, my dad was sent to prison and our family’s life was uprooted from California to Wisconsin. Around the age of sixteen, I was thrown into a household leader role. As a result, I started to stray away from my relationship with God. When I started college, I continued to believe in God but stopped praying and attending church. I started partying and took time off from life, aside from work and school, to do whatever I wanted because I thought I earned and needed a vacation from being, in a sense, the leader of the household. After many years of going out, drinking, experiencing many failed relationships, and struggling with depression, I gradually started to pray once again because I felt as though my life was empty. Eventually praying became an every day occurrence and I developed a desire to go to church, but I did nothing because I had no one to go with. The majority of my friends had no connection to God, and I was the only member of my family to live in Minnesota. However, many years later, God answered my prayers when he placed my now wife, Lindsay, in my life. As our relationship grew, I started to attend church services with Lindsay and joined her in weekly small group meetings. I began engaging more with God’s word, and when Covid started, I started reading the Bible every day because I no longer had to spend 45 minutes every morning driving to work. I told myself I would read the Bible all the way through for the first time in 2020. Since then, I have read the Bible all the way through every year. As a result, I’m more engaged in the weekly church sermons and small groups discussions, and I want to further my relationship with God, which is why I decided to be baptized as an adult.
God has changed my perspective and the way I pray from an asking attitude to one of gratitude and thanksgiving for all that God has blessed me with, even in the midst of Lindsay’s and my dad’s deaths, as well as two miscarriages. I am grateful and feel blessed to be married to such a kind, funny, God-fearing, and beautiful woman. God also blessed us with a house, which I thought would never be possible since I had no savings and had been heavily in debt for the majority of my life. In addition to making physical and material changes in my life, God softened my heart toward my dad. I was able to forgive my dad emotionally and tell him in person that I had forgiven him just 6 months before he died unexpectedly. I also maintain a closer relationship with my mom. She has helped me on my journey by giving me books on faith and encouraged me even when I didn’t want to hear it. In addition, God has given me a close-knit group of friends that I consider to be my family.
Many passages in the Bible have been meaningful to me in my faith journey. However, one verse that stands out to me is Romans 5:3-5:
“Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”