Hello, my name is Jesse, and I'd like to share my journey with you. When I was in college, there were two stories in my life, the outside story, what people notice, and the inside story, the one that people never know.
The outside story of my life in college looked successful with good grades, soccer games, personal awards, parties, and friends. I was checking all the boxes of what I thought would make me happy.
And yet, on the inside, something was missing.
Growing up, I personally didn't believe in God. However, everything began to change in college when I took a class: Introduction to World Religions. It was the first time I read the Bible. Honestly, I was not looking for God. But this search for love, truth, and meaning encompassed both my mind and my heart.
I did a deep dive to find out, "Is the Bible reliable?" The Bible is God's Word and tells the story of God creating the world and His relationship with people. It shares how God sent His Son Jesus to earth to be born as a man, to live a perfect life, and to die on a cross to pay the price for the wrong things we've done. The Bible records Jesus rising from the dead after three days, giving hope for eternal life with God if we trust in Him.
I wanted to know the evidence of Jesus' resurrection because all Christianity is centered around it. There's nothing to believe in if the resurrection didn't happen. Reading about the hundreds of eyewitnesses and the firsthand accounts of all the changed lives and the empty tomb led to more questions and caused me to search deeper.
My mind and heart were processing all I learned about Jesus. A relationship with God is not just rules, rituals, or religion, but a relationship based on grace. Grace means an undeserved gift that we can't earn - a relationship with God. I knew I sinned against God and needed forgiveness, but how could I be pardoned?
I was pardoned through Jesus dying on the cross for my sins, literally becoming sin and taking my place, so that I could have forgiveness and His righteousness, peace, acceptance, and love. I would be in His family forever and have eternal life. What an incredible gift.
When Jesus says He is the resurrection, and then He backs it up by overcoming death, that's the one that I want to follow. When I put my trust in Jesus, there was this pure joy, like a well, that just sprung up. It was the most important decision of my life.
Jesus Transformed My Life.
So my identity shifted from performance-based to a secure place where I know God loves me. In that security, I played professional soccer in Africa until my career ended tragically. I took prescribed medication to prevent malaria, which built up toxic levels in my system. I fought for my life for a year and recovered for ten years. But there was a transformation that happened during that time. I started to let God into the most painful places in my life.
I poured out my heart to God in prayer. God redirected me from soccer into a position where I now serve as a pastor in Seattle. It's a great fit. I love people and spreading the hope that Jesus gives me. The emptiness in college that I knew before Jesus and my experience in Africa created a passion and purpose in me to spread hope worldwide.
And that's why I'm grateful that you heard my story today. I want to let you know that God loves you authentically, and you don't have to earn His love. It's not performance-based. It's by grace, and it's a gift to you. You make your own decision because it's your relationship with God. If God could reach me (because I was pretty stubborn, and I didn't think He existed), I know that for anyone open to His love, He'll meet you there.
“Lord Jesus, I believe you are the Son of God. Thank you for dying on the cross for my sins. Please forgive my sins and give me the gift of eternal life. I ask you into my life and heart to be my Lord and Savior. I want to follow you.”