12 Apr From Bible Stories to Saving Faith
From Bible Stories to Saving Faith
by Caycee Finley
Like many who grow up in the South, Rachel Jones’s childhood was full of Bible stories, church services, and family values. One thing it wasn’t full of—the gospel of Jesus Christ.
In a small town 45 minutes north of Charlotte, North Carolina, Rachel regularly attended church with her family. It was a rhythmic part of her week similar to other after-school activities. Around age nine, Rachel followed her friends in the traditional, but incomplete, ritual of “accepting Jesus into her heart.”
Even at age nine, Rachel knew her prayer was missing something.
“I prayed the sinner’s prayer, but without a knowledge of my sin, I had no idea what I needed saving from,” Rachel said.
Several years later, after a painful church split, Rachel found herself bitter towards the church and other Christians. Unable to make sense of her divided church and Christianity, Rachel entered her teen years denying God’s existence.
“As I entered middle school, where pressures to fit in were strong and temptations to sin became greater, I ran from God. Because of wrong choices I was making, I knew God couldn’t accept me. I wanted to forget Him altogether,” Rachel said.
By the end of middle school, Rachel struggled with her identity and battled depression. She was searching for something to fill the empty void in her life. A long-term relationship in high school provided Rachel a short-term savior.
“My freshman year of high school I began a relationship that, at the time, gave me an identity. I thought he loved me. His attention coupled with academic success, became all that mattered,” Rachel shared.
After high school, Rachel continued the relationship with her boyfriend although he attended a different university.
Her first year at Clemson University, however, was marked by discontentment as she explored the worldly lifestyle available to her as a college student. As her childhood bitterness and apathy toward God lingered, she became tired and restless.
“I was seeing that the things of the world may be fun in the moment, but they were fleeting. My boyfriend was great, but I wanted something more,” Rachel said.
Towards the end of her freshman year, a chance encounter with Margaret Huggins, a Crosspoint member, led her down a path which changed her life for eternity.
“Margaret talked about the Lord like I’d never heard before. When we first met we weren’t even at church yet she was telling me about Jesus Christ. She was so open and honest about her faith. As we built a friendship, I asked her tough questions about the apostle Paul, Jesus’ life on earth, and predestination.”
Margaret invited Rachel to Crosspoint Church on Sundays and to her small group. Listening to the small group discussions, Rachel realized a drastic difference in her knowledge of childhood Bible stories and the group members clear knowledge of the love of God through a personal relationship. Although Rachel saw the distinction, she didn’t understand it.
“I felt totally out of place and different than the others in the group. But I also felt welcome and not judged. God was clearly working on my heart,” Rachel recalls.
God was working on Rachel.
During the fall of 2016, as her sophomore year began, Rachel found herself sitting in the Crosspoint Church auditorium listening to Pastor Ken preach on the wrath of God from Romans Chapter 1.
“The entire sermon, all I’m thinking is I deserve to go to hell and God hates me. But in the last five minutes of the sermon, Pastor Ken shared about God’s mercy on his people throughout the Old Testament-from Abraham to Noah and the Israelites—how God always keeps His side of the covenant even when His people rebel and deny Him,” Rachel said.
As Pastor Ken explained God’s mercy to sinners through Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection, Rachel’s heart and mind saw the glory and beauty of the gospel
“After being broken over sin the entire sermon, I was overwhelmed with God’s grace. I wanted to throw myself at Jesus’ feet, thankful for his sacrifice for me—a sinful me.”
Since that Sunday over a year and a half ago, Rachel has grown in her new faith through sermons, EQUIP discipleship classes and living on mission both in Clemson and to other nations.
Believing the Great Commission and Crosspoint’s core value sending advances the gospel, Rachel is joined others from Crosspoint on a trip to Puerto Rico during her spring break this year. The trip provided opportunities to share the gospel with the lost, just as Margaret was faithful to share with her.
Rachel’s story is a sobering reminder many in our community have familiarity with the gospel yet live their days void of hope. May we as Christians live daily on mission ready to boldly share the truth that overwhelms us all with God’s grace.