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Redeem & Renew - Hannah's Story

by Hannah Thom

The time before I gave my life to Jesus feels like a shadow—just a dark and unclear reflection of something eclipsing the light. Growing up in the church left me with the impression that I was a Christian, but it was vacant of a genuine relationship with the Father. Sin left me with zero conviction, and I started down the wrong path in high school. When I was 18, I surrendered my life to Jesus and started understanding the depth of my sins and seeing God’s immeasurable grace.

My youth group went on a one-week mission trip where I experienced God in a way I can’t ever doubt. A worship leader on the trip named Britnee sought me out all week and asked good questions that opened my heart to hear the Gospel, explaining it clearly and directly to me. On the last night of the trip, I walked right up to the stage during the song “Marvelous Light.” Britnee stopped singing during the middle of the song and walked me outside, where we had a conversation that led me to truly accept Christ. We went back inside, and she had me plainly announce it from the stage. The room was alight for my decision, and nothing was ever the same for me again.

"For you have delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling; I will walk before the LORD in the land of the living." Psalm 116:8-9

Initially, the fall after that trip, I struggled deeply even though I’d just accepted salvation. I had no true Christian community or accountability in my life, and my family went through a lot. So, for three years, I attended a college where I was caught up in a selfish and sinful lifestyle but also genuinely pained, knowing I was blatantly ignoring Jesus and didn’t know how to stop. Thankfully, when I turned 21, a very cool roommate (who wasn’t even Christian) told me I should drop out and move across the country to restart, so I did. I later found myself at CIU (Columbia International University), where I discovered what true community is and found a lot of restoration in Christ. Nothing is wasted, and redemption is abundantly and endlessly available for us—grace upon grace.

Being in community has revealed to me God’s intentions for the Church—we’re made to be one part of a whole. Our purpose is to glorify him as one unified body of Christ, in harmony together. We can’t all have the same story, gifts, or skills, or it wouldn’t work. Paul explains clearly in 1 Corinthians 12 that we are many members of one spirit, just as the body has different parts and roles. Through using our gifts, we see and understand what it means to humble ourselves as Jesus did—it changes everything about our relationships. In this season of life, God is teaching me to be content in eternal life with him when life on earth seems unreliable and unstable. In our desperate need for God, we MUST be okay with not understanding everything. Right now, God is teaching me to have faith in what I can’t understand. The wealth of eternal life with the Father has to be my satisfaction and nothing else. It hasn’t been an easy road at all, but slowly I’ve learned to see there’s nothing God can’t redeem and renew.

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