I find that in the light of what I am about to talk about, it would be important for you to know my personal testimony as well.
To an extent, it’s fairly simple how I came to know Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior: I grew up in a Christian home, with godly parents and five younger siblings who were taught alongside me in the Word of God. I received Christ when I was about 4-6 years old. I was homeschooled up to the 8th grade and was enrolled in a small, private Christian high school when I entered 9th grade. I am grateful for my upbringing in God’s Truth and the valuable things that my parents taught me and involved me in.
Where my spiritual walk really began was when I was 12 or 13 and began to question many things such as whether or not the earth was created in 6 literal days or an extended period of time, and am I really going to heaven. These things along with many others led me to a path of growing closer to God as I grew older. However, when I was 17, I became angry at God for who He created me to be and where He had left me in my life. I was so consumed by the prospect of being so insignificant that God couldn’t use me for anything and I would never be successful like so many people I knew. Everything God had brought me through up to that point in my life was consumed by my anxieties of inadequacy and uselessness in life. But then I attended an intensive Bible camp where I discovered God’s love for me in a unique and personal way, and it turned my perspective around back to Him in a beautiful way. There is more that I could write about this particular part of my life, but at this time I will remain focused on the intent of this article. Ever since I attended the intensive Bible camp I have naturally still struggled with returning to those thoughts of inadequacy and insignificance, but God always somehow reminds me of how He made me victorious from those captive thoughts and what Truths can set me free if I let Him take the reins of my life.
Now, this is what I really love to talk about, because I am sure that God will get me there someday, somehow, and it excites me as I prepare for the day I set foot on Swedish soil.
Ever since I can remember, I’ve been rather fascinated by different cultures, especially regarding my own Swedish heritage. Although I wasn’t too thrilled when my mom dressed me up in a white robe and plopped a wreath decked with candles on my head. She handed me a tray of various breakfast dishes and told me that I was now St. Lucia. As an eight-year-old, I was kind of embarrassed. But looking back on all the years we attended St. Lucia brunches at the local Covenant Church on my birthday, I’d always wondered what it would be like to be chosen as the St. Lucia who got to serve everyone with her accompanying maids. Dad had his Dala horses lined up on his bookshelf, and had encouraged me to read his copy of “The Wonderful Adventures of Nils” but I wasn’t really interested until one summer when I experienced Sweden on an even more personal level.
On a Christian teen girls website I’d joined when I was 14, a girl asked on the global chat, “Is anyone here Swedish?” So I told her that I was. (Because, after all, 25% has to count for something, right?) She and I connected right away. She discovered that I was an American, not a 100% Swede like herself, but all the same, we became fast friends. We exchanged as many emails per day as a human being could conceivably type, and we chatted as often as we could considering the major time difference. We got to know each other really well, and I came to discover the immense moral differences between us. She was a new Believer, and the only one she knew for miles. Having grown up in a secular environment, she participated in immoral practices that she hadn’t known were wrong according to what the Word of God taught us. Her only mentors were priests who certainly didn’t discourage those actions. She was bullied at school. Her family thought she was crazy. My little teenager self didn’t know how to effectively convey encourage or respond to her lifestyle. I felt responsible for when she had finally had enough of this “God thing” and dropped all communication with me. It was too hard for her to live with this knowledge that didn’t back up with the people around her.
Ever since that brief chapter of my life, I have seen God at work, preparing me for one day sharing the Gospel of Christ in Sweden. I have no idea when I will actually get to that point of being there; I have considered options and plans that could land me in Sweden, but those are all up to God, and as His vessel I would like to be able to go as soon as possible.
That is, after I graduate from Association Free Lutheran Bible School in a little over a year. I have learned so much here already, not only on the level of academics through God’s Word that the faculty provides, but also on a personal level through work, social situations, and much more. I am excited to see what God has in store for me as I continue to grow and learn more and more about my identity in Christ and how to effectively communicate the Gospel to others.