My name is Nakia, and my journey to Christ began with a bright green t-shirt.
It was 2002, the beginning of my second year at Iowa State University in Ames, IA, and one of my classmates and co-workers, Ashley Gannon, was wearing this t-shirt that said, “I agree with Dave.” As we were walking across campus together, someone stopped her and asked her what the shirt meant. She said, “Dave believes that Jesus Christ died for our sins, and I agree with him.”
I was completely surprised by the statement, because it was so bold, and so powerful, yet sincere at the same time. I remember feeling a knot in my stomach at the mention of Jesus, and suddenly feeling very nervous. I wanted to get away from her and ask her a million questions all at the same time.
At that point in my life, I was spiritually lost. I belonged to the University’s atheist/agnostic society, and I’d even attended some other pagan and Wiccan meetings. I didn’t know what I believed in, but I knew that I didn’t believe in God. I didn’t know Ashley very well then, but I was incredibly curious about someone who would just SAY something like that to a complete stranger. The Christians I knew didn’t talk like that.
Ashley and I had a spiritual conversation over lunch, and even though I was pretty adamant about not believing in God, she invited me to attend worship at Cornerstone Church with her that Sunday, and to Salt Company the following Thursday. I didn’t want to admit it at the time, but I was excited to see what this whole Jesus thing was all about. I figured that, if I went to Church and give it an honest shot, then I wouldn’t have to feel guilty for being a non-believer.
The service that Sunday brought me to tears, as did the message at Salt a few days later. I felt something stirring in me almost immediately, but it took six months for me to take the leap and accept Jesus into my heart. I felt the Holy Spirit calling to me during a Salt Company message on Matthew 25, and on the way home that night, I told Ashley that I wanted to be one of Jesus’ sheep! We said the prayer together in my dorm room that evening, and I got baptized just a few weeks later, on Easter Sunday, 2003.
The people at Cornerstone were so amazing and supportive. They welcomed my questions and took time to meet with me one-on-one to discuss them in-depth. Ashley took me under her wing – she always encouraged me and never gave up on me – she was like an angel!
I attended worship service every Sunday, and Salt Company every Thursday. I got involved in weekly Bible Studies in the dorms, attended a retreat, and I even managed to get up early enough for Monday Morning Prayer a few times. God was certainly working in my life, and I felt like Cornerstone was my home away from home.
The biggest struggle I faced after I returned to Sioux City was finding a new church. Cornerstone was a tough act to follow, and my standards were set pretty high. My church-search took me to a lot of interesting places. I didn’t realize how difficult it would be to find a church that taught from God’s Word, and I became discouraged. Eventually, my friend Noah invited me to Heartland, and I immediately felt like I belonged there. Of course, later on, I found out that Heartland and Cornerstone are sister churches, which blew my mind! No wonder I felt so at home right away! I love my new church family here at Heartland, and I am really looking forward to growing in Christ with them!