I haven't posted a "My Thoughts" columun in quite a while. I've been pretty busy getting ready for my move to Dayton, TN to attend Bryan College. Yes, I have decided to go there over the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa. There are many reasons. One being that at Bama I would have been a face in the crowd and no one would have known who I was, say for a few. At Bryan, however, it is more of a family atmosphere where making friends will come easily. I would surmise that I'll know some people fairly quickly by the time classes even start.
My last "My Thoughts" column dealt with the youth of my church attending the Student Life Conference in Talladega, AL. All went well and there were a couple of rededications and one young man came to know Jesus Christ as his personal Lord and Savior. That alone made the trip worthwhile. It was neat to hear him speak the next Sunday night as the youth led the worship for the evening service with some of the songs they had learned at camp. They were very upbeat (I was used to it because I had chaperoned the trip the year before) and it was awesome!
So, that's the update on that front. I'm very excited to be leaving for college. It's been a long time coming. There are several people who don't understand why I'll be majoring in Bible. Yes, I am a sportswriter. But in sportswriting, you can only dig deep so far. The subject is full of stats and funny quotes and great plays, but it's just not me. The Bible is so deep that is continues to be the same great source for knowledge about God as it was thousands of years ago. And it should be since it came from the mind of God!
I'll miss Sebring very much. It's been my home for 14 years. I graduated from here and I've had the great opportunity to lead a person to Christ here. In fact, I'm sitting, oh, about 80 feet from where the event took place. :) I'll miss my church family while I'm gone as well. In fact, that ties in with why I'm going to Bryan.
I left First United Methodist Church in June of 1996 and decided to take a step into the unknown. My friend Kjell told me about a church he and his family had been attending so I decided to give it a try. I might as well, I thought, since I was just feeling more and more down for not being able to do anything with youth group anymore. A youth group that I still say was derailed. (There's more to that to come, but may be not on here.) Anyway, I walked into Bible Fellowship Church not knowing a soul, except for Kjell, and I didn't even see him. I entered through the shell of what is now the information/coffee foyer that connects the old sanctuary to the new one and was greeted by several people. I figured it'd be friendly and I was right.
What's interesting is that the pastor wasn't even there that Sunday. Instead, one of the elders, John Yates, a former pastor, gave the message. It was pretty good with an excellent story about Falstaff Beer. I don't even know if I spelled that correctly, but... Like the person I was, I didn't raise my hand whenever they asked if there were any visitors. I enjoyed myself there but there was still a time between December and April when I did not go. That was the worst thing that I could've done at that time now that I look back on it.
It took me two years before I decided to go to a Sunday school class. I had gotten to know Eugene, the pastor, a little bit and I called him at home to inquire about one. He suggested the Home Builders class with the Associate Pastor, Reinhold. I went, once again, not knowing a soul, although Eugene popped in every once in a while. I sat in the back and it took me a few weeks before I said anything whenever prayer requests were asked for. One in particular was for a job because I was desperate. I had thought I'd be working at a place full time but that fell through and I'd already left my other one. I asked for one dealing with computers, if possible. There was a gentlemen who prayed for my request and it wasn't but a few weeks later I applied for a job at the News-Sun and I got it. Part of the the job dealt with using computers for Adobe Photoshop and QuarkExpress. See how the Lord works? That eventually led into sportswriting as the department was about 50 feet away. :)
It was another year after joining a Sunday school class that I attended a Wednesday night Bible study. This was also with Pastor Reinhold at his home. I've had a lot of good times there studying the Word, fellowshipping and just sharing a few laughs and many prayers. It was about a year later that I decided to help out with the youth group. I don't exactly know why, but it seems I was trying to recapture what I felt I had lost 6 years prior. I got to know the kids better on the trip to Student Life in the summer of 2000 and ever since I've been there helping out when I can. So it took four years to fully integrate myself within Bible Fellowship. I vow never to let that happen again. Along the way there were also the lunches with the church staff, Bible studies with college and career age singles and the losing of much mass that have all wound into one big ball of experienes. Experiences that I would not trade for anything.
Oh yeah, what's this got to do with choosing Bryan over Alabama? Well, I thought I'd be attending Bama when I applied back in February. I was accepted (that wasn't hard) and I visited there in March that was part of a trip to see my friend Jeff on the Florida Panhandle. I have three former co-workers from the News-Sun, including the Publisher, that now work at the Tuscaloosa News, so there wouldn't have been much problem getting a job there. The only thing was I was thinking about doing a split major of communications and religious studies. I thought it was the place for me, but at the same time I had this nagging thought of, "Do I really want sports writing to be my career?" I had lunch with my pastor after church one Sunday and we were talking about different things. He asked me why I was going to the University of Alabama and I really couldn't give him a straight answer. It seems that even I didn't know why I was going!
He talked about how he went to Bryan and that it was the perfect place for me. Since I was so interested in the Bible and Theology and discussing the subject with him was not a problem, he thought the college and I would be a natural fit. I knew of Bryan College even before that day because I had seen the web site once when I was surfing around the Net and Eugene had shown a video that it had sent the alumni about the fire that took place there and what was being done. (It turns out this fire was one of the best things that ever happened to Byran.) I decided to apply. I had to fill out the application with an application fee, have three people fill out reference cards, and write why I wanted to come. Another big reason I ruled out Bama is because I requested, via e-mail, a catalog that detailed the list of classes. About a week later, I get something in the mail that doesn't look or feel as thick as a catalog should feel. It wasn't a catalog at all but another application packet with a letter that started out saying, "Thank you for choosing THE UNIVERSITY OF ALAMBAMA! Ugh. You see this long piece of hollow plastic in my hand? It's the last straw!
Plus, you've got to figure that practically every book on my shelf has to do with the Bible, theology, Christian Apologetics, etc. Why shouldn't I go to Bryan and major in Bible. I don't care if people think I'm nuts. I know I'm not. I know God is with me and is taking care of me. I didn't think I'd be able to attend in the Fall, but I was accepted for the Fall term and had to really move it to prepare for the move. That including finding a place off campus. I found a place with reasonable rent that I got on a list for since there were only a few units available. When I visited last month, I found out from financial aid that grants and loans would cover all of the year's tuition. There is also a work study that I accepted that I can use for other expenses, so the money was there even when I didn't think it possible.
I was also informed by the apartments that they may not know if there will be a unit available until August 1. Praise God I got a call two days after I got back to Florida and I was being offered a unit. Secured that in a hurry along with all the other necessary items. Now I just need to pray for furniture because the only things coming with me are what I can fit into my car. I don't really know what I want to do with my major, but I know the Lord will open doors for me. I've seen Him do it too many times in other people's lives and mine as well. Good things happen for those who love God. I try to love Him more and more, but also, I try to let Him love me more and more. I already know He does, but it's a matter of letting Him.
Thus ends the testimony of the Bryan College choice.