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Josh Christiansen - Pastor/Teacher

I grew up in a home where Jesus was real, so I never really doubted the existence of God. God was interwoven into our family stories and my parents were living by faith. My dad was the pastor of OCC. But, it was my own struggles that caused me to begin relying on God. I was held back in fourth grade and in tenth some of my closest friends quit school, leaving me feeling alone in the world. I started to read the Bible and journal my thoughts and prayers. My personal relationship with the Lord beginning to take root.

 

I went to college and shared the experience of living in community with my fraternity brothers and some other friend groups. I still maintained my relationship with Jesus, but it was mainly private and I was not attending church. This continued into my young professional life. I was dating a Christian and we attended her hometown church, but I did not get involved.  I was able earn a paycheck, but I was lacking passion and purpose.  

 

Then in the backseat of a car with a bunch of guys going to a football game, I looked up and saw a divided sky. For me, it was God laying before me a choice: light or darkness. I privately choose the light and asked for help because I was aware that I could not do this on my own. The girlfriend I mentioned became my wife and together we began to take the leap of faith. We started attending OCC, got baptized and got involved in the youth ministry. I experience the purpose I was missing. Later God called me (us) to Seminary and at my graduation my wife wept as we played (I was playing percussion in the band) “Here I Am Lord.” We were responding to God’s call upon our lives and we entered the Lord’s service.

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Nancy Christiansen - OCC Co-founder

My loving family of 10 went to church with my Dad’s urging. I observed him read the Bible at night and he made attempts to lead us in what he called “morning devotions” when he played hymns (“Jesus wants me for a sunbeam to shine for him each day”). It wasn’t til a friend invited me to his Gospel Tabernacle street front church that I heard stories of Jesus that made Him real to me. 
 

It wasn’t til I was at the University of Wisconsin that I met a student who asked me out on a date* (I actually threw a chiclet at him to get his attention). On that date he told me he was reading the Bible to debate a fellow student. Later on he responded to a spiritual challenge by some Campus Crusade (Now Cru) staff about having a personal relationship with Jesus. Then I observed how he changed with a compelling new purpose in his life.
 

Over weeks of my wrestling with God about my being a sinner who needed a Savior, an early morning light in my dorm room gently nudged my asking Jesus to guide my life. He became My Lord that I wanted to serve throughout my life.

(*My date is my husband of 56 years, we served the Lord together.)

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Kris French

Some time in my teens I decided that, although God exists, He is not involved in human affairs. I could tell you circumstances that led me to this conclusion but they are only excuses for my willful choices. As a result of my wayward efforts to find companionship and happiness, by my twenties I was in deep despair and hopelessness. (Ephesians 2:12)

 

About this time, someone I knew was badly hurt in an accident. When I tried to pray for him, I was overwhelmed with shame and unable to speak. I took my father’s prayer book from the shelf and sobbed as I read the prayer of confession out loud to God, from my heart, tears streaming down my face. Then, emotionally exhausted, I went to bed. When I woke the next morning, it was as if I had been lifted from a bleak, dark space into bright light. It was joy! Within weeks I overheard a young man explaining how God forgives us because of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus and I knew it was absolutely true. (1 John 1:9, Psalm 40:2)

 

My destructive habits of speech and behavior quickly fell away and I had a strong desire to read the Bible. It wasn’t long before I read The Living Bible from cover to cover. Five decades later it is still my delight to find wisdom and direction in the Bible. I hope with God’s help to overcome unwanted thoughts and self-will. I have lingering shame and regret over those early dark years but I also have complete assurance of God’s forgiveness and care for me. (Romans 6:21, Hebrews 6:19-20, 10:22-23)

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Linda Johnson

"I'm good!"

Several years ago a classmate from high school reached out to me on Facebook. One of his first questions to me was, "How are you doing spiritually?" I was a little shocked by the question as no one had ever asked me that before and my knee-jerk response was, "I'm good!"  Actually, I didn't know what "doing well spiritually" or "I'm good" actually meant. I just said it.

 

Months later he was in town and had invited a group of classmates to dinner to reconnect and reminisce. After some small talk he said, "I want you all to know the important role you played in my life during high school."  He then went around the table explaining to each of us the role we played in keeping him from committing suicide. He also mentioned that he had read through the Bible book of John with one of our classmates who was at the dinner.

 

As we were all leaving and saying our good-byes I asked him, "What book did you read with Cindy?" He told me and to this day I cannot explain why I responded the way I did, "Would you do that with me?" He said he'd be honored to do so.  A week later after texting back and forth I prayed and asked Jesus to come into my life.  Shortly after that he met with my husband me on a video call and then for the next two years discipled us in the fundamentals of the Christian life.

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