Written by Jasmine Webber. Media by Taylor Harpster.
Three years ago, I would have never imagined introducing myself as a Worship Arts and Youth Ministry double major at Greenville, but God’s intervention in my life begins pretty far back. I was born in Rushville, Illinois; my mother was a preschool teacher and my father was a factory worker. By kindergarten, I knew I longed for Jesus and though I was young, I recognized that I needed Jesus to forgive me. I remember telling my class Bible stories during recess and in 2nd grade, I got to explain who Jesus is to one of my best friends and she decided she wanted Jesus too.
By middle school, I moved to St. Louis. I started becoming complacent with my faith, but I knew the stories so I could easily answer the questions. The Jesus I so madly loved as a child became a bore as a pre-teen, but God was not finished working in my life.
The summer before going into 8th grade, God gave me a choice. I was at camp and on Thursday night, it felt as if the Holy Spirit whacked me on the head. For the first time, I heard God speak to me. I heard His voice telling me to make a choice. I thought I had my life planned out. I was going to study at Hannibal-LaGrange University to become a teacher, be married by age twenty, and have three kids before I turned twenty-seven. God said I could pursue that life, or He had another option. He asked me to trust Him and pursue full-time ministry, but not in the future — at once. He did not change all of my plans right away but gave me one single focus to pray on, and I decided to surrender my plans and trust Him.
I came home completely in love with Scripture, experiencing one miracle after another, with God always teaching me new things. This was also a lonely road. I realized that chasing after God’s heart would mean sacrifices of popularity, status, and friendships. For any extroverted 14-year-old girl, this was quite the offering. I was lonely in high school, but again, God saw my needs and provided. My sister and I invited six other girls to a women’s retreat at church. Those girls asked to do it again the following month, and so we did, but this time there were fifteen girls. Within the year, the Gospel had been shared with over fifty teen girls in our area and the ministry adopted the name Jeweled. After two years it expanded to guys. By my senior year, the Gospel had been shared to over two-hundred teenagers in our area. God used eight girls and my lonely heart to bring His light to our community. Throughout this time, God led me to love on people in Ukraine. I spent some time there learning about the culture and witnessing how God is moving on the other side of the world.
Though God was using my life to encourage and grow His church, I am a sinner. My sophomore year of high school, I was diagnosed with anxiety induced depression. My family had never encountered mental illness before, so we all had to walk through it. I was hurting, so I lived in bitterness and pride, unable to see the darkness consuming me. It was in these dark nights that God showed me how to love and forgive the Church and reminded me of His love for me. It sounds nice on paper, but while I sobbed, angry with the Church and feeling betrayed, Christ made known to me His constant pursuit of humanity.
Eventually, God led me to Greenville, but being a ministry major can be exhausting. I’m not perfect; I never will be. Somedays are really difficult. I wake up feeling anxious and unequipped for the steps ahead, but I’m in a community that allows me to share my fears and be filled with Scriptural truths as to who I am. God never left my side, even in my darkest moments. Now, I’m thriving as a student, leader, friend, and follower of Christ.