This past summer I was obsessed with church. I went to Rockslide [summer camp for middle schoolers], I did the service camp, I did every camp I could sign up for here, and I volunteered in the nursery. I don’t like sleep-away camps, so I wasn’t excited to go to Rockslide. But it was the best experience of my entire life. I’ve never experienced anything better. For five days straight we played games and learned about God. It was so focused on your personal relationship with God. They weren’t telling us, “ This is how you have to be,” but “ This is who Jesus is, and it’s your choice to have a relationship with Him.” Every morning we’d have time alone with God, and then at night we would have a big group lesson and then small groups.
When I was in fourth grade, I got the small group leader I still have today: Jessi Wilkening. She’s impacted my faith so much! At camp our small group had such in-depth questions—it was so exciting for me to explore and hear other people share. We asked a lot about why bad things happen. Why does God allow things that are painful, that make people feel pain? What does God want for us? How do we know He is always there? How do we trust Him?
A lot of these questions for me connect back to my older brother, Grant. When I was five years old and Grant was seven, he passed away from a very rare brain cancer. And through all my questions about that, I’ve come to realize that there’s a much bigger picture than just me. Where my brother is today is better than any place on earth. I realized I need to give my life over to Jesus because He will guide me in all I need. Everything roots back to Jesus. If everything else feels against me, I know that He is with me. I know that Jesus will always love me, no matter how much I mess up. I want to spread His love and talk to people about Him. I’m a great talker! At the end of the day, I just want to talk to Him, spread His love, and be with people who love Him.
If students my age—or anyone!—wants to truly know what God does and what He’s like, you have to trust Him. If you have a question, go ask someone! I’m always asking questions. How do you take charge of your faith? I think just hand your heart and your trust to Jesus, and try to start somewhere.
Samantha is an 8th grader at Benilde-St. Margaret’s.