Interviewer: How/when did you come to Messiah?
Hope: My parents were members of Messiah, so when I was born in 1996, they had me baptized there, along with my sister Dani before me and my brother Jake after me. I went through the whole thing: Sunday school, Vacation Bible School, Confirmation, Senior High Youth.
I: What do you like most about Messiah?
H: I like that it’s a small, tight-knit community. I see the same people every week that I’ve been seeing my entire life. It feels like home to me. I can’t imagine moving to another state because I would miss my church too much. Since I started singing on the Sonrise Team a few years ago, Messiah has become even more special to me.
I: How do you best connect with God on a daily basis?
H: I listen to a lot of Christian music! Music in general has always been one of the ways that I express my emotions best, and this is no exception. I never used to like Christian music up until a year and half or so ago. A few of my favorite Christian artists are We Are Messengers, Rend Collective, Francesca Battistelli, and Land of Color, but there are so many others I enjoy too. I am a wealth of knowledge when it comes to music, so if anyone wants recommendations for new artists, just let me know. I’ve also been working on praying more often. It’s really easy to only turn to God in prayer when we’re sad or frustrated or stressed, but I’m learning that it’s important to turn to Him in times of joy and triumph too. So, lately, I’ve been praying in my car every morning, right before I walk into work. It’s really helped get me in the right mindset for the day.
I: Tell me about a time in your life when you truly felt God’s presence.
H: I only have a few moments in my life where I can say that I’ve truly felt God’s presence over me, so I’ll tell you about the one that changed me the most. One Wednesday night in August of 2018, my boyfriend Dalton took me to this thing at Concordia University in Seward called Praise. It was actually our third date. Anyway, Praise is basically a mini church service led by students. We sing some songs, hear a message from a student, and have designated prayer time. I was a little wary at first, but I was open to giving it a try, and I couldn’t be happier that I did. I didn’t know the first song we sang, but when the lyrics to the second one popped up on the screen, I couldn’t help but smile. It was my solo song from church, “What a Beautiful Name.” Out of all the worship songs on the planet, we just so happened to sing my song that night. I sang loudly and could hear Dalton and the rest of the room singing along as well. Many people were even lifting their hands. It felt like home but even better. Then a senior student did a little sermon of sorts talking about how God sent His Holy Spirit to live within us, and that it is a powerful Spirit that conquers all. God made us who we are for a reason, and He wants us to know that we are beautiful and we are loved. I needed to hear that. I even teared up a bit because I actually felt God’s presence for the first time in a long time, probably since my last work camp in high school. I had kind of fell out of step with my faith life over the last several years, but that night ignited a spark within me, and I couldn’t wait to watch it grow into a fire. In that moment, I felt so much comfort radiating within me. I knew that I was in the right place with the right people, doing exactly what I was supposed to be doing. It was a really cool feeling.
I: Do you have a person of faith in your life that you look up to? What have they done to have a positive impact on your faith journey?
H: Hmm, I’m not really sure, to be honest. I don’t often open up and have deep conversations about faith with people I’m close to. That’s something I’m still trying to work on. I want to be more brave with my faith.
I: What’s your favorite Bible verse? Why?
H: “‘I say this because I know what I am planning for you,’ says the Lord. ‘I have good plans for you, not plans to hurt you. I will give you hope and a good future.’” – Jeremiah 29:11 (NCV)
This verse never fails to reassure me when I’m feeling uncertain about the direction of my life, which happens more often than you’d think. It reminds me that God has had a plan for my life since before I was even born. However, it may not be exactly what I have envisioned for myself, which can be frustrating to accept sometimes. I feel like we as humans always want to be in control of everything in our lives, but God sees our attempts to control things and just laughs because He knows that no matter how hard we try to be in control, His plan will always win out. This verse also reminds me that sometimes God’s plan might involve unpleasant things, but that doesn’t mean He is trying to hurt us; He takes no pleasure in our pain. But in order to get to the beautiful view at the peak of the mountain, we have to face trials and tribulations in this life, and those hardships will humble us and help us understand God’s greatness and control over our lives.