Kelly, if you could be one age forever, what age would you be and why?
Because you can still do all the things you want to do, but you’re not old- you can still run a marathon and have kids and such.
That makes sense. So, how did you find Agape?
Well, I was really committed to finding a Christian ministry when I came to school so I actually did research on Loyola’s website before I even got here and found Ecclesia and then went to the org fair, met Mike Moore, and got invited to Agape. Started going the first week and haven’t stopped since.
What keeps you coming back? What draws you in?
Well, our community specifically I always found the most welcoming, um, I’d gone to other ministries and didn’t really feel invited into the community in the same way that I did here. And just seeing the way that we love each other and love Jesus just keeps me coming back.
Why are you a Christian?
I was raised in a Christian family, so I knew all the right answers about Jesus since I was a little kid, and I thought I was a Christian and knew what I was doing and then, when I was a senior in high school, I met a lot of people who really knew who Jesus was and I realized I didn’t know who he really was; I just knew all the right answers when people asked me questions. But literally everything changed the moment that I met them, and I hung out with them a couple of weeks after I started seeing them at school regularly and praying with them and I prayed out loud for the first time in my life with these people that I’d never really known before and at that moment, I knew it was real and, if God could pull me into that, he was who he said he was.
What draws you to Jesus?
So many things, but mostly when I think about that time in my life where I met all those people, there was a lot of bad stuff happening in my life and at the time, I remember thinking “oh this is so horrible, and how can I believe in a God who loves me if all this really horrible stuff is happening to me,” but when I think about it now, I think about all of the worse things that could have happened to me, how God really protected me from so many other horrible situations. And, being a Christian doesn’t mean that everything is going to be beautiful, and sometimes it means you have to go through the messy stuff to appreciate the beautiful stuff, but even in the messy stuff God has provided for me and protected me from so much worse.
What breaks your heart?
As a social worker, a lot of things. I think the thing at the forefront of my mind, just because I see it day after day, is child abuse. Just seeing the damage that that can do to the individual, especially with the kids that I work with, and on top of that to be rejected by so many people who aren’t their parents, they don’t feel like anyone loves them or cares about them.
What gives you hope?
I think there have been a couple of times at my work where I’d been feeling pretty sad, and then one of the kids has a Bible and asks me to read it, and I don’t know how much he knows what’s going on, but it’s still encouraging to know that that’s still happening. Some of the kids are asking to go to church, and I actually had an hour-long conversation with someone on staff about God and why I think it’s important, so there have been little moments that remind me why I’m there. God is still allowing opportunities for me to have conversations and to be a light in that place.
What’s one book that you think everyone should read?
The book that I read really early in my faith that changed a lot of things was “Blue Like Jazz,” because at that point, Donald Miller gets down to the core of issues in that book in a way that everyone can understand- it changed the way I looked at Christianity.
Any parting words?
I guess, even when everything seems really hopeless and desolate, God has still been there. It’s still been a growing experience for me, maybe not in the way that I wanted, but at the end of it I can see how God was working in that situation. Just because things are bad, that doesn’t mean God has left you.