Growing up, faith was never a big part of Sidney’s family life. No one in her family really had a faith of their own. What she knew of church and Christianity was nothing more than a routine instilled in her through her Catholic school education. Though she had gone through the rituals of baptism and first communion, she had no tangible sense of Jesus working in her life.
Sidney recalls her church experience as being “walk in, look nice; walk out, live your life.” There was no real connection between the religious routines and rituals and her day-to-day life.
But when Sidney started her first year at Brock University, she quickly made friends with a number of believing Christians. Her closest friends, Mel and her sister Kaitlyn, came from a strong Christian home. As their friendships grew closer, Sidney found that they provided her with plenty of space to ask questions without being judged.
She had always loved the idea of asking questions of others, especially when it came to understanding various religious views. The World Religions class she took in grade 11 was a particular highlight for her. Having never had a faith of her own, she was fascinated by the idea of people devoting their lives to such intangible things.
Kaitlyn eventually invited Sidney to do Campus Alpha with her in their dorm. As they worked through the series together, they talked about prayer and her perception of God. While her friends respected her views, and understood where she was at, they also challenged her. They encouraged her to try prayer.
At first, she didn’t experience anything big happening as a result of her prayers. But as she continued to do it, she found that it was a chance to connect with God and be in a relationship with him. Talking to this intangible, invisible God actually felt quite normal and comfortable to her.
Mel and Kaitlyn began inviting her out to church. At the same time, Caroline Escobar (now on staff with Power to Change – Students), who was a Don in her residence, befriended her and invited her out to church as well. Her experience of church was wonderful: it was loud and energetic, and she felt a connection to worship through the music. Sidney’s ideas of “Sunday best” were being transformed by these people who actively and openly lived out their faith and sought a personal relationship with God.
Sidney didn’t attend church often in her first year, but when she moved to Windsor that summer, she made a point of going to a church in order to dive deeper into the faith and figure it out for herself. She also ordered a Bible and began working through the gospel of Matthew. That summer, she wrestled through many difficult topics as she considered faith on her own.
As she attended church in Windsor, Sidney began to experience God more through worship and community. Her parents, though they were surprised by this change in her life, were respectful and supportive as always. For once, her faith became an open topic of conversation in her family.
By the time she returned to school in the fall for her second year, Sidney had become a Christian. She began attending Southridge Community Church. She loved that they had a mission to serve the homeless in their area, and knew that that was a community she wanted to be a part of. In her third year of university she started volunteering at the shelter and took a step of faith to lead a Life Group, watching as God brought some truly amazing people into her life.
Sidney is continuing to learn and grow in her faith. Recently, God has been speaking to her through Exodus 14:14, teaching her how to be still. Once someone who deeply struggled with anxiety about an uncertain future, she is learning to trust that God is in control and is leading her each day.
Will you join us in praying for Sidney as she ministers to students on campus and shares her faith? Pray that she will always continue to depend on God. Let’s also pray for her as she seeks to follow God’s call into serving and ministering the most marginalized in society after graduation.
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