Testimonies: Nate Jennings & Bren Shantz

From our July/August 2012 newsletter

No matter what your past, God will never give up on you!

Nate Jennings

I was born into a family of two alcoholics and an abusive father. By the time I was two, my mother and father separated. The separation was an awakening for one parent as far as alcoholism, but in return they became very selfish and distant, so I was still left with alcoholism in my life.

I lived the next 19 years of my life having to keep everything locked inside because I had no one to share my feelings with, or any life situation with for that matter, and believe me, there were many. That left me with anger, and I was only able to rely on myself. I was not able to open up to others on an emotional level.

Then, after I’m sure many years of trying to show me his love and me not being able to see past anger, God sent a beautiful girl into my life. We chose to get married at the church her father attended, which led me to meet a great pastor who, even knowing my thoughts on the world, was happy to wed us. That sparked something in my heart – how could someone love that much, to wed someone who felt the ways I did about the world? That made some gears start to turn in my mind.

Still, at first, we did not choose a path that I would think God would want us to be on, but It must have been part of his plan. After a some time, God must have laid something on my wife’s heart, and she encouraged me to attend a new church service with her called the Well, at the church we were married in, and I agreed. After we attended a few of the services, I started to wonder if the things that were being said could actually be true. Is there really a God that wants me to stay in eternity with him? That couldn’t be true.

At that time there were prayer cards and I asked for prayer, not even knowing what the idea of “real” prayer was. It said, “I need help understanding God.” That prayer was answered. Aaron, the man that had been speaking in the front, chose to share as much love and knowledge as he could to start my journey. God has given me many challenges on this journey, but they have made me a stronger and better person. Which leaves me with not having an exact day that I gave my life to God, but a never-ending and ever-growing journey to finding my way to be with God for eternity.

Bren Shantz

My story began, as they often do, in a Christian home. As a result, I knew much about God from an early age. This familiarity was helpful in some ways, but challenging in others. I never really had to live outside the Christian life. I didn’t appreciate what it meant to believe in a loving God who was interested in my life. I didn’t value prayer; it was just something we always did. Religion became mechanical. God became dusty and restrictive.

The first few years of college were a difficult time for me. Life became complicated in ways that I had never experienced. Gone were the “simple” days of black and white, replaced with scary, ambiguous shades of gray. My faith, which had seemed so easy to accept, left me feeling empty in a world full of tempting entertainments. I wandered, swayed, and fell.

Fortunately, my story didn’t end there. Really, it was only getting started. God rolled up his sleeves, waded in, and pulled me from the mud. I changed universities and met new friends and mentors who helped me rebuild my faith. He redeemed my life and gave me purpose and peace.

I would like to say that life is no longer complicated or painful and that life’s temptations hold no sway. Such is not the case. Instead, my ever-maturing faith has brought at least one new element into the fight. I have hope. I have hope that my creator God is still interested in my life, that he likes me and desires that I talk to him in prayer, that he is big enough to handle the complications and pain, and that he will ever be there when I fall.


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