I grew up in a Christian home. My parents are Christian. My grandparents are Christian. All the friends I had growing up were Christian. I thought Christianity was the only religion out there. This put me in a position of Christianity being like gravity, an accepted fact that you noticed but didn’t ponder exclusively. I went to church with my family every Sunday and I would always answer the questions about the Bible. My family would read Bible stories, and I would listen for the first half and then zone out for the rest. If you asked my religion I would say I was Christian. If you asked me why I was Christian I would say, “because that’s what’s there.”

My views on religion changed as I went into school. I learned about Islam and Hinduism, but I took little notice. Around fourth grade I developed a love for science and began to look to science as an explanation for how my world worked. I still went to church, but God was pushed to the back seat. With my worldview expanding, I became more and more curious about the world. I thought about how the universe formed and the Bible’s teachings versus what I learned in science. I started looking into the Big Bang and other related ideas. It was only natural, then that I would find myself pondering how the world would end. Given that I wasn’t focusing on God, I spent many nights sweating in my bed under my blankets, trying to hide from death. I tried to use my understanding of the world to reassure me that death would be ok. What I got was overwhelming despair about non-existence.

Around this time I entered middle school. I worked hard on getting good grades and being the best in my class. I chose school to be my defining factor – what I was here for. In this mix of school pressure, fear of the world, and attempting to find answers in what I could see, I struggled through sixth grade in a daze. My parents say I don’t emote; no one knew what was going on. My grades looked fine, and I wasn’t overwhelmingly disengaged. Not even I knew I was hurting, but at the same time, something felt wrong.

In seventh grade Jim Downing came to Grace to talk about his story. I’m a big fan of the time period around World War II, and I was doing a history project on the subject at the time, so I convinced my parents to take my sisters and me. His talk was intriguing, but what I was really excited about was the book we got. I started reading when we got home and the first few chapters were his story. As I read about the relaxation that comes with God’s grace and the peace that lives within, my heart, which was longing for something, reached out. I had gone through the motions of what I thought was giving my heart to Jesus before, each time saying, “God use me.” What I was really looking for was a sense of purpose.

This time was different. I didn’t care about school, I just wanted true rest. I realized that I couldn’t do this life thing on my own. I had tried and was broken down. Jesus picked me up that day. He saved me when I couldn’t. I made him my Lord and Savior. I know I’m still broken, but now my purpose is in Jesus alone. I’m coming to the water because it’s time for me to tell others my story. I need others to hold me accountable. Throughout this journey I’ve realized Christianity isn’t a mentality, it’s a way of life. I can’t do that on my own. A lot of people have poured into my life, my parents, Steve Breneman, my D-team leaders Kevin Shade and Brian Liskey, and many more. I want to show them that I’m trusting Jesus.

— Nathan Roy, Baptized September 2018

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