I Need to Know More People with True Joy
Faith Alexa Hansen is a 19-year-old student at the University of Nebraska Medical Center studying nursing. Raised in McCook, NE, she was taught to keep Jesus the most important priority in her life. After high school, Faith moved to Omaha for school where she knew almost no one.
She started attending Christ Community Church with her sister and went for about two years without making any significant relational connections. A friend from Lincoln suggested that Faith get connected with CCC’s college ministry, 8:08 College Community. Her friend helped connect Faith to Jake Peterson, a Resident working with 8:08. Jake connected Faith to myself, Emily, where we quickly formed a friendship.
Faith and I met for coffee one day at a Scooters. Faith was gleaming when she heard I just wanted to get to know her and did not have any other agenda. It seemed unfamiliar to her for someone to simply desire a relationship so out of the blue.
As Faith shared her story with me, it became pretty evident that she had a growing desire to know Jesus more intimately. She was yearning to know more about the power of the Gospel and how it brings JOY rather than momentary happiness that she had become accustomed to before. For Faith, this looked like complete reliance on Jesus for joy and understanding rather than finding fleeting happiness in her circumstances or herself.
Although Faith grew up knowing Jesus’ name, she had never experienced the community of people who loved Jesus. When Faith started coming to 8:08, she immediately grew an affection for the community. She noticed how everyone she met was so intentional with the questions they asked and that made her feel at home. She realized this type of community was lacking in her life!
However, as Faith continued to come to 8:08 each week, I noticed that she would wait for me in the parking lot so she wouldn’t have to walk in by herself. (We’ve all been there!) Even though Faith loved coming to 8:08, she still played it safe by waiting for me. That all changed after Faith went with 8:08 to a conference in Kentucky over winter break called Cross for the Nations. While there, Faith got to know a lot of other guys and girls in 8:08, and those friendships have only continued to grow throughout the spring semester. Now, Faith has made it her goal to help other students, who may feel intimidated at first, feel the depth of the community that she has found within 8:08.
After she returned from Cross Conference, Faith began serving in 8:08 on Thursday nights. She has learned how to read her Bible and how to serve others, whether it is at school or work. Next year, she has applied to be a student leader! This summer, Faith is joining 12 other 8:08 students who are going to San Diego, CA, for a summer mission trip. During the 10-weeks she will be living in San Diego, Faith is excited to continue to learn about what it means to love Jesus and others out of an abundance of joy. Overall, God has grown Faith so much since she started coming to 8:08, and she knows this is only the beginning.
Faith shared that her favorite thing about being in 8:08 is the relationships with other people. “I would mentally be living life simply content. Not joy-filled.” Faith has learned that her true and lasting joy comes from Jesus alone! Joy is what Faith knew she needed when she first began coming to 8:08. When I first met Faith, she told me, “I just really feel like I need to know more people with true joy in their lives.” God has done so much in her life since then, and she excitedly declared, “Now I feel the abundance of grace, joy, peace, and have a constant desire to be selfless. It is easy to understand where the term ‘radiant joy’ comes from now!”
For Faith, she has experienced this joy by obtaining a deeper dependence on the Bible. When she began to read the Bible on a daily basis, she noticed a change in the way she treated others (with more patience) and the way she reacted to hard times (with eagerness to see God’s hand). Isaiah 61:10 says “I delight greatly in the Lord; my soul rejoices in my God.” Faith has found great delight in Jesus, for he is her source of joy.
Faith credits all of her growth in the past year to God’s relentless pursuit of her life. If she had not taken a step of faith and said ‘yes’ to getting coffee with me or agreed to go to Cross Conference, Faith would not have been able to experience the joy of being fully known by other believers.
Romans 8:26 says “In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us…” As Faith continues in her relationship with Jesus, she puts her trust in the Holy Spirit for guidance. She relies on the Spirit to guide her every day. I am beyond grateful that God has blessed me with the friendship I now have with Faith! And, I am so excited to watch her continue her relationship with Jesus and other believers.
—Written by Emily Bledsoe