Aaron Yang

My name is Aaron. I have so much to say but hard for me to say it all. When I was in China I did not know of God. When I was in the orphanage no one talked to me about God. To me, there was no God. When I was 14, I came to America. I felt a little bit sad and scared to go to another country. But I go and have brothers and sisters and a mom and a dad so I have a family. My family tells me about God. I learned about God once I came here. Going to Lutheridge I made a lot of friends and learned of God’s love for them and for me. I liked Lutheridge and my counselor Matt Woolly. I think God knows my future. I’m thankful God put me where I am today. I’m thankful for my mom and dad, John, Alex, Ellen, Ashley and even Luke. I’m most thankful for the two people who brought me from China to America and gave me a new life. My mom and dad. Mom says God has a plan for us. I don’t know what God’s plan is for me but God will let me go find it. I did not know who God was, but now I know and am thankful for everyone in my life. Thank you

 


Anna Everhart

My name is Anna Everhart and I am a rising ninth grader at North Rowan High School. The past four years, I have had the opportunity to go on the middle school mission trip to Knoxville, Tennessee. On Thursday night in Knoxville, we have a more serious time called Faith Formation. We always have a theme that we focus on during this time. In past years, we have focused on things like love, growth, and everyone’s place at God’s table.

This year, we focused on brokenness which gave us a chance to think about all of the broken places in our lives. At the end of the night, we had a worship service where everyone got a candle and we sang a song about how we are the light of the world. I could feel God’s presence through all of my friends who were there with me. They gave us a chance to share our broken places and they gave us time to think through them. This time gave me a chance to think about how even in my broken places, God never left my side.

One specific time of brokenness that I have recently experienced was at the end of the school year. One of my best friends and I got into a big fight. I have been best friends with her since I was a little kid. I didn’t understand why this obstacle would appear when I was already beginning the transition to high school. Later that week, we had cheer tryouts. I ended up being the only freshman to make the varsity team. I realized that this obstacle appeared in my life because God has other plans for me in high school. God has sent me some amazing girls on my cheer team who I have already formed strong bonds with.

Three things about Jesus that were comforting to me in Knoxville were his love for everyone there, his willingness to help our neighbors, and how he provides for everyone’s needs. A bible verse that has helped me through all of my broken times is Psalm 16:8 which says: I keep the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved. God is central in my life because he has shown he is there in some of the darkest times of my life.

My experience in Knoxville has encouraged me to live out my faith each day through encouraging all of my friends to make decisions that they will not regret later. My experience has also showed me that no matter what, there is always someone worse off than me. This trip has showed me to never be ungrateful for all of the things that I have. I will continue to let God guide me in my everyday life through school, sports, and clubs.

I hope to continue to grow in my faith journey through all of my family and friends. I would like to thank my parents, friends, family, teachers, coaches, and congregation for guiding me through my faith journey. I would also like to thank all of the Pastors and church staff who have encouraged me to always stay faithful and persistent during my faith journey.


Hannah Greene

Hi, my name is Hannah Greene and I am a freshman at Salisbury High.  I was baptized as an infant at St. John’s and have anxiously waited for confirmation. This day is about testifying to the Word of God and proclaiming to become more deeply involved in Christ.

Lutheridge is where I really realized that I wanted to be confirmed. It was such a great environment. You could feel the beauty and love of God all around.  I loved singing the camp songs and it made me feel like I fit in. They never got mad at me for being too loud; they actually encouraged me to continue. I was able to really engage myself and learn more about God.  Lutheridge was my first summer camp experience and I also celebrated my birthday while there.  Although I was away from home, it was one of the best and most memorable birthdays ever.

I need God in my life to help me get through each day. He gives me strength and courage, and I know that I am not alone because he walks by my side.  I am a child of God and Jesus loves me. This is why I want to be confirmed. I want to be more deeply involved. This is a great opportunity; there’s more in store. Confirmation is not the end, it’s just another step closer to God.  Thank you.


Kayla Sachse

Hello, my name is Kayla Sachse. I am going to be a freshman at Graystone Day School. God is essential to me, because he encourages me to never stop and that everything will be alright in the end. I would like to share with you why God is essential in my life. My story starts back in February 2017. I had always been a joyful, spirited girl who was always happy to be with her friends. One day I started to become depressed and lonely. I felt like I was everyone’s second choice, I thought that all my friends would rather spend time with someone else than someone like me. I convinced myself that nobody cared about me or even loved me to be exact, I thought nobody would notice if I wasn’t there. I had too many toxic friends, but I thought I wouldn’t fit in if I did not have them. My family was getting pretty crazy too with an injured person in our house so I didn’t really have much time to talk about my depression, I decided to keep to myself. I cried myself to sleep almost every night, I would cry at school and my teachers and friends wouldn’t know what to do with me besides comfort, I ended up putting them in a bad position too. I gave up on doing the things I love like soccer, music, and art. During this time I gave up on God. I would pray to him pleading for him to help me get over this mess and help my mind untangle itself from its confusion and anger, but somehow he never got the message. I thought maybe he was trying to tell me to put on an act so no one else would be suspicious anymore, that’s exactly what I did. Little did I know it tore me down even more and made me weak. My parents noticed and they talked to me. They encouraged me to find things that I love and surround myself with people that love me for who I am and that they’ll always have my back. I began to do what they said and I started to crawl out of the darkness and back into the light. I started to feel happy again for the first time in a long time. When June came around my family went up to Wisconsin to see our distant family, I was really excited since I knew we were stopping at my Grandpa Sachse’s house first. I knew that in his yard he had a bench in front of a little water fountain with a Jesus statue right in front of it. Whenever we arrived I went to go sit down on that bench and I just sat and prayed to God, that was my first time praying in 6 months. I felt God’s presence and I knew the whole time I didn’t believe in him, he believed in me. Towards the end of July, I went up to Lutheridge to go to Campfirmation. During my time up there I met incredible new friends, became closer to God, and met someone who will inspire me for the rest of my life. My counselor, Maura, made such a big impact on my life, she made me realize even through all the traumas you will ever have, God will be there for you every step of the way. I have two bible verses with me today and I’ll explain why they mean so much to me. Psalm:40 1-3 “I waited patiently for the Lord; he inclined to me and heard my cry. He drew me up from the desolate pit, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the Lord.” Then I have 1 Peter:5 6-7 “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, so that he may exalt you in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you.” I chose these scriptures, because God helped me out of my time of sadness and brought me into the light. I’ll give him everything I have, he never gave up on me when I gave up on him. In the future I know I can help and relate to anyone who is going through the same experience as I did. I’ll also be able to look back on this time and remember how God has helped me through hard times and encourage others not to give up. This is why I am ready to say I believe and surrender myself to God. This is my Faith Story and thank for your time.


Landon Mesimer

Jesus is central in my life because without his love for us we would have no hope. He was willing to give his own life so that we would not have to suffer the consequences of sin. Jesus is able to comfort you or pray with you even if things seem like they couldn’t get any worse. He loves everyone and he understands what you are going through. There have been plenty of times where I thought I hit rock bottom, but something good always came soon after that. That was because it was all part of God’s plan for me.

Sometimes people at my school ask me if I go to church. Of course, I say “yes” and I asked him if he did and he said “no”. I then asked him why and he simply said that he doesn’t see the point in going because his life is so bad and he thinks that it wouldn’t possibly help the fact that his parents are divorced.  I said to him “Going to church is a way to fix that and that Jesus loves him and He always will.” He then asked me how that was possible, and I told him that Jesus died for our sins and that he needed to believe that faith can help.

To my doubtful friends I explain that Jesus does not plan the evil in the world but His power overcomes it and no matter what happens we are called upon to help other people. Jesus has the power to heal us, to save us and give us eternal life. That is why we believe in baptism to start our journey with Him.  Jesus is central in my life because He provides hope and eternal life so we can spread his story and his teachings.


Lillie Rusher

My name is Lillie Rusher and I am going to be a freshman at Salisbury High School this year. This year has been the year that I have recognized God in my life. I see him now, all the time, everywhere. I have always questioned if God is real, and if he is actually real. My mom told me about this book called “When God Winks at You”. It is a book filled with stories about little God Winks that have happened in peoples’ lives. A God Wink is a personal experience that can either be looked at as a coincidence or a sign from God.

My faith story starts this past October on my birthday. For my birthday, mom gave me the God Wink book. I would try to read one Godwink story every night, and every night I prayed that God would just show me he was with me. About a month or two later, I was in the school cafeteria line and I looked up and all of the lights in the cafeteria were lit except one. So I said a little prayer and prayed, and said if God is truly here, he will make another light go out. And then I looked up, and no other lights were out. I had felt so stupid for praying that because in my heart I knew that another light would’ve never gone out. Our teacher would let us take our lunch back to the classroom and eat, and as I was sitting down eating lunch there sounded like there was a big explosion. I looked at my friends and all of a sudden, all of the lights and power went out. As I sat there in the dark with the lights flickering, I knew that God had answered my prayers. God didn’t make one light go out, he made them all go out! I never told any of my friends about my Godwink because I thought some of them would laugh at me and not believe me. I knew then that God was real, but I still had my doubts and I felt bad that I was still doubting God when he took the time to answer my prayer.

This summer, I had to go to confirmation camp at Lutheridge. I was not excited to go because I thought it would be the most boring week of my life. I did not like the idea of sitting in a room for a couple hours and listening to these lectures about God. One thing you should know about me is that I don’t like listening to people talk for long periods of time. I would never listen to the sermons at church because I thought they were always so boring. On the first day at Lutheridge, in the first confirmation class, I decided that I would make myself listen to everything the leaders had to say.  After the class, I found myself eager to learn more and more. Every night at Lutheridge, they have something called vespers. Vespers is like a short church service. One night at vespers, there was a live representation of Jesus’ last nights before he died. After the man acted it out, you had the chance to sit down and think about what we just experienced, then you could go walk outside and wait for your counselor. I think that at that very moment, I felt God in that room. I have never experienced a feeling like that in my whole entire life. I thought about some of the things I have done that I wish I hadn’t done. And at that time, I felt forgiven. I felt like I was let go from everything, and that God was letting me have another chance. I also thanked God for everything he has given me in my life, including my time at Lutheridge.

Lutheridge made me into a new person who wants to learn more about God everyday and I will forever be thankful for all of those people who gave me that amazing experience. The Saturday I came back from camp, I had a feeling in my heart that I should go to the 9:27 service and the 11:00 service at church. As I walked into the 9:27 service, my favorite song was playing, Oceans by Hillsong United. I have always wanted to hear that song at that service and it just so happened that the time I came back from camp and decided to go to both services, that song was playing. I knew that I had just had another Godwink and that God was inviting me into his family. One of my favorite bible verses is Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Before going to Lutheridge, I didn’t know that God had a plan for me. But he did and he had a plan for me to go and find Him on my own. I have thought about what I might write for my faith statement for a while, and I never would have thought I would write about Lutheridge. I will never forget the amazing experiences and people I met at camp.

From these experiences at Lutheridge, I know that Jesus is always looking after me and that he will always love me. Jesus is central in my life because he always forgives me no matter what and he shows me how to live among God’s faithful people. Jesus is a perfect example of how to serve God and share his word. Thank you for listening to my story and I hope that God continues to bless each and every one of you.


Maggie Dees 

I had an amazing summer full of experiences that brought me closer to God. It was hard to pick one thing to share with you today. I had many special moments at Camp Lutheridge, Camp Merri Mac, on my mission trip to Guatemala and now even past two weeks at Salem Academy. The faith moment I want to share with you today happened this summer in Guatemala. I was lucky enough to take part in this amazing trip with our church youth group. This trip was an affirmation of my love for God and His love for me, and during the trip I had many moments where I felt closer to God but the part that stood out to me most were the home visits.

The home visits were when we would visit families and bring them a care package of food. We would also sit and talk with the families, which was my favorite part. The families were welcoming to us, bringing us into their homes and would sometimes give us presents. I think it is eye opening that families with so little would give what they could to us. Their gratitude and kindness towards us showed me the impact that spreading God’s love makes on people. Not only were they grateful for us being there but they were grateful for their house, family, and the Escuela Integrada. The families would tell us how thankful they were for their house even if the home was small, over crowded, or in major need of repair. They were happy to be with us and they know that God is watching over and protecting them. During the home visits I met a little girl named Maria. Maria and I became friends and we always played together during recess. Maria lives with her her sister, her mother, and her grandmother. I feel so lucky that I had the opportunity to meet and spend time with them. Maria loves to get her picture taken, so when I would see her she would ask to take a picture with me. Her favorite part was seeing the picture, and it made me realize that she doesn’t get her picture taken that often. I take pictures of myself all of the time, but I have never realized how much I take for granted until these kids showed me. The biggest thing I take for granted is that Jesus died on the cross for me.

I think it is important that Jesus died on the cross because it gives me a sense of security. I know that even if I mess up if I admit it and ask for forgiveness, Jesus will be there. I am not saying that Jesus died so I can do wrong, but knowing that Jesus is always there for me makes me feel protected. We have a gap between us and Jesus which is sin, but the cross is our bridge. Each time we sin the gap grows wider, but every time we apologize and ask for forgiveness the cross grows longer. As I grow closer to Jesus I know he is always there for me and I feel protected by his love. The cross growing longer in my mind show that God wants to be a deep relationship with us that continues to grow each day. The bible verse I want to share today is John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” This verse shows me how to live through Jesus. I live the lessons of Jesus through service. Connecting with Maria on the trip made me realize how much I love working with children. I wanted to help as much as I can, so my family and I decided to sponsor a child named Karen Daniela. I can live a life of Christ by showing love to Karen, and I am so excited to start my journey with her. By sponsoring Karen Daniela my family is helping to ensure her education at Escuela Integrada and we are providing love, hope and support to her. This gift is God’s love and I feel blessed to be able to serve Jesus in this way.


Sam Wood

Hi.  My name is Sam Wood.  I am a rising 9th grader and I go to West Rowan High School.  I’ve grown up at St. John’s my whole life and my favorite part of St. John’s is the loving people.  One of the small ways I’ve seen that is when we share the peace every Sunday.  Everybody comes up to me and says “Peace be with you.”  This makes me feel connected.

I’m excited about my confirmation today and I’d like to tell you why Jesus is central in my life.  Jesus is central in my life because whenever something unexpected happens and things get tough I know he’s always there for me which is very comforting. For example, when me and my mom and sister were traveling up onto Grandfather Mountain, there were many twists, turns, and curves and that made me very worried.  There was also no rail protectors to comfort me on the drive.  If that isn’t scary enough I had a glorious view of about 50 feet off the side of the mountain.  My mom who doesn’t like heights was praying enough for all of us on the drive up.

Thanks to God we were able to make it halfway up the mountain with no problems.  Now the next obstacle was hiking straight up a 2-3 mile pathway of just rocks, sticks, and wilderness.  At the moment I saw we had to do that I said, “Please Lord let my mom make it up here safely.”  Now after many questions of “Is that rock stable?” and “Can you help me up there?” from my mom, we made it to the very top where there was a long swinging metal bridge…what I was most looking forward to do.  I walked across that bridge like 5 times knowing that after all the stuff that had just happened that it was nothing.  Yet my mom and sister did not even attempt to make it halfway.  I was so happy that I accomplished it.  I felt that God was with me the whole time during that process.  I will always remember that feeling of “I made it. “

I also am thankful for the opportunity I received by working with the younger kids at hands and feet camp. We had many fun activities the whole week.  Some of those activities were visiting firefighters, numerous people from the church, going to Trinity Oaks, and having a drum line with the seniors and kicking a ball around with them.  Being with them was a great feeling and I had a lot of fun while doing it.  Just like when we share the peace on Sunday mornings, the Hands and Feet Camp helped me feel more connected to my church family and to God.

Knowing that Jesus is always with me, during good times and during stressful, scary times and having my church family is the reason Jesus is central in my life.  It’s a great feeling. Which also is what I’m feeling today, through this journey which I feel has 100% brought me closer to God….and it is amazing.


Ellen Yang

Hi. My name is Ellen Yang. I am 14 years old and will be a rising freshman at Salisbury High School and I am here to tell you about the times where God has been central in my life. I guess most of you aren’t surprised when the core of my speech involves softball!

When I was 7 years old, I started playing Little League softball and am still playing today. The Little League brand is mainly centered around character, courage, and loyalty. As the Little League pledge states, “I trust in God, I love my country and will respect its laws, I will play fair and strive to win, but win or lose , I will always do my best”, which we recite before every game, is my focus every time I play. I’m proud to be part of such an honorable organization just as I’m proud to be a part of God’s family. Putting God first even in sports just makes sense. When we returned home from the World Series and I saw all the support and love of our community it made me proud and thankful.

The past two years have been full summers of softball from winning the World Series and then coming runner-up the following year. From playing at a high level for many years, and then playing at Knox Middle School for two years, I can say I know what being on a team is really about. Playing with girls that didn’t know what an umpire was or how many balls and strikes a batter gets, it has shown me it’s not all about the wins and losses but about bonding and relationships which has made me into a better person. I thank God for giving me the opportunity and courage to help “coach” the other girls and become a vocal leader which I was never comfortable at doing, to the best of my ability.

God has also been central in my life when I had to start a new team by myself. It took many different teams to find the right one but each time I left a team I knew God was with me and would make sure I would end up on the team I needed to be on. Getting to play with all my friends was perfect until we all split  up and everyone went to find a new team, some people alone. After playing with the same group of girls for 5 years it was hard to start a new one alone. I was very nervous and not sure what was going to happen. It was hard knowing that I may never get to play with the first teammates I ever had, but I knew God had a plan for me and everything would work out. It was scary knowing that I would have to be on a team where I knew no one, not even the coach. I was very nervous at the first practice but there was always some who would talk to me and include me which made me feel like God was there. After watching my older brothers start things together and then to walk into something on my own was scary but I knew God was always with me. He walks the scary walk with me and lives in my heart, He speaks to me and gives me strength and encouragement when my mom and dad are not around.

I know that God has been with me the whole time and has taught me how to help out others and not to give up. God has helped me to know that softball is just not about winning or losing but it’s about how you handle yourself through the highs and the lows. I try to be like God when playing with people who don’t know the game of softball by encouraging and helping them out.

Micah 6:8 says, “And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. Walking with God means to have a relationship with him and doing what’s right and loving others. He died for our sins and for that I feel devoted to him. When being devoted to someone you do nice things for that person not because you have to, but because you want to. The same is true to God. The things we do for him should never be a chore but something that brings joy to us. I hope to always be an ambassador for God by showing others what god’s love looks like. I hope that whoever meets me would see God’s love through my actions, words, and deeds.

I try to make God central in my life no matter the situation or what team I’m playing for.

I am very thankful for God in my life. Without him I don’t know where or who I’d be today. I know that God’s love for us is everlasting and God is good. I am very thankful for what all God has given me.

Thank you.


Grace Shafer

Colossians 1:11-12- May you be strong with all the strength that comes from his glorious power, and may you be prepared to endure everything with patience, while joyfully to the father, who has enabled you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the light.

Hi, I’m Grace Shafer and I’m a freshman at Graystone. This is my story about how God has been central in my life. 4 years ago, I was a rising 6th grader and I had the opportunity to go on a mission trip with the youth group. We went to Knoxville, Tennessee for a week-long camp called WOW. It was my first mission trip ever so I was very nervous. At the time Danielle was the youth pastor, and the first night we were there, there was a super bad storm. I was and still am not a fan of storms, so the whole group had to go to the basement. We played games while the storm was going on, I started crying so Danielle took me out in the hallway to calm me down. We sat down on the stairs and she started to pray, at the moment I was too scared to do anything but cry, but I got over it and started to pray. About 2 minutes after praying the storm had cleared up and gone away, it was crazy. Fast forward to this summer I went to Knoxville for the last time, and it made me really sad, but when we got to the church all that sadness went away. We were greeted by some of the staff members and it was super cool because most of the staff remembered me from the past years. We played games, went over rules, ate, and then we went back to the building we were staying in. On the way there the lights from the city were glowing and it reminded me of everything that God has given us. On my last day of mission work, I went on Mobile Meals and then did the water wagon. On the mobile meals route we went to 18-20 houses. Our mission sights are only supposed to be 2 hours long, but this one lasted 3 hours. We were doing great on time but this one house took 30 minutes to find. It was crazy and a little stressful, but when we found the house it was even more crazy. The house had an alarm on it but we didn’t know that, so when we opened the gate to the man’s house we set off the alarm. It was really scary, but when the man came outside he had the biggest smile on his face and said thank you for his meal. It made all that stress go way because I knew that we were serving God and helping people out. After that house, we went back to the church and when we got there everyone else was already leaving for their next mission sight, but we were just getting lunch. After we ate lunch we got ready to do Water Wagon. That is where we fill up a huge pot of water with ice cold water and put snack in a wagon and walk the block and give it to the neighbors. My group leader asked if I wanted to pull the wagon and I did, it was supper heavy so it took a lot for me to pull it, but I did. About halfway through our walk a guy was painting and asked for water and some Cheetos. So we gave him the Cheetos and water, he showed us a painting he was working on and he needed orange paint so he told us he was using the Cheetos. When we walked back past him I saw the painting and it was beautiful. This showed me and example of the simple gifts that God has given us. On the last night we were in Knoxville, we had a time of reflection. Most people we reflecting on the week, but I reflected on the past 4 years that God has blessed me with being able to go to Knoxville. Even though the work might have been hard and tiring I knew that God was with me and would give me the strength and perseverance to push through it. I am so thankful that for the past 4 summers I have been able to serve God and the people of Knoxville, Tennessee in simple but yet ways that they can leave an impact on not just me but the people in that community. Now I am ready to continue to serve people following the example of Jesus Christ and to live in his way’s.  So in the past 4 years that is how God has made me stronger in my faith and how he has helped me through some pretty tough obstacles not only in Tennessee but everywhere I go.