birmingham Staff

tessa bailey

women's staff shepherd

I grew up in a home where I attended church semi-regularly and thought I had a clear understanding of what it meant to be a Christian. All I had ever seen was a cultural Christian type mentality, where you attend church on Sundays, then come home and live the rest of the week as if Christ did not exist. I knew I was a sinner, but never really understood that my sin was not just outward actions, but a heart level rebellion against God. So as most did, I said a prayer that I thought would save me from hell. As I began to get older, a hatred for Christianity grew in my heart, as everyone I knew that claimed to be a Christian looked like the rest of the world and had caused some of the deepest pain in my heart. I began to blame God for brokenness and hurt that I had experienced. Nothing about Christianity was attractive to me. My life was defined by worldly success, as I found my identity in grades, my reputation, and being well-liked. I desperately searched for approval from others, thinking if I could gain acceptance and “status” that the emptiness inside my heart would be filled. This was a continuous cycle that continued into the beginning of college that left me searching and empty.
My freshman year, a woman on staff with Campus Outreach sat next to me at a lunch table, and a relationship formed. I knew she was a Christian, but soon began to realize that her life looked much different than anyone I had ever seen. Although I had made my perception of Christianity clear, she still continued to love me. She challenged me to join a small group of girls who were all together reinvestigating who Christ was. She challenged me to find out for myself who Christ was and what He had done. Through this study, the wonderful news of the Gospel began to take root in my heart. For the first time, I understood that my sin was more than a list of wrong things I had done, but a rebellion against a perfect God. In His mercy, He sent his son, Jesus, to take the punishment and wrath that my sins had warranted me. His death became atonement for my sin. Through his resurrection, Christ did what I could not do--conquer sin and death. By His death and resurrection, my debt has been paid; my slate has been wiped clean. Through Christ, death has been conquered on my behalf, and I can be in relationship with Christ forever.