God is preforming remarkable miracles of redemption in the lives of students! Here is a story of a joyful young woman who recently came to know Christ through BCM.
I didn’t grow up in a Christian home; I didn’t really even know what Christianity was until I was about seven or eight years-old. But seven or eight isn’t where it begins. Let’s start at the beginning.
I was born into a very broken family. My mother was into some hard-core drugs, and honestly could care less about my three sisters and myself. My oldest sister, Brittnie, was six when I was born; and she quickly became much more of a mother to me. She took care of us, fed us, bathed us, and even made sure that my two middle sisters got to the school bus on time. All the while my mother was off focusing more on men and drugs. When I was two, a neighbor saw Brittnie digging through the trash for food, and called social services. Social services came to our house, and instead of taking us immediately, they gave my mother three chances to straighten up. They told her that they would be back every week for three weeks, and if she didn’t get the placed cleaned up and us looking better they would take us and place us in the foster care system. Well as you could guess, she didn’t straighten up her act. So on the last week we were taken and put into a foster home. Throughout this time, Brittnie’s social worker in charge of our case promised her that we would never be split up. The social worker did everything in her power to make sure that we were put into a home that would take four girls. For about four years we were bounced around to six different foster homes. Each one saying they couldn’t handle all four girls, they would keep one or two of us, but couldn’t deal with all four of us. The social worker was dedicated to keep her promise though.
The Christmas I turned five, a family finally showed interest in us, not just one of us, but all four! We went to their house a lot for three months, and in May, just before my sixth birthday, we were adopted. We finally had a family, the Cottons. It was so great to have a last name that I could say was actually mine. We were finally a real family with a mom and a dad. Little did we know my two middle sisters, Christina and Samantha, had a mental illness called Reactive Attachment disorder. This means that they were unable to consistently connect with our mother, which caused them to have issues connecting with people coming into their lives. Causing them to have very severe trust issues, this eventually led to them to not trust my parents at all. After two years of causing lots of problems at school, and with the police, Christina and Samantha were taken from our home and put into homes for children with similar struggles. After about six months, Brittnie ran away from home because she “hated my parents for splitting us up.”
So at the age of ten, I became an only child. After struggling with the things that my sisters had done to them, my parents kind of turned away from me. We lost the connection that we had had before my sisters were taken, we grew apart fast. I never could blame the situation on them though. I always told myself that they didn’t build a connection with me because they were afraid that I would leave just like my sisters did. I always tried to be the best I could be though, to show them that I wasn’t going to leave. When I was 18, I stopped trying to get my parents attention by doing good things, and started doing bad. I began to retreat to partying. I figured that it would catch their eye better if I was in trouble than if I was doing good things, it never really did though. I graduated high school, moved out, and kept living the same lifestyle. Going out and getting drunk became a regular routine in my life.
Then I moved to Sheridan for school. And yup, you guessed it, I kept partying. I actually partied more here than I ever did at home. It was “fun and exciting” while I was doing it, but afterwards I always regretted it. But I was definitely living up to “the college life” expectations.
One Thursday evening in mid September, while playing pool with some friends, I heard beautiful music coming from a room down the hall. Since music had always been something I listened to, to lift up my spirits, I followed the sound. When I peeked in the room I saw one of my friends, Lance, and he told me to join in, so I did. The room was being used by BCM (Baptist Collegiate Ministries) which is the Christian Collegiate fellowship on campus. I decided I would go every once in a while, so when I wasn’t busy on Thursday nights, I would go to BCM. Slowly I started to feel empty, and for some reason alcohol wasn’t filling the hole anymore. I couldn’t figure out what was going on. But I stopped wanting to party as much, and I started wanting to hang out with the students that attended BCM. Over Christmas break I started to get really into learning about God. All of the sudden I stopped wanting to know the hot new party drinks, and I wanted to know more about Jesus and the Bible. In February, I was invited to join BCM on a retreat to Laramie. I wasn’t planning on going, but just before the trip, a friend convinced me to go so she wouldn’t be alone.
After a weekend of hearing testimonies, I was ready to go home; I didn’t feel like I belonged there. I was so out of place, totally surrounded by believers. On the last night, a girl I barely knew came up to me and asked if I needed to talk. For some reason, I said yes. That night Addy and I talked for hours. I told her my story, and said that if God was real he never would have let a little girl go through what I did. I also said that even if he was real he wouldn’t want me because I was a sinner, and I knew I wasn’t ready to stop doing what I was doing with my life. Addy explained that God gave us freedom and everlasting life in Him, so that we have live in hope; and that one day we will once again turn to him. That is was sin and brokenness that causes pain, and that people like my biological and adopted parents can cause hurt and pain in your life. Then she read to me Romans 8:1-2 “So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of the sin that leads to death.” This made me realize that it didn’t matter what I had done in the past, God forgives even the greatest of sins. After lots more questions on my part, Addy read me Romans 10:9-10 “If you openly declare that Jesus is the Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved.” So right then and there on February 21st 2015, I decided to open my heart up to God. I decided that I wanted to live my life for him. And in that moment I realized why the alcohol wouldn’t fill the hole; it was because it was a God shaped hole that truly only God could satisfy.
Since that day, I have grown immensely with God. Not only did I start attending BCM regularly, but I started going to church every Sunday. I also stopped partying, doing drugs, and started focusing my life on God. I went on a mission trip to Dallas Texas with BCM, which I can honestly say changed my life. It opened my eyes to the actual presence of God. It also opened my heart to things I never really cared about. In May I decided to get baptized, so right before school got out, my BCM family threw a baptism party, where me and another BCM member, Kendyll, were baptized.
Since February, I have felt so alive! I don’t think I ever had this feeling in my whole life. Before knowing Jesus, at times I had been happy; but I had never felt worthy before in my life. Now that I know that I am living for something that is greater than anything else, I’ve stopped trying to look for approval in others.
Not only did I become saved that night, I also became a member of a family that I know loves me very much, and I love them. One of my favorite Christian songs is call All Of Me, and the reason I love it is because it says, “the truth is spoken, I’m no orphan anymore” and all my life I have kind of felt like an orphan until I became a Christian, and now I am a part of a huge family that I know each and every one of them loves me just as much and some even more as I love them.
“God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.”