Sarah parks

Campus Staff (University of Louisville)

I grew up in a Christian home where I regularly attended church, heard the gospel, and read the Bible.  At an early age, I told my parents that I wanted to pray to accept Jesus into my heart and become a Christian, but I remember very clearly that my motivations were only born of the knowledge that this was the “right” thing for me to do, the thing that would please my parents. As I grew up, I relied on my own ability to live what I thought to be a good Christian life in order to feel secure with God. When I failed (which was often) I would be distraught and make promises to do better, leaving me in a cycle of ups and downs that was really and truly focused on me and not on the Lord or on the person of Jesus Christ.

During a missions trip with my youth group right before I started high school, I was confronted with my misunderstanding of the gospel through the clear and firm teaching of one of the leaders. Where I had been relying on my own works and righteousness, I was meant to trust in the life and sacrifice of Jesus, who was the only one able to live a life pleasing to God. By God’s grace I grew in a true understanding of the gospel – the depth of my sinfulness and the depth of the love of God to rescue me completely apart from my own ability to do so.

As I walked through high school and began college I began to see the fruit of this new understanding and of growing into my new identity. The acceptance of others was no longer primary in my life – with my peers I was not willing to betray my identity as a child of God in order to be loved or included; with my parents I found myself willingly confessing sin to them without fear, but with hope of forgiveness and help in fighting my sin. With this grew my desire to share the gospel and my willingness to face possible rejection for it. This became most evident in college as I felt the Lord leading me to lead Bible studies and become involved in the lives of other girls, all while stumbling through what it meant to live as a Gospel presence amongst nonbelievers. Part of this growing denial of fear of man also involved a growing boldness to proclaim the Gospel these non-Christian friends, as well as growing in my understanding of what it meant to love them and share my life with them, and not to just spit the Gospel out at the first available opportunity.

My parents had faithfully led us in reading the Bible throughout our childhood and once we became Christians they encouraged us to read the Bible for ourselves. My desire for the word grew once I became a Christian and I saw the Holy Spirit use it for my sanctification and my comfort. When I went to college I had a clear desire to lead a bible study, convinced of the importance and centrality of scripture in the Christian life and grateful for the informal lifetime of training from my father in particular, and began to do so at the beginning of my second year. After that, I helped younger girls learn how to lead Bible studies and partnered with them in that.