How Josh met Jesus at Grace Clermont
What kind of church experience did you have growing up, and how did that shape your thoughts about God and/or Christianity as an adult?
I grew up going to church occasionally, but it never made sense to me. And it certainly never connected to real life. It seemed at best, like a ritual, and I didn’t pay attention to anything. Even back then I thought if God was actually real, that truth should change my everyday life. It should make a definite impact. But I always left church exactly the same as I walked in. I considered the whole thing a fairy tale, and I eventually developed a very negative attitude toward anything to do with Christianity. I wanted nothing of it.
How did you hear about Grace Clermont?
My wife found out about Grace Clermont from an Internet search. She was looking for a local church to attend, and decided to check it out. I was happy she found what she was looking for, but had no intentions of ever attending with her.
What were your first thoughts about being invited?
In all honesty, I made fun of my wife for going to Grace. For getting up every Sunday, and attending church in a school. It seemed so strange to me. But I would drop her and the kids off, run errands, then come back to pick them up. I knew my wife wanted me to come, and she asked me if I would be willing to try it. Hesitantly, I agreed, but my heart was negative, and my expectations were very low.
What caused those thoughts to start to change?
Late last summer, I couldn’t get the thought out of my mind that there had to be more to life than what I was living. And although I had struggled with that concept before, I began to actually search for real answers to that idea. I had no clue that Pastor Caleb would teach things from the Bible that would apply to my life and help me change and become the man I needed to be. I went from teasing my wife for being part of Grace, to wanting to come back each week so I could learn more.
How did your thoughts about Jesus transform over time?
Previously, I considered Jesus a fictional character. I did not believe that He was real, and certainly didn’t believe that He had ever transformed anyone’s life. But as I was exposed to the gospel at Grace, my heart began to change. Not only did I begin to accept Him as truth, I began to feel His presence in my life. I realized that He had experienced suffering, and understood every struggle and temptation I face. I realized that He had walked every path before me, and I that I was never alone. For the first time I felt hope, because I understood that His death meant life for me. It meant that there was a way for me to have purpose, and ultimately to be with God.
Who and what did God use to bring you to faith?
Once I began coming to Grace, some of the guys there truly started taking an interest in me and my life. In my former church experience, literally no one had ever spoken to me. I didn’t even know that was a thing people did at church. But these guys were different. They weren’t trying to change me, or recruit me, they just wanted to get to know me. They wanted to hang out. They wanted to be involved in my life. They honestly cared about me, and I was stunned. Those relationships opened my eyes to the truth of the gospel. My heart had been incredibly hard, but suddenly I found God breaking through.
How would you describe what Christ has done for you?
Jesus has given me everything. Although I didn’t realize it, I was trying to carry the unbearable burden of my sin, and it was killing me. He extended forgiveness. He took my sin, and in exchange I received His perfection. My whole life I had been searching for something to make me happy. Everything else I had tried was just a dead end, but not this time. Jesus offered the fulfillment I had always been searching for. He has transformed my entire life.
What are your next steps at Grace Clermont?
I definitely want to be baptized, to show others my commitment to Christ. I’m already serving in GraceOps, and love the chance I have to give back to my church. One day, I want someone to be thankful because of me. I want someone else to meet Christ at Grace Clermont, for their life to be changed, because of something God used me to do. I want others to know that God is pursuing them, and hasn’t given up on them. I want to be a light that leads others to truth and shows them that no matter what they’ve done, it’s not too late to turn to God. He’s there waiting for them, just like He was for me.
Interview by Christie Garrett; photograph Kelsey Koslowski. This article appeared in the Spring 2018 edition of Grace Magazine.