Hello. My name is Hannah. I am seventeen years old. During the time leading up to this blog post, I had difficulty thinking about what to write. The only thing I was able to come up with was a witty introduction that said, “Hello! My name is Hannah, and I’m a THRIVEaholic.” I decided against that though. I’m about to share a student’s perspective on this life-changing movement known as THRIVE based on my experiences, and some of what I am about to say may be rather surprising. Well…this is my story.
I grew up in a Christian household, so I’ve known God my entire life. That’s just how I’ve been raised. When I first asked Christ to be my Savior, I was a little girl in my mom’s car. I don’t remember all the details, but what stands out most is what happened after I said, “Mommy? I want to ask Jesus into my heart. Will you pray with me?” I can’t remember ever seeing my mom happier. As I continued to grow up, I loved going to church and spending time with my family and friends.
Things changed though. I must have been six or seven years old, but something drastically devastating happened that changed my life. I’m unable to give any details at this point in time, but I carried the burden of a secret between God and myself for about ten years. The devil fed me lies, and I believed them. My belief in those lies made me hold onto my secret even tighter. Anytime I felt my life was going well, the devil would remind me of my “little” secret and would bring me down again. No one ever knew because I never let it show.
I continued on in life and went from homeschooling to private school and eventually to public school. All of those experiences taught me different lessons, and while I didn’t enjoy many of them, I’m grateful I learned them. At the private school, I began to build a shell. I refused to talk to anybody for fear of being made fun of. I didn’t know how to take a compliment because of all the insults this shell had been built with. At church, I only talked to two people besides my mommy. But this is where THRIVE comes in!
Pastor Franco came to Faith Bible Church at the age of twenty-four. He was very young and was entirely new to this, but he connected with us students in a way that’s indescribable. He was the one that was able to get me to speak to people again. Now he just wishes that I’d be quiet… He took our youth group from eight kids in a disgustingly yellow living room to over fifty in the sanctuary of our church. Many students have been saved for the first time or have rededicated their lives to Christ at THRIVE. I don’t know why God chose our church for all the amazing things He’s doing through Pastor Franco, but I can honestly say I’m glad He did.
Other than my mom, Pastor Franco seemed to be the one person I could always trust, the one person who always understood me. He listened to me when I was happy about my good grades in school, when I was in a fight with a friend or family member, or when I was depressed about something.
On Monday, April 30, 2012, my family discovered some of the most devastating news of all: my mom had lung cancer. Pastor Franco was the first person I called. He helped me throughout the whole thing. He told me that I was so strong, but it only seemed like that because God gave me strength and gave me THRIVE for support. A week before finals (June 5), my mom passed away. Everything happened so quickly, I still feel like it’s just a bad dream. Even now God, Pastor Franco, and THRIVE are still there for me and my family.
At Apex 2012, God had me become completely vulnerable and share the secret I had been holding onto for ten years with Pastor Franco. I told him everything that had happened to me. I told him all the lies the devil planted in my head. He brought me to pray with some people, and I could feel the chains I had been carrying since I was seven years old shatter and fall from my shoulders. Pastor Franco and a few other THRIVE people could see the difference just ten minutes later. They said that I looked completely at peace. (I am very grateful though, because I was able to share this with my family before my mommy passed away.)
I have had so many more experiences with THRIVE than what I mentioned, but I would never find the time to list all of them. Besides, God is using THRIVE to change others teenagers’ lives, not just mine. As I’m writing this, I’m actually going through a dry spot in my faith right now, but I can still see God working in THRIVE and in all the students’ lives. There is no doubt that He is doing something. God is taking THRIVE to places no one would ever have expected. Even our peers who aren’t saved yet can see the difference. There is no doubt that big things are stirring up in this youth movement, and we’re preparing for them. God is about to do something. You don’t want to miss any of it. If you haven’t yet, look at the other student perspectives and see what others say about THRIVE as well. I can guarantee I’m not the only one who’s had a life-changing experience. I can guarantee that they sense something big coming as well. You can either be a part of the movement or watch it take place, but either way, people’s lives are about to be changed by being introduced to the love of Christ through the testimonies of all these teenagers. And THAT is what THRIVE’s about.