BY NICOLLE MARLOW
As a kid you hear that your actions speak louder than words, and that words are made true in action. Jesus proved the ultimate action through the cross in love - “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” 1 John 4:10. This love is radical, a love that died for us, knowing we might not choose to love Him back. When we accept Jesus into our hearts, we receive the gift of relationship with our Heavenly Father for eternity, and the Holy Spirit. We do not have to be perfect, clean up, or become better for God to love us. Jesus is and was the perfect sacrifice, so that we would no longer have to be held to a standard of perfection. THIS IS GOOD NEWS! We do not have to change for God to love us; because God loves us, we then start to become who He has created us to be through the Holy Spirit - “For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases Him.” Philippians 2:13-15. This beautiful truth has transformed not only mine, but my best friend, Alexis Redfield’s life.
I decided to leverage my life towards the WSU athletes in August of 2016. This was towards the end of a summer spent with Project Summer, and the beginning of my final season on the WSU Soccer team. At first I didn’t necessarily know what leading athlete ministry through Resonate would look like. But what I did know was that I trusted a faithful God, who was and is capable of anything. My desire to pursue athletes came from my ultimate desire - to glorify the Lord, through loving others. This became ultimate to me as I quickly understood the depth and necessity of Jesus’ love for me. Knowing my story and journey throughout my athletic career, I believed it would be easy to connect with other athletes who were walking through similar situations I did. This is what brought me some of the most joy! Through serving God and watching Him work, all I had control over was my response - so I decided to say “yes.” Yes to the sweetest adventure that life could offer - living for Jesus and making His name known!
Over the last few years, I have started to truly believe God is faithful and immutable. Shane Thompson and I led athlete ministry together my entire senior year, and when this past school year came around, we decided to keep at it. However, we knew what God was calling us to could only be done through the power of the Holy Spirit. We were humbled at the beginning of this past fall semester when we found ourselves desperately needing His help.
Each week at village coaching, we would cry out to God, asking Him to bring athletes from death to life. I had never been given the opportunity to pray with someone as they accepted Jesus as their Savior, and then continue discipling them. I prayed fervently for God to use me, knowing how mighty and powerful He is. My soul longs to see athletes discover their true purpose; playing for the glory of the One that created them. Competing in total freedom and joy, knowing their identity is not found in their sport, but Jesus alone.
It was discouraging at the beginning of the year not seeing fruit in athlete ministry, but Jesus’ words to Paul - “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” 2 Corinthians 12:9 became so real to Shane and I as God’s grace has taken athlete village and created a family! This spring semester the Lord also so graciously brought Alexis Redfield, our sweet sister to us!
During this season God took things away from me, but at the same time was still merciful to bring His presence. He reminded me that every branch cut off is for His glory as he says in John 15:5 - “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit, apart from me you can do nothing.” Through this God wanted me to turn to Him first, learning to be vulnerable with Him, so that in result I could do the same thing with people like Alexis! We first met at McGee Park at the beginning of fall semester, and after meeting her, I prayed for the Lord to work in her heart. She was so genuine with passion for track and field, little did she know the instant light she possessed was soon going to be used to shine even brighter through the power of the Holy Spirit. I didn’t see her again until a few months later at church with her teammate - can you say, “ONLY GOD?!”
We met for coffee the next day and the Holy Spirit articulated the Gospel so clearly to her through our conversation. Alexis longed for something deeper. The relationship that is offered through Jesus that would fulfill her hunger for what never satisfied from this world. Her response was to surrender her entire life to Him! God has been faithfully pursuing Alexis, proving that He answers prayers beyond what we can ever imagine. Only God could have brought her from death to life!
Alexis is small in stature, yet a giant in God’s Kingdom! Her desire to read the Word is beautiful as she is constantly asking questions to further her understanding of who He is. Alexis is truly an answered prayer, and what an honor it is to disciple her! The anthem of her life since following Jesus has been - “The Lord is my light and my salvation, the stronghold of my life - of whom shall I be afraid? Psalm 27:1. She was baptized on March 18th and has said yes to going to Elevate this summer! It is so encouraging to see her obedience and new found joy in everything she does and in the creation around her, only because of her understanding of the Creator’s love.
Learning what it looks like to invest into people’s lives the way Jesus invested into the lives of his disciples is so much fun! What did all the disciples have in common other than Jesus? This is the same common ground I want to have with all people who are curious of the gospel, just like Alexis was. I disciple people by pouring into their lives, and in God’s mercy they pour into mine. It is extremely important to me to love people the way Christ loves us, which is what drives my passion to share the good news with all people even though I am so undeserving. Brother Yun says it perfectly in The Heavenly Man, “We are absolutely nothing. We have nothing to be proud about. We have no abilities and nothing to offer God. The fact that he chooses to use us is only due to his grace. It has nothing to do with us”.