Encounters & Life Change: Andria Witt

As we’ve been working through the Gospel According to Mark, we’ve discussed the power that a single encounter with another person can have in our lives. We asked some of our members to share what this has practically looked like in their own lives.

I have always fought change. Growing up in a family that moved to a new city every few years not only forced me to adapt to change, but it also became one of the few constants in my life. Every time we would move I would desperately try to hold on to friendships that I had worked so hard to cultivate. I felt very loyal to the girls with which I had bonded and shared so many of my life experiences. Friendship for me had always been about keeping in touch and maintaining relationships with those who knew everything about me. These women knew the details of my life: my likes and dislikes, my most embarrassing moments, my favorites movies, my ex-boyfriends, my love for basketball and Virginia Tech football. Although knowing the details of my life is wonderful and very important, I had elevated knowing things about me as the only way of really knowing me.

I continued to believe that those who held the details of my life were really the only ones who could understand me. After all, experiences shape who you are, right? This continued to be my mindset when I first moved to Denver. I thought to myself, “you can always make new friends, but your new friends will never fully understand you because they haven’t experienced your past with you”. Because of this mindset and never really attempting to understand community as God created it to be, it became very difficult for me to build deep relationships in Denver. So much of myself was deeply committed to other relationships. Little pieces of me were dispersed all over the country and out of loyalty I was not willing to share those parts of me with women here.

Over the past three and a half years, God, through the Summit Church family, has shown me what it means to be truly known yet still loved despite all of my shortcomings. He has used the women of His church to teach me so much about community as He created it to be. He has radically changed the way my heart and mind view friendships and community.  I have women in my life who truly know and understand my depravity. These women are deeply concerned for the health of my marriage and relationships, they ask difficult questions about how I am really doing and the condition of my heart, they pray on my behalf when I can’t find the strength or will to approach God on my own. These are all things I never imagined women in my community would do for me; details of my life that I never thought I would so willingly share.

For so long I allowed my own view of perfect friendships and community to keep me from deep, meaningful relationships. The women in Denver, who I have grown to love so deeply, may not know my favorite TV show in high school or where I was born, but they know me more intimately than I could have ever imagined and by God’s overwhelming grace, still love me!

Encounters & Life Change: Sean White

As we’ve been working through the Gospel According to Mark, we’ve discussed the power that a single encounter with another person can have in our lives. We asked some of our members to share what this has practically looked like in their own lives.

Of all the people whose lives have had a strong influence on me, one person in particular that I am especially grateful for is my younger brother Scott, for his pursuit of Jesus and living out the Gospel message. We grew up in Christian churches and attended Christian schools most of our lives. When I was about 10 or 11, our father said the sinner’s prayer with my two younger brothers and me. I asked Jesus to be my Savior and was baptized, and from that moment there were many times that I felt "on fire" for God in my youth. 

By college I'd become more concerned with friends, dating and partying than a relationship with Jesus. I rarely went to church or prayed, aside from the occasional "mini-crisis" prayer. Scott and I were roommates then, and he remained a very studious and shy kid. Despite the many promptings from his two older brothers to join in our foolish pursuits, Scott continued to pursue God. I took note of it and thought of him admirably, but was not much encouraged to change my ways.

Over the course of the next five years or so, I attempted to quell my thoughts and feelings of hopelessness and despair with relationships, entertainment, and addictions. Conversely, my brother, the once extremely shy kid I knew growing up had recently gone on a college mission trip and joined the Air Force. (We were all surprised by this one). It was very evident the impact a relationship with Jesus Christ had in Scott's life. He was about to embark on his first assignment and move to Denver. I knew I really needed a fresh start, and more importantly a renewed relationship with God. We talked about being roommates again. After some brief prayer and contemplation, I felt a peace about the decision. So we packed up and moved 1,100 miles from home to start new lives.

I quickly realized that my inner junk and turmoil didn't stay behind as I had hoped. For at least the first year afterwards, I questioned if I’d made the right decision. God was still pursuing me though and clearing out the junk in my life little by little. Scott told me he’d befriended a guy in college who had also recently moved to Denver to help his brother start a church plant. One night, he invited me join them at Wahoo's for some fish tacos. It was really exciting to hear how God called a group of them, largely people younger than me, to move across the country to reach the lost in a largely "unchurched" city.  

We were at another church then, but had not committed as members yet. Eventually, Scott began attending the Summit as well as City Group gatherings. He invited me a few times, and several people immediately welcomed me. I saw and felt God's love on display among them. Their calling to "be missionaries to the city" was evident. This then led to a couple extremely helpful conversations with Andy. So after some prayer and brief apprehension, I decided it was time to re-dedicate my life to Christ and commit to a church home. Because of God's influence through Scott, I chose him to baptize me as a sign of this new commitment to Jesus. 

In the time since, Scott has continued to be a great example of what it means to pursue Christ in all things, as have many at the Summit. So again, I give thanks to God for my “little” brother, and all of my Summit family. I praise Him for the salvation and joy we have through the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and I'm continually humbled and emboldened by the powerful and sanctifying work of his Holy Spirit.

Encounters & Life Change: Sarah Lovinger

As we’ve been working through the Gospel According to Mark, we’ve discussed the power that a single encounter with another person can have in our lives. We asked some of our members to share what this has practically looked like in their own lives.

It was by no coincidence that I became a Christian just four days after meeting Taylor Dame.

Taylor is one of the first people that I met after landing in Florence, Italy for a semester abroad. We sat next to each other on the taxi from the airport to our separate apartments and when I waved goodbye I had no reason to think that I would ever see her again.

But, thankfully, I did see Taylor again. We ran into each other the very next night and were inseparable from that point forward. On our first Saturday night in Florence Taylor asked me if I would go to church with her the following day. My first thought? Absolutely not.  But the funny thing is, when you’re in a foreign country and you don’t know anyone, you’re not really in the position to turn away friends. So I agreed to go.

That first Sunday that I went to church with Taylor I gave my life to Christ. In short, it was a miracle, and it all started with a simple invitation to join a stranger in going to church.

Taylor taught me countless things about what it means to be a follower of Jesus. But most importantly what I learned from her is how God desires to work in us and through us to make Himself known and to change lives. He wants to meet us exactly where we are at and use us there for His glory. He takes our small prayers, our mundane conversations, and simple invitations and makes them extraordinary.

When Taylor invited me to go to church with her she didn’t do anything extravagant. She didn’t speak really beautiful words about God or try really hard to convince me to go with her. On top of that she didn’t care that I was a stranger in a strange place or that she didn’t even know where the church that she was inviting me to was, she just asked.

God calls us to go into the world proclaiming His name and to make disciples of all nations. Sometimes, if not most of the time, doing that doesn’t mean doing extraordinary things. It means being obedient to His calling and placing Him at the center of every interaction, trusting that He is going to bless our words and actions and use them in ways so much greater than what we could intend or imagine.  We can do so little but He does so much through us.

I praise God for Taylor and for the way that she impacted my life. I praise Him for the way that He desires to use every single one of us in similar ways.  It is my prayer that we, like Taylor, might step out in faith and invite strangers in strange places into our churches and homes, into relationship with us and into relationship with our Heavenly Father. I pray that we do all of this in the confidence that He will do infinitely more in and through us than we could ever hope or plan for.