Kenneth James (K.J.) Atwood
HOW DID YOU BECOME A CHRISTIAN?
Freshmen year is hard. Coming in to school from a little-south-of-nowhere farm town seemed to make it a little harder. The RA on my hall and his friends loved me incredibly well throughout my whole adjustment process. They were with me when I kept getting lost on my way to the science building, they were there to celebrate me in the few moments those two first semesters that I had cause to, and they were there with me when everything felt like it was falling apart and I just needed a friend. And, as they made abundantly clear, they also happened to be Jesus freaks. I had never seen anyone follow Christ so well, so intentionally, or so consistently. I realized that for me that religion was just a cultural norm, and I did not give off the same beautiful fragrance as these people did. So I started asking a lot of questions, reading books, talking to various religious leaders, and my new friends were always willing to answer me as best they could. I figured since supposedly my eternity was on the line nothing else was too important until I figured the whole God thing out. I decided to go to LP the summer following my freshmen year. I met a lot more people, much like my friends, who were all in on this guy Jesus. And who, by virtue, put up with me and all my wickedness despite themselves. It was just after LP that the reality of the gospel, and that I stood as an enemy to it, finally and adequately sunk into my soul. After wrestling with the notion of "God" for some months, I finally got my answer: God not only existed, he was not only love, but he was near, and in his nearness he gave himself for me. What a miracle! My mind is still forming around such an unbelievable notion though now I see it as absolute truth after encountering the Spirit—Christ and Christ crucified.
HOW HAS YOUR LIFE CHANGED?
Since becoming a Christian, I've had the opportunity to build my faith from the ground up. Though it hasn't been very long, taking the step from darkness to light has already turned my life on its head. I've experienced a joy, a peace, and a hope in Jesus that I haven't found in anything else. This has completely transformed how I treat others, how I think, how I spend my time, and what I talk about have all completely changed. Plainly, Jesus of Nazareth has moved from a casual figure in history to the most important person in my life. Now, in everything I do, I seek to reflect Jesus, and he's helped me to look at everything through an eternal lens.
WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO AFTER COLLEGE?
At some point after college I'd love to move overseas and get involved in some sort of mercy ministry, both directly and by means of helping mobilize people and resources to serve those in need, particularly in crisis areas. I'm not exactly sure what I'm doing right after graduation. I've prayed exhaustively for direction, and God has been faithful in revealing his will to me step-by-step. I've interned both at home and abroad with various organizations trying to find the right fit. Presently, I haven't come to a final decision, but I've applied a few places and had a few interviews.
ANY ADVICE FOR MAKING THE MOST OUT OF COLLEGE?
To anyone looking to maximize their time in college, I would say to maximize your sacrifice. You know that old euphemism, "he does ___ religiously" and how everyone works 'religiously' for anything but religion? Be an exception. Go against the grain. The days are long, but the years are short. Live a life you couldn't live if you weren't a dwelling place of God. By the Spirit, look, think, eat, and breath, as much like Jesus as you can. Pour over the scriptures to see what that looks like. Make purity a priority. Partner in carrying others burdens as He has come to carry yours. Seek the hurting and the lonely. Make prayer your first language. We love to over complicate things, but Jesus said it best and most plainly in Matthew 16:24-25: "Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves, and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it."