Madi Ripa


I grew up in the church, I have always gone to Port City. I learned about God in Grow Zone and Treasure Island. I first came to God when I was young but I didn’t really understand it. I stayed at Port City up through Tsunami but I didn't really understand the whole God concept in 6th grade. At fuse my 7th-grade year Stuart Hall said, “If you want to accept Jesus and make it public, stand up.” I am very introverted and don’t like all the attention on me, so I didn’t stand up at first. But my heart was telling me “you need to stand up,” so all of a sudden I stood up. That was the turning point where I decided I needed to go to church for me and this is what it means to be a Christian. In 7th-grade we went to the Winter Jam and Sadie Robertson spoke that night. It was a big turning point for me. I really thought about what she said and that night I was thinking about it and that was when I decided to make my faith my own.

In 7th and 8th grade there was so much drama happening, I was really insecure about myself, and my friends were just dropping like flies. I had maybe one true friend and the rest of them all left. I felt like it was God’s fault that I was so insecure and losing friends. I felt really distant from him, I would go to Tsunami and feel like I wasn’t a good Christian because I kept blaming God for it. I was blaming him 24/7 for me not being a good Christian, not looking how society wanted me to look, and not having true friends. Now that I look back on it I thank God for all the drama I went through. I can now see the qualities of a true friend and I will be able to see which people I should and shouldn’t surround myself with.

My biggest struggle right now is insecurity. On the last night of SMSN the speaker was talking about how she was insecure about herself but now she feels like the only label she needs is “child of God.” Hearing that helped me but I haven't overcome it completely. When I read the bible it makes me feel empowered and I know that I might not be what society wants me to be but at least I’m what God wants me to be.

A verse that has impacted me would be John 3:16. It has shown me that Jesus died on the cross for me and I should be thankful for who I am and its helped me a lot through struggles in life. A worship song that has impacted me would be Oceans by Hillsong. Whenever I hear it all of my worries about the world just go away. I just focus on the song and thank God. I don't have to worry about what’s happening right now, what's going to happen in the future, or what’s happened in the past.

An important person in my faith journey would be Sarah, my small group leader from Fuse this year. Whenever we first met the night before Fuse I could tell she was a little nervous but we got really close during the week. During Fuse, she showed me a new view of God. When I got scared before white water rafting she told me that God wants me to be courageous. It was a turning point for me because she showed me a perspective of God without just saying bible verses.

I started journaling this summer and I’ve seen a change in my life. Instead of keeping all of my emotions in and not understanding or writing down what I think the scripture is saying, it’s made me feel more happy about life and more thankful for who I am and who I am growing up to be. It has made me more thankful for everything instead of just looking down and saying ”why am I not like this person, why did this happen to me, why is this not happening.” So journaling has been really impactful for me.

In 8th-grade, I got an award for being the “most optimistic.” I looked back on the year and saw how much people would come to me for advice. It showed me that even though I’m not saying bible verses and that God loves them, I can still talk to them about things and use what God has given me to help people through hard times. One piece of advice I would like to share is “don't be afraid to be who you are.” If you’re always being someone you’re not you’ll feel trapped and you won't find true happiness in life. If you're being yourself and find people who actually accept you for you and not who society wants you to be, then you’ll be truly happy and not just faking a smile each day.

During the D.C. mission trip last year I felt really close to God. I saw so much hurt but also I heard stories of how those people overcame their hurt. It really impacted me because I saw that even though someone goes through a really hard time they can still overcome it. There were a bunch of people that said God helped them through being homeless. It showed just how good God is and made me feel so close to him.

I am a Christian because I believe that Jesus died on the cross for me and I believe I have been made for something more than what society has made me. I am perfectly perfect the way I am. No matter what society says all I have to remember is God loves me no matter what and knowing that has helped me through so much in life.

[Carleigh Causey]