Can you remember the moment when God became real to you?
Aniya can remember that season of her life clearly. Her grandfather was a pastor, and she was raised in the Apostolic church. She spent a fair amount of time there with her family and was especially close to her grandparents. When Aniya was around nine years old, life got difficult. Her grandmother died, her younger sister was born with health troubles, people began leaving her church, which brought on a lot of gossip, and things just seemed to be spiraling out of control. Her sister was given several serious diagnoses. Due to other circumstances, her family had to move, which meant changing schools. There was a lot of turmoil for someone so young.
During this move, Aniya met The Salvation Army. She continued to attend the Apostolic Church with her family, but attended VBS (Vacation Bible School) at The Salvation Army, which led to attending weekly Character Building programs. Aniya says that it was at the Army where she first heard the Gospel articulated in a way that stuck with her. Life was a mess, but it was at this point that God became real to Aniya. She had attended church since birth, would pray and had knowledge of the Bible, but it didn’t become real to her until this time. Aniya says, “My faith was based on circumstance but what do you do when that circumstance changes?” Aniya turned to God and began to grow.
Aniya continued to grow in the Lord but hit a roadblock in high school. She began to struggle in her faith and questioned her beliefs. But Aniya was determined to figure out if her faith was real or if she was just following what she had been taught to follow; she dove into the Bible to find out what she truly believed. This journey continued as she entered college and fell away from her home church. At college, Aniya reconnected with a friend that she had met at a Salvation Army summer camp as a child. Her friend invited her to the corps (church) and from that point on, The Salvation Army became Aniya’s church home.
Today, Aniya is an active and vibrant Salvationist. She is a student ministry leader, works at the after-school program and attends Bible Study. Aniya’s goal for the future is to live a life of ministry, not necessarily being a pastor, but in living a life that points to Jesus as she teaches kids and serves at her corps. She hopes for a family someday that she can raise to serve the Lord as she lives a life of service to Him.