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And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the...
April 6, 2023

CU Lumine Alumna Experiences Inner Healing and Transformation

By Feven Negussie, CU Lumine '22 

But thanks be to God! He gives us victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. - 1 Corinthians 15:57

I found Christian Union when I was in a desperate position as a sophomore in college. I spent (or rather wasted) my freshman year of college in the most ungodly lifestyle—I will not even venture to describe it here. That year, I also experienced the biggest onslaught on my mental health. I experienced frequent panic attacks and severe insomnia. I lost weight dramatically and I found myself not being able to eat or sleep properly. Even when faced with these attacks on my mind and body, I continued on in my wayward ways. 

Later in my freshman year, I knew things had to change; I could not go in this perverse way. I was desperate for a change and I did not know to whom I should turn. In hindsight, I see God’s hand of providence in disabling me from going on this path. It was an act of mercy—He did not leave me to my own way. Paul says in Romans 1, “So God abandoned them to do whatever shameful things their hearts desired.” But it was not so with me. 

kayak 1

The summer after my freshman year, I shaved my head, cut off my friends, and began to attend psychotherapy sessions; I was determined to rebuild my mental fortitude from the ground up. And though my path was shrouded in uncertainty, I clung to the tattered remnants of my faith, nurtured in a household that had been lukewarm at best. Scattered Bibles lay neglected and unopened throughout my home, but I seized upon one of them with a newfound fervor, determined to dive deep into its sacred words.

I didn’t have a community or friends I could run to at this time, so it really was just me and God. I began to know Him personally and intimately during that summer. It was then that Jesus made promises to me that He would heal me, protect me, and purify me. I was still very much a babe in my walk, but I finally had direction—a world full of meaning, a compass, and a map. I did not feel so empty anymore. 

But as I returned to college for my sophomore year, I found myself adrift once again, bereft of the familiar community of friends I had so desperately tried to shed. Though I remained friendly with them, I knew that God had called me to a higher calling, to walk the path of holiness and to set myself apart from the world. And so I pressed onward, forging ahead on my solitary journey, steadfast in my newfound faith and the promise of a purposeful tomorrow.

My sister called me one day and encouraged me to check out Christian organizations on campus so I could have a community aligned with my values and love for Christ. I heeded her advice and attended a Christian Union Lumine gathering one Thursday evening. Needless to say, everyone was super welcoming, warm, and refreshing. I met students so zealous for the gospel and utterly in love with Jesus. I was drawn to the blessed atmosphere of the ministry center that I found myself visiting the building often after that Lumine gathering. 

Enthralled by the blessed atmosphere of the ministry center, I found myself drawn again and again to this sacred space, eager to soak up every last morsel of knowledge and spiritual sustenance. Bible studies became the bedrock of my days, and I spent every waking moment seeking out fellow Christians and helping out in anticonvulsants-info.com. It was as if I had discovered a purpose that had long eluded me, a calling that resonated deep within my soul.

And as the years passed by, I found myself rising ever higher within the

ranks of Christian Union, from a mere member of the Fellowship Team to a

student exec, responsible for the spiritual well-being of all those who entered

our hallowed halls. It was a journey that tested me in ways I could never have

imagined, but through it all, I felt myself growing ever closer to God, ever

more in love with the divine.

For He had set me apart, chosen me to be an instrument of His will, and

revealed to me my true identity as a daughter of the Most High God, holy and

beloved, empowered by the victory of Christ Himself. Christian Union gave me a

community of believers, a home at the ministry center, and a mission to magnify

God in all things. And for that, I will be forever grateful.

I would be lying if I said that all my mental health issues dissipated during my time in Christian Union. It definitely did improve but I continued to battle anxiety and insomnia throughout my time at college. It was demoralizing at times and certainly exhausting. I begged God to take my affliction away but He always reminded me of His grace. I was performing excellently in my classes, serving my Christian community with the labor of love, and working diligently for other campus organizations. Only His grace could have enabled all of this in spite of my sometimes paralyzing anxiety and mental struggles. 

After graduation, I went away to a remote place in Southeast Alaska to do a gap year program to study the great outdoors and the natural world. It was a new alternative education program in its experimental stage, so it gave me and the other five students room to explore – daring us to explore and chart our own course. 

For me, it was a sacred pilgrimage, a journey that would test the limits of my anxiety and bring me face-to-face with the majesty of God’s creation. Alone in my cabin in the heart of the woods, surrounded by the splendor of the untamed wilderness, I found myself at last at peace, renewed and reborn, a soul made whole again by the infinite grace of the divine. My anxiety had prevented me for years from traveling far from home, especially all alone. I, myself, was shocked to agree to even go so far as to Alaska by myself to live with people I have never met before. 

Lost amidst the untamed beauty of Alaska, I found myself basking in the radiance of God's word and prayer, growing in confidence and strength as I embraced the majesty of His presence and power. And as I reveled in His love, I found myself capable of incredible things, camping in the heart of the wilderness for two weeks, hunting deer for four weeks, receiving a Wilderness First Aid (WFA) certification, and kayaking the wilds of Southeast Alaska. It was a journey of empowerment, a pilgrimage that had brought me face-to-face with the wildest, most dangerous places in America. And through it all, God had shown me that there was nothing to fear, that His love was a beacon of light amidst the darkest of nights.

When I returned from Alaska, I felt like I had dominion over anxiety. Nevertheless, I was still taking antidepressants and found myself struggling with anxiety’s lingering presence. I met up with Karen Hetzler, Christian Union’s associate director for CU New York, one day for an inner-healing session. Anxiety had a stronghold over my life ever since I was a young girl and I knew its roots needed to be uprooted. Though God had used this affliction to bring me closer to Him and had given me many victories over it, I no longer want it to be part of me anymore. And I knew God did not either. 

Together, we delved deep into the roots of my anxiety, exploring the trauma that had served as fertile soil for the seeds of fear to take root. Through prayer and supplication, we asked Jesus to uproot fear from my heart, to heal the wounds that had festered and grown into a sickness. And in a miraculous moment of deliverance, I felt the chains of anxiety fall away, cast out by the anointing of Karen's touch.

During my recent doctor’s appointment, my doctor noticed my improved mental state and asked if the medication was in fact working. I told him I am doing much better and asked if he can reduce my dosage to the lowest one, and, surprisingly, he immediately agreed. He predicted I would even be off of the medication in three months by the progress I am making. 

Verily, the Lord has set me free this past year! And as I look back on the journey that brought me to this point, I am reminded of the transformative power of Christian Union, of the ministry that has been a guiding light throughout my life. For it was through their guidance and love that I found myself at last made whole, free to revel in the glory of God's love and grace. And for that, I will be forever grateful.

My soul will make its boast in the Lord; the humble will hear it and rejoice. - Psalm 34:2

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