John Studebaker’s Spiritual Journey
My family attended church occasionally during my youth, but somehow I came to believe that faith was “illogical” and “boring.” I would ask myself after a church service, “How could God be so boring?” So I concluded that God and Christianity were unprovable and thought of myself as an atheist.
However, during my Jr. year of High School, several of my good friends became Christians. I witnessed their lives changing, and they even invited me to attend a retreat with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. I figured I was into Fellowship and athletics, so 2 out of 3 was ok! At the retreat one of the counselors explained that Jesus Christ fulfilled over 300 Old Testament prophecies. He also explained that the fulfillments were all recorded in the New Testament, which was written over 400 years after the closing of the Old. He stated that the odds of this occurring by chance were so small it was as if someone had piled the state of Texas 4 feet deep in silver dollars, painted one of the red, and asked me to pick out the red one!
Also, at this retreat, I was asked to sit in on a prayer meeting. I was planning to simply observe the meeting, but when it came my turn to give a request I thought I would “test” Christianity out! I asked them to pray that I would get an “A” in chemistry class that semester. However, this wasn’t normal chemistry – this was AP chemistry – and my chances of getting an A were VERY small. As I turned out, I think I was the only student to receive an A in that course, and I did it with one point to spare on the final exam.
Finally, at the retreat, a friend shared with me that Christianity is not simply a religion – it is ultimately a relationship with God.
These events, along with a few others, really got me thinking about the Christian faith and my purpose in life. I was a very pessimistic person, thinking there was no real point for my life. So one day, around August 1, 1978 (the summer after graduating), I sat down to decide if God existed or not. I wrote down all the reason God might exist on one side of a page, and all the reason against God’s existence on the other. I even weighted each point 1-5, and added them up. The two sides tied!
I then figured that, since my life seemed so purposeless, I might as well pray the “sinner’s pray” to see what might happen. But I really don’t know how to do this, so I simply prayed, “God, if you are there, do whatever you do when someone is saved, amen.” I felt silly praying this, so I got up and tried to forget about it. However, 3 days later, I was driving in my car and, for the first time in my life, I felt true joy on the inside. There was also a message running through my head, “You’re going to have a great life!” Wow. All the sudden I remembered the prayer I had prayed, and now wondered if I had become a Christian.
Three weeks later I headed off to college. In the first week I met someone involved in Campus Crusade for Christ. I had an incredible desire to go to the CCC meeting. At the meeting I stood up and proclaimed to 300 people that I might have become a Christian that summer, but wasn’t sure. Over the next few weeks a couple guys in my dorm (also involved in CCC) began to explain the basics of my new faith.
Over the years I’ve consistently grown in my faith in Christ. I have always tried to focus primarily on developing my relationship with the Lord, and secondarily how this might overflow to others. After college I went on staff with CCC, and after two years entered theology school. I’ve been on staff with several ministries over the past 30 years: Campus Crusade, 2 churches, Probe Ministries Int’l, have taught at 3 Christian Colleges, and now serve as Executive Director of Bridge Ministries Inc. and as Lecturer in Religion at Hillsdale College. Thanks and Praise to God, who has truly graced me with a “Great life!”