Micah Wharrie / August 9, 2015 / It all stared with a simple invitation

My story begins playing volleyball at the beach. Clinton Wilson and friends invited me to his church. That next day while signing up for classes, my guidance counselor, Tracy Korb, invited me to her church. Later that week I was yet again invited to the same church. With three invitations in a single week I decided to check it out. I began attending the church although sporadically and I sat in the back mostly disengaged. I was probably more interested in the girls. By the way, that’s why I sit in the front row now…I don’t get distracted. Anyway, I remember several times when Jerry would be encouraging the audience to come to Christ, I would have this irrational fear that he would come down from the stage and ask me directly. In those moments, with my heart pounding and my eyes fixed on the ground I always came to the same conclusion- I couldn’t give up my current lifestyle to follow Jesus.

In 2007 I went away to a Christian college where I was presented with the Gospel many more times. I transferred to big state college where I studied partying. I graduated with something like a 2.3 GPA. But I did graduate. This was an exciting time of my life, returning home as a recent college graduate I looked forward to my next venture. Yet something was bothering me. It was a familiar feeling. I hadn’t accomplished much with my life but even what I did seemed hollow. I continued to linger about… going to church, partying, seeking after bigger and better aspirations. Then one day I had a conversation with Daryn. During, he asked me point blank if I knew I were going to Heaven. He reiterated, “A gun to your head, before the bullet passes through your brain, do you know you’re going to Heaven?” I didn’t. The question seemed so real, so absolute. During this time, there was a mounting frustration with the lack of satisfaction in my life. I began to consider: if there is a God and he created everything then he did it for a reason and I had a purpose.

This produced a shift in my priorities. I started attending Gulf Coast more regularly, I started paying attention, and I even started reading my Bible. What’s more, I began to understand what I was reading! Months later, at church, I thought, “I sort-a believe this stuff, when did this happen?” I was still very fearful, I thought maybe I was being brain washed. But I also was falling deeply in love with this God I was learning about. I began to see all of the things I once built my life on fading into the background and I was faced with the very expensive decision. Trembling, I prayed a prayer I have repeated many times since, “God please be real.” For the first time I was willing to give everything I had and everything I could have to follow Jesus.

My life was reoriented. I began to consume the Bible, I read it in eight months. I attended both Sunday services, two prayer meetings, a bible study, and a Community Group every week. I was no longer living for my own happiness but to love God and my neighbor. Some good advice led me to explore the medical field as a way of living out this new life. Academics however, was not my strongpoint. I was held back a grade and expelled from two schools, I almost failed out of high school, and my college GPA was a joke but I didn’t want to limit God so I enrolled in pre-medical biology at USF St. Pete. I was petrified. I didn’t tell anyone why I was going back to school.

So this is pretty cool: Years prior to my start at USF, the church pastors began praying for the creation of an on-campus ministry. Ryan Carver started that ministry the same semester I began my classes and I was supplied with a Christian brother right there on campus. It’s cool to see how God orchestrated that. This is just one example, I have never been without close brothers and sisters here at this church who were willing to walk out their faith with me.

Ministering to the USF campus with Ryan was an incredible experience. I have never been able to engage so many people with Gospel. My time there also brought some great challenges. My final semester I was advised to take on a heavy course-load. This would demonstrate to the medical schools that I am able to handle the rigors of a medical education. I enrolled in six, upper division, biology courses. Circumstances where that semester I also began caring for my two grandparents. They have dementia and are at the point where they need the important things done for them. I know that alone, I could not have accomplished what I did that semester. God was clearly providing. My grandparent’s health drastically improved and I graduated USF with a 3.86 GPA!

It is to your credit that I say all of this. This church body has been God’s single greatest source of blessing in my life. And now I am in a position to give back in an amazing way. Tomorrow I leave the country to attend medical school. My desire is to become a trauma surgeon and serve as a medical missionary in areas of conflict. I would love for this church to be a long standing partner with me. Here is how I can use your support: take out your cell phone and put in a monthly reminder to pray for me. Continue to pray for me years from now. And lastly, Church body, thank you. Remember all of this started with a simple invitation to church.