How My Life Changed During College Because of the Church - Haley Barnes - High Point University - Mercy Hill College Ministry Blog

How My Life Changed During College Because of the Church

The first time I went to Mercy Hill, I knew I found a home. I was an incoming freshman—already at High Point University for summer school—when I got invited by Greta, my teammate. I saw people worshiping Jesus with such an authentic passion, and I realized that these are the kind of people I want to surround myself with and learn from.

Joining Mercy Hill was the best decision I made during my entire college career. Being a Christian in college is challenging because of all the outside pressures and temptations that make us think we have to be the stereotypical “college kid.” At Mercy Hill, I was able to meet incredible people who lived out the gospel so effortlessly and modeled for me the freedom I have in Christ to live for him and not for the world. I joined a Community Group where I learned so much and was challenged to grow in my faith more than I ever thought was possible. Even though I grew up going to church occasionally, I never knew what a relationship with God looked like or that a relationship with me was all he wanted!

Every Sunday at Mercy Hill, the gospel came alive to me, and I was excited to follow Jesus even though I was a little unsure of where he was taking me. The church body is so powerful because it loves, serves, and encourages so that major life change can happen. The greatest joy I have ever experienced is watching God move in the lives of those he loves because people were simply faithful to love and share the good news with others. At Mercy Hill, someone invested in me so that I was equipped with encouragement and guidance to be sent out and invest in someone else.

Equipped to Serve

God used me to share the gospel with girls on my team and eventually lead a Community Group. (Wow, what a learning experience that was!) Who was I that he would entrust me with leading a group of college girls—especially because I was following in the footsteps of an incredible leader?! But he is faithful and helped me figure out how to use my strengths to best serve the group.

The cool thing about having a relationship with Jesus is that there is always more to learn about him and yourself. There is never a moment where we have “mastered” our faith; it’s a lifelong journey that is unique to us. We just keep building that relationship. As I was entering my senior year, I was praying for God to bring me someone to disciple, and oh boy did he deliver with a beautiful surprise. Again, there is such a soul-filling joy experienced when you witness someone’s eyes opening to Jesus and his love for them. God brought someone to High Point I had known most of her life and allowed me to slowly and consistently share with her until she truly saw Jesus. We celebrated her baptism on Easter and continue to pray as she starts her journey of faith. God doesn’t want us to wait until we have “perfected” our lives. He wants to meet us where we are and take us on an incredible adventure. I know I’m enjoying mine so far.

I am who I am today largely because I walked through the doors of Mercy Hill Church four years ago. The Lord met me there like never before, and my relationship with and mission for him is forever changed!

-Haley Barnes (Recent HPU Graduate and Community Group Leader)