Student’s loyal faith ‘transformed’ by time at university

Rachel Friend defies common testimonial expectations, as coming to know the Lord didn’t require any tragic crisis or heart-wrenching moment of awakening.

“A lot of people connect to people who’ve been through tragedies, but that’s just not my story,” Friend said.

Friend, who divulged she isn’t necessarily fond of public speaking, shared her story in front of a crowd at Upper Room March 31. Her type of perspective is one that is heard rarely at Upper Room services, where a different student is invited each week to share their testimony. Typically, these testimonies consist of impactful turning points where a heart was captured for the Lord. Friend said this left her feeling a little outside of her comfort zone.

As a regular church-goer growing up in a Christian home in Uniontown little room was left for her not to know the fullness of the gospel. While she feels blessed to have been raised in such a home, Friend said it wasn’t the only part of her childhood.

“Christianity was nothing that I found my identity in growing up.”

Coming to Waynesburg was an easy choice for Friend. She was drawn to the Christian atmosphere and psychology program, but the impact it had on her faith was one she was not expecting.

“Before I came here my relationship with God was just based on my parents and doing all these checklist Christian things,” Friend said.  “Over the past two and a half years what my faith means to me just keeps changing over and over and over again.

I’ve always been a Christian but who God is to me has transformed in so many ways because of Waynesburg.”

Friend plugged herself into the Christian community and achieve a more personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

This timeline of steady growth led her to the feeling of being called to speak at Upper Room.

Over winter break, Friend reached out to Harrison Scott, the testimony coordinator for Upper Room, and her name was placed on the schedule for the spring semester.

Deciding what she would speak about took intricate thought and several series of revisions.

Vulnerability and truth were two key aspects she hoped to incorporate.

Finally, Friend landed at the topic of grace.

“God does not call us to be perfect or need us to lead a sinless life. Because we wouldn’t need God’s grace if we were sinless,” Friend said. “I should know right from wrong, but just because I know those things doesn’t mean I always follow the path that I should. For me, there’s so much pressure to be this perfect Christian, and it makes me want to wear this mask that I have to be perfect and people have to see me as this perfect person.”

Friend hoped to relate to the believers in the audience who may have a similar background as hers.

Being a Christian university, she feels many were probably drawn to Waynesburg because of its  Christian community and the potential to experience the same type of growth she did, regardless of their background or story.

“I want everyone to know even

Emma Herrle, The Yellow Jacket

if they don’t feel like their story’s impactful that everyone has a story,” Friend said.

Upper Room speakers provide students and other attendees the opportunity to experience a variety of faith testimonials.

Friend expressed excitement even though this chance to speak in front of such a large audience is new and daunting.

“I’m confident because God will be there with me, and it’s such a loving environment. I’m not really nervous,” Friend said.

She is placing her confidence and message in the Lord’s hands.

“I realized when it comes down to it I need to listen to what God wants to say not necessarily what I think other people are going to want to hear,” Friend said.