Gauntlet was the beginning of the rest of my life
Avery Robbins thought she was only signing up for a week of fun, but what changed in her is now changing others.
In Avery Robbins’ life, there is before Gauntlet and after Gauntlet.
Before, she fell asleep during sermons at the traditional church her family attended, and she suffered through Sunday School, sitting alone at a table, being ignored by the older kids.
After, she loved Jesus and wants to live for him, giving up after-school sports to attend Fuse, devoting Sundays to attending church and serving in KidSpring.
Avery signed up for Gauntlet in 2015 because she wanted to have a week of fun. But God had in mind a transformation that would change her destiny, her family, her church, and her school.
“I know the Gauntlet every year brings light and hope and so much clarity,” Avery says. “It’s all of my favorite things in the world and hypes me so much, and it’s not only seeing the change in me, but seeing the change in so many other people.”
Avery, center, pictured with Lauren, extreme left, and Bryson, to Avery's right. Both were baptized after she invited them to FSKO, and they were saved. Brianna, second left, met Jesus at Gauntlet and also got baptized. Room leader Jessica is at right.
A New Story
Avery, then an 8th-grader, asked Jesus into her life on the first night of GauntletX. She felt the presence of Jesus, and she knew immediately she needed to be saved and start living the way God wanted her to.
“It opened a new door for me,” she said. “I had been struggling with my purpose because I didn’t know what it was. Gauntlet helped me realize there were things planned for me. There was more to my story, and my story had to start somewhere.”
Then God put Avery’s next step right in front of her.
I am so burdened for my school
At the sunrise baptism on Daytona Beach later that week, Avery was just emerging from the cold surf — soaking wet, glowing with joy — when Hannah saw her.
Hannah — only a junior at the time — was a Columbia Fuse leader Avery had met when she visited NewSpring a few times, at her dad’s prompting.
“Hannah said, ‘No way!’ I said, ‘Yep. I got saved and baptized, and she lost it,” Avery remembers. “She was so beyond happy.”
Back in Columbia, the two of them began to hang out. Hannah was like a big sister to her.
Avery saw Hannah’s commitment to serving and how much it had changed her.
So Avery wanted to figure out what the big deal was. After talks with Hannah, she decided to start by volunteering in KidSpring with pre-schoolers.
“The impact of what I was seeing made me feel like it would lead to more joy in my life,” she says.
Avery’s hunch proved true.
By regularly attending Fuse and Sunday services and serving, Avery began to understand more about Jesus.
Avery’s passion for Jesus was so great that she gave up soccer so she could attend Fuse consistently and connect to a Fuse group.
Hannah, right, offered support, guidance, and encouragement to Avery after she began a relationship with Jesus.
When she moved to the Northeast Columbia Campus, she was quick to take on more serving responsibility as a service leader for a large group in KidSpring.
What God was doing in her heart and in her life was spilling out naturally to everyone she knew. Three close friends she invited were saved at Fuse Summer Kickoff in 2016. One of them serves with her now.
Two cousins she invited came to NewSpring and were saved, and they, together with her aunt and uncle, now attend and serve as a family.
Two other cousins, who live in Maryland, asked Jesus into their lives when she invited them to Easter, too.
My goal is living day in and day out as Jesus’ disciple
Avery says she walks into her High School every day knowing what she was supposed to do and why she was there — to reach more people for Jesus.
“I am so burdened for my school,” Avery says. “I was labeled church girl at school. I don’t push Jesus on you, but if you call me that, I know I’m representing Him in that way.”
At Gauntlet 2016, Avery felt the confidence and assurance from God that she was meant to devote her whole life to sharing Jesus.
“I am trying to figure out what it means.” Avery says. “I have been praying really hard.”
Avery is pictured with her mother and father, right. To Avery’s left are her cousins Cody, left, and Mikey, right, who met Jesus after Avery invited them. Avery’s cousins now serve with Avery's uncle and aunt at NewSpring.
God continues to confirm the calling in her day-to-day experience.
Recently, she stepped in to comfort a student upset by rumors that were spread about her. She prayed with the student and took her to Fuse.
When the girl returned for the NewSpring Summer Kickoff event the following week, the student asked Jesus into her life. She is bringing her whole family to church now.
“I love being one-on-one with a person,” she says.
Leaning into that realization, Avery recently decided to become a small group leader for elementary kids in KidSpring so she could devote more time to building relationships with them. She also is considering taking on a leadership role with student ministry at her school.
As her peers begin to consider college and dream about their future, Avery’s life goal is simple:
“Living day in and day out as Jesus’ disciple and changing as many people’s hearts as possible,” she says.
Avery, left, greets her friend, Lauren, in the water after Lauren takes her next step in baptism at Gauntlet 2016.