From Sin To Surrender
Nick and Jessica Conner's Story
To most people, uprooting your family to move hundreds of miles from home to volunteer for the start-up of NewSpring's Myrtle Beach campus would seem like a crazy leap of faith.
But after seeing God work miracles in our lives together, we knew we could trust him for more -- much more -- when we thought about this "next step."
I met Nick and we started dating in our junior year at college. We said we weren’t living together because he never moved any of his stuff in, but the truth was he stayed at my place more often than his own home because of our busy schedules. We would get up on Sunday mornings and go to church with his family, going through the motions. It never fazed us because the preacher never directly confronted our sin of premarital sex.
After we were invited by friends to NewSpring, that all changed.
In his room one night, Nick told me the reality of his life hit him like a ton of bricks. He realized he didn't know Jesus. He said he was broken and ashamed over his lifestyle and he couldn’t stop weeping over the thought of how God sent His only Son to die for sins he committed. He prayed for forgiveness and asked Jesus to come into his life.
I started to grasp the reality of God’s grace
I began to see a true heart change in Nick immediately. I was confused. How could he enjoy reading his Bible that much? How could those stories really excite and empower him to share his story the way they did? I knew the Bible inside and out, and had been forced to memorize a chapter and recite it every Friday growing up. Nick began to ask me about my past, questioning how I could do some of the things I did without feeling convicted that they were wrong.
Eventually, we stopped having pre-marital sex, and because we loved each other, we got married. But as we continued attending, I sensed God pressing into me the truth that I didn’t know Jesus. Sunday after Sunday I convinced myself He wasn’t talking to me. What would my friends and family think? Then one day Perry Noble gave an invitation to receive Jesus, and I knew I had to stand up. It was hard because I was embarrassed, but I did it anyway. For the first time in my life, I felt free.
Growing in grace
God began answering our prayers in tangible ways: I became pregnant. We also joined and then led a home group and volunteered together in the Fuse ministry. We made friends that loved Jesus and held us accountable in our walk with Him and in our marriage. I started to grasp the reality of God’s grace, and re-trained my heart and mind to know Him as the loving, forgiving, sovereign God that He is, rather than the God I learned about growing up who was a stern punisher just waiting for my next misstep.
Then in the summer of 2011, God spoke to Nick through reading Zechariah 1:8-11. Literally, in that passage, the word "myrtle trees" was said three times. Nick prayed and asked Him for direction and knew He was calling us to Myrtle Beach. To be honest, we didn't even know the word "myrtle" was in the Bible. It just proved to us that God's word is alive!
The blessing of obedience
To make the move to Myrtle Beach took sacrifices. We decided I would stay at home with our baby while Nick took a low paying job with long hours. We went from owning a home and being in debt to renting an apartment. But it meant we were debt free, which both of us knew was God's will. And God has provided in every way possible.
We've poured our hearts into helping grow this campus from the ground up, serving as group leaders and volunteering on Sundays in every way we are needed. It has never been easy, and I will admit I am ready for a season of stability. But if that’s not God’s plan, then I’m OK with that too.
But most importantly, we know the joy and blessing of being obedient to God’s call on our lives.