by ALLI TOWNSEND — Last semester, I began leading an Every Nation Campus Ministries Bible study for track athletes at the University of Georgia (UGA). Maria, one of the girls who attended, was changed forever because of it.
Maria Augutis was a four-time Junior National triple-jump champion who had moved from Sweden to join the track team at UGA. She grew up in a family with no religious beliefs. So, arriving in Athens, she was quite surprised by the number of students reading their Bibles and talking about God. In actuality, the numbers are not that high, but compared to Sweden, it’s like the Great Awakening.
Watching many of her friends attend church on Sundays, she recounts, “I just got so inspired by it. I didn’t know why or anything about Christianity.”
With this inspiration on her mind, she said yes when a friend from the track team invited her to our Every Nation Bible study. Shortly afterwards, Maria and I met for coffee because Maria was “curious about God and wanted to learn more.” That very same day, Maria accepted Christ as her Savior, and I was able to give Maria her very first Bible. She has not stopped reading it since!
If I had not accepted my friend’s invitation and met Allie, I would not have been with Him today. Before I knew Christ, I worried about everything. Now, I have found that I needed to just learn to trust God because He has a plan. It changed my life completely.
Maria had so many questions and was so hungry to learn about God. She was reading through the Gospel of Matthew because she wanted to learn everything about Jesus. So far, my favorite moment was when she asked me to teach her how to pray. She was amazed at the simplicity of being able to talk to God anytime and anywhere.
Alli Townsend is an Every Nation campus minister at the University of Georgia. She and her husband, Michael live in Athens, GA.