Luke started at Oakland in the fall of 2019. Luke choose Oakland because of the opportunity to be a part of the swim and dive team. Luke, a diver, was excited to make his mark on the team and be a division one athlete!
As Luke began the year, he was shy and hesitant to talk to others. Early in the semester, Luke was approached by a member of InterVarsity during an outreach event. The chance to connect with others and grow in his faith intrigued Luke and he began attending their small group.
Here is where Luke’s journey differs from many. Luke, unlike anyone I know, has a willingness to get take a step of faith and get involved in things. Luke went through the leadership development process with InterVarsity and a semester later became a leader. Luke’s unique position as a student athlete put him in prime spot to lead a bible study for athletes. The only challenge, Luke was nervous that he would be judged for sharing his faith.
Luke accepted the opportunity to lead a small group but was nervous to take the steps needed to get it started. Luke started working towards launching his small group in the fall of 2020 and, because of his nervousness, and Oakland going online for classes his group struggled to get off the ground. It is around this time that Luke and I met. The first time we met it was evident that Luke was nervous and shy. As we got to know each other Luke rarely looked me in the eye and spoke of his fear of being judged by his teammates and coaches.
As Luke and I continued to meet in the fall we discussed fear, what it meant to be bold in the faith, and most importantly what it meant to follow Jesus. Luke knew Jesus intellectually but did not know what it meant to seek Jesus will all his heart.
In my experience, learning to following Jesus with all your heart can be confusing at times. It is not something that is taught, rather experienced. As Luke and I continued to meet we intentionally created time to experience Jesus in new ways. We read scripture, meditated on God’s word, and attempted to create opportunities to listen to the Lord. A defining moment for Luke, occurred when he and I sat outside the Oakland center in prayer for ten minutes intentionally asking the Lord to speak. It was in this moment that Luke felt that the Lord was calling him to go all in and be bold in his faith.
Luke began taking leaps of faith and inviting more of his teammates to come to bible study and he became more open with his faith. In the Fall of 2021, he was able to get his bible study off the ground and they started meeting weekly. As time passed Luke remained diligent and continued pursuing his teammates. As time went on his group grew in depth and in numbers. Luke even had the opportunity to help one of his teammates accept the Lord!
It’s been two years since Luke’s small group started meeting. In that time, he has continued to grow in his faith and make it his own. Our conversations have shifted from asking if it’s worth it to go all in to actively working towards conforming to the person of Christ.
Today, Luke is a different man from the one I met three years ago. He speaks with confidence, shares openly, loves dearly, and desires to be like Christ. I could not be prouder of the person Luke is and the person that he is becoming.
Luke is graduating in May of 2023 and excited for the future. Luke hopes to use his degree in statistics to do data analysis for sports teams one day. He is not sure where he will end up but is confident that he will continue to seek after the Lord and use his gifts to make an impact in the kingdom.
Below is a quote from Luke and his time in Cultivate.
“In the past couple of years, I have seen myself grow so much in my faith and as a person. I am so blessed to have had the privilege of meeting with Kyle, who’s been gifted in wisdom and guidance of others. It has been through his guidance that I’ve learned the importance of intentionality, the power of the Holy Spirit, and that living for Christ is more than just following a list of rules but pursuing a relationship with the Lord.” -Luke Lathrop
Written by Kyle Vens, Director of Cultivate