Brady Steenhoek

Director of Student Life
Southwestern College
Phoenix, Arizona
(grew up in Iowa)

I grew up in a Christian home, and have been involved with a church my entire life. Early on I learned how to behave really, really well. I learned to be good kid. I went to church every Sunday morning, Sunday evening, and Wednesday night. What I remember clearly from my childhood is what Christians don’t do, and I soon began to wrongly think that the more Godly Christians were the ones who best refrained from sin and the appearance of sin. I remember growing up asking God to forgive me of my sins every night before I went to bed, because I believed the lie that for me to be right with God all my sin had to be taken care of on a daily basis, and that somehow I was disconnected from God and the Holy Spirit could not indwell me if there was sin in my life. So I began running on that treadmill. Sometimes I could stay on the treadmill for days and weeks at a time, but soon it became too exhausting. By the time I was a senior in high school I really didn’t care anymore because I could not keep up with game I was trying to play. I never rebelled, but I simply didn’t care anymore, because there was no joy in that kind of life. I now see it as God’s protective hand over me.

I went off to college, and slowly God introduced this idea of knowing and being known. My desire and yearning for God slowly began to grow again as I clumsily began to develop a relationship with him, yet at any moment I would be drawn back onto that treadmill of what I now call sin management, because that was what I was familiar with. My intentions were good, but I failed to understand my identity and how God viewed me.

I continued the cycle of sin management into my mid twenties, and around the age of twenty five I stumbled into this environment of grace. I did not understand it. My guard was up. People were wearing shorts and a t-shirt to church, and for crying out loud, there were women serving communion. Yet, week in and week out, I would hear this message of grace and identity. It sounded great. It was almost too good to be true. I ended up going through a very painful season of life that ended in divorce. Who was I now? The good Christian boy, with good Christian parents, and good Christian friends, who was viewed as a good Christian leader at his young age was another statistic of divorce. Still sitting week in and week out listening to this message of grace I began to check it out more for myself.

I decided to get more involved in this environment of grace, and not until I jumped in did this TrueFaced message begin to really impact my life. These people were ruggedly real, and I was accepted and they didn’t even know me. As I engaged the community more, the teaching became more and more alive and real, and it started to become a way of life. I felt safe enough to begin sharing things with people that I would have never dared to anywhere else.

That process began 4 years ago for me, and today I continue to get to be a part of that beautiful mess called an environment of grace where we get to try to live out of who the God declares us to be – the beloved. I now get to take this message to a local Christian college and try to create an environment of grace with a few others. The journey is challenging, but the fruit will be worth it, as it is my prayer that college students will encounter grace and take it to the ministries and professions God calls them to.

Brittany Sawrey