Editor’s Note: In our reading this week, John introduces us to a number of men and women who came to follow Jesus at different points in their lives. John was just a boy when his journey with Jesus began, and as he writes the Gospel of John, he is now an aged man reflecting back on a life lived in the footsteps of the Lamb of God. We can almost see an elderly grandfather with little ones gathered at his feet for a story. John recounts how each man and woman who followed Jesus had his or her own story — and timeline — for believing that Jesus was the Son of God.
For Nathanael, his declaration, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” (1:49) came as soon as he realized that Jesus had seen him under the fig tree. For other disciples, their belief came after Jesus miraculously turned water into wine (2:11). For some who followed Jesus during His earthly ministry, their true moment of belief came after His resurrection as they pieced together the prophecies concerning the Son of God (2:22).
We at UFC believe that telling our personal stories of coming to trust Jesus is a gift we give to others. Each of our stories matters whether it began with a simple childlike faith or came out of a time of deep rebellion. God has written His story into our story, and telling it brings Him glory. In the next six weeks, we’re going to share the stories of several of our women at UFC — and encourage you to write your own story of faith to share with others in your life. UFC has developed a resource to guide the writing of your story. You can find it here. If you’d like help knowing how best to share your story, we’d love to hear from you. You may email us at email@example.com.
Today it’s with great joy that we introduce Molly Frank as she shares her story of how Jesus has bestowed grace upon grace (John 1:16) on her as she accepted Him as the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29).
I am a Eugene gal through and through. Born and raised here, I attended Fox Hollow Charlemagne, Roosevelt Middle School, South Eugene High School, and eventually ended up at the University of Oregon. My twin sister and I were born into what I thought to be a “normal” family, but it soon became apparent that my mom had serious drug and alcohol addictions and suffered from mental illness. This led to my parents getting divorced when I was 4 years old. My dad was left with sole custody of three daughters, my 7-year-old sister and two 4-year-olds.
My dad did his best to provide us, giving us every opportunity to succeed. We played club sports, went on trips, and lived in a safe home. Our mom had moved in and out of our life, showing up to our school and sporting events crippled by addiction. During these early years, we irregularly attended a small church. This is where I was first introduced to the concept of God, though my understanding was vague.
In high school, I was a rule follower and a good student. I didn’t get into much trouble and was a decent athlete. Unfortunately, I was easily swayed by others and incredibly self-righteous. At home, I was quick to call out my family’s “bad behavior,” was slow to give grace, and even slower to listen. I became the “good kid” at school and the righteous and hateful sister at home.
Everyone, and I mean everyone, knew my twin sister and I didn’t get along. We would fight on the basketball court, on the softball field, and at home. I didn’t just drive a wedge through our relationship; I created a mountain. My self-righteousness was centered on me and my own judgment. I acted as the morality police. I was mean, hurtful, and unkind to those I loved most. Through all this, I would acknowledge God’s existence but nothing more. I had no recognizable relationship with him.
When I was a junior in high school, things started to change. We got two new assistant coaches for the basketball team — Justin and Jessica Ubel. They hosted a breakfast for athletes at the Young Life house on Wednesday mornings before school. It was here that I learned what it looked like to love people. The Ubels always welcomed me, and I soon learned that they attended church at South on Sunday mornings, which was right before practice on Sunday afternoon. Although my family no longer attended church, I was intrigued. I felt a tugging on my heart. For some reason, I knew that if I attended I could learn more about the God I thought I believed in.
One Sunday, I decided to take them up on their offer to attend church with them. I showed up to UFC alone, but I wasn’t for long. One of the youth ministry team members started to sit with me every Sunday. She was a familiar face as she attended the Wednesday morning breakfast. She invited me to youth group, ministry events, and even attended my basketball games.
At first I thought, “Wow, this lady is kind of weird,” but I quickly learned she cared about me and was persistent in her pursuit to get me plugged into community. Before I knew it, my normal routine became school, practice, Wednesday breakfast, youth group, church, repeat. Although I was in this pattern, I was still focused on others’ sin. I was quick to judge and slow to listen. I wasn’t ready to address my own sin, and I still didn’t understand my spiritual problem.
That summer the youth group was headed to San Francisco for a week-long mission trip to serve the community in the Tenderloin district. It was on this trip that I was challenged to share the gospel and pray with people I didn’t know. I cannot think of a specific moment, but it was on this trip that something shifted. I had heard the gospel numerous times and shared it with so many people that I finally started to believe it. I believed that I was sinful and in need of a Savior, that God sent His Son Jesus to live a perfect life, face the wrath of His Father, die, and be raised from the dead, in hopes that I may know Him.
I came home a different person. I went into my senior year of high school with a newfound community. I stopped caring as much about what others thought of me and was ready for Jesus to be Lord of my life.
I ended up attending the U of O. I volunteered in youth ministry, led a small group at South, and was regularly attending UFC. Alhough my newfound walk with Jesus appeared strong, I was still a self-righteous sister who did not extend grace or compassion to those closest to her, to her family. To my sisters, I was a hypocrite who now claimed to walk with Jesus.
John 13:35 says: “A new commandment I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so also you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another.”
I was not known by my love but by my own self-righteousness. It was not until one night at the Good Fight that I was challenged to address my lack of love for my family. That night the message was on reconciliation. Sol Rexius, our former college pastor, challenged us to think about someone we needed to reconcile with and asked us to take out our phones and text that person right then and there.
Reluctantly, I texted my twin sister. I don’t even remember what the text said, but the next week we met. She talked, and I listened. I listened to how I had hurt her. I realized I was doing the exact opposite of what God has called us to do and had SERIOUSLY tainted my sister’s view of God and Christians.
I began to realize the depth of my sin, the weight of my words, and my responsibility as a believer to daily preach the gospel to myself so I may be reminded of my own sinfulness, my own need for a Savior, and understand the fate of those who do not have a relationship with Him.
I have been able to slowly repair my relationship with my sister. We are good friends. We talk almost every day, and she was the maid of honor on my wedding day. That is not because of anything I have done but because of the change God is making in me.
I still struggle with self-righteousness. I struggle to be kind, hold my tongue, and love those around me. But I am incredibly fortunate to have this church that has challenged me, encouraged me, and walked with me. Being in community with other believers at UFC has taught me how to have a personal relationship with Jesus, how to spend time with Him, how to talk to Him, and how to share Him with others.
Some days I think about how I can’t seem to get away from South Eugene High school and then I think about how lucky I am that I get to invest here, invest in the community I grew up in, the community I am a part of. The person who once knew me as a self-righteous young girl will hopefully know me as a woman who loves those around her because she is in love with a faithful God who sent His Son to die for her sins.