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by Mike Plewniak
“My career at UT began in the Fall of 2004. My original purpose in coming all the way to Knoxville, TN was to get as far away from my parents as possible without forfeiting the hope scholarship by going somewhere out of state. I was so sure that leaving my small Christian school in Jackson, TN and coming to the University of Tennessee-Knoxville would be the best decision that I could have ever made. I was captivated by the fact that I had freedom to do anything that I wanted without being bothered by my parents or called into the principles office after a weekend of drinking with my friends. The drinking and partying from high school carried over to my college years and I could not seem to get enough of this new lifestyle. The world’s attraction began to grow stronger as I got bored with my usual friends, and I eventually decided that there must be another level of satisfaction at the University of Tennessee. So, I decided to join a fraternity, surely this time I would get the complete college experience and really forget about the rules and regulations of life at home. Fraternity life provided a sense of brotherhood while being surrounded by a group of guys that were interested in the same idea of ‘life’ that I was interested in. At this point, filling up on alcohol and experimenting with drugs followed by waking up the next day completely miserable began to get old. I continued to live this lifestyle for a couple of years blaming discontent on hangovers and the monotonous task of school. Throughout my third year of college I battled depression and the desire to leave Knoxville and transfer to another school. Why I stayed here is beyond me and my understanding. I was literally miserable with my circumstances, my use of alcohol and drugs was destroying friendships. I saw myself changing daily; becoming more and more selfish. I didn’t care about anyone but me. In the midst of all this sin and self-love I claimed to be a Christian because of my past in the church and a Christian school; yet, I was far from God.
In December of 2007, God began to show me how empty my life truly was. I kept running back to the seemingly exciting things that college offered for my satisfaction, but I continued coming up empty time and time again. I began to search for a church in Knoxville and one day I wandered into Cornerstone. I knew that there was something different about the people here and I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. After all I was a proclaiming Christian. I didn’t understand where all the joy came from. During this time the Lord in his kindness and mercy revealed sin and pride to me at every turn. I began to see, through hearing God’s Word preached at VFC, that I did not have a personal relationship with Christ Jesus. Thursdays at VFC came and went for about a month and in February 2008 as I read my Bible I knelt beside my bed to express to God that I was indeed a sinner and I admitted that Jesus Christ is Lord. I asked God to help me to put off the things of the world that I craved so much so that I could live a life that reflected Jesus who lived a perfect, sinless life, and died and was raised again to life so that sinners like myself could have new life in Him. Since that night I have seen the Lord at work in my heart. God is changing me from a coward who feared man and sought man’s approval always into a servant and follower of Jesus Christ no matter what the cost. This work of the Holy Spirit is the direct product of Christ’s death on the cross. There is nothing at all that I could have done to earn my salvation but God’s grace is sufficient for me and it covers over many sins and provides me with strength to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
With that being said, the Lord has provided me with a wonderful and unique opportunity to rely upon His grace and spread the Gospel at UT by doing the internship. I am so excited to see the Lord use me for His sake on the UT campus. In months just after God saved me I struggled with desiring my fraternity brothers approval, but God has placed a new desire in my heart to hold onto Christ in every situation and to reach out to young men that have been giving into the things of the world at UT. I realize that the next two years are going to be challenging but I know that God is faithful to save sinners and that he will use weak sinners like myself for His glory.”
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