"I feel like I have a common tale, I don't have an overly heartbreaking story. But anytime God changes a human heart, that is a story that needs to be told. Christ has made me His own, and He has made others His own. And we get to live in the aftermath of the cross together."
As we began a discussion delving into the story God has written through Jarrin's life, he opened his Bible and began to read the scripture that the Lord has etched onto his heart. Philippians 3:7-12, "But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith—that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own because Christ Jesus has made me his own."
Jarrin spent most of his young life viewing God through law and religious activities. His parents taught him about grace and forgiveness through Christ but his percption was that God's love was dependent upon his actions. His belief was that salvation needed to be earned, and he did not understand it as a gift from God extended to us through Christ. His parents wanted to instill in him the importance of being a faithful part of the body of Christ, and the way they modeled that was primarily through church attendance. At the age of six, Jarrin prayed to receive Christ. At that time, he was more motivated by fear of death and gaining heaven as his life insurance plan than fully recognizing his need for a Savior to make him His own. As a teenager, he wrestled with the effects of no discipleship, stagnation, and lack of joy.
His walk with the Lord was going to church and fulfilling his religious requirements, but not much beyond that. When he turned 17, he was invited by a friend to a youth group. It was his first time seeing other adolescents his age on fire for Jesus. They were passionate about His love for them, and Jarrin was blown away by their spiritual maturity and how they practiced discipleship as a way of life. This was a point in his life in which community really entered into his brokenness, and he was discipled and poured into spiritually. It was in this pivotal time in which his heart's cry became, "God, I don't just want religion, I want YOU!" This is when he apprehended what it meant to be a disciple of Christ.
As Jarrin prepared to leave for college, he realized God's perfect timing in showing him the need for believers to be in deep-rooted community. He got involved with Cru at Otterbein College, and he met his wife while a student at the university. It was in this season of life in which his heart was molded, shaped, and changed more and more like Jesus's. His heart broke for what broke God's. He loved believers deeply, and his compassion grew deeply for the lost. He was convinced in this season of life that believers are to be with believers. Jarrin said reflectively, "If we aren't pouring into one another, we run dry."
It was during this foundational time in his walk with the Lord that his heart grew for believers who do not have a church home. He is so thankful that God gave him this heart and brought him to Apex Community Church to serve in helping believers "find their spot". He gets to plug believers into serving alongside other believers. Jarrin shared, "Recognizing my need for playing a role in the body of Christ and being involved has led me to help others to discover their roles. I tell people that as they are finding their spot, to recognize that it is only by God's grace that they can fill it."
It breaks Jarrin's heart to hear anyone say that they have nothing to offer. He believes that God has called him to help point people in the direction they need to get plugged in and to use their gifts for God's glory. It is evident to him that people place their worth and identity in what the world defines as valuable, but God's heart is not bent that way. He believes the focus of our worth shouldn't be that God will only be pleased with us if we are doing something. Jarrin knows this mindset all too much, as this is what he struggled with believing as he grew up. He has now realized the gift of living in the freedom of God's love and grace because of what Christ did. "It is only by God's grace that we are here at this given time. Don't sit on the sidelines, only we can serve the divine purpose by the grace of God that He has set before us. Christ has done the work...we are living in the aftermath of the cross. Christ has made you his own. Live in light of this truth."
Author and Photographer: Julie Swain