CAIT BECK     
My family has a tendency to turn to anger, depression, alcohol, or suicide before they actually talk about their hurts and their pains. So when my Dad committed suicide when I was 14, I dabbled a bit in all of those avenues. I never even thought about suicide, but I drank like my mom, I tried being angry like my brother, and I tried being depressed and quiet like my sister. I was disappointed, though, that none of those shoes seemed to fit on me like I thought they did on each of my family members. I did not know where to find my way of drowning out my sorrows so I turned to morality. I returned back to the church my family would go to on and off before my Dad died. Alcoholism, depression, anger all did not work for me, but religion and a morally right life seemed to be a good fit for me. But then I stared going to Young Life at the end of my sophomore year of high school, and the people there challenged me. They argued the answer wasn’t morality. Thus, I wasn’t quite sure if I liked Young Life, but I knew I liked my leader. She pursued me, cared for me, and knew more about me than anyone else ever had, and somehow she was able to drag me to camp that summer. Through the week I heard about Christ’s life, his brutal death, and his resurrection and I thought, “why would anyone ever do that for me and how could anyone ever love me like that?” This was love I had never known. It was love that embraces the bad more than it does the good. My family did not like the bad, my Dad really did not like the bad, he ended it before things could get worse. But Christ, whose act was not suicidal, but sacrificial, embraced my brokenness, my sorrows, my sins and he bore them. And this was the beginning of a long journey: a journey of me realizing that there was and is no avenue other than Christ that will recognize my brokenness and also turn it into joy.       
   Things have not necessarily gotten better for my family. After becoming a Christian, there were and still are plenty of hard times. My mom is still an alcoholic and she recently lost our house because of her lifestyle. I don’t have a great support system and often I feel like I have no real grip on life, but I have Christ. And it is that fact that is an anchor to my whole entire being. While everything seems to be shaking and crumbling, it is Christ and his Spirit in me who holds me firm. Faith in Christ for me has always meant feeling the hurts of this life, like he felt in his torture and death, but also feeling the new life that comes after any storm, like Christ did in his resurrection. This new life has meant the tearing off of my old flesh and the putting on of the new one. It is a long process, (I have a lot of old skin to tear off) but as the new comes I learn how speak, act, serve, and love as Christ did.       
   I believe there is some mysterious thing that happens between the church and the individual who commits to that church. It is a union of sorts that I am excited to take part in. This mysterious union comes with being part of a body and as a specific part of the body you serve, you submit, you lead as you are meant to. I am excited to serve, submit, and lead where I was meant to. I am excited to do that alongside brothers and sisters who are vital to the body we are a part of.   


JANE BRIDWELL
My childhood best friend and her family were Christians. When I was 13, the Lord lifted the veil over my heart and I earnestly listened to and considered the gospel when my friend invited me to join a wonderful church community that supported me on my path to coming to faith in Jesus a few months later. Even before I accepted Him, the Holy Spirit had begun working in me to soften my heart and to develop a love for people, and after I knew the gospel He taught me the reason for loving others - to demonstrate His love for them, to point them toward Christ, and to serve His people. The Lord has challenged me - through His word and through excellent teaching and support from others - to share the gospel and help people explore a relationship with Christ in some pretty unexpected situations and relationships. I am excited to join the Liberti community and join in outreach and service to the people of this city!

CAROLINE CREDILLE
I have been blessed with parents and a family that attended church and loved God, but I truly came to know Christ after my Dad passed away suddenly a few years ago. I was (and still am!) overwhelmed by the mercy and love that others shed upon us in a time when we needed their giving spirits to financially and emotionally stay afloat. The unconditional love and support my family received from other people in the name of Jesus inspired me to live differently; to live for my Savior and for others. I am so thankful to get to be a part of the Liberti family and to have the opportunity to continue serving our community with the Emmanuel team. 

ZACK EWING
I grew up in a family that loved the Lord and was very familiar with the church and the Bible. Christ began working in my life at a young age, but by the time I was in college, I had started down a path of arrogance and self-righteousness. The Lord humbled and saved me from that life, and allowed me to marry my best friend Emily. We recently moved from Texas to Philly and have been overwhelmed by God’s faithfulness in bringing us to Liberti. We are thrilled to be a part of a church with such a Gospel heart and genuine community - and are excited to call it home. 

JULIE HARRISON     
   Growing up in church, I saw the Christian life as one of constant striving: for God's acceptance and others' approval. As these core values continued to shape my life, I was plagued with anxiety, always wondering if I was "good enough" or if God had finally written me off. When the anxiety reached its worst point, I gave up trying to impress God, and instead tried to find satisfaction in alcohol, friends and a successful college career. As a freshman in college, I was seriously confronted with my wrong views of God when a friend invited me to her small group. Through this Bible study, I started to understand for the first time what it meant that God accepts me through Jesus' sacrifice on my behalf and that I could not earn this relationship with my attempts at being a good person. My life was completely changed when I started to comprehend that God was actually extending this gift to me. The root of my struggle with anxiety was finally relieved, as I knew God's love for me was unconditional. I also knew that God was calling me to surrender certain areas of my life to his control because I was seeking satisfaction and identity in them. I realized that if He had made the ultimate sacrifice on my behalf, that my life was not really my own, but that instead I needed to allow Him to live His life through me. My understanding of the Christian life was radically changed as I gave up the life of striving and sought a relationship with my Creator instead.
     I just moved to Philadelphia in August, and in the past 6 months, my heart has grown more and more for this city. I am excited to be a part of what God is doing through this church in restoring broken areas of the city and bringing the gospel to those who have yet to hear about Jesus.

KEIRSTEN HENDERSON
    Raised Lutheran and going to church used to be a template-type of practice for me and not comprehensible. I talked the talk, without even knowing there was a walk to be walked…until, two years ago when someone suggested I try out a church called Liberti. You could say it was the Holy Spirit or just simply curiosity, but either way, I had a desire to learn more. After my first visit, I did the typical critical thinking and exploration to see if this was what I truly wanted to continue to do with my life, but after a few more impactful sermons by Jared and a few conversations with members, it didn’t take long before I totally immersed myself with the Christian faith and understood what it was like to form a relationship with a man of such beauty – Jesus. 
   Learning about and connecting with Christ is mysterious, yet monumental in so many ways. It has and is still changing the person I am. I know I’m still a work in progress and have a lot more growing to do, but the amazing thing about that, is I feel at ease with it and look forward to more opportunities and challenges the Lord has for me. Whether it is with others or in my alone times of thought and prayer, I know I have a God who loves me for me, and better yet, wants me to share that love with everyone.
   I’ve been attending Liberti for two years, but wasn’t ready to become “official.” After prayer and a calling from God, I came to realize that it was time to solidify my commitment. Now, I’m excited to further open my heart to others at Liberti, offer more service and most of all transform my life to a Christ-centered one by joining this really cool and inspirational church right in the heart of Philadelphia!

MARIA HORNING   
   I was raised in a Christian home and accepted Christ at a very young age when my mom described what faith in Jesus meant with my brother and I. My father was the pastor of a local church and as a result I knew the value and love of this community of faith, being challenged, encouraged, and inspired by the family I found in that church. I was baptized when I was 13 at that church, and knew that this outward sign of an inward belief and commitment would be important as I continued my journey. I have known the peace and love of Christ throughout my life, humbled by the sending of the Son and the sacrifice of His life so that we might have abundant life. 
    Currently my faith journey has brought me to a place where I am often reminded of my brokenness and challenged to love others self-sacrificially. My tendency is to rely on my own will and effort, often resulting in anxieties about events in life, rather than to commit those things to the Lord in prayer. My desire is to understand the love and grace extended to us by Jesus in even more significant ways. With this understanding, I would like Jesus to teach me what it means to love others in humility and with patience, as an act of worship. 
   I am excited about coming in-covenant with Liberti because I have found it to be a body that is committed to service and a community of care for each other. I have already felt deeply discipled here at Liberti and look forward to joining in with the work of Liberti for the community found within these walls and beyond. It has been a joy to worship in song, sacrament, and to hear the Word of the Lord. I look forward to knowing this community even more to be further challenged and bolstered in my journey.


APRIL LAMBERT
My parents introduced the Christian faith to me when I was a young child, and for awhile it was something that I accepted and assumed. As I've grown, my faith has been stretched and challenged, and now I see it as something which guides me and my choices, and is a key factor in the calling I feel in my life. I really wanted to find a church home and a community to be involved in. I think that Liberti is a place where Christ's Church is growing, and I want to be a piece in that growth and help in its ministries.

SONJA LENGEL
As a kid I used to play hide and seek in the graveyard next to my house. Strange for your average kid, but not for me the daughter of a pastor. Somewhere between listening to Psalty the song book and sliding under the pews, I learned that Jesus loved me. As I grew up, the Lord gave me a desire to know him and follow him. My priorities and goals started to change as I learned, and am continuing to learn, that this life is not about me.  Whenever I start to think that I can wrap my head around the Grace of God, God shows me how much greater and bigger is his grace and love. I am looking forward to praying about Liberti's next steps with First Baptist and our building.

ISAAC LIN   
   I grew up in a Christian family and attended a private Christian school outside of Philadelphia from 5th grade until graduating high school. I remember going up during an alter call when I was 7, but God and Jesus didn't become a reality to me until my senior year of high school when my father died of cancer. God showed me that He is good even through hard life circumstances. Throughout college and after graduating I drifted in and out of churches and found it hard to connect with a community of people. All throughout life I have had a feeling of inadequacy and falling short of peoples’ standards and expectations as well as my own. God has shown me that ultimately I fall short of his Holiness because of my sin, but Jesus has given me a new life and is everything I want and freed me to live for Him. It is only by His grace and that I am saved.    
   Recently God has shown me that not only is He good, but loves me more then I could ever imagine and is my Father and has adopted me. He has been revealing my sins and leading me to repent the idols in my heart. The Spirit is showing me everyday how other things and circumstances control my heart and desires instead of the love of God. Only the righteousness of Jesus can make me right with God.  
   I have been blessed by the worship service at Liberti, especially the sermons and taking communion every Sunday. The people I have met have been warm and inviting, and I am looking forward to opportunities to serve the community of Liberti as well as the larger community of Philadelphia. I am excited to see and hear about the reality of God in other peoples lives and His glory in redeeming this world.


NICHOLAS MARIAKIS    
   On September 3, 2005, the resurrected Jesus manifested Himself to me. Sitting alone in a friend's basement, God drew me against my will to pick up a copy of the Bible, which was sitting on a desk across the room - during the few seconds it took me to traverse the floor, I was an unwilling passenger in my own body - I was physically manipulated akin to a marionette. I am not embellishing in the least. I literally did not choose to pick up that Bible. Next, in a manner similar to the biblical events of Exodus 3, Isaiah 6, and Acts 9, whereby God appeared to, and spoke audibly to Moses, Isaiah, and Paul, so too did God appear and speak audibly and unequivocally to me. I was immediately filled with the unspeakable terror of The Almighty; God addressed Himself as "Christ" (the Greek translation of Hebrew "Messiah"), at which point I truly believed that Jesus is God. He then presented to me the offer to go to Hell, to “go to ‘sleep’ in the ‘dark.’” I heard the voice of God audibly, as clear as day. Many reading this may be tempted to think, "this guy is crazy. He is utterly insane" - however, I am a graduate student at an Ivy League university - UPenn. My mind operates competently and I speak the truth.     
   The resurrection of Jesus is real, intellectually credible, and existentially satisfying. He died for our sins. To clarify in the simplest way possible, He paid the penalty we otherwise owe in Hell because ultimately no human being is perfectly good. He was buried, yet He is resurrected. I am a veritable witness to that very resurrection. He is God, and life after death is a gracious free gift. We are loved by God - He will draw you as He drew me (but via different means). Yet if we choose to reject Him, He cannot give us life. Only Hell. God is the only wellspring of life. My heart's greatest desire is to tell others and those I love most about the message of Jesus Christ before it is too late for them. I am open and willing to talk about Jesus, the Bible, and Christianity with anyone, anytime.    
   As a member at Liberti, I am most looking forward to fellowship, apologetics/outreach ministry opportunities in and around Penn and Drexel, being involved in music, and the intellectual climate - that is, Liberti is a place where I would feel comfortable bringing my antagonistic, atheistic friends. I am also looking forward to serving in various capacities.

DAVID MARTIN     
   I grew up in the faith in a Christian home, with supportive parents. In high school, there was a time when I thought that I really needed to come to terms with Jesus for myself. It seems like that keeps happening, and that faith grows slowly at times and with big steps forward at others - and at other times in halting, jerky movements through challenges and doubts.
   Faith in Jesus has meant orienting myself around the idea that the way of Jesus is better than the alternatives, and that means doing some things I'd rather not do sometimes (like forgiving and asking forgiveness, being generous, etc . . . ) and on the other hand, it means NOT doing things I'd like to do! But as it turns out, life in Jesus is great and brings a peace and gratifying satisfaction that God loves me and the world and wants us to participate with him to bring his life to the world.      
   I'm glad to have met people here who are also serious about centering their lives around Jesus and that the church here has a sense that God wants to use them in the city.  I love that, and I love the expectation and momentum that Liberti has toward getting people's hands dirty serving others - not just for the sake of doing something good, but with Gospel-intentionality. 

KAREN MARTIN
I used to think my Christian testimony was boring. Now I'm so grateful for it. I grew up in a Christian family with lots of kids (7) and lots of love. My dad is a pastor and my mom is the most selfless person I’ve ever known. I’ve followed Christ all my life, sometimes eagerly and other times with a scowl on my face and a million questions in my mind. As I’m growing in my faith, I’m finding that there are fewer and fewer things on my black-and-white list, but a greater appreciation for God’s grace and a deeper love for his Church. My husband David and I came to Philly and to Liberti about a year ago, just in time to get pulled into the Easter Outreach. It was a great beginning! We’re both looking forward to continuing to grow relationships and share life with other followers of Jesus. We’re in the process of adopting four teenagers from Peru, and without any family here in the city, we’re extra grateful for the Liberti family we’ve been adopted into!  

GREG MCPHERSON     
   I grew up in a broken home in a really bad neighbor outside of Pittsburgh, a run down steel mill town. My mother had actually been a nun, but stopped going to church when she left the convent. There was no religion in my house. When I was young, I got sick with Type 1 diabetes, and starting hanging out with the bad kids from the hood. But one day, a friend took me to an Assembly of God Church in the next town over from mine. The people there were nice and there were also a lot of good looking girls there, so I started going with him every week. Then one day I did an alter call and my life changed. I knew there was a God and he died for me and would always have my back. I started to get very involved in the church. I went to college, moved to Philly, started a business, prayed for wife, met a girl, kissed the girl, God told me that was the one, proposed to that girl the night I met her, got married had three kids. My faith is that God knows me personally and will guide me down the path that he has for me. It might not be the easiest path but when I get to the end of the path I always know that it was the right one for me.    
   I am looking forward to Liberti creating a home here in Philly. I want my kids to have Liberti church as a second home and have relationships and religion at a young age. I am looking forward for my family to be strong members to give and receive love from the church. 

MICHELLE MCPHERSON     
   I was raised in a Catholic family and we went to church every Sunday. My mom was especially faithful, and it was very important to her that my sisters and I had a relationship with God and the church. While I always had many questions about religion and faith, I routinely said my prayers, went to confession, and in return I had a life filled with a happy family, good friends and good health. So my assumption was that God was good.
   Three years ago my mom was diagnosed with ALS, or Lou Gehrig's Disease, and it brought my family to our knees. It is a disgusting disease that tortured her physically and mentally until she lost her battle last spring. Watching her suffer and die destroyed my faith, and I stopped going to church.
  Since her death last year I have found comfort in Liberti. I have felt her presence during services many times and have come to believe it is God using my mom to bring me back. 
  Greg and I look forward to raising our three kids in the church, so they can develop their own relationship with God. We are excited to get to know the families at Liberti and become more involved in the church.

BRIAN RANCK
I came to faith in Jesus as a child. The memory is vivid: me, sitting in the corner of my family’s dairy barn pondering my destiny with a growing sense of guilt and need for salvation before asking my parents to lead me in confessing my sins and trusting Christ. This early faith was very sincere and held the simple honesty of a child, yet I didn’t understanding my lost-ness or the depth of Christ’s salvation. Born and raised in a Christian family, I was well-versed in matters of faith and Bible and especially the do’s and don’ts of a good church kid. Even as a young skinny boy, I looked a lot like the Prodigal Son’s older brother. For me, growing in Christ meant seeing the brokenness and emptiness of the many “good” works that I performed to please people, and embracing the rich love and redemption of Jesus. I’m excited to join a church with rhythms and practices that constantly lead me to the Gospel, and I eagerly commit myself to a community who accepts my brokenness and encourages me to trust more deeply in God’s goodness and grace.  

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