From Nigeria to Johnson City: Finding My Place Through Serving & Groups
I’m Olaniyi Falomo and I am from the southwest region of Nigeria. I speak two languages: English and Yoruba. My parents raised my siblings and me in a Godly way. We went to church services every week (Sunday and Wednesday). This exposed me to the knowledge of Christ and Christianity. However, although I was raised in a Christian home, I didn’t have a close relationship with God. I was simply a religious person.
I later truly encountered Christ while in college. Through a family member, I saw what it means to have a personal relationship with God, so I understood it better. I was marveled by the fact that a young person like me could have a rich vibrant relationship with Christ. This spurred me to desire to know Christ for myself instead of just praying to Him, but not truly walking with Him. While questioning my faith, listening to gospel rap music from Lecrae helped me find my identity in God. To the glory of God, I have come to experience Christ’s love, and find my satisfaction in Him. I have also come to have an experiential knowledge of the principles of living for Christ here on earth.
The desire to pursue my master’s degree in the United States motivated me to search for schools there, especially schools that provide funding. East Tennessee State University was the only school I applied to. They accepted my application and financial assistance request, and I came to Johnson City in December 2016 and began classes the following spring. I’m currently studying Computer and Information Science, with a focus in Applied Computer Science, and will be finishing in May 2019.
My coming to Grace Fellowship Church was spontaneous. I was looking online for a nearby church because I couldn’t get a ride to attend service at my current church and GFC was the choice I decided on from the Google results. The service was great, I really enjoyed it. However, I didn’t commit myself to the church. I started alternating between my former church and GFC.
But, I have always had a strong desire to serve, and coming to GFC presented me with so many opportunities to do so. This was a major factor in my choice of worship. I finally decided last summer to be a member, and I haven’t looked back. I’m home!!!
Participating in the Next Steps class was a very wonderful experience for me. I got to know more about the church and the seven core values. This made me resonate well with the foundation of the church and helped in my spiritual growth. One of the values that still marvels me is ‘Struggling Well,’ because it reassures that God is with me even during my struggles and even though circumstances might look otherwise. It is also helping to know that it is okay to struggle.
The opportunity to serve on the Facilities and Maintenance Team is where I chose. I assist with cleaning preschool and elementary classrooms, setting up and breaking down various events, and much more. It has been a tremendous gift to me.
Also, the opportunity to be a part of a community group has been a blessing. The unity, love, and accountability in the group spurs me to be a better disciple of Christ, and more importantly, mirror Christ’s love to those around me.