CLEVELAND, Ga., (TMNews) — For Blake Bramblett, a native of Kennesaw, Ga. and senior at Truett-McConnell College, the comparison of her life before Christ and her life now are like night and day.

Brought into light

“My parents forced us to go to church,” said Bramblett, explaining how Jesus had always been a part of her life.

At a young age, the psychology and world missions major was presented with the steps of accepting the Gospel by the family’s pastor. “He led us through a prayer,” said Bramblett. “But for me, it was just a ritual.”

“For a long time, I believed that was when I was saved.” But upon closer inspection, Bramblett knew something was wrong.

“I grew up with a lot of shame,” she admitted. “I didn’t experience what everyone else was experiencing, or felt what they felt towards God.”

It wasn’t until she was convinced to attend a church camp, a move she stated was “not like me at all,” that Bramblett’s heart and mind were changed. She explained, “When I was there, I realized I didn’t understand the Gospel at all.”

Returning home, she immediately got alone in her room and began to pray.

“I was so frustrated,” she shared, pointing out that she’d repeated the same salvation prayer many times before. This time, Bramblett called out to God, saying, “I want this for real now. I don’t know what else to say.”

After that, everything changed.

“It was like a light switch,” said Bramblett, still in awe of what the Lord had done in her life. “I was in despair, then I had hope.”

Two years later, she was baptized with her brothers, which she recounts as an awesome and meaningful moment. “It brought a lot of freedom for me,” she added.

Called to serve

From there, Bramblett felt led to do global mission work. “My original plan was to go overseas after I graduated [high school],” she said. However, her parents encouraged her to pursue a higher education first. She explained, “In hindsight, I’m really thankful for that.”

Even though college was not her first choice at the time, she began looking for schools that had an emphasis on missions and the Gospel.

“When I was on campus,” said Bramblett, recounting her first visit to Truett-McConnell, “it wasn’t anything special or magical…but when we got in the car to leave, I was like, ‘Yeah, this is where I’m going’.”

Starting out as solely a world missions major, Bramblett eventually changed her studies to include psychology as well. “Having experienced actually working with people and seeing psychology played out in the field…it’s shown me how important psychology is to missions.”

“Missions is the study of everything,” she continued. “It’s about serving people, and that encompasses everything…through getting involved in Cleveland and meeting people in need, I just really found that that was going to be the most beneficial.”

Unexpected leadership

While Bramblett’s heart remains drawn to the mission field across the globe, she’s wasting no time in putting her passions to use where she lives. Her primary ministry involves being a director of a local tutoring program.

“Foothills is a neighborhood in White County where we’ve started a tutoring program. We started it my freshman year,” she stated. “At the time, I was just a volunteer…I just went in and taught a Bible study, really.”

In 2012, Dr. Holly Haynes, Marlin Caudwell, and Doug Bennett appealed to the Truett-McConnell body to help them reach this area. “They said, ‘Here’s a problem community. Can we put together an intervention to help?’”

Although her part may have seemed small to her, the Lord continued to grow Bramblett in her faith as well as in her ministry.

“It was just a side thing for me. Slowly, as I got to know the kids more, and got more involved, I felt God calling me and drawing more and more into that ministry,” she shared.

Eventually, she was asked to lead the program, “which I did not want to do,” she remembered. “My passion for it was growing, but also the weight of leadership really daunted me.”

Learning to be a follower

“The number one thing I’ve learned from directing—or trying to direct—a ministry, is that to be a leader, you have to be the best follower.”

“Now that I’m in a leadership position, all I want to do is follow,” she observed. “The moment I don’t do that and don’t have my eyes on Him, that’s when I start to trust in my own strength. And that’s when things go wrong.”

Bramblett also shared about the growth of the Foothills ministry. “We’ve gone from one day of tutoring to five, and there are more volunteers from Truett-McConnell getting involved.”

“My favorite thing about the ministry is getting to watch Truett-McConnell volunteers be changed through it…it did the same thing to me,” continued Bramblett.

She continued, “It changes you forever. And that’s what I like to watch happen: People come in with expectations, and they find themselves being humbled and being changed, and challenged to really depend on the Lord.”

Being a part of this community and serving others continues to impact Bramblett’s life, as well as the kids and the families she serves. “That ministry has been my number one joy at Truett-McConnell.”

God’s continued grace

Throughout her four years at Truett-McConnell, Bramblett shared that things have not always been easy. “I started out really prideful when I got here as a freshman,” she explained. “As time has gone on, the Lord has really been humbling me.”

“I have a lot of difficult memories here. But I’m thankful for them, because they’ve made me who I am,” she continued, saying that she was also grateful for the Lord’s steady work in her life.

Bramblett said, “I’m leaving [Truett-McConnell] more like Christ than I came, and that’s probably my favorite thing about my time here.”

Beyond graduation

When asked about her future, Bramblett replied, “The immediate plan is to grow the Young Scholars tutoring program, multiply it, and really do that full time for a while.”

She continued, “I would like to get my Master’s degree in counseling somewhere, and hopefully, you know, go overseas.”

Overall, Bramblett’s heart remains fixed on following God’s plans and whatever He has next for her.

She says her plans are, “Really, just being obedient to the Lord. Because I have no idea what He’s about to do next; He always surprises me.”

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Katie Louise is a freshman world missions major and freelance writer for TM.

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