By Blake Bramblett
CLEVELAND, Ga., TMNews – Atarah Campbell, Truett-McConnell junior Psychology major and Resident Assistant, has found a home and a voice through her time at Truett-McConnell. Her life and her journey at Truett-McConnell are a testament of God’s faithfulness to pursue and sanctify His people.
Saved by grace
Campbell grew up attending First Baptist Church of Atlanta. “I’ve been in church all my life.” Campbell said. “My older siblings were really active in the church.”
“When I was smaller I had a clear understanding of who God was,” she explained “but it wasn’t personal.”
When she was eight, her older sister spoke in church, and Campbell finally understood that her good works couldn’t save her from her sin.
“It was actually my oldest sister, Ayanna, who lead me to the Lord. She told me, ‘Mom and Dad can’t save you, going to church your whole life can’t save you, but having a relationship where you know who God is, and you can talk to God on a daily basis, that’s it right there.’”
Campbell remembered her sister’s words clearly, as she continued, ‘“But it starts with you receiving Christ.’”
Living up to others’ expectations
Campbell was the youngest of seven children, and was part of a very tight knit family. However, sometimes being the youngest meant others spoke for her.
“I didn’t want to disappoint my family. Even when I was little I was super shy. My siblings would talk for me. My family actually started calling me ‘Mute.’”
Growing up, Campbell looked up to her siblings and sought their approval. She said, “I started hanging out with the wrong crowd because I just wanted to fit in.”
Campbell described, “I was always going to church on Sundays and then on Mondays I was either skipping school, smoking, or drinking.”
She strayed away from the Lord as she tried to find her joy and satisfaction in what the world could offer.
Finding Him through grief
“It wasn’t until my tenth grade year that I finally hit rock bottom.” Campbell said, “My oldest sister was so disappointed in me, and that kind of hit me a little bit, but I was still really rebellious.”
She continued, “Later on that week, I realized that I wasn’t the person that God called me to be.”
After her conversation with her sister, Campbell continued her struggle between her sin and her desire to be obedient.
She said, “In January of 2011, my oldest sister Ayanna, passed away. She committed suicide. She was the one who lead me to the Lord. That just took a toll on me. I realized one of the last real conversations that we had was when she said to me that I was trying to live up to who my siblings were instead of living up to who God called me to be.”
Campbell came and humbled herself before God, and that is when her relationship with Him started to get stronger. “I came to the Lord on my knees and said ‘Lord, I need you to bring me out of this. I need You to cut out the relationships that I’m in.’”
She started to read her Bible diligently and talk to the Lord daily. This lead to naturally not wanting to be with the crowd that caused her to walk into sin. God was pruning her, teaching her to abide in Him.
Called to serve
“I knew God called me to be here at Truett” Campbell said.
God also called her to take positions of leadership and service in the student body, although she wasn’t prepared. She said, “If you would have asked me four years ago if I wanted to be an RA, I would have said no.”
But God was trying to teach Campbell this position was not based on her merit at all.
Campbell explained, “Being an RA showed me it’s not because of me and it’s not because I’m good enough. It’s because I’m in God’s grace. He equips me. Being a leader here has shown me I’m not really a leader, I am just a follower of Christ.”
Campbell also is in leadership for the Young Scholars Tutoring program, a student-run program that tutors children in the Cleveland community.
“God has used the kids [we tutor] to break me and teach me how to unconditionally love, and that’s what I needed to be a leader. It taught me that a leader is humble, compassionate, merciful, and gracious.”
No longer “Mute”
Through God calling her out of her comfort zone, Campbell found her voice.
“When I came to Truett I found my voice and I found my identity. I realized my identity was not in my family. I found my identity was not in the name that they gave me, and that it was not in the color of my skin. It was not in who people said that I should be.”
As she has stepped out on faith, Campbell was freed from the expectations of others. She learned to speak out because she has confidence in who God called her to be.
“Coming to Truett-McConnell was a saving grace because it showed me that I don’t live by anybody’s standards, stereotypes or preconceived notions. I live by who God says I am and who He has called me to be. I’m not mute, I’m not black, I’m not white, I am just Atarah.”
Campbell stated, “That’s who God called me to be, and that’s who I am.”
Blake is a senior Psychology and Missions major and freelance writer for the college.
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