By Jordan West

CLEVELAND, Ga (TMNews) – Because both of her brothers attended Truett-McConnell before her, senior nursing major Leah Garrison wanted to have a future at a college anywhere other than TM. To her surprise, the Lord opened doors for her to follow her dream to pursue an education in nursing at TM, the school where she least expected.

The highs and lows of a family in ministry 

Garrison explained, “I was born into a Christian family. Growing up, my dad was a children’s pastor, and my mom sang every Sunday at church. We were very involved. But I didn’t really know what being a Christian was – I just knew you went to church every Sunday.”

She continued, “At the age of six, I asked the Lord to be the Savior of my life. I didn’t understand what that meant, so I just kind of lived that lie for a while, saying I was a Christian, but never being actually saved.”

Her parents were always involved in ministry, and Garrison faced difficulties as the family moved from church to church.

She said, “My family went through a lot of struggles. We moved churches to help start a new church, and then we moved churches again because my dad wanted to start his own church, so I never really had friends growing up in the church because we were constantly moving churches.”

She admitted, “It got to the point where I hated going to church.”

Garrison said, “We didn’t have a lot of money growing up, because my dad quit his job to start a church. He went from a really steady income to almost nothing, and it got really hard.”

She added, “It got to the point where, when our hot water heater broke, we didn’t have the money to fix it, so we took cold showers during the winter months. We would boil hot water over a burner to take baths.”

But God continued to provide for them through these tough times. She said, “The Lord blessed us by allowing us to be involved in a co-op, which provided us food. We were thankful, because we weren’t even able to buy groceries. That really helped us until my dad was able to get back on his feet.”

Seeking full surrender

Garrison, though saved at a young age, knew that God had been calling her to surrender her life. She said, “When I was 15, I started realizing I was living a lie – and that I shouldn’t blame God for what my family was going through. I decided I needed to totally surrender my life to God.”

When she was 17, a loss she experienced changed her outlook: “My grandpa passed away, and that was the first time I fully understood what it meant to be a Christ-follower. My grandpa was a great example of a Christ-follower, and everyone that spoke at his funeral talked about how he was an amazing man of God.”

Garrison emphasized, “I realized that I wanted to have a legacy like that, as someone who served God, and not just the girl who went to church. I started truly living for God.”

College search confusion

Garrison had known of TM for many years, and she said, “Both of my brothers, Ben and Josh, were at Truett-McConnell, and I did not want to go there. I didn’t want to be known as the ‘other Garrison.’”

It was her dad that encouraged her to consider the school. She said, “I was looking at other schools, and my dad said, ‘Don’t just count TM out because your brothers go there. Pray about it and be open to what the Lord has for you.’”

So, she did just that, and explained, “I did pray about it, but I knew the Lord was going to send me to another school, because I did not want to go to Truett-McConnell. We came here to visit Josh, and my dad said that we should take a tour, even though I didn’t want to go to school there.”

She said, “The Lord just started to open doors and provide all the financial needs I would have to have to go to TM, and He just made it very clear that I was supposed to go to TM.”

Following God’s call to nursing

Garrison remembered, “When I was 14, we had a missionary nurse come in, and she spoke about how she was able to serve others on the mission field.”

She realized that God was stirring her heart: “I became interested in nursing on the mission field, and being a flight nurse. Medical missions became a passion of mine, because I learned how in many countries, they don’t have the medical care they need.”

Her former experiences had shown her the impact a medical team can make. She said, “When my grandpa was put in the hospital with leukemia, I was 17. I was very close to him, and I saw how kind the nurses were to him, and how they helped him.”

Garrison continued, “That solidified that I wanted to be a nurse, because they had such a huge impact on my grandma and my whole family.”

She said, “I can glorify the Lord through nursing, through helping others who can’t help themselves. I can even pray with the families, if they allow.”

Training for the medical field at TM

Garrison is thankful for her time at Truett-McConnell, and she explained, “I believe my time at TM has really prepared me for the medical field.”

She continued, “We are able to learn nursing from a Christian perspective. Even though the medical field is secular, and everyone has different religions that we respect, you can still go to a patient and ask them if you can pray with them. That just really opens the gate to show them Christ’s love.”

She can’t wait to serve others. Garrison said, “Nursing is such a huge field of service hood and caring for the needy, and helping the widow and the poor – you get such a wide spectrum, and that’s what the Lord commands us to do. You can really live out the Great Commission in this career.”

Looking toward the future as an RN

Garrison explained, “I hope to get a job as an RN (Registered Nurse) on a Med-Surge (Medical-Surgical) floor for a few years.”

She plans to move out of the hospital after several years of training. She said, “Then my goal is to be a crisis flight nurse, assisting with natural disasters in different countries. I want to get on doing medical missions, and maybe eventually I will get to open up a clinic in another country like Haiti.”

Garrison desires to show Christ’s love through her career, and said, “I hope, through being able to meet those medical needs, people can see through me how God can meet their needs.”

Ultimately, she wants to point people to the One who saved her soul. She concluded, “Meeting these needs can communicate how compassionate and caring the Lord is, and hopefully, then they can come to know Him as their Savior.”


Jordan is a senior English major and is an intern for the Communications Department.

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