Every Picture... Tells a story

Dan Mancini

So, I was raised Christian, but no one in my family was all too thrilled about going to church. I grew to hate Sundays, specifically Sunday School. I didn’t know much about Christianity besides the standard stereotypes. In high school, I became Buddhist and totally bombed out on the whole “don’t do two things at once” thing, so I decided that religion was just a dumb man-made concept. I remained spiritual and curious, though.

I was a lonely sophomore at Penn State when I first came to Christian Student Fellowship and when a random really cute girl told me to go to a Christian group, of course I am going to go. Yay for hormones! I hated CSF my first few weeks, but it gave me somewhere to go. I tried a C-group (small group) and realized that all of the stereotypes were wrong, as they often are. Soon, I grew to like the big group and started to realize all of my perceptions were off base.

The night I realized God existed was Halloween. There was no epic story, no fanfare. Basically, I have always hated that holiday. I wanted to avoid all of the people going to parties because: 1.) It would make me feel lonely 2.) Skimpy costumes = bad idea for my thoughts 3.) I would really want to steal somebody’s candy. I decided to go on a bus before the festivities to buy a DVD to keep me occupied during the event. Well, I became trapped on that bus in ridiculous ways that were far too absurd for even sitcoms. I never got my DVD. Rather, I randomly picked a place to get off…and it was a church. It just made me feel something in my heart. A kind of goodness.

From that day forward, I just believed. It has been rough, but I could not live without God. Community. Friendships. I have experienced more emotions, challenges, and growth in these three years than any other point of my whole life. Even the heartbreak has been rewarding and shows me the glory of life: the glory of God.



Dan Mancini

BS Film Production 

Class of 2006
 Pennsylvania State University

 

Dan Garcia

I came to Penn State – Berks from a small Baptist school and was worried. From my point of view, I was the only Christian at the Berks campus and felt very alone, until I met some people from CSF. It was here that I was able to meet other believers who shared the same goal and desire to serve Christ that I did. I came into CSF as straight as the barrel of a rifle, but as empty as one too. I had “all” the head knowledge of the Word of God, but I lacked the fire and zeal that only the Father can give again. It was during my years at CSF that I learned how to refill my rifle with the joy of the Spirit. I learned that it is OK to be excited about your religion, your faith, your God! I always knew the right thing to do, but it was in CSF that I learned that God’s main focus was on the heart, and that if you loved God with all your heart, soul, and mind that you would do the right thing. Finally, I learned that the closer you walk with your Savior, the more excited you become, and that excitement is contagious to believers and nonbelievers alike.

I cannot put into words the appreciation I feel towards all the CSF members and leaders, but to you all I say, I love you, God Bless, and Thank you.

Dan Garcia
Class of 2005

 

Charles and Debra Daugherty

As parents, one of the hardest days of our lives was the day we left our youngest daughter, Christa, at Penn State. Thinking of her being “alone” among 40,000 students and away from her family was a scary prospect. As it turned out, God wasted no time in answering our prayers for her. The very next day, Christa happened upon a gathering of CSF students having a worship service on the HUB lawn. She was made to feel welcome and a large void had suddenly been filled.

Through CSF, Christa made lots of good friends and had plenty of positive ways to spend her time. It was a comfort to us, and to her, that she had Buzz and Betty to look out for her as well. CSF quickly became a second family for our daughter and provided the support she needed to succeed throughout her four years at Penn State. And, although she grew up in a Christian home, CSF helped Christa to grow in her faith and commitment to Christ. We are very grateful to the ministry of Christian Student Fellowship and are happy to continue supporting its mission through monetary contribution and prayer.

 

Aleksandra Omanovic

In 1999 Aleksandra Omanovic moved from Yugoslavia to Pennsylvania to attend The University of Pittsburgh. Her family, still living Sarajevo, was caught up in the heart of war-torn conflict between the Serbs and Croatians. There were several tear-filled nights in which she found herself sitting on as the living room floor of new found friends from Christian Student Fellowship at Pitt. Several calls to home with no answer had produced the psychological stress familiar to many living in the region. Did a bomb stray off-target? Was her family still alive?

While most of us might turn negative about such adversity, Aleks chose the opposite — the words spoken to her about faith, God’s goodness and mercy, and love were forged into a very real, very motivating belief in Jesus Christ.

This belief became Aleks’ rock in an unsteady world. When she wasn’t battling to find out how her family was doing, she was deeply entrenched in the linguistics program.

As Alek’s English skills developed, so did her friendships within CSF. Aleks was always looking on the bright side of life, and became light to many. She added fun to whatever CSF was going on, and would talk to anyone — regardless of what was going on in their life.

While Alek’s situation certainly brought a lot to the table in terms of her attitude and choices, CSF was well-positioned to help her in a critical time of her life. If it hadn’t been for CSF it’s very likely that Aleks wouldn’t have become a Christian!

CSF is still a part of Aleks’ life. As she teaches English in Brazil, we know she has been given tools to cope with life, a strong faith in God to rely on, and a network of friends that will last a lifetime.

 

Ray Alvarez

After committing my life to athletics for 19 years, I realized how quickly it can all be taken away. Lost and without hope I started a journey that lead me to find not only a reason to keep going but an eternal purpose for my life. At Penn State and with the support of my friends in Christian Student Fellowship I gave my life to the Lord! Since then I have enjoyed the freedom and power that Christ brings to all that call on his name. CSF opened my eyes to a different side of campus that I had never been exposed to, and it changed my life.

Ray Alvarez
Class of 2005
BS Psychology

 

Doug Abel

Internships are a valuable place to gain experience as you pursue your dream of ministry. I had spent my entire college career with the focus of using my degree and experience in a professional ministry setting. Christian Student Fellowship at Penn State gave me the opportunity to experience the various aspects of ministry and the responsibility associated with it. It was also a fan.

Pursue your dream. What you learn and the guidance you’ll receive will change your life forever, as God uses it to teach you and guide you to His ultimate plan. For anyone feeling a call to Christian leadership and public ministry, an internship is a tremendous way to seek that out. God will be honored, people blessed, and yes, you will be changed forever.

Doug Abel
Former CSF Intern

Pennsylvania State University