University Testimonies

Amy Birner

North Carolina

“I am applying to return to Awestruck because it is a home, a place of peace and comfort, and I can’t imagine not being a part of this experience. Awestruck has been a main part of my summers and my spiritual growth for five years now. In the four summers that I have participated in Awestruck, each year has been different and has stretched my faith to new limits. I remember as a high school student dealing with the problems that came with being a teenager in high school. Everyone and everything was distraction pulling me away from God. Awestruck helped provide me with a passion for Christ in the form of a positive experience of what God wants on this earth. He wants a community of Christians who come together to help those within the group and reach out to others outside of the Christian community. Awestruck has given me a family that holds me accountable, shows me love even when I make mistakes, and rejoices with me when I am successful. So, I am applying to come home to embrace the family I have in Indiana, but also to welcome others into the family so that they too can have an awestruck experience, a love experience, and a joyful experience.”


Hayden DefordHayden DeFord


“My first experience with Awestruck was when it was still in Seymour during the summer of 2011.  I already knew how fun and rewarding it was to be with a large group of Lutherans my age from the National Youth Gathering the year before, so I was excited to give up a week of my Summer for Awestruck.  The fact that it was created and lead by Brandon “Broha” Grelle made up my mind that should go, because Brandon was one of the important people in my life who helped shape my relationship with Christ.  I showed up expecting to sit around and sing songs all day and play games, but I was definitely surprised to find out we had to actually work!  Working with the community made the week so much more rewarding and let everyone we worked with see the Love of Christ we shared.  The week went by fast and exceeded my expectations.  Shine Bright Baby was my favorite band that year and I got a picture with them with all of their autographs on it.  The week was one with many stories, experiences, and new friends.

The next Awestruck experience I had almost didn’t happen.  I was reconnecting with Brandon on Facebook and the subject of Awestruck came up.  I asked how it was going and he said that he was short one University member, college students who help out with projects and the festival, and did’t know if he would be able to find anyone.  In actuality I messaged Brandon to ask if there was any way I could be a part of Awestruck that year.  It worked out for both of us and I was the last person added to the University team in 2015.

Once the high school kids showed up I learned what it meant to truly be University.  I was with a group of soon-to-be sophomores from the Crown Point area.  I got to know them all and developed a relationship built on trust with God in the center.  We completed projects together and confided our problems and struggles with one another.  I am so glad I got to experience Awestruck both as a participant and as a University member.  I know that I would give up any amount of time, money or effort to be a part of University again next year and years to come.  God has called out to me that Awestruck is very important to me, and I know that I will donate myself any way possible once I have “aged out” of University.”

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