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Kris Mannale

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From the womb I was trouble. Is that too far back? I will try to catch you up to speed. I was a discontent, angry, self-absorbed, vengeful munchkin with no idea there was anything wrong with me. I would love to say that I matured as time went on, but instead I grew into my role, becoming a master of manipulation, dishonesty, and impurity.

I was a boy with many faces, but the one I wore most often was the ‘nice boy’ face; otherwise known as the silent rebel. This nice boy reputation earned me respect from the older crowd and preference above those my age. It was my ticket to ride. And it’s true, really. I was better behaved than my peers for the most part, but my heart was desperately sick. I would drag my knuckles and do as I was told, act as if I had love for anyone but myself and participate in as many Christian leadership roles as I could to build up a name for myself.

Have you ever visited New York City in the winter months? You may remember walking between the skyscrapers that act as a wind channel, making 20 degree weather feel sub zero. At the outset of the day the chill is almost unbearable to someone who is not used to it. As you continue on, however, you might find that the chill of the wind has lost its effect. You don’t notice the chopsticks forming below your nostrils.

This was me. I was entrenched in a Christianity void of the gospel. The gospel was preached from the pulpit, but somewhere between our ears and our feet there was a disconnect. I would hear the words of the gospel. It was preached to me, read to me and even sung to me before bed. I never witnessed the power of the gospel. I became numb to my sin, the gospel and any mention of God (who in my mind represented the misplaced feelings of comfort that weak and foolish people like to lean on in hard times). The constant chill of this cold message left me hungry for freedom, so I plotted my escape. As soon as my high school/home-life sentence was up I would run off to whatever college would teach what I wanted to hear.

I can’t explain what happened or when the change took place but to say that it was a steady wrenching of my heart in the quiet moments of summer prior to Senior year. The God that I fought to defeat logically began to draw this dead boy to Himself. It was in no way an overnight change. I found myself in the middle of evangelistic conversations with both strangers and friends. For the first time I was representing God and His gospel truth out of obedience, not as a show. My desire was to honor God, but I had little direction. I knew how to imitate what I saw in the churches that I had been a part of, but there seemed to be something we were missing.

With a scholarship to a local business school and a plan to make enough to support my future family very comfortably, I was a month away from stepping into the doors of the building that I would study at for the next four years. God had another plan. It was going to take a small, charismatic, Asian man with a shiny head to get me to realize it, but in the end it all worked out. I realized that as I began to think of the future, an idolatrous American worldview became my source for decision making. I was frightened that I would be further drawn into this way of thinking and made a last minute decision to decline the offer from the business school and take a trip to Southern California, home of Eternity Bible College.

At Eternity Bible College I’ve realized that seeking my comfort is only comfortable amid ignorance. I was blessed with roommates and professors that rebuked me, not to correct bad behavior, but to seek my restoration and heart change. This is a community of imperfect people, spurring each other on to live as if Jesus is King and God is worthy of our fear and praise. EBC remains a refreshing reminder that the purpose of Bible College is not getting through school in four years with a good GPA and piece of paper with a stamp and signature. God’s will is our sanctification and obedience to Him. If a grade fits into that plan so be it. In my case this has meant 4+ years of a mediocre GPA and no paper to show as of yet; an alarming thing to those who place their hope in a piece of paper.

God has formed me by His grace into a man that is zealous to do His will. I am the husband of an amazing godly woman, who is encouraging my faith daily as we serve the Lord together. God has blessed our marriage beyond what I could have imagined. The next chapter is scheduled to begin September 7th if God chooses to allow Hannah and I to be parents of this now peach-sized baby that He has given us.

Praise God for His goodness and infinite mercy toward us!



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