Hi! My name is Katie LaRuez and I am a part of Hope’s Youth Program. This fall is my 3rd year at Hope and I am moving from Junior High to Senior High Youth Group. The first connection I had with Hope was when I was invited to go to worship at Flower City Work Camp. Flower City Work Camp allows all local churches to join together and help renovate and repair houses in the City of Rochester. Every night after a day of work, all teens would worship together. That’s where I first had an interest in Hope and learning more about my faith. The worship was so encouraging and I was pulled right in from the start. I talked to my parents about making the switch from our previous church, but they weren’t getting on board. They had said that we should stick to what we are used to and besides, our whole family went to the church we were previously at. I had started going to more and more Hope Youth events as a guest because I had many friends that belonged to Hope. After my parents saw how much I was involved with Hope they decided to go to a Sunday morning worship. After worship, they told me that we would start going to Hope more regularly. They had said that the whole service was engaging and that they really got something out of it. I was so happy and excited to get a chance to expand and grow in my faith. From then on I met so many new people at Hope who welcomed me and helped me move along and take big steps in my walk with God.
Originally, I was baptized and raised in a Catholic church. I rarely looked forward to attending church on Sundays because our church didn’t really have a lot of opportunities for youth at the time. Some days I didn’t even go to church. As a young kid, I wasn’t getting anything out of the service. I hadn’t even studied the Bible or the stories in it. Hope opened my eyes to God’s beautiful world in ways I had never seen before. Now, I can’t wait to go to youth group every Sunday and see everyone’s warm and welcoming faces. Hope has brought me so many places throughout my walk with God like participating in Flower City Work Camp, teaching at Vacation Bible School, participating in lock-ins and retreats, serving the less fortunate, and volunteering to help the congregation. Hope has brought me so many close friends and relationships whom I can walk with and stand by. Pastor Greg and his wife Diana have pushed me to grow and explore my faith and I wouldn’t be where I am in my walk with God if it wasn’t for them. Hope brought me to realize that God was my one and only Savior. That being said, I was confirmed in Spring 2016. In my future years at Hope, I wish to be able to spread my love for God to everyone I meet. I wish to touch and bless everyone’s hearts. I wish to prove that even though Katie LaRuez is 14, she is one of the many people in the church who has played a big role in the growth of the Youth Program. I was truly honored to be the first ever youth to write a testimony for Crossroads. That tells me that God has opened my eyes to His love and that at Hope, He will do the same for you. Psalm 119:18 “Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in Your Law.”