Berrien Springs resident Stephanie Martinez just completed her sophomore year at Great Lakes Adventist Academy. Photo credit: Christina Rogers

June 8, 2021

Chasing Life

Last year I received a diagnosis for which my family and I believed medication would help.

However, 20 minutes after taking the first dose, my whole world changed. I fell asleep for 12 hours straight; I experienced terrible side effects, and it felt like every positive emotion was stripped from me. Each day it seemed to get worse and, at one point, I thought about ending my life.

It wasn’t long afterwards that I was having a conversation with a friend, and she asked if I was going to Camp Au Sable. I initially didn’t want to go but she convinced me to re-consider. There were so many obstacles to going: no funds, so little time to prepare. But as you would know it — God made a way for me to be there.

I arrived at camp and was happy to be in a cabin with some of my childhood friends who were attending Great Lakes Adventist Academy (GLAA). I didn’t know much about GLAA, other than the fact that it’s a boarding school without the use of phones. It so happened my counselor was a graduate from there, so I asked her what being at student at GLAA was like. She shared how the caring teachers and staff had helped her and made a difference in her life. In listening to her story, I was very interested because I was struggling with the very same things she shared.

In looking back at my camp experience, I can confidently say, God meant for me to be there. It was such a spiritual place, and everyone reminded me of Jesus. Without our phones as distractions, we were able to truly connect with one another and talk beyond the limits of social media. By the last day of camp, I was secretly hoping they’d keep us longer. 

When I got home, I told my mom how much good, Christian fun I had with everyone, and how I wished I could experience more things like it. GLAA, I told her, was a school I believed could provide me with this kind of godly environment. Her very first concern was whether we could afford it. I told her not to worry about it because if God wanted me there, He’d make a way. I’ll spare you the details but, similar to how God moved mountains for me to attend camp, He answered my prayers to attend GLAA!

By the time school started two weeks later, my spiritual life was back on track and so was my mental health. Since being at GLAA, I made the decision to give my life to Christ and was baptized last fall by our chaplain and Bible teacher, Jeff Akenberger.

You might feel sorry for what I had to go through but I’m actually grateful for the experience. While I still need to take medication, my faith has been strengthened and, as I look back, I can see that God was there for me all through it. Now, through sharing my testimony with my classmates and others, I can help more people reach out toward God. What a joy to be involved in that!


Berrien Springs resident Stephanie Martinez just completed her sophomore year at Great Lakes Adventist Academy.