No matter where they are on their spiritual journey, God is at work in the lives of students at CUWAA.
Editor’s note: This story first appeared in the fall 2022 edition of Hearts Together, a Concordia University Wisconsin and Ann Arbor special magazine edition.
One of the most famous passages of scripture takes place along the “road to Damascus” in Acts Chapter 9. Confronted by the presence of the risen Lord Jesus, Saul, a staunch persecutor of Christians, becomes the Apostle Paul, the greatest missionary the world has ever known.
This stunning conversion—from Christian enemy to ally—is why Skyler Moyer (’24) identifies so strongly with Paul. Skyler’s “road to Damascus” ultimately led him to Concordia.
“Growing up, I was very anti-Christian,” Skyler explains. “I was a militant atheist, and I actively tried to destroy the faith of people I knew. And looking back, that’s horrible.”
Skyler was raised in a poor household in Syracuse, New York, living primarily on government benefits with his disabled mother. High school was rough. In fact, he barely got through it, thanks to some poor choices that included plenty of partying and substance abuse. After high school, a betrayal by his longtime girlfriend led to a decision to join the U.S. Army. Lost and feeling alone, it seemed like a way to restore his wounded masculinity.
But it wasn’t the Army that ended up turning his life around. Rather, it was an early-morning chance encounter with some members of a Hispanic church in his neighborhood. Long story short, they invited him to church, he and his mom attended, and soon after the floodgates of grace began to open.
What really opened the eyes of his heart was realizing the stories about Jesus are true. “God put apologetics into my life,” Skyler says. “The historical evidence is just so overwhelming that Christ has risen. Realizing that was the turning point.”
Things happened quickly after that. “I could not get out of the Bible,” he says. “I’d wake up, and it was all about God and reading the Bible and learning more about apologetics, studying theology and philosophy, and just all this stuff.”
The pastor at the Hispanic church took notice and prayerfully suggested Skyler explore a future in ministry. At first, that seemed a little crazy, but he realized it “checked a lot of boxes” for things he was good at. But where to start? He wasn’t even sure what denomination he should be in. Following intense research and extensive prayer, God kept pointing him to Lutheranism—and then to Concordia University Wisconsin. So he applied … and got rejected, thanks to a very low high school GPA.
When I came here to Concordia, I knew that I was still a baby Christian and that I was still doing things that I shouldn’t be doing. I wanted to come here and be molded by people, and that’s what has happened.Skyler Moyer (’24), pre-seminary student
Undeterred, he asked for a meeting. “I said, ‘Listen, I was a stupid kid. But I joined the military. I’ve grown a lot. I apply myself. I’m way more mature. Please, just give me a chance.’”
So they did. He promised the committee he’d be on the Honors List, and he is. He’s involved in Campus Ministry: He’ll be the men’s Bible study coordinator this year. He gets help from Veterans Services and is still a member of the Army National Guard. He’s come a long way, but he also understands the road he’s on is long.
“When I came to Concordia, I knew that I was still a baby Christian and that I was still doing things that I shouldn’t be doing,” Skyler says. “I wanted to come here and be molded by people, and that’s what has happened.”
I’ve become intimately involved in the faith culture on campus, going to Chapel as often as possible, usually five days a week, and just being completely submerged in this whole Christian culture.
“It has radically changed me—in how I think about things and how I conduct myself, you know? The people here just showed me how to do it. Everybody has been really patient and kind and caring and eager to get me involved.”
Radical change. At times, it’s what Christ wants from all of us. And that’s okay. Because no matter what road we may find ourselves on, He’s always ready to meet us where we’re at.
Just ask Skyler.
Concordia University Wisconsin has the largest LCMS pre-seminary training program in the U.S. Learn more about the program, and other church work offerings, by clicking on the link below.
—The fall 2022 Hearts Together magazine hit mailboxes in early October. View a PDF version of the magazine here. If you are not on our mailing list, but are interested in receiving a free copy, email Jennifer.Hackmann@cuaa.edu.