The icy waters of Lake Michigan combined with the all-powerful Word of God on May 3, 2021 to create a miraculous change in CUW student Kylie Nelson’s life.

That day, dozens of Concordians surrounded Nelson on the shores of CUW’s beach—a fitting location and audience since it was at Concordia, and because of Concordians’ faithful witness, that she first started to seriously consider baptism.

Nelson began her college tenure at CUAA, wholly uninterested in anything to do with God but highly attracted to CUAA’s cheer team. Her young life had been fraught with tribulations: the divorce of her parents, the death of a sibling, and abuse from her biological mother. The struggles effectively drove a wedge between her and the Lord; that is, until tragedy struck again while she was enrolled at CUAA. The evening of Oct. 31, 2019, just an hour adjourned from Rev. Dr. Ryan Peterson’s religion class, Nelson received word that her boyfriend had died.

“Instead of retreating from God, I found myself turning to Scripture for answers,” says Nelson. “Pastor Ryan’s class became a weekly reminder and, in an odd way, a weekly support to me.”

Still, a change was in order for her. At semester, Nelson transferred to Mequon—away from the memory of that dreaded call and physically closer to supportive family.

She found in Mequon a new support system and one that continued to steer her toward the truth of God’s Word. The Holy Spirit further opened Nelson’s heart when she began to date CUW football player Nick Mirasola, who became a godly support by delving into heavy faith discussions with her and introducing a nightly prayer routine that the pair maintains to this day.

It was Mirasola who posed the idea of baptism. Nelson’s only stipulation was that she be baptized by Peterson, who continued to check in on her throughout her transition to Mequon. Lake Michigan, an adjoining feature of Wisconsin and Michigan, proved an apt choice because it symbolized the unity of the CUW and CUAA campuses, and the impact both had on her faith walk.

Following her baptism, Nelson’s faith continues to be nourished through her attendance at Grace Lutheran Church in Menomonee Falls, where Mirasola and his family attend. “My baptismal day was honestly one of the most special days in my life,” Nelson says. “I’m so thankful for the journey the Lord has me on.”

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Editor’s note: This story first appeared in the fall 2021 issue of Hearts Together, a Concordia University Wisconsin and Ann Arbor Special Magazine edition. The fall/winter issue 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

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