Karesse Warren and Ellie Anderson first met in the fall of 2016. Ellie was entering her freshman year of high school and Karesse was serving with Student Ministries as the freshman girls’ Small Group leader.
What began as a once-a-week group meeting soon developed into a deeper discipleship relationship, something Ellie found very encouraging.
“Over the years, Karesse has helped me through some really hard seasons of life,” Ellie says. “And as we met, she mentioned some of her prayer requests—which really showed me her trust.”
That openness is what prompted Ellie to consider Karesse when College Park Church’s Lead Pastor Mark Vroegop encouraged the church to pray big prayers in January of 2019. Ellie wrote Karesse’s name on a sticky note and placed it on a white door alongside thousands of others. From that point on, Ellie prayed for Karesse daily. Specifically, she prayed that Karesse would find a godly husband—a longing that Karesse herself admits she had given up praying for.
A few months later, Karesse told Ellie that she had connected with one of the other high school leaders, Josh, while coming back from High School Winter Retreat. She told Ellie that they had begun dating shortly thereafter and that her relationship with Josh was pretty serious.
“Once Karesse told me that things with Josh were serious, I told her that I had been praying for her future relationship,” Ellie says. “I could hardly hold it in, and I was overflowing with joy for her.”
Karesse had no clue that Ellie had been praying for her. “I was humbled that she cared enough about my life to be praying something that big that I had not even asked her to be praying for,” Karesse remembers.
For Karesse, Ellie’s faithful prayer reminded her how important it is to walk alongside others and be praying for them. More personally, it reminded her that God truly does care about the details of our lives—of her life. For Ellie, the experience has been equally impactful. When she began praying for Karesse, she was in a spiritually dry season—feeling lonely and doubting if God was actually present.
Her faith was strengthened when she heard that Karesse was dating Josh, and even more so when she learned of the couple’s engagement. And while Ellie acknowledges that God’s answers don’t always look the way we expect them to, they are always good.
“It is a hundred percent normal to be scared of praying big prayers,” Ellie says. “But through his grace, God wants to speak to us through prayer. . . we can rest, knowing that he is for us and not against us.”
It was this message that Ellie shared at Karesse and Josh’s wedding this past December, reading of God’s faithfulness to King David in Psalm 34. Karesse, once again, was reminded of how much Ellie has taught her throughout their time together. This, she says, is why student discipleship is so important.
“It is not just necessary for the sake of impacting the next generation,” she explains. “It’s necessary because it teaches us more about who God is as we see him change and impact the lives of those different than ourselves.
To read more stories from the College Park Church 2019 Annual Report, visit yourchurch.com/annualreport.