I gave my life to Christ when I was eight, and again when I was 16 or 17, then once more right around 22. Although I grew up "in the church" and both my parents were pastors in a large international ministry in Nigeria, I often felt like there was something about this Christianity thing that I wasn't getting right - some special inner circle reserved for those who were perfect and obeyed God perfectly all of the time. And so I kept "giving my life" because I didn’t know better, and yet I still didn’t feel quite good enough.
Going to work for a large computer corporation and then graduate school afterwards complicated matters - I had grown up in a Christian community, and in a country where faith in (some form of) God was a matter of course. I had also remained in that community through undergrad. When I moved from DC to Austin after graduation, I was not prepared to defend my faith or even the idea of having faith against outright attack. I am not even sure if I had ever questioned what I believed or why I believed it.
I came to Pittsburgh for graduate school, and I knew I wanted two things in my new church. I wanted a church that had a strong commitment to teaching the Word, and helping its people grow: I did not want to have to believe something "because my pastor said so". At the same time, I did not want a church that was so logic-based that they minimized the role of the Holy Spirit and did not give room for the manifestation of his gifts. I finally found Berean by googling "church bookstore in Pittsburgh" - I figured that a church committed to teaching the Word would have resources on site. I remembered the meaning of and identified with the Berean name, and came to visit in February 2011. And then I just kept coming.
I had thought I wanted just the balance of word and Spirit, structure and impartation. I found that balance: both implicitly in the way things were done, and explicitly when Pastor Mark taught that very topic. But then I found much more. I found awesome worship; I found a community of people that were extremely warm and welcoming - so warm that when my mom and sisters came from Nigeria to visit, they teased that I had found a church of Africans who just happened to have a different skin color; I found church leadership that was transparent about its activity and accountable to others; and I found a place where my questions were answered calmly and thoughtfully. The best part of it all has been leaving church every single time having learned something new, and finding it to be true.