My name is Morgan Haley Saunders and I am applying to attend Hillsong Leadership College in July of 2012. I grew up attending church and lived as part of a Christian family as a child. I accepted Christ as a 6 year old in fear that I would go to Hell. My parents instilled good values and disciplined us and we were pretty good kids. I was always joyful. I loved life.
In 6th grade, at a church camp, I recall wanting to encounter Jesus for myself, but I felt like I had not been able to. I wanted him to feel real to me, but I felt like he was distant or mythical. I kept a positive outlook on life and continued to “follow Christ” but I did not have a real relationship till later down the road.
In high school my world got rocked upside down when some sexual abuse from a family friend to me, my sister, my cousins, and two close friends surfaced and became known to our parents. Quickly after we began dealing with that hurricane, a close friend and mentor of mine passed away. I found myself dealing with so much loss. The tsunami of pain that hit our family’s shore was unbearable. Our foundation in Christ was not strong enough at the time and the enemy found it as an easy route to slip into the cracks of our lives. We were not able to talk about the abuse with anyone because we were now involved with a court trial. I found my heart grow cold to God, and I didn’t read my Bible or pray for two months straight. At the time I didn’t know him like I should, and I doubted His goodness. I was mad, confused, anxious, and shaken. I quickly slinked into a depression.
All of a sudden life was gloomy. My joyful attitude on life, stolen from me. I was missing my friend that had passed away. I felt so old and cold and I was only 17 years old. My life after that until college is somewhat of a blur, but God literally kicked my butt through William Jessup University’s doors. William Jessup is a four year private university with Christ-centered education. I did not want to go there, but thankfully God knew me and what I needed more than I did. WJU opened the door to some major healing I needed in my life. The professors and friends I was surrounded with did not fix my life for me, but their support helped me grow out of my pain. I am forever grateful for my journey at Jessup.
Up until college I consider myself to have been a closet singer. I would sing in the shower, write songs about my shampoo, and karaoke in my room. Sometimes I sang for my younger sisters, but that was about it. It was a passion without a purpose. Then my freshman year of college I was given the opportunity to help lead worship in chapel. It was a good experience and a lot of people complimented my voice. I was flattered, but I felt a deeper connection with my savior, and that was the most important factor. God was showing me how to use his gift that he had given me.
As I grew, leading worship became my quiet time with God. Though on a stage, in front of my peers, it felt like He and I were the only ones in the room. Suddenly that thirst and desire that I had experienced in the 6th grade was being fulfilled. I was singing with my mouth, but praying with my heart. It has been the most amazing thing I have ever experienced.
Hillsong was an idea, but I believe it will become a reality. I have had a lot of people that have encouraged me to go for it. I do not know the impact that Hillsong Leadership will have on my life, but I feel called to go there.