CEDARVILLE — When Rebekah Colon, junior nursing major from Pennsylvania, began attending Cedarville in 2015, she had just completed seven months of living apart from her family.
Colon had moved in with her youth pastor and his wife in January that year and returns to that home on breaks. Despite her tough family situation, Colon found healing, encouragement and strength at Cedarville University.
Growing up, neither of Colon’s parents were Christians. She lived with her mom and half-brother and didn’t attend church often until eighth grade when her aunt invited her to join a youth choir. Colon quickly made friends and began going to church on Wednesdays as well as Sundays. When the choir went on tour, Colon was inspired by some of the other girls’ testimonies and accepted Christ as her savior.
During her senior year of high school, Colon’s half-brother moved out, leaving her and her mother with no source of income. Colon tried to balance work with academics, but having a job to provide for her mother and keeping up good grades became too much. She spoke to her youth pastor’s wife about her home situation and was invited to move in with them as a solution to her physical and emotional exhaustion.”
“So many things were different,” Colon said. “I had to adjust to being a part of a real family, like telling them where I was going and attending family devotions. I had to learn to trust them.”
“Having Bekah in our home has taught me I cannot fix the brokenness of this world, nor does God expect that of me,” said Aimee Gish, the wife of Colon’s youth pastor, Matt. “I can, however, love deeply, and he absolutely expects that from me. John 15:12 says, ‘This is my command: Love each other as I have loved you.’”
As the Gishes have followed God’s command to love Bekah, they have seen God do amazing things in her life. “Her family situation is not fixed,” noted Aimee Gish. “Brokenness still remains. But that no longer defines Bekah. She has an understanding that, in Christ, she is a beautiful daughter of the one true King and because of that, she has a purpose.”
Both Matt and Aimee Gish attended Cedarville University. After Colon looked for guidance on college options, becoming a nursing student at their alma mater was her choice.
“Freshman year was hard because of family issues going on at home,” shared Colon. “But my resident assistant was patient and understanding and made me feel comfortable. During sophomore year, I became a community life coordinator in one of the dorms where I got to share God’s love with girls the way that it was shared with me.”
Colon is now a resident assistant herself and serves as head coach of the female rugby team.
Denise Martin, adjunct instructor of nursing, serves as Colon’s academic advisor at Cedarville University.
“Professor Martin has been such an encouragement to me,” said Colon. “She helps keep me calm and pushes me to keep working hard. She also takes the time to ask how things are in my personal life, which shows how much she cares. I’m so glad to have her for my time here at college.”
“Every time I have seen Rebekah since first meeting her during Getting Started her freshman year, she has been smiling,” said Martin. “Rebekah has a heart of gratitude for those the Lord has brought into her life to provide not only guidance, but a family for her. Rebekah’s heart for the Lord, compassion for others, commitment to excellence and life experiences will all help her to be an excellent nurse. I am so thankful the Lord worked to allow Rebekah to be at Cedarville.”