Hi, my name is Ashley Burris and I am a junior studying Human Nutrition, Food, and Exercise at Virginia Tech. I was born and raised in Virginia Beach, VA by two loving parents, Dean and Lisa Burris, along with my sister Allison.
As an infant, my parents baptized me in the Methodist church, professing that they would raise me to believe in God and Jesus Christ. Over my childhood, I attended church weekly and learned the Bible stories and verses. I followed my parents and prayed before meals and read the Bible, yet I still didn’t quit understand what it meant to be a Christian.
During my sophomore year of high school, the Lord called me to a mission trip in Nicaragua with youth group. This was a massive step outside my comfort zone, but I knew that the Lord needed me to go. The first night of the trip, I was very scared to be in a third world country without my parents, and I was starting to feel overwhelmed. During the nightly bible study, I felt the Holy Spirit fill me, and I knew the Lord was showing me comfort and love. Over the course of this trip, I began to learn what it meant to be a Christian and love the Lord with all your heart.
When I arrived at Virginia Tech, I knew the first thing I wanted to do was find a campus ministry. I was looking for friends that had the same beliefs as me to hang out with. Little did I know that Cru would become my second family. This amazing group of people not only shared my beliefs, but they encouraged me through the tough academic times, challenged me to pursue my faith, and comfort me when I was homesick.
During that first year on campus, the Lord called me to a conference with Cru, where he allowed me the chance to hear from and talk with a female surgeon. At the end of the conference, the Lord called me again to another mission, medical school. I realized all the gifts and experiences God had given me the last few years to be a doctor, but I had let my fears and anxiety hide them. I decided that February day in 2017, that I was going to take the Lord’s hand and trust that His plan was so much better than I could imagine, and that he would be there to support, strengthen, and comfort me through the challenges. This was the biggest step I had ever taken in my faith. From this day on, I started taking steps to actively pursue the Lord and practice my faith. I asked to be discipled by the women in Cru, I found a church, and began reading my Bible daily.
Over the course of my sophomore year, I saw the Lord work wonders in my life, all because I gave it all to Him. In January of 2018, I decided to attend a Northstar membership interest meeting. At this meeting, Neal asked that if we were baptized as infants, we consider being rebaptized to become members. I was at first offended, I felt that my baptism didn’t count. I shut down and decided I didn’t need to be a member of the church and ignored my feelings about rebaptism. I didn’t think about baptism again until the summer, when my Bible study in Blacksburg was going through a Jen Wilkin study on Matthew.
We read Matthew 4 and I decided I need to ask my discipler, Laura Angle, about baptism. I broke down in front of her, confessing that I was ignoring the Lord and baptism, but that I felt lost and didn’t understand why I needed to be rebaptized. She comforted me and explained that my first baptism didn’t not count, but that it was my parent’s declaration, not mine. She also reminded me, that my if baptism would bring the Lord more glory, then I couldn’t do anything wrong.
I continued to talk with Laura and Erin Petersen throughout June while I finished summer classes, and when I came home, I decided I needed to talk with my parents. I wanted to be baptized, but I wanted to discuss with my parents that I was just reaffirming the decision they made 20 years ago when I was an infant, and not ignoring it. I was so hesitant they wouldn’t agree with this, that I pushed off the conversation till one of the last days of the summer. When I did have this conversation, they greeted me with love and joy. They were so proud of the woman I had become and the decisions I had made to follow the Lord, that they were excited to support me in this decision.
On Saturday October 20, I was baptized in the Atlantic Ocean by Pastor Randy Singer of Trinity Church. I shared my story and was surrounded by my family as I publicly declared my belief in the Lord and Jesus Christ. I still take small steps everyday to follow and trust the Lord. I know I am still an infant in my faith, but I am excited to learn more about our wonderful Lord and follow Him everyday of my life.
In November, Ashley signed her membership covenant and joined Northstar. She is active in serving in our Jumpstart children’s ministry and also as a childcare worker.