Seven years ago, if you had told Chad and Elisha Conrad that their lives would someday revolve around church, serving, and biblical community, they would have laughed. Even though they grew up in the Catholic church, they had no personal relationship with God, nor did they truly understand the gospel. After getting married and moving to Greenville in 2007, they both pursued their careers as top priorities and only attended church on holidays or when they felt guilty about their absence.
During this time, they connected with a couple who attended Grace and became friends. This couple embraced Chad and Elisha, answered their questions about the Bible, and invited them to church. However, although Chad and Elisha were interested in learning more about Christianity, they weren’t ready to give up their lifestyle. Chad especially was invested in climbing the corporate ladder, and they both preferred to spend their weekends at the lake with family.
Over the next few years, they had two children, and their lives got more complicated. They began to have more and more conflict in their marriage, Chad was in heavy pursuit of his career, and their self-centered lifestyle began to feel empty. Although they had been sporadically attending a Catholic church, they didn’t feel connected there. And when Chad and Elisha hit rock bottom in their marriage, they called their friends from Grace, who had since moved away from Greenville, but they got on a plane and flew back to help the Conrads in their crisis.
Resolving their marital issues was a long and hard journey, but this crucible moment acted as a turning point for Chad and Elisha. They realized that their lives were empty—living for themselves had consequences, and they wanted more for their children. It was a humbling experience, but they leaned into their friendship, sought counseling, and began attending Grace.
The first sermon we heard at Grace was from the book of James, and it was about judgment. We sat in the back and cried. We knew we deserved judgment, but now, we were hearing about a way out—a hope for something better through Christ.
Chad and Elisha immediately knew God wanted them at Grace, and they quickly got plugged into a community group and began serving on the connect team. As they learned from teaching and community, they knew they needed to turn from their old lifestyle and trust Jesus. So they fully engaged the process of healing, repenting, and learning what it meant to be a believer, and God used people around them in extraordinary ways to disciple them. Friends in the workplace, neighbors, mentors at church—God used believers in different areas of their lives to encourage and challenge them as they grew in their faith.
We were like sponges—soaking everything up and trying to absorb it. We were amazed at how many people were seeking to connect with us and know us. We had highly underestimated the power of community.
Over the next few years, Chad and Elisha grew by leaps and bounds. God was working in their lives, and they wanted to tell everyone they knew. As their lives began to revolve around church instead of themselves, their family noticed the change. They didn’t understand why Chad and Elisha preferred to attend church over spending time at the lake on weekends. As they navigated these conversations with their family, they realized that even though they had both been baptized as infants, they needed to take that step of obedience and publicly demonstrate their commitment to Jesus through baptism. They also wanted to set an example for their children about what it means to be a follower of Jesus.
We knew baptism was a step of obedience. We wanted to show our family that church wasn’t just a weekend hobby for us, and we wanted to show our children our commitment to Christ.
Looking back now, Chad and Elisha can see how far God has brought them. Now their children are connected to the church, participating in small groups, and being challenged to follow Jesus in just the same ways that they were. They are overwhelmed with thankfulness at how God is working in so many ways they never anticipated. They recently saw their story come full circle when their daughter Kinsley got baptized. It was an emotional moment, full of gratitude that God would use his people to rescue them and their family from the path of self-destruction they had been on.
It was a downward spiral of sin, and we didn’t know where it would have ended. But God used it for our good, and we got to see the promises of Scripture play out. It could easily have gone the other way. There would have been no hope for our kids—because we would have been pursuing the world. But the Christ-centered life gave all of us hope.