“When you grow up a Christian, you’re at the front of a spiritual battle,” says Stephanie Rudisaile, junior English/education major at Southwestern. “It’s important to know that you can have a powerful Christian experience without a dramatic instant in your life.”
Rudisaile grew up as a Seventh-day Adventist. In her own words, she had a normal life. Yet, when God is involved, there’s no such thing as normal.
The summer before Rudisaile came to Southwestern, she worked at Nameless Valley Ranch summer camp. She juggled jobs as a canoe instructor, counselor and character in the camp’s allegorical play, “The Journey.” Her character, Amarice, is confused between good and evil. In the end, she makes a decision that brings darkness into the world.
“It felt like I was actually Amarice for a while,” says Rudisaile. “I had to make sure to separate myself from the character.”
So Rudisaile held back. She recited the lines, but didn’t really act them out. The director, of course, hounded on her to get into the part, but Rudisaile was still nervous. Then one night, she let herself believe she was Amarice. Suddenly her sister was in prison and her dysfunctional family haunted her dreams. Her family constantly overlooked her. In fact, everyone overlooked her. While others were chosen for great things, she wasn’t chosen for anything. Amarice made the decision to choose evil.
“Afterwards, I was really shaken up,” says Rudisaile. “I think the feeling of being overlooked is a universal experience. That night I couldn’t sleep, so I turned on my flashlight and read the Bible. It just gave me peace.”
Ephesians 6:10-18 was a favorite verse for her to read before going on stage. It says to put on the full armor of God. That’s what Rudisaile did. She prayed, “God, I’ll go as far into this character as you need me to, as long as you can pull me back.” Through Bible study, Rudisaile created a personal relationship with God. She realized that in order to show God’s glory, someone has to play the bad guy in the story. At the end of the summer, she re-dedicated her life to God.
“When I got re-baptized, it was a very conscious decision,” says Rudisaile. “It’s weird because even though things don’t necessarily get better, you know in the back of your head that He’s there.”
Rudisaile continues to follow God in every aspect of her life, especially in her career choice. Growing up, she was surrounded by nurse, doctor and dentist family members. She wanted to be in the medical field too, until God made it clear that was not her path.
During an AP English class in high school, Rudisaile fell in love with English and literature analysis. “I decided that if I passed the AP English test, I would become an English major,” says Rudisaile. “I passed, so I took that as my sign. When God wants you to do something, He’ll tell you and you’ll just know.”
Rudisaile enrolled at Southwestern Adventist University and from there, everything began falling into place.
“I’ve been getting good grades and really like classes,” says Rudisaile. “I got jobs on campus, and one of them is even an internship. It just seems like God is saying, ‘this is what you’re supposed to do with your life.’”
As a Seventh-day Adventist at a Seventh-day Adventist college, Rudisaile knows she’s at the front of a spiritual battlefield. Just like during that summer, she continues to put on the armor of God in everything she does.