“You know when you’re fishing and you’re trying to catch a big fish, the hook will set but you don’t reel it in right away,” says Eddie Michaels, sophomore theology major. “It goes its own way and gets tired of fighting and eventually you just reel it in.”
Michaels sees the moment in third grade when he prayed his school’s salvation prayer as setting the hook for his salvation. But from then on, until age 20, Michaels was putting up that fight.
At twenty years old he had looked around and started to question where he was headed in life. Michaels had just received the opportunity of his lifetime, a chance to train with some of the best judo coaches and judokas in the world. Michaels had been doing judo since he was six, but had never had the opening to train with people of this caliber, so he went down to South Texas to train for a year.
Now 27, Michaels looks back on that time as the turning point of his life. “I feel like God brought me to that point and gave me that opportunity when I didn’t deserve it,” says Michaels. After that happened, he came home, falling back into his old habits just to be shaken up again, but this time permanently.
He started questioning why he was here, what his purpose was, and what he really believed in. “I came to the conclusion that there was a God and the God that I had studied in my few years of Christian schools is the God that I believe in.”
After being baptized as a Christian, Michaels decided to join the military and it was tough. “My first four plus years as a Christian I was in the military by myself. I didn’t have any Christian friends. That was really hard to do,” Michaels recalls. When Michaels wasn’t on deployment, he was stationed in Abilene, Texas, which brought him to the next phase of his life.
Michaels had been going to a huge non-denominational church in Abilene when he wasn’t on deployment. He had enjoyed the church, and during those four years he had tried to get more involved, but not once did he get the opportunity to shake the pastor’s hand. Things started to fall into place when Michaels finally met James Milam, a senior theology major at Southwestern.
Last July, Michaels met a trainer at the gym where he worked out in Abilene. The trainer set up a meeting at a local café between him and Milam, the student pastor at the local Adventist church. “A guy who didn’t even know me was willing to come and meet me, sit down with me, and get in the Word with me before I even heard his sermon,” remembers Michaels.
They had begun their Bible study when a symbolic moment occurred. “My friend says, ‘Hey Eddie, look behind you!’ And guess who is sitting down two tables over? I turn around and it was the pastor of that church that I had been going to,” recalls Michaels. “So James is sitting right in front of me and behind me is the pastor of the church that I had been going to. I saw it as a new chapter of my life.”
In December 2012, Michaels made his profession of faith and became a member of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. “These past four years of my life, I had so many plans about where I wanted to go and what I wanted to do,” says Michaels. “Now I’m thinking more in the light of, ‘God take me where you want me to go and wherever that is, I know I’ll be happy.’ As far as what I want, if that’s where God puts me, then that’s what I’ll do.”
Now, a sophomore theology major here at Southwestern, Michaels says, “I’ve never been in a better place in my life than where I am right now.
“The hearts of the people I’m around and the knowledge of God here, it’s spiritually uplifting. I couldn’t imagine being anywhere else at this point in my life.”