Ryan Perkins is a sophomore from New Haven, Indiana double majoring in mechanical engineering and Christian spiritual formation. Through trials that led to a desolate mindset, Ryan found hope in God. He clung to the grace that God abundantly gave him and ultimately longs to be a vessel and kingdom worker.
Ryan Perkins grew up in a Christian family, attended a traditional Lutheran church every Sunday and went to a Lutheran school where he was taught from a very young age about God.
He knew the Word and was involved in church and outreach activities, constantly helping and caring for people. He did what he was supposed to do because he was supposed to do it—until he didn’t.
Throughout high school, Ryan felt as if he needed to do more with his faith, but he didn’t really know where to go. He was presented with options, theoretical paths that he could take. One path was seeking after God with all of his heart; the other just so happened to be the path he chose.
During his sophomore year of high school, some of the friends he had grown up with started making poor life decisions. Because he felt as if he wasn’t getting anything out of his faith and that there had to be something else out there, he was willing to do anything he could to find that something. And he did.
Drinking and smoking became common practices for Ryan, and though not for long, he craved to find out if it was better than what he knew to be “good.” Aware that the pit he found himself in wasn’t fulfilling the desires he couldn’t satisfy on his own, he continued to go to youth group and attended church regularly, hoping for something more.
“I kept it pretty quiet,” Ryan says. “No one really knew about my habits, and that’s what I wanted.”
Putting on a facade of sorts, he lived life as he always had, keeping his title of being the “good kid” while pursuing a less-than “good” path.
The life Ryan was living took far more from him than it gave. He wrestled with decisions, with morale, with truth. It wasn’t until he began to recognize the process of God’s love and persistence within his life that his circumstantial choices shaped his story and belief system.
As a purpose-driven person, he admits that there was nothing meaningful about the life he chose to live, about the drinks he chose to consume and about the choices he chose to make.
“There just had to be something more,” he says as he recalls that time in his life.
And there was.
Around that same time, Ryan began getting involved in a new church and had his eyes opened to a different view of Christianity and how it could make people’s lives look miraculously unique. It became more than just tradition, more than just going to church. It became transformative.
By the end of his sophomore year, God had taken over his life. He realized that the things this world had to offer just weren’t good enough. Everything he felt he had been missing, yet was searching for in earthly inhabitants, was clearly delivered to him in new and extraordinary ways.
Beginning his renewal of his faith journey, starting over with revived peace and sense of direction, a major part of his faith became rooted in scripture.The desire to really dig into God’s word became his foundation instead of the physical dwellings he had placed so much of himself in.
There wasn’t a distinct moment in Ryan’s life when he remembers giving his life over to the Lord.
Rather, it became clear that when he began living out his faith, his life had more meaning than he ever thought possible.
A thought that was stirred in his mind and harbored in his heart was,“What does it take to get to heaven?” That question, though seemingly simple, became an accountability partner for Ryan.
“For me to actually realize that I thought I was going to heaven and I couldn’t answer the question of what it takes to get there was an issue for me,” says Ryan. “I kind of had a moment of crisis, like ‘What do I do with that?’”
What he came to grasp was the meaning of repentance and believing. The word “repent” shifted in his mind. It no longer meant just saying sorry for something, but thinking differently and experiencing real, raw changes.
Trusting in God’s plan became a regular part of Ryan’s life. When it came time to start applying for colleges, he was set on going to Purdue to pursue a mechanical engineering degree in three years and an MBA in two. After a while, his mindset shifted, and his excitement about Purdue faded. He eventually felt strongly that he wasn’t supposed to go there.
An AU engineering billboard presented itself at just the right time, appearing on the highway seconds after he first admitted to not knowing where he was supposed to go to school. This was a sure sign for Ryan that God had a different plan.
“I knew inside of me that was from God, not a coincidence,” he says. “I continued to pray into it and was very confident Anderson was then where I was supposed to be.”
As AU became a reality, Ryan’s focus shifted from trusting God’s plan to also expecting him to move and do things, as his main focus evolved into, “God honors bold prayers because bold prayers honor God.”
Within the first couple months of his freshman year, Ryan had already become involved in two small groups and a men’s group that radically challenged his thinking and his faith perspectives. He began to really wonder how God was going to use him.
Throughout his freshman year, Ryan felt like God had laid a specific idea for a prayer group on his heart.
After talking with Tamera Shelton, campus pastor, and being led to Dr. Jason Varner, Ryan found that senior Annie Bachman had been praying about the same prayer ministry.
Finding confidence in the plan that God had placed on both of their hearts, Thursday night prayer in Miller Chapel became to fruition last spring semester.
“We knew we couldn’t take credit for it, but that it was something we needed to act on,” he says. “That pushed me a lot in pressing into spiritual gifts and pressing into God. It’s more than just an interaction.”
This ministry and persistent prayer has shaped Ryan and his thinking, especially in regards for his future.
“I have a couple different plans, but I know from past experiences that if I have a plan it doesn’t end up, but I’m kind of holding on loosely and trusting in the Lord,” he says. Through his trials, he overcame and through the storms, he will overcome—not because of himself, but through grace and faith that he has attained in Jesus Christ.