Christians of New York

Christians of New York is a photo blog series that features men and women of God both young and old. Hear their testimonies and stories of God's goodness throughout their lives and see what they're up to now!

Jillian Oderwald

This is Jillian.

She is seriously one of the best people I have ever had the pleasure of talking all about Jesus with. She is such a kind soul that loves being with others and helping out those who need it the most. Getting to know her and what she does to glorify our God has been so amazing and humbling to me. 

She and I love kids. And every summer, she volunteers at a Christian sleep-away camp at Tuscarora as a counselor to kids of all age ranges and so far she's gone twice this summer! What a trooper! I couldn't be more proud of her love for influencing young kids and informing them about our God who loves us so much. 

She is currently home in Long Island for the summer, but when school is in session, she dorms here in the city and attends The Fashion Institute of Technology studying fabric science. What is fabric science? I couldn't tell you the first thing about what goes into that, but when I hung out with her, I noticed that she couldn't help but stare at every window that had clothes on display and informing me on the quality of the fabrics that some fashion stores use. She has an amazing eye for design and she even made custom backpacks for her kids at Tuscarora. How amazing is that? These girls must have been so grateful to get a heartfelt and handmade gift from someone who cares about them so much. I am so appreciative to know such a kindhearted soul.

Hear what she has to say about her relationship with Jesus and how important His work in her life is:

Jillian. 18, ginger, adventurer. These are the words often used to describe me by other people: confused, trust issues, wandering, purposeless. These are the words I often use to describe myself.
I was raised in a Christian home by loving Christian parents, going to church every Sunday. Sunday school, Vacation Bible School in the summer, girls club, youth group, summer camp, confirmation; you name it. I went and loved every minute. When I left high school I found Hillsong NYC and never really had a period of time where I completely fell away from my faith in God. I always heard other people's stories about some event in their life that brought them away and how they were completely transformed. I wondered why it seemed I was a "boring Christian," never having a really cool story about how God did miracles in their lives. But I've learned over time that many people with the stories of God's work wish that they had never fallen away, or wish they had found him sooner.
No Christian is perfect and even if we don't have a drastic falling point or story of being saved, God can still work actively in our lives. For me, the part of my faith that I am struggling in and where God is actively working is being able to trust others and trust him. I felt and still feel like I can't trust him with different aspects of my life. For example: figuring out which college to go to, going to church by myself, or even going to camp without knowing a single soul. And ironically it's in those moments of my trust issues that I am the most confused, wondering, and filled with a sense of being purposeless. I try to take control of my life, push God out of the picture and say "I got it, I don't need you." Yet each time I come back running to my heavenly daddy like a child to her parents, and every time I do his mercies are endless. Deciding to go to camp by myself without knowing anyone was a huge challenge for me, being the first time that I had to completely give over every aspect of control to God and trust that he could make it turn out all right. However doing this led me to develop a growing sense of self-confidence and meet a girl I'm proud to call my sister in Christ; she's my springboard in tough times who's been with me since every step since then. Choosing the Fashion Institute of Technology led me to finding some of my best friends who understand what it's like to go through life as a Christian in New York City.
Consequently from that, I found Hillsong NYC. Taking the leap to go to the college group without reallly knowing anyone has strengthened friendships and created lasting new ones. So I mean I guess in that sense, that God brings me back new faith each time I take the plunge, my testimony is a lot like the others. But I'm the one who makes it my own. God is never changing but as fickle humans we doubt; even the best of us do it. But the good news is that whoever we are, whatever we do, he provides, every time. Like a shepherd to his sheep he leads us beside still waters and makes us lie down in green pastures. God provides for his children and rewards us when we have faith and trust in him with everything.

I am amazed by this girl. At only 18 years old, she has done so much for others and influenced so many hearts. She is a huge inspiration for me. Getting to hangout with her was such a blessing. She even convinced me to apply to Tuscarora next year! I can't be more excited to serve God with this astounding young woman.