Tell Us Your Story: Luke Donah

Tell Us Your Story: Luke Donah

November 29, 2021 | Michael Rhodes

 

Video Transcribe

Michael: What's up, Veritas? I’m here today with my good friend, Luke Donah, and I want you guys to hear Luke's story about how God has worked in his life. We were talking earlier today with our staff about the wonderful works of God and how God has worked in different people's lives and how we need to talk about that more regularly. So with these videos, it's our hope that you would hear more about the stories of the people in our church and how God has done amazing work in their lives. So Luke, why don't you kind of tell everybody what your — what is your story in coming to Christ and how Christ has changed your life — why don't we begin there today.

Luke: Yeah. So I grew up in upstate New York. I grew up going to Catholicism classes, just having no interest in it. I actually used to put Sports Illustrated in my textbook in class because I just could not have cared less about what was going on. And then from there, I started dating my now wife when I was a senior in high school, and she was a believer, and I very much was not at that time. And so after that, I ended up going to church with her a few times. It was a different religious experience than anything that I had experienced up to that point. It still didn't really do anything for me, though. I just went because she wanted me to. I ended up going to school at a private Baptist university in North Carolina that had mandatory Monday worship that we had to attend. And I would honestly use that time to kind of mock and try to get cheap laughs out of my friends, many of which weren't believers at the time. And so through that, I think God was starting to expose me to different avenues of trying to communicate with me. But it wasn't until I was a sophomore in college that ultimately I ended up visiting a church while Kendra was visiting me, where I ultimately accepted Christ. After visiting it a few times and really, I just — I went from somebody that used to, you know, back when I was a kid, put Sports Illustrated in the textbook, have no interest in college.. When our student association would have prayer at the beginning, I would tebow to make people laugh because that was big at the time. It was just really very much a marker at that time. And I went into a position where I wasn't seeking out Christ, and he clearly sought me because things that I wasn't even looking for, that made no sense to me, seemingly came into my life and started making a lot more sense.

Michael: Man, that’s sweet how God pursues us even when we aren't pursuing him. So you mentioned like growing up in upstate New York. Luke is still a Jets fan. Not sure how that happened, still, but he's a faithful man, obviously. So he grew up in New York.

Luke: I was familiar with total depravity.

Michael: So, yeah, he grew up in New York, moved to North Carolina to go to college. So how did you and Kendra end up in Cedar Rapids and then also at Veritas?

Luke: Yeah. So right after I accepted Christ, I ended up doing an internship in Martha's Vineyard. And while I was there, I had a really good relationship with my boss there. And so when I was getting ready to graduate from college, he had set me up with one of his former assistants who had just recently gotten a head professional job in Cedar Rapids. And I didn't even know where Iowa was on a map at the time. I certainly was not seeking to come to Iowa, but it was a great professional opportunity, one that I felt like I wasn't going to find anywhere else. And so I said, sure, I'll go to Cedar Rapids. So I came here for three months for a trial run, basically for my job in the summer of 2015 and then went back, finished school and came back full time in February of 2016. And that first summer I was here, I had tried a couple of different churches and just didn't really find what I was looking for. I don't know if at that time I even knew what I was looking for. I could just tell the community there or the community at the churches that I was going to wasn't what I felt like was going to be good for Kendra and I as we got married the next year, and she would move here in July of that year.

Michael: Yeah, so, one of the things we've said here at Veritas before is to live intentionally where God has you but be willing to go wherever God wants you. And I think one of the things that I've admired about you and Kendra is that even though, like you didn't know where Iowa was on the map, you know and didn't know much about Cedar Rapids — the thing I admire now is even though you don't know how long you'll be here, God may have other plans for you, but you have gone all in to like living your lives here. Like, yeah, you're a Jets fan, but now you're one of the most die hard Iowa fans that I know at our church.

Luke: Big upgrade, big upgrade.

Michael: And so like, you've gone all into Iowa life and Iowa culture and living your life on mission here. So I would love for you to like, kind of talk through the process of coming to that kind of contentment where you didn't really want to be here, but now you're all in here.

Luke: Well, probably I'll start with the pork chop on the stick at the state fair. I think that was when we became full Iowan. But no, we moved here and right off the bat, I actually had a really good potential opportunity to leave Cedar Rapids, and I could just tell — Kendra and I had been coming to Veritas for a little bit — I could just tell that there was something special here that was going to be good for our marriage, especially just starting off. And so I instantly said, this is where we should be for a few years. And even then, I just thought it was a placeholder spot. I thought I'd be here for two or three years. But then, yeah, the longer we stayed here, the more we were able to grow our community — our Christian community — and just get more and more plugged in at Veritas. And the more that happened, the more I felt a change in me or perhaps a maturation (not that I'm very mature), but a maturation of just not living purely for your career or for your own success, but truly starting to understand the concept of dying to oneself, and carrying your cross daily and just how that was going to be more of a possibility here in Iowa because of the people that were pouring into our lives so that definitely played a big role in wanting to stay here and then continuing to stay here.

Michael: Yeah, man. Luke, I love the fact that you've had other people pour into your life. There's been older men that I know you — we could mention a long list of people — that have poured into you. And I hope our church grows in that of older men pouring into younger men and older women pouring into younger women to help us grow as disciples. One of the last things I want to ask you is something that I admire about you tremendously is God's given you a lot of great gifts and abilities as a golf instructor. But he's also given you a great opportunity to love and serve people — a lot of people that don't know Jesus in that role. And that's one of those things that when we talk about living as an everyday missionary, we want our people not to just think of being on a mission by going overseas. But we want them to think like, how can I be a golf instructor as an everyday missionary? And so how would you say you've been able to do that and love and serve others in your role?

Luke: Yeah, I feel like it's pretty easy to just live missionally as a golf instructor just because golf is such a relational sport. I just have a lot of one on one time with people where I'm working with them to try and be better at something, but also able to say like “Hey, you know, being better at golf is not going to — it's not going to get you to eternity someday." So there's just a lot of avenues in the performance world that lead to talking about a higher purpose.

Michael: Yeah, Luke I am super encouraged by your story. Veritas, I hope that you are as encouraged as I am. I get to hear a lot more about Luke's story when we're hanging out, but we want you to mature as a disciple. And obviously from Luke's story, we know that that happens best in Christian communities. So I encourage you to jump in community if you're not there yet. And then also we want you to live as an everyday missionary, wherever that is. Be intentional where God has you, but be willing to go wherever God wants you. So ultimately, guys, we want to see you glorify God. And by God's grace, we're so thankful for Luke and his wife, Kendra, in the way that they're doing that here. So have a great day.

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Michael Rhodes

Staff & Sending Director (Pastor)