“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13).
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Sr. Stephanie Kuenzli and Sr. Becca Marten are from the Milwaukee Bible Students. These sisters first met in middle
school. We asked them to give us some insight into how their friendship helped Sr. Becca come into the Bible Student fellowship.
Sr. Becca: I was not raised in any sort of faith. My father had grown up in a strict Catholic household but after leaving home was not particularly interested in religion. My early view of religion came from my mother, who felt that most people were hypocrites. They would judge others but would do worse things than what they were condemning others for. I never gave much thought to God and knew nothing of the Bible.
Sr. Stephanie: I am a fourth-generation Bible Student on both sides of my family. I consecrated when I was 17.
Sr. Becca: I first met Stephanie in the 6th grade. For years, I knew who the Bible Students were because she spoke of the friends she saw at camps and conventions. I do not specifically
remember her talking about what she believed until I was in high school. In my junior year my mother was diagnosed with lung cancer and a cancerous brain tumor. I was 16 at the time, my younger brother was 15, and my sister was eight. I knew the cancer was bad, but she was very positive about everything, and at that age I wanted to believe she would be okay. For my birthday that year, Stephanie gave me a Bible — my first — and the same one I still use today. I thought it was a nice gift, but I didn’t put it to much use.
WITNESS LESSON: A Bible or Truth literature can be an uplifting gift that never expires. Small gifts at appropriate times can be a blessing to others.
Sr. Stephanie: I will witness in any fashion that seems appropriate. There is a time and season for everything and I try to gauge when the most suitable times are. In the past, I have
gone tracting, helped host public meetings, and worked at state fair booths, but most often I like to witness one-on-one either with close friends, acquaintances, or even complete strangers. I
have approached strangers when seeing them studying the Bible. I remember witnessing to my friends when I was only four years old.
WITNESS LESSON: Be who you are. We do not have to be a great orator to talk about the kingdom. A meek and humble spirit will attract people as well.
Becca was aware of my religious background from almost the beginning of our friendship, though it was not until high school that she started listening. When her mom died, Becca needed comfort and the kingdom finally came to have a personal meaning. We spent hours on the phone discussing the resurrection and what God’s kingdom might be like. She was so excited to hear about it, and I was just as excited to share the wonderful news with her.
Sr. Becca: My mom died during my senior year of high school and it was a devastating experience to say the least. I could not understand why she had to die and I spent hours begging
the universe to let us switch places so she could be there for my brother and sister. I felt scared and very sad about what had happened to her. Stephanie was my closest friend and always
spoke confidently about God and His plan.
WITNESS LESSON: Be alert for opportunities the Lord may show you. This might involve new surroundings or a new experience, or in this case, a friend in need of comfort.
She spoke about a coming kingdom and said my mom was not floating around somewhere, that she was really dead but someday would be resurrected along with all of mankind. She gave me a tract titled, “Joy Cometh in the Morning.” I remember reading it, and everything made perfect sense. Although my experiences at the time were overwhelming and sad, the
fact that I would see my mom again excited me. One of the things that attracted me most was that God’s plan was very inclusive and did not require anyone to commit to God in this life unless they wanted to. The fact that God’s plan was logical helped to convince me that this was the truth.
I never believed in hell and the all-inclusiveness of the kingdom felt so grand and so right. I remember as a child my mom mentioning how ridiculous it was that Catholics would say
African children would have to go to hell because they never accepted Jesus. I did not like how that sounded. It is a great comfort to know there will be peace on earth and a place for
everyone who wants to follow God. The plan seemed so beautiful and simple.
The future seemed less scary and bleak. My dad was an alcoholic and after my mom died he got sick and could not work. A few years later he also died. It was a terrible situation because, as the oldest, I had to help raise my younger sister. There were times I felt overwhelmed but having the brethren to lean on made a big difference. Knowing that my dad will eventually
be restored to perfection is something I have come to appreciate much more.
My friendship with Stephanie has completely altered the course of my life. Without her I would not be part of the rich spiritual family in the Milwaukee class. Neither would I have the natural family I have through marriage (Sr. Becca is married to Bro. David Marten) and the many close friendships that have happened because of Stephanie’s persistence in talking
about the truth for so long.
It was not only that she talked about her faith, but she lived it. She is a genuinely good person whose life reflects her beliefs, and I have looked up to her for most of my life.
Sr. Stephanie: My advice on witnessing would be not to push it on others. If someone is happy and comfortable with what they believe, our message will not have much effect. Instead,
we can be a witness in our lives. Be a good friend, co-worker, neighbor, etc. so when an opportunity arises that person will have a listening ear. If we are respected by our peers, and they
see what a positive impact the truth has on our lives, they will more readily accept what we say.
WITNESS LESSON: Witnessing is also about your lifestyle. When friends see your Christian conduct, they may even come to you when they need comfort. Let the beauty and simplicity of the truth do its work. Speak about it with passion and conviction.