Editor’s Note: This article was written for MBC’s Pathway publication and is reprinted with permission.
“What are you thirsty for?”
That’s the question that confronted Malachi Taylor on the side of the Collegiate Impact Proxe station as he walked across campus at Blue River Community College in the spring of 2022. At the time, he didn’t know what he was thirsty for. But he was thirsty.
Just a semester before, Owen Hannen had heard about the Collegiate Impact Bible studies on his campus at Longview Community College. He wasn’t connected with church in any way. But he knew something in his life needed to change drastically. He was thirsty.
Two college students with two stories on two campuses. One ministry sharing one gospel with one hope: Jesus Christ, the one who offers the eternally satisfying drink of Living Water.
Hannen joined a Bible study on campus with Campus Missionary Brent Masters and several other guys. As they studied the gospel of Mark, Hannen began asking questions about following Jesus. “It’s a vulnerable place where you’re starting to ask questions,” Masters says. “Do I want to follow Jesus? How do I do that, in this setting with people I don’t know?”
Masters continued to meet with him one-on-one during the summer at Gusto Coffee in Lee’s Summit, dialoguing about the gospel and answering his questions. One day, after Masters went through the 3 Circles evangelistic tool with him again, Hannen decided he wanted to follow Jesus and be baptized.
But then they lost contact. Hannen went off to military training, and Masters didn’t see him for a while.
At Blue River, Taylor stopped at the Proxe station that day where Campus Missionary Brent Masters took him through a gospel presentation. He was intrigued, but he had one pressing question: what does God think about gay people like him?
Masters answered honestly. “I told him truth about gospel. I pointed to 1 Corinthians 6 with the list of sins mentioned. I told him that he’s still very much still loved and cared about by God and can have grace and forgiveness.”
Making a Meaningful Connection
After that, Taylor would come by and say hi when Collegiate Impact had tables on campus, but he didn’t connect in a meaningful way after that one conversation. Then, out of the blue, he invited Masters to his birthday party. Though Masters barely knew him, he went to the party anyway. “Myself and his sister and his mom were the only people there,” Masters says.
Taylor had lived a hard life, with a dad in prison and a mom who suffered from mental illness. “At the age of 14 I was doing crazy stuff like drugs, getting in trouble with the law and at school,” he recounts in his baptism testimony video. “I hung out with the wrong crowd and eventually started drinking alcohol. By age 17 I was out of control. It was so bad that barely anyone wanted to be around me.”
The fact that Masters showed up to his birthday party made a deep impact on Taylor. “After that, our relationship changed quite a bit,” says Masters. Taylor started coming to Collegiate Impact events, like a kickball event at a park where he met other young adults, such as Mars Brasley, from Masters’ church, Life Connection. Masters invited him to Life Connection’s young adult gospel community. Though Taylor had taken a break from being a student at Blue River, he connected to the gospel community and started to develop Christian friendships. He was still wrestling with matters of sexuality and God’s love, but he kept coming anyway.
Studying John and Getting Baptized
Masters was launching another Bible study, this time going through the gospel of John. Around that time, Hannen reentered the picture. He and Taylor joined Masters and a few others studying John. It was through that study that Taylor realized what he’d been thirsty for—Jesus. He gave his life to Christ in April and almost immediately met with Carson Conover, one of the pastors at Life Connection, to talk about baptism.
Hannen, too, was ready to follow through with his desire to be baptized. On May 21, 2023, Masters baptized Hannen and Taylor as they publicly professed that they have been crucified with Christ and raised to walk in newness of life through Jesus.
No Longer Thirsty
“My journey to faith in Christ began when I met Brent Masters at Blue River Community College,” Taylor shares in his baptism video. “He invited me to read John’s gospel with him. John’s gospel was a huge eye opener for me. I learned how Jesus loves us and extends forgiveness to everyone who turns from their sin to trust in His life, death, and resurrection. I realized it was time for me to start reading my Bible and praying on my own.
“I started going to gospel community on Wednesday nights and coming to church on Sundays. My first time coming to church was emotional but afterward I started thinking about my life and my lifestyle. God has shown me that it’s time to trust in Him and let Him change me.
“Since trusting in Christ, He’s shown me that He’s forgiven me. I am happy in spreading in Word. He’s provided me with Christian friends. And I’m learning to trust in Him with my sexuality. This journey hasn’t been easy because I still have cravings for my old lifestyle. But I’m praying and relying on God in temptation. I want to thank Brent Masters and Mars Brasley for their friendship and for bringing me into Christ.”
Taylor concluded his video with this proud proclamation: “I’m here today to confess Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior.”
Watch Malachi’s full baptism testimony video below, produced by Life Connection Church in Independence, MO.