How Keito found what matters

It was orientation week of my freshman year and I had just moved into the dorm. I was on the phone with my girlfriend from back home. I was lonely and miserable. I told her, 'I'm on a campus with 20,000 other people and I have never been more lonely in my life.'

As I was speaking, someone from Cornerstone, the CCO ministry at Pitt, came around the corner jumping up and down, advertising free cupcakes to the people in the Towers gym. Coincidentally (or not), it was someone from my high school. She came and sat with me and even returned to bring me a cupcake.

I came across the CCO again when I attended their cookout on the Sunday before classes started, and ever since then, I have been involved with the CCO.

I was a high school student who went to church on Sundays out of duty. Now I am a pharmacy student who desperately seeks God in everything. I used to make fun of Christians in high school. Now, I am unafraid to stand for my faith.The CCO ministry has been the driving force behind that change.

When I came to Pitt, I had the mindset of only being here a few years, earning a diploma, and getting out of this city as quickly as possible. I believed in God, but church and God were things I did on Sunday morning, and the rest of the week was mine. I was going to build a future for myself, and I would be happy eventually if I just worked hard enough.

Over the last three years, the many CCO staff I have had the opportunity to meet have been a huge blessing. All three CCO staff members at Cornerstone—Chris Ansell, Bobbi Perkins, and Andy Moore—have invested time and energy in my life.

Bobbi's talks challenge me and keep me from growing complacent in my faith. Andy led my three-person discipleship group and laid down a lot of the core fundamentals of my faith. He has been there for me when I wrestled with deep sin in my life. Chris was the one who encouraged me to first go to Jubilee. He also was the one who encouraged me to get baptized and become a member of Bellefield Presbyterian Church, the church that the CCO partners with to provide Cornerstone. I try to be active in the life of the church as well and serve as a greeter and usher on Sunday mornings.

This past year, I sought Chris out when I was wrestling with beginning the professional phase of pharmacy school. I had always been competitive, but now that I was with the same people every day, all who were accepted into pharm-acy school and all pursuing the same degree, I struggled with potentially being average. Even worse, I found a hateful desire in me for others to do poorly so I could do well in comparison. Chris pointed out to me that, while working hard and academic success are not sins themselves, I needed to place my identity in Christ and not in my grades or academic standing. After all, as he noted to me, what good is it to patients if I am an A level pharmacist and everyone else is C level? Wouldn't it ultimately be beneficial for everyone to be A level pharmacists?

At my first Jubilee conference, seeing that I was not alone in my faith journey was amazing. I had never seen so many people on fire for God, and it reassured me that my faith is important. At Jubilee, I began to see the connection between my studies and my faith. Could it be possible that I was studying and taking exams for God? Once I realized that my education and my faith were not mutually exclusive, I never wanted to leave the intersection between the two. I wanted God to work in every part of my life. Everything does matter because God is in everything. As I have matured in my faith through regular attendance at Bellefield Presbyterian Church and the CCO fellowship and mentorship with Chris, Andy, and Bobbi, I realize that God called me to Pittsburgh to be part of His plan here, even if just for a few years. I believe part of His plan for me is to invest in Bellefield and give back to the community that has invited me in and that has been responsible for stimulating my growth in Christ.

For that reason, I was baptized at Bellefield in April to publicly affirm and express my faith in Jesus Christ. This was not the end of my growth in the faith but rather just the beginning. We are to be baptized into a community of believers, or if you will, one body. A tangible expression of that membership in a body of believers is membership in a church, and that is exactly what I pursued. It is with the greatest sincerity and gratitude when I say that I am blessed to call Bellefield my home and family."

Keito is in his third year of a six-year pharmacy program at the University of Pittsburgh.