With global conflicts, a stifling pandemic, and the overwhelming prevalence of social media, developing religious faith and having it as a young person is more challenging than ever.

Mount St. Joseph University bell tower during sunset.

The past few years, people have been reminded of how rarely things stay the same and how nothing is guaranteed. With global conflicts, a stifling pandemic, and the overwhelming prevalence of social media, developing religious faith and having it as a young person is more challenging than ever. A 2020 article from the Pew Research Center titled, “10 Key Findings About the Religious Lives of U.S. Teens and Their Parents” revealed that “Teens are just as likely as their parents to say they regularly go to religious services, but when it comes to more personal forms of religious expression, teens appear less religious than their parents.”

While there is nothing wrong with going to religious services, for faith to be ingrained within one’s soul, a person must have their own spiritual life that they practice outside of church. This is what can help people to stay motivated and positive, especially when life throws setbacks and problems. As young adults, it can be beneficial to have a support system to go to when conflicts arise. Faith can bolster and encourage young adults throughout their whole lives, even into old age.

For this Q&A, I interviewed three older adults who have a strong connection to God and their faith as believers in Jesus and the Word of God. These three adults-- Jorie Hofmann, Linda Elsaesser, and Harry Elsaessee-- are part of a bible study I attend at Jorie’s house on Sunday afternoons.

How did you come to believe in your faith the way you do today?

Jorie Hofmann: I’ve always believed in God because I was born Catholic. The event that caused me to start to develop my faith was when my son got involved with the wrong people who did drugs; it got the worst when he was in high school. I remember telling God that I did not want to lose this boy. I was desperate. I was in my darkest moment. This was around the time that I turned to my neighbors across the street, Harry and Linda, and they helped to guide me in reading the Word of God. I was ready to hear what it was all about. I first listened to the Word, then I read it myself. Reading God’s Word opened my eyes to how the Catholic Church had its faults.

How have you relied on your faith to help you overcome obstacles?

Harry Elsaesser: I am a repair person. Before I retired, I worked as a repair/maintenance man at St. Antoninus for 17 years. While I did my job there, I asked my Heavenly Father to help me fix things. Even to this day, I tell the Holy Spirit that I need grace, grace, and more grace.

What would be your advice to college students like myself about developing faith in their lives?

Linda Elsaesser: First off, faith only comes from reading the Word of God. Set aside some time, even between 10 and 15 minutes, with no distractions to read the Bible. I would start in the New Testament. Tell the Holy Spirit to teach you what you need to know and what God should reveal to you. Another important thing to know is that Jesus wants you to have an abundant life, he doesn’t desire to punish you or fill you with anxiety or fear. This is what Satan does. Sometimes the people you love can’t help you, only the creator of the universe can.

How does one strengthen their faith?

Harry Elsaesser: Faith comes by hearing the Word of God and absorbing it. When I see how God has protected and provided for my family and I, I am reminded of how blessed I am. When I have disbelief, I call to remembrance what he has done for me in the past. One strengthens their faith by meditating on the Word day and night as well as on what God has done for them positively in the past. Stay in the Bible every day, and once you finish reading a passage, re-read it afterward to gain more knowledge. The joy of the Lord is my strength.

How would you describe the role that faith plays in your life?

Jorie Hofmann: I would describe the role that faith plays in my life as at my core knowing that there is a God and that he loves me. I know that regardless of how bad things are in the world there will be a good end for me when I pass away. My perspective is that whatever I must go through in this life, God will always help me through it, and that I will eventually be with him. I want to do what is most pleasing to God.

What sacrifices or negative consequences have you had to endure for your faith and belief in a higher power? What joy has faith brought you in your life?

Linda Elsaesser: I’ve had people who have told me that I would go straight to Hell. I’ve had friends who have walked away from me in my life and cut me off. The joy that faith has brought to my life is that I have found something that was real and that no one could take away from me. I wanted to share this with the people I loved, such as my husband and children. For me, it is the greatest blessing to see someone come to the truth.