Navigating Life’s Storms: How The Search for Purpose Brought Colton Smith to ORU
Hometown: Yale, Michigan
Area of Study: Sports Management
Michigan-native Colton Smith loves storms. He describes them as “medicine for his soul,” as an opportunity to see God’s power in the brilliance of lightning and rain. But last year as a high school senior, Colton was passing through storms of doubt, not knowing what he would do with his life. At that time, he was finishing two-years of training in metal machining and realized that it wasn’t what he wanted to pursue as a career.
“I couldn’t find my purpose in it,” Colton said. “When you have a purpose, you're led, or you're drawn to do something. I love helping people, but I couldn’t see myself helping people if I was sitting behind a machine 12 hours a day.”
Despite these storms of doubt, Colton continued in prayer, searching for answers. Eventually, the doubts cleared with an unexpected encounter and a last-minute decision to attend ORU.
“I’m far away from my family, but I feel like I was led here. I actually prayed for this because I asked God for people who’d open the right doors. And that’s exactly what happened. It’s crazy to me that my prayers were answered. ”
The God-Moment That Led to ORU
Through a divine encounter, Colton’s mom met the Osiwalas, a Michigan family with strong ties to ORU. Soon after, Colton began working for the family as their landscaper, and over time, he and the Osiwalas formed a relationship. Eventually, Colton shared his story and his search for purpose with the Osiwalas.
“I told them,” Colton said, “about the stress of not knowing what I was going to do with my life, about graduating and all the uncertainty ahead. And they just looked at me and said ‘You need to go to ORU!’”
Along with most of America, Colton had heard of ORU because of the 2021 Sweet Sixteen team. He didn’t know much about the University at the time, but he remembered televised interviews and the things said by ORU athletes.
“I knew it was a great basketball school,” Colton said, “but I also knew what they believed in. In the interviews I saw, the team kept giving credit to God.”
At first, Colton didn’t want to go to college. It wasn’t on his radar, but then he started thinking about college and his desire to help people. At the same time, he had a desire to grow in his relationship with God. After prayer and reflection, he decided—during the final week of enrollment—to attend ORU.
Growing as a Spirit-Empowered Believer
“Enrolling at ORU was a big move,” Colton said. “I’m far away from my family, but I feel like I was led here. I actually prayed for this because I asked God for people who’d open the right doors. And that’s exactly what happened. It’s crazy to me that my prayers were answered.”
Since arriving at ORU, Colton has taken a leadership role with the Student Association, where he helps with video and photography. But Colton’s not only growing as a leader; he’s growing in his faith too. Recognized as the largest, most influential, Spirit-empowered university in the world, ORU places the Holy Spirit at the center of campus life and education. Because of this, ORU students like Colton have the opportunity to connect deeply and intimately with the Holy Spirit.
“During a Spirit-empowered event,” Colton said, “somebody prayed over me, and I literally started praying in tongues. I’d heard about it, but I didn’t think I’d be able to do it. I was seeking something authentic, and praying in tongues is authentic. My lips moved even though I wasn’t moving my mouth. In that moment, I felt the presence of God and the Holy Spirit.”
As Colton continues to grow, he moves closer and closer to his purpose. At ORU, the mission is to “develop Holy Spirit-empowered leaders through whole person education to impact the world.” For Colton, impacting the world means helping people and finding purpose in his work and career.
“My Mom is always helping people,” Colton said, “and like her, I want to help people too, whether that’s face-to-face or behind the scenes. The Bible says, ‘He who refreshes others will himself be refreshed,’ and that reminds me of my Mom and her willingness to help. In life, God lines up people for you, and I want to help those people. I want to show them that God is working in the middle of their lives.”