Kyle Roesler: Journey of Choices
By Sarah Morris
One crack follows another as the tiles clash and fall. The dominos, set up in a line or pattern, have the ability to impact one another; as one domino falls and taps the other, a chain reaction follows. Life can be like dominos at times—one decision may change the course of something far down the road. Whether a good or bad choice, there is an outcome.
The decision of college helped to mold the life of Kyle Roesler. But this wasn’t the only decision that changed his life. Growing up Catholic in Fargo, ND, Kyle and his family would go to Mass on Sundays and he would attend CCD classes on Wednesdays. Other than that, faith wasn’t really talked about in his family. There were aspects there, but it was more of a private part of life. His parents would still teach good principles for him to follow.
“My parents had instilled some phenomenal values within me just about respect for people and how to serve people from a non-church perspective,” Kyle said. “But also hard work was a huge thing that they instilled in me.”
With that work ethic he excelled in school, which was really important to him. But he also used that trait and channeled it into sports in high school, where he played hockey and soccer, ran track, and kicked for football. Not wanting to become ineligible or lose his parents’ respect, he stayed out of the party scene. With most of his time split between sports and school, Kyle didn’t get involved with church activities in high school. He still went to Mass on Sundays with his family, but it was more of a tradition for them than anything.
As graduation approached, Kyle struggled in trying to decide what school to attend for college. It was University of Mary versus North Dakota State University. UMary had soccer and business, NDSU had track and field, as well as engineering. After writing out lists of pros and cons, the winner was UMary.
Moving out there was a sort of relief for Kyle. His high school friends had all went different routes, so starting with a clean slate was kind of nice. He found comradery and community in the soccer team.
“I get there (UMary) early for soccer and that was great, you kind of have an instant 30 friends from playing a college sport,” Kyle said.
Soccer started and he started as well—as a freshman. School and the sport took up a lot of his life, and a faith that wasn’t too solid in the first place began to crumble.
“Of course you are a few miles out of town, no longer was it convenient enough to go to Mass on Sunday morning, I would rather sleep in,” Kyle said. “They had Mass Sunday nights, but I was a college student—I was doing homework Sunday nights. So, it became not convenient enough, not important enough on the priority list to soccer and school.”
He found a different relationship though, and he started dating a girl from the women’s soccer team. The relationship was very physically and the communication was poor.
“I had no business being in a relationship,” Kyle said. “The communication was very poor—I mean the exact opposite of what you would build a relationship on. If you think of great communication we were the opposite of that.”
Not only was he in a bad relationship, but the soccer team was big on the party scene. He was still doing well in school, but the freedom of being at college was soaking in.
“It became school, soccer, partying, and my girlfriend. And that was kind of my life.”
The soccer season wasn’t very successful, but not everything was a loss. Kyle enjoyed his teammates, and he became best friends with Ryan Buchholz, who was once his rival in high school. One day Ryan was going to a meeting with Troy Shirley, the director of Cru for Western North Dakota, and he invited Kyle to go with him. He decided to go.
“Faith was something I grew up on, but it was just not that important to me,” Kyle said. “I’d learned about faith, but I had never lived faith.”
When he got there, he found there were other guys that he knew, even some from sports. Troy asked a provoking question to the group—did they believe they were going to Heaven when they died?
Well, he was pretty sure that he would, because he had never done anything too awful. But there was one guy in the crowd that stood out; he was 100 percent sure that he was going to Heaven. His name was Grant, and he shared his belief with the good news of the Gospel. Kyle had heard of this before, but he didn’t think that it was that easy. Of course you needed faith, but there must have been more to it than that he believed.
As time went on, Kyle would go with the guys to the Cru meetings every week or biweekly. He was still partying and dating his girlfriend, as well as working hard in school. But he was making room a little bit for faith.
Over winter break things turned even sourer in his dating relationship. But they still hung in there. Ryan and Grant had gone to a conference for Cru over break, and when Kyle returned to school, they were bubbling with excitement, wanting to start Cru on campus. And they asked if he wanted to help lead. He agreed, though hesitantly. This faith thing was kind of new to him, even though he had grown up a Christian. He worried if he was in over his head.
But he joined Grant, Ryan, and three women in creating a Cru group on the campus of University of Mary. He was still going to meetings where Troy would lead, and the lessons held topics such as seeking God’s voice within reading the Bible and growing in your relationship with Jesus. Within this, he felt convicted in his relationship with his girlfriend, and he found that it was time to end this relationship. So in January, him and his girlfriend parted ways.
“From there things just kind of took off,” Kyle said. “It kind of was a freeing weight. ... Being Catholic, Lent was coming up right around the corner, and I was like, ‘for Lent this year, instead of giving something up, I’m going to read my Bible. And my idea of reading the Bible is like, that is what Pastors and Priests do.”
But Troy was saying that is how you grow in your relationship with God, at least one of the ways. He knew if he was going to lead the group or take this seriously, then he was going to have to start reading the Bible more and more. And so he did. They started leading Cru meetings, and it wasn’t easy for Kyle.
“It stretched me beyond what I could ever have imagined, in the best way possible though,” Kyle said. Being that young in the faith but having people look at you as a leader and as an example, and knowing that you fall way short of what you think of in ways of a standard of a leader. Being stretched in that way, and looking back, I know it was such a God thing because we would literally sit the night before we were going to meet for Cru and Grant, Ryan, and I would hash out, ‘well, what are we going to go over this week?’ And it sounds terrible and it is very unorganized, but the best things could have happened from that because it was like, ‘what was God speaking to us?’”
Things outside of Cru were going well too. Now he had a platform in soccer to speak of his faith. His faith continued to grow all throughout college; between junior and senior year he went on a mission trip to Australia, where they worked on college campuses, sharing the Gospel and doing ministry. Senior year was upon him, and his soccer season ended. Some hard stuff happened that fall, and his grandpa passed away. But he kept persevering, seeking God.
“It was all for the best looking back now, I mean I really had to dig in and center myself in Him even more so then I had done in the past. I had to rely on Christ’s strength.”
Graduation was nearing, and Kyle started searching for job positions. Looking into ministry potentially, he considered doing an internship at Evangel and getting a part-time job. But he got a job offer from a company called NISC, which he took. Instead of an internship at the church, he got involved with the leadership team at UG, the young adult group at Evangel. He had been attending the UG since sophomore year, but it wasn’t until now that he really started getting involved.
He was frustrated at first. Being on the leadership team involved basically just serving, not really leading or teaching anything. He thought back to the days he was involved with Cru, planning meetings and leading studies. It felt like he had gone backwards a few steps.
“I’m getting that opportunity to say, ‘no, I’m going to take a step back, or what looks like a step down, but really (it) just launched me into a new season of growth after college getting to serve at the UG—to really get to be a servant leader.”
He continues to serve as a leader at the UG, passionate about young professionals and college students, as well as to lead leaders. He enjoys being a support consultant at NISC, and he is making his work place a mission field, for “everyone does something ministry-based, it’s just not necessarily with a church or a ministry organization.”
He doesn’t necessary know what the future will look like. But that is alright with him.
“For a while, I was super caught up in like, ‘I don’t know what God has for me next,’” Kyle said. “I’m trying to just focus on what can I do now and today, knowing that being faithful today will lead me into what’s next.”
Just as the dominos fall, Kyle knows that his decision to come to UMary led him on a path that was something he would have never imagined. He was involved in the UG and Cru, his heart being transformed gradually by God. But it isn’t decisions that he makes on his own—it is what God works in and through those decisions when it becomes surrendered to Him.