Called to Serve

Jeff's Story

For Jeff Gramlich Western New York has always been home. Most Saturdays as a child, Jeff attended religion classes when he didn’t have hockey. “Growing up, I always attended church and classes, but was still very confused when it came to how God fit into my life. I often left church feeling confused and wondering what the purpose of it all was.”

Once Jeff reached high school he made a choice not to attend church anymore. “I thought I knew it all and that I could land wherever I wanted to by myself. Life became all about me.” That journey led Jeff to several wake up calls, feeling isolated and alone. “I felt broken, with nowhere to go.”

When Jeff reached his senior year of high school, he had to face the tragedy of his grandfather passing, which led him to feel more isolated. “I often felt overwhelmed by insecurities and anger and started to feel very alone.” Walking through that pain allowed Jeff to see that this life wasn’t meant to be lived alone. “After losing my Grandfather I started to realize how short life truly is and how we ourselves cannot do this life on our own.”

After graduating high school, Jeff started attending college at ECC. He came into his first semester really being unsure if that was where he wanted to be, contemplating whether or not to join the military. “While attending my first semester at college I met a girl who was bringing her daily devotional book to class. It seemed weird to me, because I didn’t actually think that people read the Bible every day.

After many conversations she invited me to check out The Chapel’s college-aged group called Vintage.”

After attending Vintage for a while, Jeff accepted Christ as His Savior. Not too long after that, in 2003, he decided to join the Marines. “I felt called to serve, there were a lot of people in my life that wanted me to take a safer route, but too often people are afraid to step out of their comfort zone and follow what they're called to do.”

It was during that time that Jeff was able to see more clearly the reason that God had him overseas. “When you go into the Marines, you pray, whether you did before or not. Every day you had to come to terms with that fact that you may not make it to tomorrow. So often I found myself in the midst of chaos, reveling in the beauty around me.”

There was one verse that resonated with Jeff while spending time in Iraq and Afghanistan. “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” (Psalm 23:4). “I knew that without having Christ in my life, leading me, I would have never made it through my time there.”

When you go into the Marines, you pray, whether you did before or not. Every day you had to come to terms with that fact that you may not make it to tomorrow.

After serving for 4 years, the transition home was not an easy one. “ I struggled with Post Traumatic Stress, Anxiousness, and Alcohol Abuse. I was battling with myself, trying to grasp what I was hearing on Sundays, compared to what I saw during my time of service. This caused me to fall back into some of my old ways of self-reliance, where I was controlled by my own ego and pride.”

Jeff finally reached a point where there wasn’t enough alcohol to numb the pain and knew that the only way he could be fulfilled was through Christ. “God had carried me through my time in the Marines and for some reason I failed to trust Him when I got back. Satan had me believing that after all I endured, that I could do this on my own and that was wrong. It was when Christ opened my eyes that I came back to Him and understood that there is nothing that I could consume or do that would fill His place in my life.”

“I’m so thankful that Christ is continuing to mold and transform me each and every day. I know He has a plan for my life and I’m excited to see where he will lead me. I hope that by sharing my story it will help those who don’t know Jesus Christ as their Savior to see the power of his love and salvation.”

View More Stories