“Fear, shame, anxiety, and hopelessness marked my life and my childhood,” said Marcus Peters. “I’ve always stuttered. As a child and early into my young adult years, I struggled with insecurities and hopelessness from what the future would hold for me because of my stuttering. I was fearful I couldn’t speak in a way that would allow me to have opportunities for a successful life. To cope with those struggles, I tried to find identity in my academics. I tried to mask the anxiety, fear, and frustration over how things would go on a daily basis, but I consistently fell short.
“Since I grew up in church, I placed my faith in Christ at a really young age, but I didn’t surrender in a way where things really changed to experience joy and abundant life. That change didn’t happen until I got to college when my stuttering and fear of stuttering worsened.
“I went to college at the University of Maryland in 2009. I was over 1,000 miles away from home, friends, and family for the first time in my life, and I was completely out of my comfort zone being somewhere new. This expanded the burden of anxiety over my stuttering that had already been a part of my life for so long.
“Early in my freshman year, by God’s grace, I was able to be a part of a Christian ministry at my school. One of the leaders saw that I was really struggling and shared a Bible verse with me that radically changed my outlook and set the pace for the rest of my life. He shared about Paul in 2 Corinthians 12 when he asked the Lord three times to take his suffering away, but God didn’t remove it from his life. Paul’s perspective changed because he realized God’s grace is sufficient, ‘Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.’
“I’d never heard that Scripture before. Realizing the most impactful missionary that the world had seen experienced ‘a thorn in his flesh’ that was never removed really challenged my faith. Reflecting on that verse over the next few months and speaking to other followers of Christ, I was so encouraged. I believe God allowed me to have this ‘thorn’ so I would be humbled, and I would have a story of transformation that others can have hope from. My hope is that my story ultimately points to God and His grace and glory, not my own.
“In 2018, after moving and getting involved locally at Watermark Dallas, I had the opportunity to leave and help launch the Frisco campus. It made me so nervous to step into an unknown season of church planting, but I was hopeful of the exciting opportunity to make disciples right where I live. I was able to love and serve young adults locally, but it was a difficult time for me. Being a leader meant I would be giving announcements, sharing the gospel, and speaking for longer periods of time. Before the meetings, I would experience anxiety and fear of what people would think about me if I had difficulty speaking, and that anxiety and fear would often reinforce my stuttering.
“I remembered a verse that a guest speaker at Watermark said changed her life. Joni Eareckson Tada, an author and speaker in the disabled community, spoke about 2 Corinthians 4:17, ‘For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.’ She emphasized the present struggles we have are nothing when compared to the eternal hope we have in Christ.
“Through that Scripture, I was reminded that God is using my struggle to make me more like Him. I know the eternal hope I have in Christ is something a lot of young people don’t have, so regardless of the discomfort or the difficulty of my situation, I am motivated to share the gospel. Out of obedience, I want to share the hope I found from trusting Christ with my life.
“In the same year, I went to an annual conference for people who stutter, and I was able to share my testimony to a crowd. This opportunity allowed me to openly share the gospel with some people who didn’t know the Lord. My desire in sharing my story was for people to realize the hope they are looking for is ultimately only found in Christ.
“Today, I still sometimes fear what people will think of me when I stutter, but when I seek God through Scripture, prayer, and community, I am reminded that God’s power is made perfect in my weakness. I don’t have to fear, because my identity is in Christ. There is hope that even though my situation can be difficult, when I’m eternally with Christ, I’ll be free.”