Recent GCU Grad Huddles Up with Evangelical Athletes in Action
By Cooper Nelson
GCU Today Magazine
Kasper Axtell described his spiritual transformation as a modern Saul-to-Paul story.
Rather than seeing a blinding light or hearing the voice of God, it was a Christian youth camp after his senior year of high school that led him to the Lord.
Although he was known for his Christian community outreach during his time at Grand Canyon University, Axtell, now 24, said he overcame an immoral lifestyle at an early age to earn a chance at a college degree. The 2012 graduate is now confidently on his way to a career in sports ministry.
Axtell currently serves as an intern for Ohio-based Athletes in Action, where he manages facilities and assists with customer service for the national evangelical Christian ministry group. He finds the most joy in his work when he has the opportunity to share the Gospel with young athletes facing challenges similar to the ones that he did when he was a teen.
“Before I knew God, I had struggled with many self-destructive habits,” Axtell said. “I was battling an identity crisis, not knowing who to please, which is very dangerous.”
While attending Flagstaff High School, Axtell found himself trapped in a shallow lifestyle of drinking and carousing. During his senior year, he moved in with Adam Serrano, a Christian teammate on his baseball team.
Serrano became like a brother to Axtell and encouraged him to come to GCU in 2009.
As a student, Axtell helped lead GCU’s Spiritual Life office with community service events such as clearing trash from neighborhoods near campus, cleaning graffiti and serving food to the homeless.
Axtell faced the difficult decision of returning to GCU to pursue a master’s degree and work for Spiritual Life or pursue full-time employment in sports ministry. In the end, he stayed in Ohio to help others with their faith.
“God pressed it on my heart to get out of my comfort zone,” Axtell said. “Somewhere like GCU can be a safe haven for believers, but it can also be a comfort that holds back believers. I wanted to get out of something I knew and into something I didn’t know.”
Axtell has stayed with the same family near Athletes in Action’s Dayton headquarters since he moved there. The family is involved with the organization’s basketball ministry department. Kelly Michalski, Axtell’s internship surrogate mother, said he endeared himself to her family and the staff at AIA with his determination to grow his faith.
“I see him as a man God plucked out of a bad situation and is now using to spread His word,” said Michalski, who houses AIA interns every summer.
“The way he acts and loves God, you would never know the baggage he has had in his life.”
Contact Cooper Nelson at 639.7511 or firstname.lastname@example.org.