Gauntlet turned my strange new world inside out

At the summer Fuse event, Michael Corcione discovered the difference community makes. Press play for his baptism video.

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Gauntlet 17 was when it got real for Michael Corcione.

The whole year, he’d been reevaluating his life. What was important? Why? What next?

The struggle started with a near-fatal wreck in January.

One moment, Michael and four of his friends were traveling home after a movie. The next, a car driven by a drunk driver ran a red light through an intersection.

Michael, who was driving, smashed into the car’s passenger side as it turned left. Just a few seconds later and Michael’s car would have been the one T-boned — and he may well have died.

By the grace of God, he and all four passengers escaped without serious injuries.

But the major concussion he sustained ended his time as a starting center on the junior varsity football team at his Myrtle Beach-area high school.

“The car was totaled,” he says. “It was pretty traumatic.”

Michael survived a serious wreck, changing his priorities.

Wrecked for Jesus

Michael sees the wreck as a wake-up call — and a hidden blessing — since it put his focus back on God.

“It's also an example of how he turns terrible things and uses them for his glory,” Michael says.

What, up to that point, had been occasional visits to Fuse turned into a weekly commitment.

But it wasn’t until Gauntlet, the five-day trip to Daytona Beach in July, that his relationship with Jesus took off. Gifts to the Gauntlet fund made the trip possible for him.

The crazy fun in the sun with thousands of other teenagers; the bonkers worship music; the bold preaching — all those experiences were a jolt of energy for his spirit.

But the truly transformative thing for his soul was the focused time spent with leaders and other students.

“I wanted to get serious, but I wasn't sure how to do it,” he says about his faith before Gauntlet.

After each of the sessions, his room of three students and a volunteer leader joined with another room and its leader. They discussed what God was teaching them, talked about their struggles, and shared their stories.

NewSpring Myrtle Beach Fuse Director Jonathan Foster pumps the air after baptizing Michael on Christmas Eve. Press play at the top of the page to see the video.

A Permanent Change

The “Gauntlet buzz” some experience — lasting a few weeks; perhaps a month — became a steadily enduring walk of faith for him.

Daily Bible reading, prayer, and quiet time are just part of life now.

“I got really close to my leaders and a couple of other guys, and it really fired me up,” he says.

In December, he decided to get baptized — finally “going public.” He made the original decision to ask Jesus into his life at FSKO in sixth grade.

Michael with his Fuse group friends

“As a sixth-grader, it's kind of hard to know how much He means to you in the grand scheme of things," he says about God. "Ever since I got into a Fuse group, it assured what I was about.”

Once Michael experienced the power of community at Gauntlet, there was no turning back.

On his return from the summer camp, he joined a Fuse group that now meets Sunday nights and Wednesday mornings. The friends also connect during Wednesday night Fuse services, of course.

It doesn't stop there for Michael. He also has weekly meetings for Bible study and involvement in another Christian youth organization.

Michael describes himself as naturally outgoing; maybe even charismatic. But instead of using his personality to make himself more popular or boost his status, he is now genuinely trying to lift up people around him.

“Gauntlet was so important. It helped kick everything off,” he says. “I've been experiencing this joy and this peace trusting His promises.”

Sharing your story is a simple and powerful way to tell people about Jesus.

Sharing your story is a simple and powerful way to tell people about Jesus. By talking about what Jesus has done for you, it’s like joining a conversation God is already having with them.