This is Day 4 of a 30 Day Blog Challenge. Today’s topic is “Your Faith Story”. . Click here for the whole list of blog topics and feel free to join in with blogposts of your own.
I grew up in a Christian home in Atlanta and Augusta, Georgia. I was a normal kid growing up in through the eighties and into the nineties. I fit into the All-American Boy standards. I was a great athlete who loved the outdoors. I was especially good at baseball. To everyone on the outside I was a perfect All-American Kid. But only few knew went on behind that front.
When adolescence began, I had trouble handling it. To the outside world I handled it with great strength, but on the inside I took ways to relieve myself from this change. I mostly had trouble with coping from depression after my neighbor, who was an older brother figure to me, died at the age of 19 in a car wreck. I began to steal things from stores. It first started off with gum, breath spray, and then onto greater things. I learned how to steal bigger things. I started to steal cd’s and cassettes from stores at the mall and also clothing from the mall. I also stole other merchandise such as baseball and basketball cards. But all of that still didn’t keep me occupied. I also began to vandalize property. I first started off with the normal egging of houses and keying cars, but at the age of 13 I committed several crimes that were federal crimes. I got a hold of instructions on how to make a bomb. It first started with just blowing up creek beds, but then I started to blow up mail boxes, which at the age of 13 was fun and exciting. I also vandalized a car and the damage cost was over $2000. I was also becoming involved with drinking alcohol. I even tried to commit suicide a few times. I was going out of control.
I was attending church every week, but I always left to go to the 7-11 to get something to eat and drink and then sneak back into church for the last hymn and then meet my parents. I was involved slightly with youth group, but mostly when they were doing something fun such as a lock-in or a retreat. Everyone saw me as an all-star athlete, but few knew about my private life of depression.
But in that spring of my eighth grade year I met a girl by the name of Abbi. She was a beautiful young woman of God. I had never seen someone who professed their faith outside of church. I saw this as a challenge. I started to date her, which in turn ended my depression. I began going to church more, and also started attending a conformation class at my church. I was trying to be a Christian to get her to like me even more. At the time, I really had no idea that God was using her to change me.
After two months of dating she invited me to go to a Christian concert by an artist known as Carmen. I had never heard that name in my life, but to look cool, I said, “Yeah, that sounds cool, I just love his music.” Well, we went to the concert, and it was awesome. Then when Carmen asked if anyone wanted to accept Jesus to pray with him then. I prayed and tears came to my eyes. I had no idea what was going on, but I know now, that Jesus had come into my life.
Things started to get better for me. As for Abbi, we broke up and were friends. I was on fire for Christ. I was attending youth group and church and actually going because I wanted to, but I wasn’t getting all that I needed. I was growing in Christ, but I wasn’t getting fed enough.
I then started high school and was still attending church and everything was fine. I met a girl by the name of Ashley and then dated her for three years. She was a very strong and smart Christian. I admired her very much. She helped my walk dramatically by showing me God’s love and pushing me beyond what I was doing. She got me to go on some retreats that changed my life even more, by showing my God’s love and his plans for me. On a weekend retreat called Happening, I felt a calling into ministry. Over the next few months I got involved in Happening and Chrysalis. I started becoming a leader in Chrysalis and in my home church. God was calling and I was listening and acting on it. I was seeing a whole other side to God. I saw it through serving others.
When I was 16, Abbi died in a car accident, and I thought that my life would go back to what it was before when my neighbor died, but Ashley and other Christian friends helped me through this time.
A little before this time, my church hired a new youth director named Chip who would have an even greater impact on my life. He was involved and formed our Youth Program around a thing called Young Life. I had no idea what it was, but I liked how it was fun and showed me that being who I was, was fun and exciting. My Christian life became even deeper, as I got more into studying the Word and understanding God’s purpose for me.
I didn’t know at the time but later found out that my spiritual life was related to scripture. In First Corinthians 3:6 says, “I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. You see, Abbi was the planter, Ashley and Chip watered my spiritual life, but God made me grow in a strong Christian.
I know that God has had a purpose for me and that he has laid certain people in my life to water me. I remember what I have gone through in the past, but I know that I will never have to go back to that way of life as long as I keep Christ the center of my life. I am an overall better person. Since my teenage years, my story has been added to by many different people from all over the country. Ministry, Social Media, Connectional Ministry, and Youth Ministry Conferences have added so many people in my life. I’m very blessed to have so many people continue to water my spiritual life. It’s amazing that when I feel dried up, that God sends one of these people to water me and get me growing again. Thanks to all who have been a part of my journey, by calling, texting, tweeting, and being there…it has meant more than you will ever know.