Sometimes you come across different salvation stories from people in order to see how far they has come from their previous life, but I’d like to write my testimony as a warning to those who struggle with the same things that I did and still do. I want this to be my proclamation of my personal relationship with Jesus Christ, and for the world to see that a jacked-up person like me can be used for His kingdom. I want this to be a telling of my life story that is raw and real, not holding anything back. If you are not a Christian or are an atheist, I ask and pray that you read this page even more closely to fully understand that the same work that Jesus has done in my heart can also be done in yours. I can say that God truly has changed my life forever, and I feel the Holy Spirit dwelling within me every day. Just sit back, grab a snack, and get ready to hear my story!
For most of my life, I have grown up in a Christian home; both of my parents believed in a Baptist/non-denominational Christianity. My father felt a calling early on to become a pastor at churches across the United States, so I have been exposed to the church scene for many years in my childhood. Everything my family did while growing up screamed Christianity and I grew up serving every Sunday in different ministries, volunteering to help set up VBC during the summer, and staying after church each week. Some of my fondest memories in my life were from the church, and have really become the foundation of my younger years.
Once I hit middle school, however, the secular world began to clash with the beliefs I had grown up with, turning me into a weird in-between creature. At school, I was swearing like a sailor, sneaking out of lunch, and bullying other kids, while I was a perfect, upstanding Christian at church. This double life seemed wrong to me, and God spoke through my pastor at my local youth group during my seventh and eighth grade years, showing me a small piece of who he was. Soon, my life was transformed, and I was living for Christ in my middle school. However, I really didn’t understand that I was forgiven from my own sin or of the concept of grace and mercy until everything fell apart in my life.
In the middle of my eighth grade year, my father was fired from his position as children’s pastor at a church that I had really bonded with for over four years (I won’t reveal its name for the sake of their privacy). I remember it being over some small reason like overspending on the church’s budget, which really frustrated me at the time. My father didn’t really know what to do at this point, so we packed up our bags, and moved into a missionary house near a friend of ours in New Bloomfield, Missouri, waiting for God to provide financially with a new job.
In this time of my life was when everything went south. I had already experienced twelve moves before this due to the nature of my dad’s job, so I knew what it was like to forget everything you once knew and create a new life somewhere else. However, this particular move really impacted me deeply because I had made such close friends in Ohio that leaving them behind left me depressed and hurt. Also, I felt like I was leaving my faith behind because I was saved by Christ in Ohio where I used to live, which caused me to question whether God still existed. In this time of uncertainty and pain, Satan revealed pornography into my life while I was searching for ways to pirate games on my Kindle Fire tablet, as I was a huge kid on pirating when it first became easy and accessable to the public during that time. I had seen a pornographic application with a beautiful woman on the app icon and I first rejected it harshly. However, over time, this image slowly grew on me as I kept searching for free applications, constantly stumbling over it by accident, and I allowed my flesh to take over.
This one event has grown into a four year long addiction that still affects me in the present day, and it had ruined almost all of my high school years. I had used pornography to cope with my inability to make friends, give me a sexual high when I thought that no girl would ever like me, ease the pain of moving, and help me deal with the stresses of school. My attitude slowly became on-edge, impatient, and selfish as a result of my actions, and I always felt insecure and lonely. Literally my entire life had been composed of video games, anime, and porn during that time, which had made me miss out on so many opportunities that I wish I had taken. I live with the regret of my stupid decisions every day of my life.
Some time had passed and I had eventually moved to Knoxville, Tennessee, living there for two years. I had managed to make new friends at school, my dad had received a new job at Faith Promise Church, and I was finally being comfortable with my new home. God was beginning to speak to me, and I felt like I was starting to see Him again. However, everything went wrong again in my life once I discovered that my father had not returned from work one day in April, which my family now refers to as the “Day of Truth” or “DOT”. The next morning, my mother had me stay home from school to allow me to process that my dad had been thrown in jail for prostitution on church property the previous night. I didn’t believe it at first, and was absolutely shocked to hear such a claim be said about my father, the perfect Christian man, until I saw his mug shot online. Once my dad got out of jail, he began to stalk my house, abusively text and call my mother, threaten to come over, and tried to pick me up from school. It literally wasn’t safe to live in my own house, and I was forced to go between friend’s houses for a straight month, sleeping on floors and on beds in guest rooms.
Soon, my two brothers, sister, mother, and I all moved into a more permanent living space in the basement of a mutual friend’s house. This was in Strawberry Plains, which all Tennesseans know is literally the middle of nowhere city. It was forty five minutes away from everything that I did on a daily basis, and I had to quit a lot of things that I was doing such as participating in Boy Scouts and working at Chickfila. Surpirisngly, I was much happier being in this new home solely for the sake of not having to bounce around Knoxville every night, not knowing where we were going to sleep, and I felt at the time that the things I gave up were worth a bit of normalcy. I also switched to a different church since my mother believed that my family would not be welcome at our home campus, and I flourished in the new environment. Although I was super shy and socially awkward, the high schoolers at Aroma Church showed me the love of Christ, and gave me a place to belong. I even began to fight my sexual temptations with some success, and God’s favor was shining on my life.
However, my mother had received a government grant which gave my family the ability to rent an apartment in North Knoxville, forcing us to leave our temporary house and new church, which really made me depressed. For many weeks, my family would skip church, not knowing where to go, and I would be stuck at home masturbating for hours on end, not seeing a way out of the darkness. Everything good in my life had been taken away, given back, and taken away again, and I was tired of God pulling the puppet strings on my life.
All of these experiences, starting when I moved out of my first house in Knoxville and after I moved into my current apartment, spanned over a two year period. This was honestly the worst time of my entire life, and whenever I remember what I went through I feel tremendous pain and sorrow. I explicitly remember my father telling me throughout my childhood that him and my mother would always love each other, and seeing his hypocritical actions really hurt me deep in my heart.
Now this is where the hero of this story comes in! It was the beginning of my junior year of high school, and I was still living in deep depression. All of a sudden, my mother had the propensity to attend a different campus that was tied to my old church, Faith Promise Church, which I was very apprehensive about. Only when she threatened to punish my sevearly did I choose to go, and boy did it change my life! I finally was able to connect with Blake Conley, my current small group leader, and a group of guys who were all going throgh tough times just like I was. They were very welcoming to me when I first came, and talked with me about Jesus Christ, which really brought back the foundations that I had before.
Then, in Feburary 2015, I rededicated my life to Christ at a youth conference called Fusion, and God has been pressing on my heart ever since. I learned that my situations should not define my faith, and that I should have weathered the storms that I experienced, looking to Jesus the entire way. Most importantly, I truly realized that the promises in Hebrews 12 were real: God’s discipline in my life was used for my benefit, not for beating me down. I kept on looking through my own eyes, not seeing the work that God was going to do. I met God in ways that I cannot explain with mere words, and truly realized the power of the Gospel.
Although these supernatural events have taken place in my life, my testimony hasn’t ended yet: it’s just beginning. I still struggle with lust and sexual sins, still face terrible trials, and still experience tremendous pain every day of my life. But now I have a hope in Christ that I didn’t have before, and I put my entire life’s stock into Him. Seriously, I have had major relapses, even a phase of atheism, where I decided to indulge completely in pornography, thinking that my “Egypt” was better than what God was providing, but the Holy Spirit kept on tugging on my heart the entire time, drawing me back to the awesome love that is Jesus. That is how I know that I am saved, and how I live for the next life. I look forward to the time when Christ will take me, and I will tell him the testimony that He has crafted in me.