Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Testimony: How I Met Jesus

Video Testimony:

Life before Jesus, for me, was a living nightmare. And that’s in no way an exaggeration. Even before drugs took control in my story, it was still basically a life of confusion, and quiet desperation. See life without Jesus is simply life chasing 2 dimensional pleasures that don’t quite fulfill. And I wandered along sort of haphazardly blundering my way through life. But I questioned life, I asked often, What is the meaning of life? Why am I here? What should I do next? College? Marriage?

At age 17 I got into drugs. It started with marijuana and smoking cigarettes with friends, after problems in my family developed. Marijuana led to pills, benzos, amphetamines, which led to stronger pills, and eventually my drug of choice dxm. Without the power of Christ in my life, the drugs took total control. Over many years I became detached from society, family, and reality itself.

My body began deteriorating after nearly 10 years of drug addiction. I overdosed, and nearly died in the hospital ICU. I overdosed a second time, and was involuntarily placed in a mental hospital restricted as a danger to myself and society.

About one year later, at rock bottom, a series of strange events led me to fall onto my knees, and cry out to a Nazarene peasant who lived 2 thousand years ago named Jesus Christ.

There were several encounters that were key to this deliverance. First, two trembling teenage girls at the university of wisconsin extension who walked up to me and asked me if I thought I would go to heaven when I died? It got me thinking about if God really existed. Second, my mom bugging me to go to church with her to see this hip young pastor. I went. Third, my grandpa having the guts to invite me over, hand me my first bible, and talk to me about the love of Jesus. Fourth, my cousin Kimberly buying me a copy of the movie called the gospel of John, which is word for word the gospel of John. To this day I’m not good at reading books, but being able to watch this gospel movie over and over finally made it connect in my mind that I needed Jesus. Fifth, while I was in ICU, the chaplain of the hospital came to visit me, talked to me about Jesus, looked at me with love, and called me His brother in Christ. Every single one of those events, were people, probably afraid, who were willing to interrupt my life and tell me about Jesus. They probably went away thinking, wow I really blew it that time. But their feeble efforts, which I thought were so foolish and stupid at the time were in fact the glory of God, forged in courage and a willingness to look foolish to bring a wayward soul to Christ. But probably just as much as any of those encounters, it was the Bible study group at Bethany Baptist quietly praying for me every week, it was my grandmas monica and patricia, my mom and my grandpa Bernie praying for me, praying and praying and praying stubbornly refusing to give up on me, all of that culminating, in the urge to cry out to Jesus and become a saved born again Christian. That’s evangelism.

My life since I’ve accepted Christ has been an amazing, awe-inspiring roller coaster of God’s grace, to the most undeserving of sinners. Fundamentally my life is about joy now, instead of sorrow. It’s like someone flipped on the lights. When C.S. Lewis said, I believe Christianity like the sun in the sky, because by it I see everything else.” That statement is so true. I can see now. I can see who I am and why I’m here.

And freedom from drug addiction. Folks I had tried so hard to break those chains of addiction, they were solid steel, when I called out to Jesus, got into twelve step groups, those chains broke off and fell at my feet like tissue paper. Amazing grace. All of my sins, that endless list of wrongs I’d done, people I’d hurt, family estranged, broken relationships, all forgiven, wiped out at the cross of Christ.

Jesus had saved me, he had set me free from all evil. But my part, my response was to get to work. I fought really hard in the beginning. I went to tons of recovery meetings every week. I joined a church. I prayed every day, on my knees before God. I read my Bible incessantly, constantly. I got to work on myself, reading books on recovery from depression, anxiety and addiction. I began to pick up the pieces of my past, and began to make amends to those I’d harmed. I made a public declaration of faith, and was baptized into the body of Christ. I started volunteering for ministries at my church. I began to address sins in my life, pursuing holiness.

God was opening up doors, and I knew God was calling me to ministry. So I applied to Liberty university and I was accepted. I graduated with a bachelors degree, magna cum laude in Religion. I asked God where he wanted me to serve, and pretty soon I started working at the transitional living center in Wausau. I worked rotating shifts, including Sundays, so I started attending the Salvation Army church there. I fell in love with the mission of the Salvation Army, got more involved, and started attending conferences. I became a soldier. And participation at the Wausau corps led to me applying for the ministry discovery program internship. After several conferences and calls forward, I knew God was calling me to officership. It was radical at the time to leave Wausau and head to Escanaba for the internship. So I’ve been in Escanaba for two years now, and it’s been the most amazing experience. I’ve learned so much. I’ve found so much grace from God when the challenges come. So I know as I head to CFOT that God’s grace and provision will get me through every high and low, and I pray I can bring glory to His name. Amen.

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