I was born into a Christian family. I went to Sunday school and went to church most Sundays. But like many kids I didn’t like going to church. The church I went to didn’t emphasize a personal relationship with God and because of that I didn’t really have a strong connection to the people in that church or with God Himself.
I knew that God was all powerful but I didn’t know that He cared enough about me individually to answer all or any of my prayers. I thought I was just a small dot in the middle of a vast universe. Why would God use His power to better my life when he had the whole universe to take care of?
At the end of 10th grade, God directed me to a youth group through a friend. I had been there a few times before, but I didn’t have the opportunity to meet others who were stronger in the faith. Probably something to do with my nonstop video gaming the entire time I was there. Anyway, I said “yeah I’ll go,” and we were dropped. It was pretty awkward for me since I hadn’t been there before. Being dropped off in someone’s home without knowing the people who live there was a little weird to me at first. But the Lord has a funny way of introducing good people into your life, doesn’t He?
But I started to get to know the leaders and many of their friends while I was there, I started to go to the youth group week after week because of the leaders persistence to get me to come back. That, and I started to make a lot of friends by doing things other than video games while I was there. Who would’ve thought?
It took at least a few months of going to the youth group for me to really accept Jesus into my heart, and I remember that night that it finally happened like it was yesterday. Mr. Knowlton (the leader) was sharing a message with us and something clicked in my heart. I don’t even know what it was that he said, or even if it was something he said, but after that moment, my whole body felt different, and my soul felt new. It hit me deeper than anything anyone had ever said to me. I now know what happened – as it says in Ezekiel 36:26: “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” I remember going home and talking with God, TALKING with the LORD!!!, the first real conversation I had ever had with Him, crying out to Him the entire night. I realized that day that I had been living my life wallowing in my sin, and the only way out was through Jesus. I needed that way out.
I dedicated my life to Jesus that night. I knew living for someone other than myself wouldn’t be easy but I was ready to make the change. I started going to Church, and I still go there today.
Then my senior year of high school came. Most of it was awesome. I had great grades, a license, and with that my own car, and so on. Toward the end of the year I went through a lot of stress because of a bad relationship. Everything was fine while her and I were dating, but as soon as we broke up, she constantly tried to convince me that I was worthless. Rumors were spread. Friendships were definitely lost. A lot of the things I had worked for my senior year were lost because of the things this person said about me.
But here’s the cool part. James 1:2 – “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds.” I didn’t know this verse at the time, but during those stressful situations there was no one else I could turn to other than God. I was forced to put my trust in Him. But it was hard to see exactly what God’s plan was for me. I mean, I dedicated my life to Him and this is what I got in return?
I prayed more than I ever had every day until it was over. And just when I was about to give up hope, God answered my prayers. I had prayed that the Lord would give me someone that would listen to me. Someone that would help me through this and to help me put faith in Him again. Someone who would show me the love of Jesus. God showed me that He was still here with me, helping me to get through this. And He did that by putting Marisa into my life. Marisa and I have now been dating for over 3 years, and we’re still going strong because of the love that the Lord has placed into our hearts.
Things haven’t always been easy, but God will always give you a way. And even though things may seem incredibly difficult, He will never give you a situation more difficult than you can handle. God answers prayers, and He always has a plan for you. It’s a good thing God revealed Himself to me when He did, because there’s no way I could have gotten through it without Him. I would have given up all hope if God wasn’t there for me, making a way. God always has perfect timing.
When I started to go to SUNY Oneonta, I knew I wanted to go to Campus Ambassadors. I wanted to build strong relationships with fellow believers in Christ. But I had no idea that God would have wanted me to be more that just a member. Right now, I am a small group leader and the president of the SUNY Oneonta chapter of Campus Ambassadors. Back when I just started to go to the youth group, before I had my own relationship with Jesus, I never would have thought that I would have the words, let alone the TIME, to share my testimony, or to be a small group leader, or to be an officer for CA. When Peter asked if I’d like to be a small group leader, my first response was “Wait, so that means I actually have to show up most of the time? I’m a pretty busy guy, Peter.” It was hard for me to decide to give up my time for the Lord. But I’ll tell you this, as soon as I decided to give up more of my time for God, I realized just how fulfilling it was. I realized that I am not simply giving up my time – I am fulfilling God’s plan for me.
My testimony is far from over. I still struggle with sin. We all do. I think a lot of times when people share their testimony, it sounds as though now that they found Jesus their life is perfect. But that’s not true. I’ve told many people that choosing to follow Jesus was both the best thing I’ve ever done, and the most difficult thing that I’m currently doing. And if any of you need help choosing Jesus, or just need encouragement, or anything, I am here for you. We are all sinners, myself included, but we are in this together, and we’ve got a loving God that is fighting for us. “What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” – Romans 8:31.