I was not raised in the church. I never went to church until I was at least 18. I was the kind of person stereotypical church people stayed away from. Mohawk, spikes, chains, punk and metal band t-shirts, patches, leather jackets, cigarettes, alcohol, and drugs. I cussed like a sailor, and hated everyone and everything. I watched rated r, mature, and x movies; I played violent video games. I went to metal shows like Slayer and Cannibal Corpse starting at the age of 14, and local punk shows every weekend. I started smoking cigarettes at the age of 9, drinking and smoking pot when I was 13, and using hard drugs by the age of 16. I suffered a lot of physical, mental and emotional abuse from my family growing up. There was lots of drug use and messed up things going on at the houses I grew up in.
I first started believing in God when I went to an Acquire the Fire event on March 28th of 2003. The guy in front of me (who I had never met or seen before) started praying for me. He started praying for God to forgive me for doing and selling drugs. He asked God to forgive my parents for the things they had put us through and for doing drugs in front of us. He should not have known any of this. I thought he was a narcotics officer, a federal agent, or pervert or something. I started getting this overwhelming euphoric feeling, the only way I can describe it is that it felt like I had taken a ton of drugs. I had never felt anything like it before (and I had done lots of drugs!). I was shaking and crying, thinking this man had drugged me. I turned to my Aunt who was standing next to me and asked her what was happening. She told me “That’s the Holy Spirit”. I asked “What’s that?” to which she replied “God”. After that moment I always believed in God and that the Bible was the truth. I didn’t live like it though. Our next door neighbor called right after that happened to tell my Dad that our house had been raided by the police. He was not very happy about my drugs they had found but went to the police station and cleared my name somehow.
Something was different after that experience and I was very confused by it. I started feeling guilty about everything I did. Every time I had sex, or did drugs, or got drunk, or stole something, or even smoked a cigarette, I felt guilty. It was the craziest thing. My parents had not taught me that these things were wrong; in fact they sort of encouraged them. I never had Christians talk to me about the things of God; they were too scared to talk to me. I never felt guilty about these things before, so why now? I knew in my heart that this God guy must not like what I was doing, but I didn’t know how to stop. I tried, but couldn’t. Instead I did more and more drugs to try and cover up these guilty feelings.
I dropped out of high school shortly after that. I had been expelled from two other high schools previously for fighting and disrespecting teachers. I wound up homeless, after being kicked out of both of my parents homes, bouncing from one friends home to another, and eventually ended up sleeping in a garage on a couch. I was a part-time weed dealer up to that point and started to sell mushrooms and acid to pay for a room on top of a Big Lots where bands rented rooms for practice space. In February of 2004 I was arrested and convicted of Possession, Sales, Paraphernalia of Marijuana, and Contributing to the Delinquency of Minors after my room was raided by the police.
My drinking and drug use was out of control. I was very close to dying several times. I was trying to commit suicide because I was so miserable. One night when I was very close to death I decided to go to rehab. It was there that everything started to change. One of the staff members gave me a Recovery Bible, and I started reading it. I started going to Narcotics Anonymous meetings and got a sponsor. To stop selling drugs and still support myself, I began stealing cars. My understanding on how I should truly be living my life was that out of whack that stealing cars seemed like the best alternative for me.
I eventually decided to get a job. I went to a junk yard I frequented and they hired me for $6 an hour. What a humbling experience, going from making $1,000’s of dollars every week to $200. The owner of the junk yard told me his son-in-law was a pastor at a church and that I should check it out. So I went to Ekklesia, and I loved it. I got really involved and read through almost the entire Bible. I started teaching the youth and ended up getting a job at the rehab that I got clean at. Through the teachings at this church, and God speaking to me through the Bible and through others, my life drastically changed. If it wasn’t for God showing me that the way I was living my life was wrong, I would have continued doing the things I had always done and lived my life that way with no regrets. Only through my relationship with Jesus and the things that He revealed to me was my life turned into something positive. I finally dedicated my life to Christ on October 12th, 2008 when I was baptized.