Growing up, I attended church with family members, and was "saved" and baptized when I was 12. Looking back, I really question whether or not I was truly "born again" at that time, and think it was more along the lines of just “doing what I was supposed to do". I always had religion in my life while growing up, but never a relationship with Jesus.
I went to Christian schools from the 7th grade all the way through high school, continuing to just “go with the flow”, saying and doing all of the right things when pressed into a situation. I wasn’t the only kid at school like this, so naturally, we started gravitating towards each other. I started skipping school, drinking, doing drugs, and falling deeper and deeper into sin.
I joined the military right after high school, and after I left home, I stopped going to church all together. Eventually I just became very cold and bitter towards God, and totally turned my back on Christ.
In January of 2009, I made the decision to give “church” one more try after being away for over 25 years. At the time, I was doing a lot of reading about different religions because I was searching to fill the void in my life, and before I got really deep into something, I wanted to go back to my “roots” one more time just to see if there was anything there left for me. I started slowly, looking for a church that would suit me…one that would still let me do what I wanted, but I could say I was giving the Christian church one more try. I found a church that was a part of one of the more liberal denominations near my house, so I started to attend. I went there for about a month when Ash Wednesday came around and they were having a special service that night. I decided to attend just out of curiosity, and went with absolutely no expectations about what to expect, or what the Lord had in store for me. There was the typical “watered-down” message in the service, and afterwards, everyone was invited to come down front and get marked with ashes. I was hesitant about doing this, because I knew in my heart that I wasn’t right with God, and I was tired of being a hypocrite. While everyone else went forward, I just sat there and started praying. God truly revealed himself to me for first time in my life on that night. I got a true understanding of salvation and repentance, and what it all meant. I truly came to know Jesus, accepted him as my Savior, and repented of my sins, on that night.
I continued to attend the same church until Easter, but I knew there was something wrong…I just wasn’t getting fed or challenged spiritually. The week after Easter, I made the decision to search for a new church…one that preached the truth. After a few months of visiting different types churches and denominations, the Lord led me to an Assemblies of God church near my house, and I knew I had finally found my place here on earth.
I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.