“My parents got saved when I was about 11, and I suddenly started going to youth group at Salem Bible Church where I learned the basics and gave my heart to Christ. Later, I went to Emmaus High School and was being drawn to the things of the world. My parents made me go to church on Sunday and youth group on Wednesday, but when I turned 18, my parents left the choice to go up to me. I totally walked away, and I lived in the world for 5 years. The devil set me up big time.
“My parents, especially my mom, were totally sold out to the Lord, and my mom’s heart was broken seeing me go down this path. She always prayed for me, and when I went to visit after I moved out, she would take the opportunity to share God’s Word or tell me that she was praying for me. As I was in the world, I noticed all of a sudden that I was not enjoying the same things anymore. The Holy Spirit was ruining my party. I had convictions that kept getting stronger, I wound up being allergic to beer and wine, and my health deteriorated to the point that I had to stop smoking. God was doing something, and I broke up with my girlfriend of 5 years, completely quit smoking and drinking. One Saturday morning, my dad invited me to a men’s breakfast, and a guy who I recognized as a ‘druggie’ from high school was there and just graduated from Bible college. Watching how he talked and acted, I noticed that God had transformed him, and it really caught my interest. Even while I was living in the world, I sensed that if I hadn’t changed, I would die. An assistant pastor of the church was talking to me about good and bad seeds sown and told me that God can destroy the harvest from the bad seeds if I just asked. I was nervous about the bad harvest in my life so I prayed about it and from that time on, I could see things changing; God really changed my heart and I began to get involved in church. The church was so accepting of me despite my ‘hardcore, heavy metal’ appearance and left it up to God to change my outward appearance after changing my heart.
“God touched my heart in a big way before I met my wife. One week, I was attending multi-night church meetings – I was praying and fasting. On the last night of the week, the preacher made a call for everyone struggling with health issues to give it up to the Lord. I had invited my friend to come with me and had forgotten about my own prayer requests while I prayed over him. Then, the power of God came on me so strong that it felt like I stuck my finger in an electrical socket. I couldn’t stay sanding so I sat down. It lasted for about 15-20 minutes and it was something I never experienced before. I knew that what I used to worry about was still there, and for a long time I lived in fear. That night God did something supernatural to take that worry and fear away from me so that I could move on with my life. I was so afraid to go to the doctor before to get checked out, and one of the first things I did was to make an appointment for several tests. Everything came back normal. Not too long later, I met my wife. God did all this so that when she came along I wouldn’t have any hindrances. He gave me the perfect person, and this year, we’ll be married 19 years.
“Through the years we’ve ministered together and been on missions trips, including Mexico four times. I started serving and learning about the gifts of the Spirit and talents that God placed in me. I helped at an inner-city kids’ ministry at my church where I loaded and unloaded the trailer. Next, Anne and I were involved in organizing an outreach at a mission trip. Looking back, what I planned for the outreach was so cheesy, but God used it. I ordered about 200 mini glow-in-the-dark crosses. During a night time outreach, we went into a village in a Mexican desert where there was only one light bulb hanging over a string outside in the dark. There was a good crowd, and I was giving the message, which I wasn’t thrilled about because I had never done it before. During the message, I felt God speak to me to get one of the crosses out while I spoke about God’s love. I turned the light out and the tiny cross I was holding out in my hand glowed, and it was the only thing you could see. Everybody was wowed. Many kids gave their hearts to the Lord, and we passed all the crosses out. I couldn’t have thought of any of that myself; it really opened my eyes to see that God really does amazing things.
“God finally got through to me to be totally committed to working to kids. At home, I offered myself completely to the inner city kids’ ministry. The person who invested in me, Sammy, wanted to duplicate himself in me so that when he was gone, I could do it on my own. Through time and learning to say yes to things, I became more comfortable speaking in front of kids, and was able to be used by God. My wife and I headed another inner-city kids’ ministry called Slam Jam for 6 years.
“Later, we got hurt by the church we were a part of and began to search for a new church. Coming to Epic about five years ago was probably our last resort, but we stayed, and through time, God healed my heart. I just wanted to be an empty container. Anne and I were always pouring into kids and not allowing God to invest into us. It was hard because we both liked working with kids, but we knew that if we didn’t stop, we were going to spiritually die. Coming here brought a time of healing. Meeting Zachi years ago was an instrumental part in my change. I’ll never forget the Sunday morning in the Banana Factory while I was sitting waiting for the service. He came walking in, sat next to me, and told me about this photo shoot he was in and the website he was going to be on. I said, ‘Hey, let me get your signature; you’re going to be famous one day.’ And I still have it today. Something happened in my heart then that renewed my hope in God and in church during our five-minute conversation. We haven’t found the next ‘thing to do’ like the Slam Jam ministry, but I look around and see the possibilities all the time. I have had some pinnacles which I allowed to be an idol, but I can’t look at them and think they will never be possible again.”