I know that when I say that my life was one of hardship and struggles, that it is nothing new in terms of a testimony. But looking back to the time I was 9 years old, when I made the decision to come to Christ. I believe that God allowed me to go through those trials so that I could become the godly man I am today. The foundation upon which I built my relationship with Christ all started with a Bible verse in the book of Proverbs-Proverbs 3:5, 6. But before I go any further, I must go to the point in which everything led to Jesus…
What put me on the path to that was actually a very low point in my life, but that’s where God shows up the most, I believe, in a person’s life. My parents got divorced when I was 8 years old. At the time, I could not understand what was happening. All I knew was that my dad no longer lived with my mom, my brother, and me. It was very hard to understand why that was and it took me forever to really grasp the concept that my dad was not coming back. It also really confused me because my brother and I would have to go and spend every other weekend with him at his new place. I just couldn’t understand and so I was an angry child. I started lashing out in school and at home simply because I just wanted life to go back to the way it was.
What put my attention of God finally was that we started going to church every Sunday then. When I think back to any time before I was 9 years old, I couldn’t really remember us going to church at all-though we might have, I just can’t remember. The name of the church was the Evangelical Free Church of Bemidji, Minnesota-the head pastor was and still is Fred Martin. But then my mom got me enrolled in the Wednesday night kids program at the church. And from then on, I started receiving a focused approached to learning about God and Jesus. Up until the time I was 10, I went continually to this church and learned, but did not accept Jesus until the summer of 1998. Looking back, that seems like an ancient time in my life. But only simply because I have been through so much and learned a lot in the 15 years since then. At the age of 9, I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior. Could I appreciate and understand the implications of this decision at such a young age? More than likely not, but that’s what I did.
In the fall of 1998, another upheaval in my life-my mom got accepted into Creighton School of Law here in Omaha, Nebraska. This meant I had to move-which is something I did not want to do. I am not a big fan of huge changes in my life and it is hard for me to accept them even when it turns out to be really beneficial for me. So, in October we moved and I started my new life here in Omaha. It was hard for me to be so far away from my dad, even though when we moved down here, we became estranged and I didn’t hear from him in a very long time. When we moved down here, the hardest thing for me to do was to make new friends. Thankfully, God put me in a church, Hope Evangelical Free Church, where the men in it stepped up and God acted through them to teach me how to live life the way God wanted me to and what He expected of me as a man as well as put my best and closest of friends today now. Now, my mom said that she never wanted me to grow up beyond what I was age-wise-but the thing is that I did. Since my mom was going to school and working to support and take care of my brother and me, I had to take care of things at the home and my brother when she was not there. In a way, God used that to help me learn to become self-sufficient and to learn not to rely on others to take care of me all the time.
Still, I did not understand what it meant to be in a relationship with Christ until I was 13. Not until my pastor at my church talked to me about baptism did I really start to comprehend the meaning of the relationship, though it was still a little unclear to me. So at the age of 13, I was baptized-the main reason being was that I was thinking at the age of 9, I did not know what it meant to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, and I felt like God had not spoken to me at all up until that time. So my baptism was more of me recommitting my life to God and saying that I had done a poor job of following Him and that I was ready to start doing what He wanted me to do.
My middle schools to high school years were really a time of struggle for me spiritually. I had issues with anger and I was not sociable enough with the other kids. It was one of the elders at my church started to personally mentor me for a long time. He taught me the game of chess, which was and still is a huge tool in teaching me patience and good decision making. I was able to focus upon learning how to control myself and not lash out like I had continually done in the past. When I entered high school, I joined the football team and that gave me a proper outlet for all the anger and stress I was feeling without having to worry about severe consequences- that is until I blew out my knee of my junior year of high school at Burke, but I didn’t let that stop me. I started to become friendlier with people both in school and my church. I tend to look at this point in my life as when I finally started to become spiritually mature because I finally felt God working my life, molding and shaping me into the person I was. I started to actually comprehend what the Bible was talking about when it says to rely on God and let Him take care of me.
After high school graduation is when the real story begins however. I had decided to take a year off before starting college-something I needed to do to make sure whatever I decided to study was what God wanted for me-which was studying Criminal Justice and Law. So I entered the general work force and started working at Oriental Trading Company, a party supply store-if you have ever shopped at Nobbies Party Store-yeah that’s what Oriental Trading Company sold. So I was working there with the intention of going to school full time in the fall of 2008. Those plans came to a crashing halt because God had other plans in order to help me grow more in Him. My mom lost her job in the spring of 2008, and I was still living with her up to this point. When she lost her job, I was faced with two decisions that would change my life-I could both go on with my plan and start school in the fall or I would put those plans on hold and help my mom and brother until my mom got another job. Well, I went with the latter decision hoping that it wouldn’t be long. But it was and I really started to question God’s plan for my life. I really wanted to start college, but it was something that God did not want me to do yet. So, for 3 years, I took care of my mom and brother by paying the rent, groceries, gas, etc. Then things really fell apart mid-winter in 2011. We got evicted from our apartment and things went downhill from there.
But then, God said it was time for me to go to college and He didn’t just open a door for me-He kicked them open in the way of providing finances for me to go to Grace University, a Bible college here in Omaha, Nebraska. It was here that I finally started to really solidify myself and my Christian identity among people that I felt I fit in with. Here, I have met some very godly men and women-students and professors that have helped me in furthering my goals. Now, I have graduated and am now working in the child welfare profession.
God is Good, all the time, and all the time, God is Good.