My name is Steph and I used to like to look for trouble. I was rebellious and didn’t want anyone telling me what to do. However, the things I did and the desires I had were very destructive. I used to lie, steal, get drunk, smoke crack and other drugs, and sleep around. I did those things because I got a thrill out of being bad and I was empty inside. I was also looking for attention, even if it was the wrong kind of attention. I was violent and depressed when my selfish plans were threatened, and I would use people when and wherever I would benefit. I quit school at 13 because I was lazy and wanted to have fun without any boundaries or restrictions on my life. I didn’t even realize I was a slave to my sin and the freedom I thought I had was all a lie. I spent most of my teen years in rehabs, mental institutions, parties, and shacking up. I was looking to men for father figures and ended up in some pretty sick relationships with older guys. Before long, I was involved in things I’m even too ashamed to speak of now and I swore I would never do. I always went further than I originally thought I would...
When I was 17, I heard the gospel and believed, but I refused to repent. So I continued on my destructive path. By the time I was 20, I was so scarred by my past and had no hope for the future. I had nothing left and I wanted to die. I was desperate. I knew God was the only answer and I needed to stop running from the only one who really loved me. So I finally surrendered to God and began to obey Him. He brought me back to Pennsylvania from Texas and added me to the Potter’s House in Upper Darby. He set me free from all my habits and my insane lifestyle. Somehow I survived all those years without getting AIDS. That was a miracle.
God has redeemed the life that I ruined. I am now happily married to a wonderful, saved man and have three beautiful kids who are being raised in church and in a stable home. This is something I never had and never could have provided. God continues to set me free from my wrong ways of thinking and is teaching me how His kingdom works. I am learning to function as a wife and a mom as God intended. I never want to forget where I came from so I can keep the gratitude and awe I have for the power that is in Jesus and so others can have hope because of what God has done in my life.
I thought I had it all together. I turned a hobby into a successful business, had a beautiful wife, had money, had a lot of friends, and was generally liked and respected. Even though I had all this, I wasn’t happy. I was always negative. My favorite expression was, “I NEVER had a good day.”
I buried myself in work. My life was work.
Then one day… CRASH! I lost my mind and my passion for EVERYTHING (work, people, music, and food). Nothing meant ANYTHING. I was on automatic pilot for almost a year. When my wife Patty couldn’t take it anymore, she and I tried “couples counseling” as a last resort. After many sessions that weren’t bringing me out of my funk, the counselor said, “Maybe it’s a spiritual thing. Do you go to church?” I told her no, I live by the Golden Rule. “Do unto others….” I told her that I knew too many people who attend church but live anything but a Christian life...
But the seed was sown, and I decided to explore it. Patty and I first went to traditional churches, then a non-denominational one that I liked better. The fourth Sunday I decided to try the storefront church across the street from my store. It was unlike any church I ever attended– no crosses, no sign of Jesus– just a room with a lot of chairs. At the end of the service, the pastor pulled an altar call, which I answered. I prayed a sinner’s prayer with a young person who assisted me. When I walked outside, the heavens opened up to me! All the negativity, sin and stuff that choked my life were lifted off.
I felt completely NEW… FREE AND HAPPY! A feeling I NEVER felt before. IT WAS A MIRACLE. Could accepting Jesus in your life and repenting from your old life do this? WOW!
A few weeks later, I was baptized.
That was over 9 years ago. Since then, my life has taken a new turn. I try to put the Lord first in my life, I read the Bible daily, and I start and end each day in prayer.
Before I received the Lord, I worshipped money and its power. I did business practices and things in my life that weren’t always “the right thing”. I had the filthiest mouth and like most people, I though possessions gave you happiness. That’s probably why I was everything BUT ” happy”.
I’m so grateful to God for all His blessings. I’m still married to Patty. I work less and we spend more time together. I still love my work, although it’s not as important to me as it was. God knocked it out of first place, where I had put it in front of Patty, family, and friends.
God works in mysterious ways. His ways aren’t our ways. If my life hadn’t taken the nose-dive it did, I wouldn’t have God and the joy that comes from serving him today.
So when things are not good in your life, maybe it’s God’s way of getting your attention and preparing you for a new life or journey. I’m nobody special and he did it for me, so he can do it for you too. So if you want true happiness and joy, and a secure future (eternity in Heaven), love and serve Jesus beginning today if you don’t already.
We’re not promised tomorrow. Look at the 3,000 people who went to work on 9-11.
I was born in a Catholic family. I thought I knew God. I believed in God and everything, but I didn’t actually know the truth about God. I was trying to make God fit in my life the way I wanted him to be, not the way that he wanted me to live my life. My dad was taking care of me and I felt secure. I was self-righteous because everybody liked me, but they didn’t know what was going on inside of me.
When I was 13-years old, I moved to live with my uncle. That was the first time I came to a Pentecostal church. I didn’t want anything to do with a Pentecostal church. I was one of those people who say, “I was born Catholic, and I’m going to die Catholic.” It wasn’t that I believed in the Catholic church, it’s just that’s the only thing I knew. That’s the only thing I was raised on, and I had never tried anything before.
When I moved, that was the beginning of my high school years. I was trying to fit in and be like everybody else. I found myself doing stuff I had thought I would never do, because I was trying to fill the emptiness inside my heart. I wasn’t living with my dad anymore and I had to take care of myself. I was trying to fill the emptiness because I was used to my dad providing for me, and didn’t have him with me any more. I was trying to find the answers in everything else. I didn’t have a joy in my life. The first time I walked into the Potter’s House Christian Church was the first time I heard the truth, that Jesus died for me, and that I had to be born again.
The preacher was preaching from the Bible, so I had no excuse not to follow it. But the devil was lying to me. The devil didn’t want me to go that way, because he knew it was the truth. Then I left the church, and things just got worse in my life. I started asking God for answers, but God showed me that He had already given me an answer but I didn’t want to take it. The longer I waited, the worse it got. I was thinking I would find that joy and happiness in things. I hoped to have something, but when I got to it, it didn’t bring the joy I was expecting. Then I came back to church, and I decided to try and see what God was going to do for me, if it was true.
Since then, God changed my life. I remember coming once to a service, and I received a word from the pastor. He told me that God would give me joy and happiness. It won’t be from money, school, or anything I expected. I was trying to figure out where it was going to come from, but after I lived for God, that joy just came on my life. I don’t have to spend any money. I don’t have to do any stupid thing. God just put joy in my life and thank God, because there are things that have happened since I got saved that I never could have handled before I had God in my heart. I just thank God for everything He’s doing in my life.