I have regularly attended FPC of South Charleston since 2010 and been a member since 2011. Shortly after beginning my walk with Christ, I joined the contemporary worship team and now lead our 2nd service worship. As of July 2021, I have served as the Church’s Youth Director. For all these things, I give thanks to the Lord!
I was born in 1979 to a God-fearing mother who made it a priority to teach me the Scriptures. My father was at times similarly minded but had many negative traits he taught me as well. As soon as I was old enough, I quit attending church and slowly drifted into a lifestyle that was very damaging to myself and others around me. Drug use and inappropriate behavior became regular, as well as other minor criminal behavior. I went from being an honor-roll student to a high school dropout. Now that I look back, I see how the providence of God protected me from myself through all of this.
In 1999, I was convicted about my lifestyle and sought a change. I worked hard for the next year and separated myself from the life I was living. I separated myself from my negative environment by moving away and studied to earn a G.E.D., while working. All of this I did with the goal of joining the service and living out a lifetime dream of having a military career.
In February of 2000, I joined the US Air Force as an SP (USAF version of MP) on DEP (Delayed Entry Program). I knew that my background set me up to have the right mentality to flourish in this position. It was during the weeks that I waited to leave for basic training that I would make the biggest mistake of my life.
The week prior to leaving, I went back “home” to visit and party with my old “friends”, back to that old lawless and negative environment. One night the person who lived where I was staying decided he was going to set fire to his own house. Being sort of an adrenaline junky and always trying to prove my street credibility, I was all for it. The bad habits coupled with the lawless mindset I had developed over my adolescence led me to have little conviction about aiding him. Ultimately, my decision had extreme consequences, not only for myself but for those who loved me as well.
I was acting as Dorm Chief of the 350th Flight of the 324th Training Squadron at Lackland Air Force base in San Antonio, TX when I was arrested for aggravated arson. My entire being was crushed in this single moment. I went from living my dream and everything I thought I was created for, to living a real-life nightmare.
For the next 18 months, I endured the court process and served a 1-year imprisonment. After being released I lived the life that I knew before of working hard and playing harder. I stayed on this path for about the next 9 years. Truly, I felt that a better life was not an option since I had ruined mine with my past. But God had a different plan!
Under persuasion from my girlfriend, I visited FPC in South Charleston in 2010, reluctantly I might add. Not long after, I had a strong conviction about my life (I now know was from the Holy Spirit). I was moved by this experience so much that I felt it was necessary for me to speak to the pastor about it. This turned out to be the moment that I began the best decision of my life, my serious walk as a Christian.
Despite my imperfections, God is forgiving and still working in my life. I regularly seek His forgiveness and seek change for how I may act for His purpose. With the help of my sisters and brothers in the family of God, I have overcome the constant stigma of past decisions. In June of 2021, I was granted a pardon from the Governor of the state of Ohio for my crimes. This was a process that took many years of hard work, persistence and support from others to prove to those in authority that I had changed and became a productive citizen. The change that occurred in me is a great example of the kind of life-changing power that a Christian walk can have on a person’s heart and mind.
Jesus Christ has shown himself to be faithful and true to His Word in all that I have experienced! I have found that His yoke is light, and my anchor is secure in Him. My heart is for the future of His church and the lost and overlooked in our community. My life has given me the experience and knowledge to help, in a special way, those in need.