I grew up in the ghettos of Philadelphia, PA. My dad was a violent abusive alcoholic. We weren't Catholic but my mom put me and my sister in Catholic school to get a good education. We also got a good dose of religion. At five years old I began to learn about God and being a good student I developed quite a knowledge of religion. I was taught many facts about God but also taught that when you die, God would weigh your good against your bad deeds and if you were good enough you would get into heaven. So I determined to be good and try to please God. I became an altar boy at eight years old, learned the mass in Latin and served in church at every opportunity. My goal was to become a priest because I thought they were holy men. By the time I was an adolescent though, I knew that something about the Catholic church wasn't quite right. I became disillusioned and stopped going to church at age fourteen.
Home was very dysfunctional because of alcoholism. I hated my father and tolerated my mother. When I was a teenager, both my parents became Christians and they got involved in a Baptist church. At that stage of life, I wanted nothing to do with religion and began hanging out with the hippies, living an immoral life, ingesting any drugs or alcohol that I could get my hands on. At seventeen I left home to attend college in Tennessee, which was just a continual party. One year later I was back home working with my dad in the construction business. For the next three years, I was in and out of college, working various jobs, partying with my friends, trying anything that would bring happiness to my troubled, wounded soul.
At 21, while driving home from work one Friday, I stopped in a Christian bookstore. I noticed this store every day as I drove to my apartment and was curious about what was inside. The bookstore owner greeted me and let me browse through some Bibles. We shared a brief conversation and he obviously could tell that I wasn't sure what I was looking for. Before I left he invited me to church on Sunday. I reluctantly agreed and quickly left the premises.
I had no intention of attending church but by Sunday morning God changed my mind and I went. The people at church greeted me and expressed their joy at seeing me there. The church was a very simple storefront building compared to the elaborate architecture of a Catholic church. That morning for the first time in my life I listened and received the gospel message. I already believed in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ and knew that he died for the sins of the world. But that morning I understood the significance when I heard this message, "For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast" Ephesians 2:8-9. I realized that Jesus died for me, bore the penalty for my sins and I desperately needed a fresh start. I prayed and asked God to forgive me, take over my messed up life and change me. I gave control of my life over to God because I couldn't live a good life on my own and I wanted to be saved.
The changes were miraculous! I stopped taking drugs and alcohol, stopped having premarital sex and instantly had a hunger for the Bible. I spent many hours in my little apartment reading my Bible and talking to God. I told all my friends that Jesus was now in control of my life and I was going to heaven. They ridiculed me back then but now some of them are also Christians. Since that day I have been far from perfect, but I know that the Spirit of God lives within me, my sins are forgiven and my purpose in life is to honor Him. My life belongs to Him and I am submitted and surrendered to God. I am assured of my future in heaven and I openly spread the good news about Jesus and the change He has made in me. "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new" 2 Corinthians 5:17.
God loves you too and wants to transform your life and make you a brand new person. Talk to him now, ask Him to forgive your sins and take control of your life!
"If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved." Romans 10:9-10