Going to church was a regular thing for me as a young kid. My parents are believers in Christ, and my dad was a minister in the Pentecostal denomination. I knew who Jesus was from a young age. I remember the first time I felt the Holy Spirit. I must've been about 6 or 7 years old, and I watched my dad give a trial sermon at our church. As he preached, Jesus came into my heart, and I remember feeling goosebumps up one arm and down the other. In that moment, my dad was my hero. I remember watching the VHS video of that message over and over.
Somewhere along the way, my parents started to become disconnected from that church. We were going to church less and less. At that time, I was too young to understand why. My parents used the phrase 'church hurt'
My family fell into a place I think a lot of Christian families are today. We had a negative experience in a church building, and so we began to move away from the direction and Word of God. We would go to church sporadically on Sundays, and then Monday through Saturday we lived however we wanted.
At age 19, God radically invaded my life. For the first time, I began to feel His conviction about the way I was living. I was in a relationship with a married woman who was separated, but not yet divorced from her husband. I was drinking alcohol, occasionally using marijuana, and did lots of partying... not to mention the selfishness of putting myself before anyone or anything else. I was even convicted of the music I was listening to... realizing how the enemy can use it to destroy homes, family relationships, degrade women, and promote drugs and violence.
I battled with Jesus, trying to justify every way I could continue living in a way that would only glorify myself. But Jesus was pursuing me. He placed people in my life that positively challenged me, like my wife, Tara. Second to Christ, she is the best influence on me! God also blessed me with three amazingly beautiful, healthy, and brilliant children.
As God continued to pursue me, I began to realize that I need to be the man He's calling me to be. He'd blessed me with the opportunity to take care of my wife and children, and I could no longer hide in the shadows of my childhood 'church hurt' experience.
God brought Richard Cox into my life as my friend first... then as my pastor. Richard invited me to the grand opening of Overflow Church. For the past four years, I've experienced the true meaning of "church", understanding that it is a safe place that promotes kindness, equality, and a sense of belonging. No matter your age, social status, gender, and regardless of the color of your skin, you are welcome. Furthermore, church isn't a building. It's a body of people, believers in Christ, gathered together to worship the God of the universe! Once I received that Truth, I was able to release my hurt from other churches, and started to become more of the man God is calling me to be! God is pursing each and every one of us, and if you've read this testimony, I pray it encourages you to answer God's call on your life!