Conversion and Testimony
Growing up two television sets dominated our living room. I remember asking, "Why can’t we have a family like on TV?" There was no communication. I cried out for connection, relationship, and love.
In high school, I searched for it in ignorance and so I became a spectacle. I talked about Satan to get attention and shock people. I pursued immorality. I pursued escape through drugs.
"Live fast and die young" became my ultimate conviction. Some of my family members died early and/or violently—this undergirded my belief.
Around the time of my fifth birthday, my youngest uncle was shot and killed in a bar fight. Some years later another uncle overdosed on heroin. Following that, my cousin's husband shot and killed her before killing himself. A few years after that two other cousins were violently murdered in a home robbery.
In 1993 I moved to New Orleans to learn blues guitar and experience blues life. I worked as a dishwasher. I made two friends, a voodoo priest and a disbarred lawyer. I asked my priest friend to make me famous through magic.
One day the ex-lawyer asked me whether I had ever tried heroin. "No, but I am willing," I said. I gave him money. We were to connect after Mardi Gras. Time passed, and I hadn’t heard from him, so I called. His wife informed me that he died from a heroin overdose two days prior. I was shocked. I remember going to his house and being greeted by his three-year-old son. He looked me in the eye and said, "My daddy is dead." I felt miserable and responsible.
While there I read the Bible. The wisdom of the proverbs convinced me that a god must exist. I also learned that Jesus is the Son of God. I was baptized in the Greek Orthodox Church. Christmases and Easters we went to an Episcopalian church, but I had never heard this before, even so, I did not pursue God
I moved back to Toledo and took a job in my father's shop. I became responsible. I saved money. I worked hard and had things. I bought a house. Regardless, I felt empty and depressed. I spent most of my free time smoking pot, hanging out and playing guitar. At that time I befriended a peculiar musician. I didn't know anyone like him. He had joy, and he didn't do drugs. It didn't make sense. All my usual associates were depressed and hated life. He called himself a Christian.
I met a girl and she soon moved into my house. I thought I had found the connection and relationship I sought, however, the opposite happened. Constant fighting made life volatile. Screaming. Yelling. Lamps shattering against the wall. The day I decided to break off the relationship her doctor called. She was pregnant.
My attitude towards her changed and the thought of being a father excited me. I wanted to be in a family. Maybe this would be a turning point? Perhaps the tension in our relationship might relax? Our son was born in June of 1999. Things did not change as I hoped. We fought more, there was more misery, and it all became more complicated.
I needed to do something drastic. I thought of violent things. I thought of running away. I would do anything to get out of this situation. I was desperate. I could not continue living, I thought. Death had overshadowed my entire life—I was miserable. Why go on? I convinced myself I had to do something now. Then, the phone rang . . .
My Christian friend called. I told him my thoughts. He asked me to meet him at his church. I had nothing to lose so I agreed. He listened to me cry about my life for three hours. After I finished he opened the Bible and read:
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight."
I was struck. Hearing the words, "Do not lean on your own understanding" changed everything. I realized in that instant that most of the pain in my life resulted from my thinking I knew right from wrong. I didn't. I believed lies and kept doing the same stupid things over and over.
I cannot explain what happened any other way than this: The Holy Spirit used the Scripture my friend read to shatter my stone heart. He changed my heart; He gave me a heart of flesh. (Ezekiel 36:26)
From that moment I believed in Jesus Christ as my Savior. I remember thinking that I might lose my family and my friends, but I didn't care. I wanted only Jesus. I wanted the connection, relationship, and love He offered me.
Death overshadows the lives of all men. In Jesus Christ there is life eternal.