Conversion and Testimony
Growing up, two television sets dominated our living room. I remember asking, "Why can't we have a family like the ones 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 sought escape through drugs.
"Live fast and die young" became my ultimate conviction. Some of my family members died early and violently—this undergirded my belief.
Around 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 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 attended 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."
Hearing the words, "Do not lean on your own understanding" struck me. It 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 eternal life.