My early years as a child I grew up in a Freewill Pentecostal Baptist Church. There I had my beginning teachings of the Bible and learned about God. At the age of 6, my family moved out of the country and we did not attend church again until I was the age of 13. At that time we moved back to my hometown and we started going to a Methodist church. I would attend Sundays here and there throughout high school, not absorbing the Word that was being spoken to me. I lived the life of a worldly teenager, partying and being focused on myself. I carried that lifestyle into my college days.
I did not attend church at all while I was in college. In college I made some poor choices and lived by what my flesh desired. I had a long term relationship in college in which I cheated on my girlfriend and she cheated on me which ended our relationship. The ending to that relationship was a very difficult time for me and I did not seek God even then. I looked for other things to fill the void in my life that the relationship had filled. I started dating my soon to be wife shortly after I graduated college. We both moved in together a year after we were dating. We got married and bought a house shortly after. For years of marriage we never had any thoughts of being in church. As time progressed we grew distant from one another in our own sins. I looked for her to fill those voids in my life I had in my past and even turned to porn which became an addiction. My first child was born 4 years after we had been married. Two months shortly after my daughter was born my dad passed away suddenly from a heart attack. That was the worst day of my life up to that point. Without God in my life, I didn’t know what to think or how to react. I went through days of sadness and anger for months.
Months later, my wife recommended we check out a church in the local area. We did so but didn’t end up staying there. We tried another church a neighbor had recommended and I loved it. We continued to go there and started developing a walk with God. We went to small groups and took small steps to help us understand all the questions we had about God and the Bible. I started volunteering at the church and devoted much of my time to help where and when I could. In the beginning years with the church I was seeking God and looking for answers. I was still looking for my wife to fill that void in my life I never gave to God. I could never communicate with her about my sins and how I felt. I went on like this for years and allowed more problems to get into our marriage as we both we raised our daughter. Our son was born 3 years later after our daughter was born. I had grown a bit spiritually over that time period but I was not fully surrendering my life to God. A year after my son was born he was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. For weeks and months after he was diagnosed it seemed as my life became a downward spiral. I needed an outlet for all my problems and thoughts, and made some poor choices to follow. I got involved with a coworker at my job and had an affair. My wife soon found out about the affair and our home became broken at that point. I was forced to move out and time went by slowly day by day.
I felt my lowest of lows and didn’t want to continue with my life. I thought I was going in the right direction by going to church and volunteering. I was listening to the Word but not receiving it. My heart and mind were not transformed which led me to take the actions I did. Some weeks after I moved out, my neighbor invited me to Mentoring Men for the Master. I went to the first meeting and was welcomed with open arms by all the men there. I’ll never forget that first day. I broke down crying to all the guys at the table about my situation. They immediately prayed for me after that. I went to M3 every Friday morning for months and started to get serious about changing myself and developing a true walk with God. I started to learn the process of memorization and meditation of verses in the Bible. I would meet with Thad once a week to talk about life and learn how to be a disciple.
With the new process I was going through, I still was not willing to surrender my life fully to God. Being moved out and alone I didn’t know how to deal with it at times. I ended up reaching out to the girl I had an affair with and was talking with her having thoughts and intentions that were selfish. My wife found out we were talking and things became worse again. At that point I was ready to give up on everything. I was trying to walk on the right path but couldn’t figure out why I kept going off of it. It came down to that morning at a Chik-Fil-A where I was sitting there crying and one of the guys from my table came in to get coffee. Coincidentally I had tried to call him earlier but we weren’t able to talk. He sat down with me and I told him what happened. He prayed with me that moment and I gave my life to Christ. After that I felt a renewed strength that I won’t forget. It didn’t change me in an instant but slowly after that I started to see and think about things differently. The memorization, meditation, and the Scriptures we were assigned each week in M3 started coming to me in a different light. I listened to messages and worship music before but things started to connect with me more over the next couple of months. I had to fully surrender my situation with my wife and the void in my life to Him. It took me a while to let her go to Him because I was trying to fix our situation myself. I carried a lot of guilt and depression from what I had done for the longest time. Finally I was able to let it all go and realize God is sovereign and I had been forgiven by grace in Jesus Christ.
In the following months after I was saved, I started to renew my mind through the truth that is in the Word. I went through ups and downs with my wife but continued to stay the course and have hope. The following year I went through was very tough. I got in a car accident, had a kidney stone, had financial issues, lost both my grandparents, lost my job, and was handed divorce papers. Today I will say that I am healthy, have a new job, and am not divorced. My wife and I have been separated for 2 years now but she never signed the papers. I still wonder if it will happen but I have decided to let God do His work through me and lead my family in any way I can.
Some days have been good and some have been bad. I still have ups and downs like the seashore going in and out. Even though I have been saved, it doesn’t mean I am not going to have emotions and still deal with problems we all have. I pray, and let the Holy Spirit guide me through my days when times are tough. That may look like listening to music, reading the Word, or hearing sermons. Keeping Jesus close to me daily is required; it is not optional. I look back now and see how all the seasons I’ve been through and how all the broken pieces in my life have put together the person I’ve grown into. I am grateful for every day with my kids and I continue to love them. My wife, the kids, and I recently all went to Disneyworld together and had a good time. I am discipling another one of my friends now who is from my church. In situations I see where people need Jesus in their life, I am always trying to plant a seed or find some way to reach them whether it is giving them a devotion I’ve read, a sermon I’ve heard, giving them a book, or a song lyric. I now use my volunteering at church to become a leader and take what I have learned to help grow others. I tell others that hearing the Word in church on Sundays is one thing, but until you receive it, the change you want will not take place. Until you discipline yourself and are serious about renewing your mind, you will not change.
M3 has taught me what it is to be a disciple and how that affects everyone in my day to day life. It has taught me how to become a better father, husband, and friend. I still make mistakes and have struggles but the difference now is that I look at my mistakes and now have a lens that allows me to make better choices. I look back now and see HIS work in my life, how HE was always there and is now. I end my testimony with this. I want to share what a man at a restaurant passed down to me. It is a card that says:
I was regretting the past and fearing the future. Suddenly my Lord was speaking: “My name is I am.” He paused. I waited. He continued, “When you live in the past with its mistakes and regrets, it is hard. I am not there. My name is not ‘I WAS.’ When you live in the future, with its problems and fears, it is hard. I am not there. My name is not ‘I WILL BE.’ When you live in this moment it is not hard. I am here. My name is I AM.” – Helen Mallicoat