Growing up in a non-denominational church, which preached against getting involved with denominational churches, was a hard thing to understand. Especially for a youth who had a lot of friends at school that were from ‘those kinds’ of churches. It got even crazier when, at 19 years old, I fell in love with a girl who was the daughter of an Assemblies of God minister. Not only that, her one uncle was an Assemblies of God pastor in Dodge City, and the other uncle was the District Youth Director of the Assemblies of God in Wichita Kansas.
In short, I was really troubled. My mother and step-father were both pastors in a non-denominational church and I knew that they would never approve of my new girlfriend.
I really fought my feelings, and I prayed with great earnest for God to speak to my heart and tell me where I should go and what to do. There was no doubt in my mind that this AG girl was the one for me.
It is interesting how God speaks to us, and this case was no exception. One Sunday morning, while visiting another AG church, I found materials in the visitor’s room that I was going to use to show Diane, my fiancée now, what was wrong with her denomination. I came across the by-laws, beliefs, and doctrines of the Assemblies of God.
Over the next few weeks I poured over every page, every sentence, and examined every doctrine. What I found was amazing. Not only did I find the same truths about Jesus and the Holy Spirit that I was raised to believe, but I found even greater foundation for those truths. I was beside myself. How could these denominations be so right on? How could they have such a deep understanding and be so passionate about Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit? My new information ruined my world in a great way.
Not only had I found same great material, that I was already starting to use as a personal Bible study, but I gained things I had never had growing up. In my family, God was number one, but then ministry was number two, and family was last. I really never had a biblical understanding of what a family was.
Now that I was going to be getting married, I was hungry to be the husband that Jesus died for me to be. I had been through so much as a child that my view of family was really twisted. At two years old I was abducted by a family member, I met my mother when I was six. She had an abusive husband who was always drunk and hitting on her. After she divorced him, my mother married another man, and they became self proclaimed ministers.
My two brothers and I were given last place to everyone else. With all that behind me, and no real relationship with my father, I was afraid that I would end up being the same kind of husband and father.
As I began to talk with other Pastors and Pentecostal friends in the Church, I noticed a family atmosphere that I was desperate to have. Soon I was studying the Word like never before, and finding that there was a relationship that I could have with the Holy Spirit that I never thought possible.
A little after we married, I became the youth pastor at our Church. I was youth pastor for five years. I have been a Video Jockey for a Christian music video show on the Ski Angel Network, and now I am teaching evangelism in Churches. I have been married now for 8 years and have two amazing kids, Josiah David (6) and Richelle Breanne (3). God is really blessing my house.
I am doing what I love: writing youth discipleship material, teaching evangelism, and freelance writing. I am really thankful for all that has happened to me. Even though it was really rough, God has an amazing way of taking bad situations and turning them into opportunities.
As I have had the great opportunity to share with youth at different Churches, camps, lock-ins, and outreaches, I am finding that my story is not as unique as I had once supposed.
I really hope that my story will encourage those who have been through something, like I have, to reach out and allow themselves to become vulnerable with the Church. I also hope that those who have been raised in a Spirit-filled Church would see this as a call to reach out to those who may be hurting; those who may very well be sitting a few seats down.
I hope that you see this as your opportunity to find one of those people in your church, and make sure that they hear you say, “Welcome to the Family.”