Hello. I am Jo. I have been a christian since I was 9 years old. It was not until late 2013 that I started to fully understand what the christian life looked like. Knowing what I know now, I wish I could have understood it better at the time of salvation. I love Jesus more now than when I was a child. My story might not look pretty. Honestly, it gets pretty intense. If you want to stay and listen, that's cool. You ready?
So I'll start out by saying, I was born in Lexington, Ky. I was right in the heart of Wildcat country. I was blessed to live in a christian home. I was dragged to church. Sunday morning, Sunday night, and Wednesday night. Every Sunday night felt like nails on a chalk board. I just didn't like the atmosphere. I had this big giant book of bible activities to work on during the services, mostly on Sunday nights. One Sunday night in particular, I heard my Pastor ask, do you know Jesus? Do you want Him to come into your heart? I knew I wanted to go to heaven because of my oldest brother, Daniel was there. So that night, without telling my parents, I go up and tell the pastor that i wanted to invite Jesus into my heart. I remember praying with him as he led me in the sinners prayer. I got baptized that next weekend. I remember it was in February around my moms birthday when I got saved.
So fast forward a couple of years. I am a teen and in the 6th grade. I love going to my youth group mostly due to one thing, the music. My brother is in the praise band so it is really nice to see him use his gifts and talents for God. One specific Wednesday I remember was when our house got broke into, my youth pastor called me up and prayed for our family. It meant so much to me at the time. I felt that Lexington was home for me. Then my dad tells me that we are moving to London. I was not at all wanting to leave. I began to get real moody. I call my best friend and tell her I am moving. I couldn't be able to go to the mall on the weekends anymore. But God had a plan. He knew exactly what He was doing. I would start a new school. I would see and hear new things. I remember coming to Corinth Baptist Church and meeting Mrs. Marlene Webb. She has a special place in my heart. She helped bring me out of my shell. She encouraged me to go to the youth group. At first, it seemed fun and exciting. I liked going to Rick Gage camp. But as time went on, I just felt like an outcast. I didn't seem to fit in with the group as a whole. But then something happend. We started a youth praise team band. I was really excited about this. I had picked up my moms old acoustic guitar before moving to London and started to learn a few chords. I liked coming to youth group just for that one thing. But as time went by nobody would show up. I got a little angry. Well, I got angry enough not to come to youth group for a while. I had been talking with this girl, Christis. At first she seems very odd. I had never been around any girl that walked or talked like she did. She had good christian character and demeanor. So it was good to see her in youth group.
Then I graduate high school on May 19th 2005. South Laurel High School basketball state champs. I felt so good getting my diploma that day. I was not the best student. I used to say: my brother John got the brains and I got the looks of the family. The weekend of my graduation was supposed to be awesome. Sunday morning after Sunday school my mom and I were supposed to go to my nannies house in Georgia and stay for a week. This is when my life would slowly start to go down hill. Monday morning, I wake up at my nannies house and my dad had called my mom. She came in to my room and told me that i needed to get up and get packed to go back home because he had just been to the doctors and had been told he had cancer. I can already see some tension with mom. But God knew what he was doing. He had his hand on us the entire time. I did not even get to swim in the pool.
Later on that year I get the privilege of going on my first out of country church mission trip. We went to Jamaica. We conducted a Vacation Bible school. I knew in my heart that I was called to go. I felt that feeling in the pit of my stomach. You just know you are supposed to go but you don't know why. It was scary at first being gone that long away from my parents. I learned so much just being there that week. We left the US with hurricane Emily. Then when we try to come back, we get hit with hurricane Francis. There was a ton, i mean a ton of water everywhere. We got to stay and extra 3 days hanging out with all that water. Then when I get back from the mission trip, our family goes on our first real family vacation. We fly to Vegas and rent a car to travel to the grand canyon. I was still depressed so I really didn't like it that much. The only time I even smiled was around our mule ride guide, Dusty. He was kinda cute. But his accent just killed it for me. Yes, I did get a picture with him. Then we go back to Vegas and stay for a night before heading back home. We stay at the Luxor hotel. It was Egyptian themed.
We get back home and I go into a deeper depression. I stop going to church. One night I can't sleep at all. So the next day i try to think of ways to get myself back on track. I really want to find that happiness again. Then another night came and I find myself on the computer really really late. I see an ad for something and click on it. I didn't think twice and before I can comprehend what I am doing, I am looking at things i should not be looking at. Night after night I am up looking at it. It satisfies an emptiness in me for those brief moments, so I thought. I start to find myself on chat rooms. A guy asks me for my cell phone number and so I give it to him. He calls me and asks me all kinds of questions. I get the feeling like, I need to stop this right now before I go any further. I realize that I have totally screwed up and am going down a wrong road. I start asking God to forgive me, but the addiction is relentless. I ask a close friend of mine to help me. They tell me every time I even think about looking at it I would have to call them. I know that I don't want to call them in the middle of the night so I try to stop cold turkey. I can't remember how long I went with out looking at it, but I start to go back to church.
After going back to church for a while, my friend Christis finds me and asks me if I had heard anything about an event called Passion. I was like, what is that? She told me that it was a movement for college students to gather and worship Jesus. I told her I never heard it or anything like it. She asked me if I knew of Chris Tomlin, Matt Redman, and Louie Giglio? I said yeah. I knew of Chris Tomlin. She asked me if I wanted to go to the Passion event at the beginning of that next year. I really didn't want to go so I told her I would pray about it. She would see me at church from time to time and keep asking me if I wanted to go. We would have to get tickets very soon before the price went up. So I told her yeah, I'll go. Why did I just tell her yes? I really just wanted to get her off my back. So I go with her to the event and come back feeling different. Passion for me was about being real. It was the spark I needed in my life. It helped me put some dirt back into the big hole I dug for myself. Louie, the main speaker, used an analogy in his sermon that first night. He said, When you strike a match on the box, it is only lit for a moment and then it goes out. But then you have to ask yourself this question, what did that flame do? He goes on and says: If your life was lived in that little flame, what would it have accomplished? Then if Jesus had entered that flame, what would it have done then? We will have trouble in our life, guaranteed. But when it comes we need to keep our eyes on the cross. When all things turn to the end in the worst way, only God can bring good back in it!
I come back from the event and try to do things the right way. I stop listening to the music i had been listening to and try to keep everything positive. Christis and I start to become very close. We share things that we had done in the past. I am still looking for this happiness and joy but still really have not found it yet. I start really praying to God to forgive me for un confessed sin in my life. Then the devil starts to tell me lies. He tells me that the bible is just another book and that i shouldn't believe it. He tells me that I am worthless. I start to believe him. I thought that it was God talking. Fear starts to creep back in. I start to become discouraged. But it seems the only one I have is Christis, who is always encouraging me. Thank you Christis. I don't know how many talks I have with another special friend, but from what we really dig into, I start to see that I really don't trust anyone but myself. I had trusted in Jesus Christ as my Savior. A Savior to get me to heaven and that was it. I was not happy when I felt like I could do something or try to fix something and it not go the way I planned.
If you know me well you would know that i listen to music 24-7. I always have my ipod with me all the time. I remember one day listening to a KJ-52 album. It had a song on it called *I can call on you* I remember listening to this song so much so that i start to realize that I am a child of God but i was only trusting myself. So after finally realizing that I needed to trust Christ not just as my sin saving Savior but as my everyday Savior, I went to my room and told Him about everything I was holding on to. Everything that was weighing me down, for Him to take it. I told him that I trusted His judgement and He completely took it all. From that moment on, I felt like i could breathe. I had carried that guilt and selfishness around with me for several years and now it was completely gone. I was 100% real with myself and real with God. Jesus now meant something to me. He does not condemn me. He came to give me a new life in Him. He loves me for me. He waited patiently all of those years for that moment when I was on my bed handing everything over to Him. My whole life started to change. I pick up the bible and read. I want to go to church now and participate. I play guitar for our worship team and could not be happier serving my Jesus and using my talents that He gave me. I help out with our VBS every summer. I never want to go back where I was. If He waited that long for me, how much longer do you think He will wait for you?
In closing, I would just like to say:
1. Nothing is too big for God to handle. Never think that you can work things out. Just give it to God and let Him deal with it. That's what He wants to do.
2. Stay in church. If something stirs up within the church walls, pray about it and give it to God. DO NOT quit going to church. That will not solve anything, it just makes it worse.
3. If you have christian friends around you, don't judge them. Be kind and listen to them. Don't take this the wrong way. I had judgemental feelings towards christian peers before realizing that some of them actually cared about me and my relationship with Jesus.
4. Trust Jesus. Plain and simple. He has been proven worthy of trust and wants to take our faults and fears away.
Thank you for reading this. I did pour out my heart in this testimony. Let me know what you think!
God Bless you,