I grew up a part-time Catholic - Easter and Christmas only. My family was indifferent the rest of the year. As I entered adulthood, my indifference mixed with my ego and I turned antagonistic. I went out of my way to make fun of “weak” people that needed a crutch they called “God.” I thought I was smarter than those people who went to church every Sunday, and I was sinfully proud of my “independence” from God.
I got married in 2002, and my first child was born in 2006. We made a couple of attempts to connect with a Catholic church, but we couldn’t figure out how to engage with other people, and we weren’t that interested in what the church had to say. I was a part-time seeker with a short attention span. If your religion didn’t fit into my lifestyle, I’d move on to something else.
My life was fairly uneventful - get up, go to work, stop by the occasional happy hour, have dinner with the family, go to bed. It was a tiring routine, with me at the center. One afternoon, a coworker invited me out for a drink. As we settled in at the bar, he asked me, “So, what do you think about Jesus?” I was completely caught off-guard. I said the only thing I could think of - “Whoa, I just thought we were having a beer”. This simple question turned into open, honest conversation about Jesus.
My wife had no idea what I was talking about with my friend. It took about 2 or 3 years of occasional lunches, happy hours, and coffee for me to admit what I had always known - God was real, He sent His son Jesus to die for my sins, and if I repented and believed in Him my sins were forgiven. I told my friend, “My biggest issue with believing the Bible is that there are some parts of it that I just don’t like. There are parts that I just struggle with.” He told me, “If you never struggled with anything in the Gospel, you’d be Jesus. You are not Jesus.”
Soon after, we started attending Sojourn. I was excited. My wife was a little surprised by my sudden interest in church. After her first day in SojournKids, I asked my 7 year old daughter how it went. She almost immediately burst into tears. She tried to explain the lesson from that day - that there was an angel, and a lamb was killed, and the angel was going to kill everyone, and people were putting blood on the doors. She was terrified and I was a bit confused. I was unprepared to answer her questions. I had no idea what she was talking about or what SojournKids had taught her. I finally determined she had learned about Passover. I read Exodus 12 and tried to explain God, Passover, Sin, and the lamb. It was quite an introduction to the Bible for everyone! As her tears started to slow down, and the relief finally came back into her face, my daughter asked me, “Wait. They ate the lamb?” Suddenly, the tears came flooding back and I had to start all over. I thought for sure Sojourn had turned by daughter into a vegetarian!
Ten months later, our lives are amazingly different. I professed my faith in Jesus and was baptized. We have regular prayer time as a family, and my children are learning about what Jesus did for them. We’ve found opportunities to serve at Sojourn, and we are thankful to have an amazing Community Group.
My experience has taught me a number of things. First - Jesus is Lord. It’s true. I am not Him, and I cannot be Him. He has blessed my family in so many ways - even when I was actively rebelling against Him. Because of His grace, I’m saved - and I want to spend the rest of my life glorifying Him and sharing His word with others. Second - When it comes to spreading the Gospel, there is no substitute for real relationships with other people. When I talk about “community”, I think about my friend taking 3 years to invest in building a relationship with me - a relationship that was always pointing back to Christ. Last - children are going to learn about God somewhere. What they learn is largely up to their parents. I am so thankful for the tireless servants of SojournKids, the supportive friends in our community group, and the graciousness of Jesus Christ. As a parent, I need to be engaged to make sure my children are learning the right things about God. As a servant in SojournKids, I need to remember that these children are coming from many different backgrounds with many different stories. Helping them, and ultimately their parents, is a critical part of what makes SojournKids such an effective ministry.
I’m humbled by God saving my life. He didn’t need to do it, but He did. I’m thankful He has given me an opportunity to share His word with my family. I’m excited about my family’s future in Christ. And I feel so blessed every week when we get to worship Him together at Sojourn East.