Austin, 18, Georgia, USA
At age 8, I found myself in the middle of a custody war. My parents battled it out until I was 14. As a means of coping, I began drinking and smoking. I got into a lot of trouble; honestly, the only thing that kept me above water was baseball.
Things worsened in 2016, when my best friend took his own life. I fell into severe depression and attempted suicide myself, multiple times. I wanted to quit baseball, but others encouraged me to play in memory of my friend. So, my sophomore year, I tried out for the high school team and made it.
The summer after that first season, Coach offered me a job. I took the offer, while most of my teammates went off to a Christian camp. One day after work, Coach asked if I wanted to go visit my teammates at camp. I was really tired and didn’t feel like it, but something pushed me to say yes. Looking back, it’s obvious that God’s hand was at work.
We arrived at camp just in time for evening service. The youth pastor began preaching about common teenage struggles, such as smoking, drinking, depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts. This hit me hard. I’d struggled with every last one of the problems he listed. It felt like God was speaking directly to me; I’d never felt so convicted in my life.
At the end of service, the pastor invited people to come down to the altar. Many went, but I was unable to move. I was stuck to my chair, tears streaming down my face. The youth pastor eventually came over and discussed the gospel with me. I surrendered my life to Christ, for the first time, that night. When I gave my life to Him, all the pain, bitterness, shame, and guilt went with it. That was the best decision of my life.
All I can say is that God is so good. Jesus is the greatest gift of all — one that we don’t deserve. But, God loves us enough to send His Son so that we may be forgiven and reconciled unto Him. My walk with Christ hasn’t been easy; I’ve made and continue to make some terrible decisions, but the Lord continues to love me and mold me into the person He created me to be. It gets hard, but I know that He is with me every step of the way.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” — 2 Corinthians 5:17