I grew up in church. I live in Tennessee which is in the Bible belt, so it's kind of a gimmie. I remember the night I decided to give my life to Christ. It was at my church VBS when I was 8. Things moved pretty quickly from there, and soon I was a freshman in high school.
Those years changed me, and I never gave up my faith. But I guess you could say I just strayed. I made a lot of decisions that year that I now regret. I met a girl, and before I knew it, I had lost my virginity—as a freshman!
Shortly after that, I got involved in my youth group, though everyone saw me as a "good Christian boy". The guilt of my secret life was so heavy; I found myself going back and forth between God and the World. I tried other stuff during this period and at the end I found myself addicted to porn. It became so bad that I spent hours every night taking in whatever I could. This went on for two whole years.
Then in June 2012, I spent a weekend at my church for a special lock-in just for guys. That weekend absolutely turned my life in a complete 180! I found others that were going through or had gone through the same thing I was. On the last night, I was so tired and so beat up with living double lives that I gave my life to God again!
The feeling overwhelmed me; I was at such a loss of words. I remember praying later, telling God that I was open to His will, He has my heart, and I want to do what I'm meant to do. Once again, things moved pretty fast, and one day, my youth pastor asked me to speak on a Wednesday night about a missionary in the Bible. Well, my name being Jonas I chose Jonah.
As I prepared for that night, I found so many other similarities between me and Jonah. When that night came, I gave my speech, but I honestly don't remember a word I said. But I do remember that I was asked to speak again... and again... and again! I had found that my calling, my purpose in life—what I was made to do is talk about God!
Aren't we all called to do that? Go and share His name across the world? Not going to lie. It is still absolutely tough, and I get scared sometimes, but I know that God gave me not a spirit of fear but of POWER, LOVE, and a SOUND MIND.
I recently had a car wreck and nearly killed my dad, brother, and his best friend. It has been an extremely hard past month, and I could not make sense of my life. I begged God to tell me something, give me a sign, anything at all! And at that exact moment...
Nothing happened, and it discouraged me to a point I have never been before. But I turned to the Bible, God's very words, and it was revealed to me. Life is too short to sit and do nothing. We can have all the faith in the world, but if I just sit back when I see a man or woman who could use a hug, prayer, just a sign of God's love—what good is all that?
God loves everyone so much that He sent His son, Jesus, to die for everyone. Even me, as I was engulfed in my lustful life and secret lies, Jesus died so that one day I can spend forever in Heaven. God has been so good to me. I thank Him so much for using me and that He doesn't love me for who I was or who I will be, but He loves me as I am right this instant.
In essence, I guess you could say my story is still a work in progress, but at least I know how it's going to end. ;-)
—Jonas - age 17, 11th grade