Good morning Christ Church, and thank you for allowing me the privilege of standing here this day and sharing with you my testimony.
85% of my life has been spent in total darkness, before coming to know Christ. At the age of eight I was molested and drawn into a lifestyle of homosexuality. By the young age of 10 I was already hooked on drinking and smoking weed. I was encouraged by my molester to use drugs and drink, to relax and enjoy myself. I did not know any better and there was no one teaching me anything different. I come from a home where there were three fathers yet they were all absentee, never ever around. My molester ended up becoming my father figure. He taught me how to live, how to dress, took me to plays, Lincoln center, Carnegie hall. He gave me things I thought I needed in life, but all along leading me down the road to destruction. And like a sheep being led to slaughter, I went along willingly.
The drug use would increase more and more over the years and the sexual abuse continued…., all at a cost, which was my life. I remained in darkness for the next 45 years, living the life of a sinner in need of a savior.
On Oct 1991 I found myself homeless on the streets of Philadelphia and was going into the health center at Broad and Lombard to receive results from a recent blood test. On that day, my life would forever change. The results of the test were that I was HIV-Positive. Finding out this news set me on the road to drug and alcohol recovery. Over the next decade I was able to secure some substantial clean time, but my heart was never addressed. And because of that I continued to live a life of sin, lying, stealing, manipulating, deceiving and living a life of sexual sin.
I was clean from the drugs, but still needed a Savior to rescue me from my sin. On November 1, 2011 God met me, and set me on a path of freedom. I was watching the news at 11:00, and the big story that night was the students protesting the firing of their beloved coach Joe Paterno during the Penn State sex abuse scandal. It seemed everyone was concerned about the coach, but My concern was what about the young kids who had been sexually assaulted? How come no one was protesting to show support for them. I cried for them that night. I cried and I prayed. It was while I was crying and praying that I believe God set me free from the sexual sin that had marked my life. I felt like all of my fears, shame and hurts were lifted up off of me and I know that God had performed what I knew he could all along to deliver me from the sin that held me in bondage. The next morning I found out about a place called America’s Keswick; a Christian recovery center. I made the call and was in there within three weeks. Before leaving for Americas Keswick I needed to do a few things, I) delete all of my e-mail contacts, 2} delete all of my phone contacts 3) focus on the book studies they sent me to do, one in particular was on forgiveness. While I was coming before God wanting Him to forgive me of my sins; He showed me He wanted me to forgive all of those who had harmed me in any way. I could not believe that after all I had been through I needed to forgive, but God was gracious to show me this, and I submitted to God’s will and asked Him to help me in forgiving because I did not know how. The process was difficult yet easy at the same time. Once I removed my feeling from the equation and looked at things through Christ eyes, I saw I needed forgiveness because although from a young age I had been brought into sin, I chose to continue in it. I came to understand just how bad I needed God to help me. Over the next 4 months God really peeled off the various masks I had mastered wearing, He exposed me for the fraud I was and stripped me of everything I thought I knew and proceeded to fill me with His Holy Spirit and His word.
That was 7 years ago. Coming home I found myself still being stripped of my old self. I had to crawl for a while, but then God led me here and where I have learned how to walk and now I am standing Jesus Christ continues to show me what it means to be a man of God.
Walking in this new life is a challenge and there is so much growing I still need to do. But my past no longer has a hold on me. Jesus Christ has freed me from my former life and has given me a new identity in Him.
At the present I live at Hope house, and I am the Peer Coordinator. I want to thank God for the marvelous things He has done for me. God has surrounded me with men who love and care for me. I want to thank him for Pastor Jeff, John Carlson, and Chris King and for each and every member of The Christ Church family for the love and caring support you demonstrated to me since my first day here.
One last statement which sums up my life……according 2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, He is a new Creation, old things have passed away ; behold all things have become new. I stand before you this morning a new Creation in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.