2015 – Baptism

“I was previously baptized at a young age but through some bad choices and one major tragedy, looking back, I realize I was the furthest from God during that time. I sought out a church when I moved to Angola for my family to help put God back in the center of our lives.  I’m forever grateful for a neighbor’s invitation to Fairview. In 4 years, I’ve seen a huge change in myself and by being baptized today, I hope to show my girls how important God is in our life.”  2 Corinthians 5:17 “If anyone is in Christ he is a new creation. The old has gone, the new has come.”
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“Throughout my life I have been searching for something, but not knowing what for. Little did I know I was looking for my savior, our savior Jesus Christ. 

Growing up as a young kid, I was the typical churched boy, and that is, I don’t remember anything except the Rice Krispy treats we got at the end of each Sunday school class.  As I got older, my family and I stopped going to church and I really fell away from faith and God. Friends, sports, partying started taking over slowly throughout the beginning of middle school. Then on Mother’s Day 2006, my life was torn apart. My rock, the only sturdy thing I felt I had in my life was gone. My mother died at age 35, at 8am on Mother’s Day. I was 13, my sisters 11. The hole I have been searching to fill in my life quadrupled in size. From that day on, I knew and could feel she was still with me – some how, some way I just knew. I believed but I couldn’t tell you exactly what I believed in. When I prayed, I prayed to her. When I needed someone to talk to, I talked to her. But not to God. When I was a freshman in High School, I tried Young Life, a Christian outreach program that reached out to high school students trying to spread the word of God and Jesus Christ. I still couldn’t find my way, or even wrap my head around this thing called Christianity. The closest thing I could accept was a hippy Mother Nature and Indian Spirit mix of beliefs. Yes, at heart I am a tree hugger. But this belief didn’t fill my hole. So I started searching harder and harder. I started smoking weed in 6th grade but it quickly became a just about everyday thing once my mom was gone. Then freshman year, I was introduced to hallucinogens, and boy did I love those, and then came along pills. By the end of the first semester, I was addicted to Oxycotten. Numbing myself was the best way to deal with my life. I felt in control, unstoppable, even immortal. I tried to quit on my own. I can’t remember the withdrawals but all it lead me to was more partying. Popularity, drugs, girlfriends, success. I thought all these were the keys to fill this hole and make my life the best it could be. By my senior year, all I was doing was trying to sit on the lid containing myself. Eventually I had been going to church with a girlfriend and her family to make them happy and get them off my back and they even asked me to get baptized. So I did, but for all the wrong reasons. And that reason was to get the girlfriend’s mom to stop nagging. Two weeks later I found heroin, instantly falling in love with my new obsession. I dropped out of Otterbein on a full ride, pushed away friends, family, and anyone close to me. Eventually I tried to quit, but with no program, no community, needless to say it lasted 6 months. And I was off to the races again, moving into my fraternity, selling every drug you can imagine. I was lost and didn’t know where to go or even how I got there. 

I finally thought I was done and so I prayed once again, not to God, but to my mom. Asking for help, and the next day I happen to see Taylor on Facebook. She was an old high school friend. I asked her how she was doing. She said good and asked how I was. By the way, I had not talked to her in 3 years and for some reason I responded “Well, I’m looking for a recovery program to get clean.” And she responded “Well, my mom runs one and its free.” I was too stubborn to see, but this was another prayer answered for me. I heard it was one year – without a car, a phone, or work, so what did I do? I said no. I didn’t need this, I’m not that bad. But after a trip to Parkside and another relapse, this one worse than them all put together, I prayed harder and harder every night for a week straight, asking for help. And God did for me what I could not do for myself.  He helped me give in and ask again to be put in this program. While I was here my first week, I stole a car and relapsed, and these people still cared about me. They still wanted to help me and I couldn’t for the life of me figure out why. Then I tried to start thinking about this faith thing again and so I jumped right in, but one Thursday night I was sitting in the front row during church and realized I don’t love God. I don’t really even believe. I was just afraid of Him. All I could think of was, “well, what if He is real? What if I don’t do this?” I thought it was bull crap when people said the Holy Spirit took over or that they heard God speak. I did not even believe in prayer and thought the Bible was just a good way to live your life, so I instantly went to atheism, not believing at all. I was done I thought. But no, Beth [who runs the recovery program] wouldn’t just let me give up. She challenged me. She asked if I would pray for a week straight for however long, whether it was 30 seconds or 5 minutes and then just listen for the same amount of time I had prayed for. So I did, not thinking I’d get anything out of it. The first day I prayed and nothing, second day nothing. But on the third day, He replied “I am here” and my heart just sank. I couldn’t ignore it, I couldn’t doubt Him anymore. I just sat there in awe. The next day, Tim [Beth’s husband], Dan [a roommate], and I were driving down to the junkyard and the radio that had been broken for as long as I’ve been here had randomly started working. So Tim put on a CD by a guy named Irwin McManis and it talked about civilized faith and barbarian faith. Civilized faith is for the raised in church believer, someone who just feared God, didn’t know anything about loving Him. And then there is barbarian faith, someone who has learned to love God and truly believe He loves us. And this is what I had been looking for this whole time and it blew me away. I started watching prayers get answered right in front of my face, and people transforming through Jesus and I stared to truly love God. 

Today I still question things about God, I’m still learning. But one thing I do not have to worry about in my life is questioning His power, His love, or even questioning His existence because I know He’s there. My life changes every day through Him. I’m learning what real peace, real hope, real joy, and what real love is. Things I never truly understood or even had. And that hole I’ve had is finally filled. I have found what I have been missing in life. 

Without this place, all the people in this community, my family, my new brothers and sisters, I wouldn’t be here. Especially Tim and Beth – whether you all know it or not, they are the reason we are all here today. They are the tools God used to reach out into our lives. I couldn’t thank you enough and I am so grateful. Today I’m being baptized to put my old life to death and to be raised with Jesus Christ, not for anyone but myself. This is the first time I can truly say I am doing this for me and for my faith. I love you, all you guys.”