My Story (How I Became a Christ-follower)

At the age of 17 I found myself in the church parking pondering the amazing series of circumstances that had brought me to this point in my life. I had been through a lot for one so young and my outlook on life was already more jaded that many men over twice my age. In the past year I had, in rapid succession, been arrested because of my hoodlum associations and illegal activities, dropped out of a prestigious charter high school that I qualified to enter only a year earlier, and then gone through two expensive drug and alcohol rehabilitation programs; a 40-day in-patient hospital program in San Pedro and a 30-day stay at a treatment center in Idyllwild. The results were the same after each; the head of the program pronounced me incurable and recommended that I be institutionalized.

I had avoided church for years and scoffed at anyone who tried to share the Gospel with me. I felt that I was certainly brighter than any of those weak-minded people who fell for the Bible and I enjoyed arguing with (or just telling off) anyone brave enough to broach the subject of God with me. But eventually my extremely self-centered, passive-aggressive, rebellious lifestyle caught up with me and with all other doors shut, I finally went to my praying mother’s house asking for help. She showed so much undeserved forgiveness that even I could not refuse her appeal to go to church with her “just once.”

And so here I was, alone in a parking lot, and wondering what it was that had just happened. I had finally gone to church with my mom and as the preacher began to speak I had felt the whole room begin to close in on me. It was as if every word was directed at me. Suddenly I had realized that there might actually be a Creator God and even more, that He might care about me personally, right here and right now. The air seemed to thicken around me and I felt that every eye in the room was watching me – though that certainly wasn’t the case. I suddenly ran out of the building in the middle of the message because I just couldn’t stay any longer. Now outside, finally alone and able to think, I found myself praying to God and asking Him directly, “If you are real then please show me.”

As I prayed that simple prayer it was as if I opened my heart just a crack, and apparently that is what God was waiting for. I was flooded with a peace that was greater than anything I had ever experienced before. I suddenly knew beyond a doubt that God was there and that He would take control of everything. In a flash I knew that, yes, I had really made a mess of my life but that Jesus was giving me a second chance and that He could and would do a lot better than I had. My very countenance changed and the expression of toughness and cynicism that I had worked for years to build just melted off my face. I felt intense joy because I knew that I was doing the right thing. I could not stop smiling. I think I smiled for a week straight from the sheer happiness that was now in my heart.

Later, a pastor read the book of Romans with me and explained the meaning of life from God’s perspective. As we read together about all men being hopeless sinners and about God sending Jesus to help those who would accept Him I experienced physical sensations which were not pleasant. He had me read a passage from that Bible that said that the Blood of Jesus could make me clean and I felt so unclean at that moment. I realized later that I was actually being healed of my drug and alcohol addiction. When we read about Jesus paying for my sins, I was more than willing to admit that I needed to humbly ask God for help. By the time we had finished reading and the pastor had prayed with me, I felt totally clean and spiritually alive for the first time. Amazingly, since that day I haven’t been addicted to alcohol or drugs even though I was diagnosed by several different respected professionals in more than one hospital as an incurable alcoholic/drug addict just less than a year prior. I am really amazed and thankful for this miracle in my life and I don’t know why God chose to give it to me – I just know He did.

Since that time, the Lord has led me on an amazing journey of faith. I have a new friend who guides and encourages me daily. Before I became a Christ-follower I never imagined that one could have an actual relationship with the Creator of the Universe. And I never imagined what an amazing future He had in store for me. I have never regretted the decision I made that day to turn the control of my life over to the Holy Spirit. I can say with certainty that if it weren’t for God’s amazing love for me and awesome restoring power I would have been lost long ago. But now I have a beautiful family, a wonderful church and my life belongs to an awesome God who really deserves all the honor for any good things that come from my life. I also discovered something else – a purpose for my life. I now know there is actually a loving Creator who is watching over us and all of human history. He has a plan and I’m privileged to be a tiny part of making it happen. I live in Japan now where people didn’t grow up in a culture that is based on Christianity and 99 out of 100 people don’t even know much about it. I have Christian friends from all over who have partnered with me and my family to help us reach Japan by telling people here about Jesus, and planting churches.

If you are a Christ-follower and you want to help, let’s talk. Or if you have not yet made a personal connection with this Jesus that I have been talking about then I’d love to hear from you too. It would be my privilege to introduce Him to you! You can reach me at the email here on this site.

5 thoughts on “My Story (How I Became a Christ-follower)

  1. Ray, I had no idea of your past and would have never ever thought of you going through the struggles you did. You are still carrying that smile with you and are full of joy. Thanks so much for sharing your life story. Somebody is going to read this, identify with it and know who they can talk to. It’s the powerful love of God that can change any addiction…. any sin…. It’s amazing! .. Shelley

  2. Ray, I’m adding a “backscenes” to your amazing story. There was a Wed night youth meeting at Bethel Church. No Pastors were there, only students. One student asked if anyone had anything they wanted to pray about. Your youngest sister said, “Yes, I have a brother in rehab.” They prayed & God so moved that you were a part of that same youth group,one month later! Mom

  3. Hello brother Ray,
    I am so blessed to read your testimony. I can never thank our Lord enough for His power and presence in our young lives. I too, testify that His hand was so mighty and strong way back then. Praise our Lord that brother Jason also followed suite and we are now living for Eternity’s sake. Truly, I treasure of memories that were shared; swimming in your mom’s pool, worship, and long summer days at the Lake.
    Eccles: 12:01 my life verse
    Salvation date: 2/4th, 1982
    God bless you and your family
    Phil & Tracy
    ps, thank you for taking time to write this out.

  4. Dear brother Ray,

    I am a believer in Jesus and live in the state of Michigan, USA. It is so wonderful to hear the work of God in the life of the hopeless who though the shed blood of Christ, receive eternal life and joy unspeakable and full of glory. Continue rejoicing, my brother, and do not allow any man to take your crown. I’ve known the Lord for 20+ years and though I had joy, I have also walked in the valleys. But he walked with me through the sorrow. Jesus is the fairest of 10,000 to our souls and we have something that the world system cannot take away from us. Continue walking with the King.
    Milt

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