I was born in Orange County on October 27, 1979. Both of my parents were believers in Christ, which afforded me with a preserving atmosphere in which to grow up. I feel blessed by the Lord to have parents who were enjoying meeting with the local church before I was born.
When I was very young, I loved the Lord and enjoyed going to the children’s meetings. I remember one song in particular that stayed with me even from the time I was a little child:
The heavens are for the earth, the heavens are for the earth;
And the earth is for man, and the earth is for man;
Man is for God, man is for God;
As far back as I can remember, I always believed that there was a God; however, God did not become real to me until my teenage years. I entered into middle school with many vain pursuits and empty longings. In particular, I was obsessed with baseball. During this time, baseball became an idol to me, usurping God’s rightful place in my being. I was a young player with a lot of promise, filled with aspirations of playing in the major leagues. This hope was more attractive to me than anything else.
During this time our family was living in the Sandia Mountains, near Albuquerque, New Mexico. Because my father was building our house from scratch, we were living out of a very crowded garage. As I became a teenager, I developed a very bitter attitude. I was extremely shy and self-conscious during my middle school years. Being void of the reality of Christ, I started to loathe going to the church meetings, which were a forty-five minute drive from our house. Every Lord’s Day began to feel like another tedious day at school. It was very hard for me to sit through a two-hour meeting, as I did not understand what it was all about. I never spoke in the meetings, neither did I open up my mouth to sing. Like many my age, I was introspective, shy, and very self-conscious. According to my realization, God was far away from me. I did not know that I had a human spirit by which I could experience God as Spirit.
As I began seventh grade, my inward condition got worse. I was often depressed and did not even like myself. I had no self-confidence, feeling that no one could see me for who I was, and that the only things they saw were my imperfections. Inwardly I was crying, complaining, and ashamed of what I was. I longed for perfection, but there seemed to be no hope that anything could cure me. But these feelings eventually caused me to turn to the Lord, to experience and respond to His calling.
One day, while still in seventh grade, I began to read the New Testament. Prior to that time I had read very little of the Bible â€”mainly the first chapter of Genesis. But as I read through the gospel of Matthew, I was drawn to the Man called Jesus. He was not an ordinary man! I was attracted by His healing of so many people afflicted by so many diseases. I started to realize that I was “diseased” also, a pitiful sinner, and that only He could heal me. I saw that He was the perfect man, the perfection I was seeking, and that He was crucified on the cross for my sins. Gradually, He began to change my inner being and inward condition.
Then, in the summer prior to eighth grade, an older believer moved to Albuquerque to be in the church life there. I was attracted to his personality because he was always smiling and joyful, and because he was the first person other than my parents to shepherd me in the Lord. How I love this brother in the Lord! Through my parent’s nourishing and this brother’s caring, I was encouraged to open up to the Lord. In a short time, I was singing and praising the Lord in the meetings. Since then, I have been pursuing Him, having dropped my former dreams of worldly glory. The glory in the church life far outshines anything the world can offer. My praises are to the Lord for everything He has done for me.
– T. R.