Photo by Trevor Rapp
My life began from a chance sexual encounter between my mom and dad in between my dad’s prison sentences. He was already divorced from my mom at the time. My mom was addicted to drugs and my father was an alcoholic. My grandfather asked his brother to rescue me and my two brothers. He was dying and couldn’t take care of us himself. I was four years old when my great uncle obliged my grandfather’s request and adopted us. My grandfather had asked my great uncle to take us because he “loved children.” My great uncle was a pedophile. He had been caught on numerous occasions, but charges were never brought.
After he adopted us, he moved us to a children’s home/school and he got a job there as a house parent. My great uncle sexually abused me from the time I was four years old until I was a teenager. While I suffered terrible abuse at the hands of my great uncle, the school was actually a wonderful place. God brought people into my life who genuinely cared about me and invested in me.
My best friend’s mother was one of these people. She truly loved me and was very good to me. Another was the offensive coordinator at our high school football team. I was the quarterback on our team and this man mentored me. He was a great role model. He loved his wife and showed me what a healthy marriage looked like. He spent time with me, taking me hunting and fishing. He took me to church and provided guidance that helped keep me from going down wrong paths. These caring people played a significant role in God’s redemption in my life.
God provided for me in other ways. I got a generous football scholarship to the Citadel. This was a full-ride scholarship that the Citadel provided specifically for someone from a children’s home. But this didn’t turn out as I expected. I redshirted my first year, but my second year I felt confident—I was playing well and had made the first team on many special teams. Citadel had promised to add me to their roster, but before the first game, I found out they had not added me to their roster and I was ineligible to play. This was so difficult for me. I felt rejected, betrayed, and sensed of loss of identity. I tried out for the baseball team and made it, but I wasn’t good enough to play. It was this dark season of my life that created fertile soil for the truth of the Gospel to grow in my life.
My junior year, my now wife invited me to a Campus Outreach event. It was here that I heard for the first time about a personal relationship with Christ. I accepted Christ and was baptized. The Campus Outreach director began investing in me and mentoring me. When I graduated, I became a staff member for Campus Outreach. When I was a team leader at a Campus Outreach retreat in Florida, I found out my biological father was living nearby. I went to visit him. I hadn’t seen him for nearly 20 years. He didn’t recognize me when he answered the door. When I told him who I was he became nervous and started shaking. He smoked one cigarette after another and talked non-stop, telling me all the bad things he had done in his life. As I was driving away, I began sobbing. Years of pain came pouring out of me. I couldn’t stop crying. I drove to see the director of Campus Outreach and shared what had just unfolded. Until this moment, I hadn’t told anyone about the abuse in my past. I felt God opening my heart to come out of hiding and share the whole story. He listened without judging but with acceptance and love. He hugged me and he and his wife prayed for me. A new trajectory began for me this day. A journey of healing had begun.
I went to see many counselors but none really connected. I was in seminary, married with a three-year-old daughter and a son on the way. Life should have been good, but I was falling apart. It was at this time that God provided a counselor that truly helped me. She forced me to wrestle with my story, voice my deepest fears, and access my rage. It was difficult, but over time God revealed important truths to me and empowered me to become a man. Through counseling, God brought great transformation. God has healed the brokenness of my past and brought restoration to my identity and my relationships.
God is using the pain of my past to help others. I now serve as an associate pastor at an inner-city church. Because of what has happened in my own life, I have a special ability to sense pain in the lives of others. This sensitivity, combined with the empathy that comes from the deep knowing of pain in my own life, opens up conversations and creates connections with people. I can share my story… my brokenness and God’s plan of love and redemption. God can make the brokenness in our lives the most beautiful parts about us.
A Million God Stories is a Christ-centered ministry which offers a platform for Christians from all streams of Christian faith to give praise for how God has worked in their lives. Christ heals in infinitely creative ways and we acknowledge that His way of helping may differ from person to person.