I had always grown up in the church; my family never skipped a service but I dreaded every living minute of it. I used to complain to my parents, “The pastor’s boring talks put me to sleep and I can never understand the point of the message, so what’s even the point of me going anyways?” Unrelenting, my parents would tell me I still had to go. I never liked one bit of it and always had to be forced to go along unwillingly to church. Even though I did not like church, I still listened and followed what they taught us. Don’t lie. Don’t hate. Don’t cheat. Don’t swear. Don’t disrespect. Basically don’t sin whatsoever. I guess I never understood why I, an unenthusiastic distant Christian, was following “the mandatory rules” I was, I just did it simply because I was told to and because I was scared of the consequences if I did otherwise. I never really got it, until almost six summers ago.
Things had not being going well for a while now and I had slipped into a sort of unhappiness categorized as depression. I was sick of just going through the motions and never getting any satisfaction out of it. So when I got asked to go to a week-long church camp one summer, I did not think twice about the fact that it was a church camp and would involve church services just like the ones I dreaded back at home. I looked at it as an escape from reality as if leaving my worries behind would somehow make me a happier person. I had imagined it as some sort of a little fairy-tale within my nightmare of a life I had believed to be living at the time.
I had never been to a week-long summer camp and will admit, a smidge hesitant at first, I ultimately made up my mind to go because I wanted to get away from the stressful life back home. I had hated the sermons back home so much, so I didn’t really know what to expect going to a church camp that had four hour long services multiple times a day. But those four hours ended up being the best of my life. By far.
Walking into the monumental chapel, I noticed it was filled with decrepit wooden pews, so different than the seats I was used to back home. The dark room appeared murky from the fog machines. Suddenly, flashing concert lights came on, surprising me. Worship was about to begin, and I had no idea what I was in for. The worship band started playing this upbeat Christian rock song and everyone started rushing the stage to form a moshpit. I gradually got more and more into the song until I found myself swaying with both my hands raised for anyone around me to see. All of a sudden, overcome by a sense of power greater than any I had ever felt before and completely overwhelmed by how the Holy Spirit just came in and surrounded me, I started to pray. Bursting into tears, I confusedly heard myself speaking a language I did not even recognize. It just forced its way out of my mouth. I was speaking tongues! Never before in my life had I felt such a calming peace, amidst such chaos, as I had that night. Never had I felt so much warmth and comfort flood over me. Never had I been so overjoyed for no apparent reason than basking in His presence. Never had I been so fascinated by a sermon as I was that night. Never before. I ran back to my room and ripped open my Bible to Psalms. I never used to read my Bible, the thought of it bored me. But not that night. I felt as though someone had lit a fire within me and it couldn’t be put out. The next night I eagerly went back hungry for more. During ministries time, a man approached me that I had never seen before in my life and spoke words of enlightenment and encouragement to me and told me all my troubles and sorrows would soon come to an end. “Never give up on your hope for change,” he had told me. Later I found out he had been a prophet. After I got done talking to him, I knelt down by myself in the very far back pews and just prayed. Once again, I was flooded with emotions overpowering me. All of a sudden, a young girl by the name of Cami came over and introduced herself and said she wanted to pray for me. She said God had told her what I was going through and that she had dealt with some of the exact same things and overcame her struggle. As she prayed, I felt as if the devil’s strong hold of me was slowly slipping away and all the lies it had been telling me for years were vanishing. I felt the chains of my depression being broken and the weight all that depression had weighed upon me just being lifted from my shoulders. I had never felt anything quite as magnificent as that before. I could not wait to get back home and start sharing my story of transformation to all my friends and family.
“For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord” –2 Timothy 1:7-8
When I got back home, I overcame my fears of public speaking and began sharing my testimony in front of crowds at various events or churches. Anyone and everyone who would listen. I shared how before I had been at my darkest moment and thought there was no way out but had been so radically transformed through my faith in Christ. I shared how before I had always been negative about situations and always got down when things did not go right but not anymore. I could have the worst day ever and still be in an absolutely great mood. I shared how once before I had barely cared about church and now I passionately looked forward to every church service and even studied up on the week days through daily devotions and worship on my own. I shared how a long time ago I would not be seen alive reading my Bible but now it had changed to the first place I go when life stresses me out and I need a sense of peace. I shared how I had once been so unhappy and yet now am overjoyed by life and can not contain it.
I am now content in knowing I have a purpose in life: to share my story in hopes that I can help others struggling through some of the same circumstances and things. I am now able to whole heartedly help others see the ray of light in a time of darkness.
What people do not realize is “with God everything is possible” (Matthew 19:26) and He has the ability to do anything. Anything. People always see towering mountains looming ahead and start to wonder how they will ever scale such tremendous heights. Meanwhile because they are not paying attention to the present and looking where they are going, they stumble on such an easy path. People only worry about the immense cliffs ahead, but no one actually knows what will happen today, much less tomorrow. Their path might take an abrupt turn, leading them directly away from those mountains. No one knows exactly what God has in mind; there may be an easier way up the mountains than what appears to the eye from a distance. “Walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7). It took years of trying everything to overcome my depression, but change did happen. I might have easily been that person dreading the mountains ahead, never seeing such a joyous change coming my way until it hit me, but I’m glad it did. I’m glad He changed my course just in time and that I “never gave up on [my] hope for change” just like the prophet had advised me.