My story starts in a church that my mom and dad built together. My dad was a pastor which makes me a PK (preachers kid) so you might think, “What could have gone wrong in his life while being so involved in the church?" Well life was going well while we were in church, but eventually things started to turn. Just when I was 8 years old, my mom, brothers, and I decided to leave the church. My dad, who had previously battled an alcohol and drug addiction, fell back into this same problem after nearly 20 years of being sober.

I wouldn’t call my home broken, but I can now see that it was on the verge of breaking. Shortly after we left the church, my two older brothers began their own battle against drug and alcohol addictions. So for most of my childhood, I was surrounded by these addictions that haunted my family. Seeing these problems happening in my family caused me to become very selfish and angry. With things not going well at home, I learned how to put a mask on and just blend in with the things going on around me.

At school I just tried to be normal, so I tried hanging with the jocks, the potheads, and everyone else in between. Although I didn't struggle with drugs and alcohol, my addiction was trying to be normal. I tried my best to fit in, but I was constantly let down by life at home and school.

Things started to change when I went to college. One day, a friend I grew up with invited me to his small group. I told him I would go and support him, not expecting that I needed to learn anything new about God myself. Was I wrong! I saw something that I had never seen growing up: people my age actually were reading and discovering the Bible for themselves! Even though my dad hadn't preached in 16 years, I realized that I was still piggybacking off of his relationship with God.

One of the first things my small group leader taught me was that your relationship with God is as deep as you want it to be. This was very eye-opening for me and I realized that I wanted a relationship with God for myself! I kept coming back to small group, and before I knew it, I was down on my knees at the alter. I was broken before God and He told me that I wasn't living for Him. In just an instant, my fake persona that I had hid behind for so long, was melted away.

That was 4 years ago, and since then my relationship with God just continues to grow stronger. God has also redeemed my dad's and brothers' lives. They are all sober, have gotten right with God, and we have a great relationship now!

I used to think I had a boring testimony compared to some that I have heard. I wasn't radically saved from a drug addiction or depression. But Revelation 12:11 says, “And they overcame him by the blood of The Lamb, and the word of their testimony". Our testimony is not only for others to hear, but it is there to remind us what God has done and what He is doing in our lives. Our testimony along with the work that Christ did on the cross helps us to overcome the enemy!

- Gabe