“Look around you and see that you are loved!
Know that I love you!
See this as an answer to prayer.”
Over the last 10 months God has convinced me of an error I had been walking in! I had come to a conclusion that people were tired of hearing about my testimony, or that new connections I’d make would feel like I am very egotistical and self-centered for sharing it. God has recently been communicating quite clearly to me though, that He has allowed for, and given me, my story and testimony to be used for His glory, and to engage others’ hearts to be about His heart for children! So I am going to give a very condensed and shortened version of my testimony here, because there are 3 very important and eternity changing sentences that God has spoken into my life when I was a teenager that I’d like to emphasize and highlight! I hope that in some amazing, supernatural way God will use this testimony to touch your heart and life for His glory.
My first thirteen years of life, though beautiful, were horrifically filled with violence and abuse beyond what most people could imagine or fathom. I was born into a situation as an unwanted child, experiencing overwhelming neglect and abandonment. In fact, the biological father left the biological mother because, and while, she was pregnant with me! He did not want kids and was not willing to stick around to know the third child that he and the biological mother together ‘created’.
The biological mother blamed me for the biological father’s leaving, and for the first thirteen years of my life she strove to punish me and remove pleasure from my life. This worked out in more ways that I can describe here, but suffice it to say that the punishment extended all the way to how little and what types of food I was allowed to eat, and the deprivation of using the bathroom like a normal human being. I also was not allowed to wash myself or be clean very often. I did not end up having full control over my bowels nor bladder until I was 19 years old! I smelt like urine and excretion, was dirty, smelly, and disheveled, and nobody wanted to be around me!
Throughout the first 13 years of my life I was sexually abused, physically abused, verbally abused, mentally and emotionally abused, and suffered significant neglect and deprivation. The ramifications of the abuse were not just within the abusive home situation, but also affected many other areas of my life; in school, church, and society in general; as most people would not want to be around me or interact with me, because of my bad smell and obnoxious behavior.
Shortly after my birth, and because the biological father never returned, the biological mother remarried. She married a man who was very tall and weighed over 200 pounds. The stepfather did not want children at all, and suffered problems fighting against and trying to control his anger, as he came from a very abusive home life as well. Unfortunately he perpetuated the cycle of abuse from his childhood, and I was often the selected and main target of his rage and violence.
When I was seven years old, I suffered such a violent beating from the stepfather, one morning, that my ribs and armpit were literally torn open and bleeding! The stepfather, in his anger, proceed to jump on my bleeding body and caused my hip to pop out of joint as well. Needless to say, I could not walk well and was in a bit of a mess.
That day, as I arrived to a school where classmates always picked on me and made fun of me, and where teachers were quite distant from me because of my strange home situation and obnoxious behaviors, my life was dramatically impacted. On that day, those same teachers and classmates who were distant, cold, and cruel to me, they hugged me and cared! They saw my wounds, that I was hurt, and genuinely expressed care for me!
I returned to the abusive home situation that night, realizing that being hurt had genuinely made people care about me! That night I prayed my first prayer request to God, after my salvation prayer. It was a very specific prayer request. We all long to be cared for, loved, and belong. It’s an inevitable and integral part of what it means to be human. That day people had truly cared about me because I was hurt, so I prayed to God a very specific three-part prayer request:
- God, let me get into a vehicle accident.
- Let me die.
- Let me hover above my casket and see if anyone will show up to my funeral, to see if anyone could really care about me.
I so desperately wanted to know that someone could love me, that I could matter to someone, that I was willing to die! I was not suicidal. In fact, I have always enjoyed the beauty of life, regardless of the pain, trauma, and horrible experiences I have lived through. I have never struggled with thoughts of suicide, but I just wanted to know if my life would truly matter to anyone; if anyone’s heart would care enough about me so as to visit me in my funeral. At seven years old this to me was the greatest sign of someone caring for me: to show up at my funeral to pay their respects.
Praise God that He is wiser that I am, and that it was not His will at that time in my life! However, fast-forward a bit! When I was 13, I was rescued by the government, placed into protective custody because the stepfather had threatened to kill me if I ever told, and then placed into foster care. I really longed to belong in a family, but it was not to be. So instead I sought attention elsewhere. I was none to shabby in my academics, my soccer abilities, and then became quite popular, and friendly with the ladies. As you can well imagine, I am sure I did not excel in humility! God is a jealous God, who wants our whole heart committed first and foremost to Him. However, in my life, God had taken a seat on the back burner. He was not my focus or attention. So He decided to give me exactly what I asked for in my first prayer request.
In early September, 1994, during the first weekend of my high school experience, I was spending time with youth from my church. We decided that we wanted to go in to the city, go to the mall, watch a movie, and do teenager things. We convinced a father of one of the teens in our group to give us a ride. We piled in the back of his pickup truck, and headed for the city. While driving, the father was distracted, and he swerved off the road. The pickup slammed into a tree, and the vehicle entered into a 360 degree spin. As the truck spun, and as I fought to hold myself in the back of the pickup truck, my head hit the tree and I immediately went unconscious!
To make a long and dramatic account shortened, I was pronounced dead 3 different times, went into a coma for 6 days, and was in the hospital for a month. The damage to my brain and body due to this accident were traumatic and intense! I received a traumatic brain injury (TBI), a traumatic closed head injury (TCHI), lost short term memory and retention, lost 100% of my lower body strength, lost 70% of my upper body strength, lost some of my ability to talk, to walk, and to write! All glory to God for His healing and provision though it all, and for the miracle of life that He has given me.
When I was coming to from my coma, one of the most supernatural and marvelous moments of my life took place! As I came to from the coma, God chose to speak directly and audibly to me, in a loud and clear voice! He only spoke 3 sentences, but they have changed my life for all of eternity!! If you view me as a persistent and strong man, all of my strength and persistence have come from this event in my life… God speaking to me audibly!
God said to me…
Look around you and see that you are loved!
Know that I love you!
See this as an answer to prayer!
My life changed! Many wanted to say that it was because of the brain injury, but I know the truth of where this change in my life came from! God, the Creator of all that exists, decided to see me, speak directly to me, and convey His love for me! I will never be the same! He heard my prayer, answered it in an amazingly thorough and life-giving way
Life has not gotten easier, as I serve God as an evangelist, missionary, motivational speaker, and advocate and friend to precious children. Right now I am in the midst of many attacks and challenges from Satan. But God continues daily to remind me of those 3 very important sentences that He has spoken over me and to me. The second sentence, those 5 words… Know that I love you!… are the root and source of my strength and persistence in life, to serve Jesus and love others!
Maybe today you need this reminder… If you will walk in a love relationship with God truly as your Lord and Savior, obeying Him and letting Him guide your life, you too can be assured that He speaks those 5 words to you as well. I am trying to impact the lives of a multitude of children to know these 3 sentences personally in their own lives… that they are loved by others, that God loves them, and that God hears their prayers! May you too know these precious truths! God bless each of you, and may His love and light guide and lead you in better paths than you could ever plan for yourselves! Richest blessings to you all, from a man who knows that he is loved by God!