As long as I live, I will never forget Oct. 27, 1997. Until that evening, my life was without meaning or purpose, and I was filled with hopelessness.
I was only 16, but my life had bottomed out. I was deeply depressed, and it showed in my “Goth” appearance. I wore black jeans and black T-shirts with sayings such as, “Stand back and let a real psycho show you how it’s done.” I didn’t wear the black and white make-up that some Goths did, but I made a point of wearing a black trench coat whenever possible.
My mom had been hounding me to go to Franklin Graham’s Festival. Typical of any 16-year-old Goth kid, I stoically refused. All day, trying to find something else to do, I frantically called friends.
Finally I called Byron, a good friend from two years earlier. To my surprise, he told me that he had just become a Christian and that he and his Christian girlfriend were going to the Festival.
I decided to go with them. After all, it would get Mom off my back, and I was curious about Byron’s new faith.
When I walked into the Kansas Coliseum in Wichita, Kansas, that night, I was a kid spiraling swiftly toward destruction. I don’t remember too much of what happened during the first part of the evening, except that there was a really good guitar player. But when Franklin Graham began to speak, I found myself listening intently. The sound went out for a little while, and all we had was video, but I sat there waiting to see what would happen next. When the sound returned, Franklin finished his message, and a group began to sing “Come Just As You Are.” The Holy Spirit broke through my anger, fear and depression. He pierced my heart. All of my barriers and resistance were broken down.
I knew I couldn’t just sit there. Before anyone else stepped out to go forward, I found myself in the aisle. One of the counselors at the front of the auditorium met me. I prayed and accepted Jesus as my Savior. I surrendered my despair and hopelessness to Jesus. I was changed, and the Lord continues to mold me today.
In the following weeks and years I became involved in my church. The rest of my high school years were filled with growing and learning how to keep my independent nature obedient to God’s Word. I helped to organize a youth drama team and began to attend discipleship and internship classes to teach me to become a strong youth leader.
After I graduated from high school I attended a one-year Bible institute. I began to realize that God wanted me to teach young people. So I enrolled at Friends University, and I am entering my senior year as an English/Drama major. I plan to write and teach at the collegiate level.
Over these years since my defining moment that October evening, Christ has opened some amazing doors and opportunities. By forgiving my sins, loving me as His child and enabling me to grow in grace, He gave me a reason to live. From a kid for whom life did not seem to be worth living, I have found purpose and direction beyond my wildest imagination.