Growing up in Virginia, I had a pretty privileged situation: good school, caring parents, and a place in the high school praise band. Despite a lot of childhood trauma, I had everything I needed. I was a good student until sophomore year, when it all went down the drain. I purposely didn’t study for tests… because not trying and failing was more acceptable than actually trying and risking failure.
After high school, life was filled with a lot of pain. I was suicidal the year before I came to Youth-Reach Gulf Coast (YRGC). I felt this world had nothing to offer me, and one time, I actually made a plan to end everything. I believed there was something uniquely and irreparably wrong with me. So, my mom shopped around for solutions that were free — and not just “biblical,” but Christ-centered.
Early September 2019, I caught my second drug charge, and that’s when I started looking for a “get-out-jail free card.” Soon after that, I was in talks with the Youth-Reach staff. I had a decision: I could go down the same path — and I knew where that led, but I wanted something else. I thought, “If God is real and He’s giving me an opportunity for something different, I’m gonna take Him up on that.”
When I came to Youth-Reach, I came into a group of friends. They didn’t treat me like a criminal or deviant. I’d never experienced that before. The staff and residents, even those struggling, were pulling me higher, not because they were obligated to but because they wanted to.
Through my experiences with others, I had grown to associate “love” and “trust” with pain so when I heard about Jesus and love and relationship, I thought, “Why would I want that?” I didn’t know how much I needed to unlearn those buzzwords and relearn what they really mean.
Someone prophesied that I’d have a “road to Damascus” moment. I prayed (which was really more like yelling to the sky) for a supernatural, crazy experience. I wrote that off when it didn’t happen but God communicates with everyone differently…
Later, the book “The Misunderstood God” by Darin Hufford made its way into my hands and it wrecked me. It tore down walls that were around my heart and destroyed lies about what relationship and love are supposed to look like. I stayed up almost all night reading it, and after that, I started to change. That powerful encounter with God gave me a close glimpse of His heart and I’ve been in love ever since.
I graduated from the program this past December 18th. Now, I have the amazing opportunity to get to know God more; I’ve been accepted to YWAM in North Cascades, WA. I want a mountaintop experience with the Lord and to find His heart and His will for my life. I don’t want anything other than that.
I want everyone to know:
I believe that the people God has placed here at Youth-Reach really care and want to know about your story, hurts and heart. Never have I felt more at home in my life. This is what God designs family to be.
Broken young men like Andy receive the healing and restoration of 24/7, 365 day-per-year Christ-centered residential support because of the generosity of our supporters. We never charge residents or their families for the services offered.
We ask that you prayerfully consider partnering with us to help provide more young men with the life-changing opportunity to join the YRGC family. Thank you for your consideration and taking time to read Andy’s story!