I grew up in a Christian home in Houston. We went to church, but it was mostly because my parents wanted my sister and me to have good morals. Near the end of my 4th-grade year, my parents got divorced, and my takeaway from that was that it’s okay to give up when things get hard. Pretty quickly I went from being a straight-A student who loved sports to a kid who got Cs and Ds and stopped caring. By middle school, I was dipping my toe in mischief, and by high school, I was stealing to buy drugs.
One night my sophomore year, a couple people and I — I wasn’t in my right mind — decided to go find some nicotine. I picked up a piece of wood and chucked it into the window of a gas station. No alarm went off, so we went in and took as much as our hands could hold. After two more times and a news article that came out about us, my parents turned me into the sheriff’s department.
I went to juvie for the first time, rehab for 6 months, and then a new high school… where I got right back into doing and selling drugs, couch-hopping, and partying. I got caught stealing packages off porches, went to jail for a few days, back to juvie, and then military school. I was dealing drugs there when I blacked out on sedatives and cough syrup, woke up hallucinating in the emergency room, got kicked out of the school, and went right back to juvie.
In my juvie cell, God captured my heart. I was reading my Bible when I realized I needed to give my life to the Lord.
From YRH to YRGC
I was accepted to Youth-Reach Houston (YRH), and everything was going smoothly until I started working at IHOP. One of the cooks sold everything under the sky; plus, at that time, one of my childhood friends committed suicide. I used his death to justify hating God and using again.
I left YRH and went back to drugs and partying. I ended up homeless, driving a stolen Mercedes and escaping an arrest. Desperate for help, again, I walked with my parents into the police department. By God’s grace, there were no warrants for my arrest.
At the end of October 2017, I came to Youth-Reach Gulf Coast (YRGC). I wanted nothing to do with God and didn’t even have any intentions about staying clean. I wanted to get through the program and get on with my life. I graduated and then came the darkest part of my life.
God in My Darkness
I was partying, dating a girl who was an atheist, and depression quickly began to affect my job performance. I started smoking a stupid amount and broke my promise to myself to never go back to selling.
I was suicidal and home alone when God said, “Enough.”
I opened my YouVersion Bible app and knew it was time for me to stop running and surrender to Christ.
I went out to the backyard and starting screaming, “Jesus!” I re-accepted Christ, and that’s when God took full reign of the steering wheel.
The Gift of Community
I went from selling drugs to telling my coworkers about Jesus. Jackson Bentley, a Youth-Reach staff member, connected me with a guy named Gavin Willison, who’s been discipling me. He invited me to a Bible study and church, and that Christian community is like a second family.
Now, I have a promising career working for a carpet cleaning business. It’s growing and they want me to be a part of that. This past week, they told me they want me to help manage the business and they’re training me to fill that role.
I also paint and have a show coming up. A meaningful piece I created about “sanctification, justification, glorification” now hangs at YRGC.
Every now and then I visit YRGC, a community that meant so much to me. It’s one you can’t really find anywhere else and it was a stepping stone to where I am today: working hard with a promising career, painting, discipled, and in community.
God’s built a community of other believers around me that I didn’t think was possible and could never have orchestrated or made happen.