join us for

Seth's Story

I’m often perplexed when I try figure out where I should start the story.

My journey towards God, and away from him, both had many stops along the way. Was it losing so many people I loved at a young age? Was it the deep depression I struggled with? Or perhaps a mix of things? How did I go from Sunday school to possibly spending years in prison for gang activity?

When I arrived in adulthood, the world was before me and I had multiple improbable possibilities set before me. There was the option of my punk band being signed to a record label (Christian of course). Or possibly getting married at nineteen. Or getting a gig as a youth pastor.
None of it happened.

I would have called myself a Christian but my allegiance was not fully God's. I had simply followed God to please my parents and secure my own "fire insurance". I had had moments of belief where I truly felt joy at hearing the story of Jesus, but ultimately, it was not a saving faith.

Around this time, a woman I cared deeply about was diagnosed with terminal cancer. As she was prayed over by members and leaders of the church, someone declared that she was healed. Yet healing never came. I remember watching her slowly fade and not being there when she needed me the most.

When she died I remembered their declaration of healing. Suddenly, much of my bitterness and frustration boiled to the surface. My mind was flooded with all of the hypocrisy I saw growing up in the church. I remembered being too religious for some people but not Christian enough for others, the pressure to vote more than I prayed, the unanswered prayers, and all the sin I saw in familial relations that was anything but Christ-like.

All of that pointed me toward one conclusion: God was not coming. He was either not good or had completely abandoned me. I wanted nothing to do with the image of Christianity I had witnessed.

I left the church and cursed God, deciding to live as I saw fit. It was around this time I ran into old friends of mine who all hung out together on a regular basis. I began going to bars and concerts and got acquainted with a local crew. We had many things in common, but at the core there were two common threads: we were angry and hurting, and we desperately wanted purpose and a place to belong.

The night I got jumped into the crew was one of the happiest days of my life. I had a family, a mission, and older men who were tougher than me poured into me and told me I was tough, told me that they believed in me. All I had to do was hurt people. And yet, in the end, it all came crashing down. No matter how much I fought or how many women I pursued, I felt an empty darkness and no hope. I found myself sitting up one night with my gun in my mouth before stopping at the last second and breaking down in tears.

Eventually I was arrested. As I sat in jail waiting to be processed, I spoke with a man who was being charged with assaulting his wife. I don’t remember exactly what we discussed, but one line has stuck with me to this day: guys like us. Even as a common thug I was offended.

“You think I’m like you?”

He looked at me confused.

“Well yeah, you’re in here aren’t you?”

I looked around the room and suddenly reality came crashing in. What the hell am I doing? I thought. In that moment, I thought about Sunday school and an old youth pastor. I remembered the story of the thief on the cross and Jesus’s mercy. I remembered the prodigal son. These stories that previously meant nothing to me suddenly meant the world to me.

Trying not to cry, I prayed to God for the first time in years. I didn’t fully know if I had seen real Christianity but I knew I wanted Jesus and I knew, finally, that my way would lead to death or prison.

One minute later, the guard informed me that I was being released on OR (own recognizance). I left the jail in shock and eventually found out that charges were dropped.

I gradually made my way back to church at Living Stones.

What’s the point of this story? No matter the depths of your hatred towards God or your family, Jesus is a redeemer.

You could have great pain and sorrow from the most terrible events humans can imagine but still be healed and redeemed by our good God. Now as a pastor I see more than ever that he didn’t just save us from hell, but also saved us for a purpose. That purpose is reigning with him in the new heaven and new earth, a place where young men don’t have to kill or fight for the affirmation of their Father or the love of their Savior.

If God can save me, he can save anybody.

Find purpose in Jesus today.