When I was born, my parents were very young, and as I understand the story, they were not nearly ready to have a child. They decided that I should be given into the care of my father's sister and her husband to give me a better chance. It was the best decision they could have ever made.
What was misdiagnosed as anything from dyslexia to an acute learning disability in me as a child turned into mischief and rebellion as I made the transition from elementary into Jr. high school. I was coming of age and felt an increased need for belonging and emotional support. I began to search for acceptance at school among my friends. Unfortunately at this time in my life, I was more of a follower than a leader, and I ended up hanging out with and following some pretty negative influences that led me into trouble.
By 7th grade, the school system determined that I was a gifted student and put me in special classes. I guess they figured that maybe if they gave me more challenging schoolwork to do I would be less likely to get bored and get into trouble. My friends and I were smoking and drinking, and by the 8th grade we were stealing from our parents and from other kids lockers to buy pills and weed. A teacher caught a group of us one day with pills and the police were called in just to scare us real good, but we were never really punished for having drugs at school.
By the time I reached 9th grade, I began to realize that I had a problem with drugs and signed myself into a local rehab facility. Six weeks and $10,000 later, the doctors were not able to make any real progress with me, and I was released against medical advice. Two weeks later I was smoking and drinking again.
Meanwhile, I had a close friend who had become a Christian and began to pray for my salvation. She had experienced some problems of her own and I think she was even placed in several different foster homes, but after awhile she returned and was back in school with us. I began to notice that she was now altogether a different person than she was before. It took three years for me to finally agree to go to church with her. She never gave up on me and never stopped praying for me the whole time.
Just a few months before my eighteenth birthday, I went to check out a youth service at my friend's church. I had never seen anything like it. Young people were singing, clapping and raising their hands in worship. I thought this was all kind of weird because I had been raised in a very different religious environment and had never been to a charismatic or pentecostal-type church before. At the same time, I had an undeniable impression that night in my spirit that what these young people had was real. I went back to that youth service the very next week to find out more of what it was all about.
The things the Youth Pastor said that night seemed to speak directly to me. When he called for people who felt like they needed prayer to come up to the front, I knew I was one of them. He explained to me that if I confessed my past mistakes to God, He would forgive me for my failings and accept me as His own. He said that if I believed in my heart that God had sent His Son Jesus to die for my sins, and that if I confessed with my mouth that God had raised Jesus from the dead to give me a new start in life, that I would be changed into a brand new person and be able to start all over again with a clean slate.
The change that I was never quite able to attain for myself, the help that always seemed just out of my reach, was finally realized that night. What the doctors could not do in six weeks, Jesus was able to accomplish in about twenty minutes. I was set free and delivered from drugs in that instant. The Bible says that if anyone belongs to Christ, he has become a new person. Old things are passed away and everything is new again. That's exactly what happened to me that night. I would never be the same again!
I began to attend the youth meetings there regularly, and even got involved in music ministry and sound engineering. Eventually I would begin to grow and desire more, and was led to a larger church a year later just as they were starting up a new discipleship program for their youth group. God's timing is perfect. He brought me to exactly the place I needed to be at just the right time. I received the exact kind of spiritual teaching I had been looking for and continued to grow as a follower of Jesus Christ.
I soon began to realize that because of my turbulent adolescence, God wanted to use me to reach out to other young people who were going through some of the same things I had passed through. I began talking to some of my younger friends, letting them know that they could save themselves a world of trouble by listening to the advice of someone who had already been where they were. Some other Christian friends and I started going out to the mall on Friday nights to talk to young people about their spiritual condition. It was an exciting time. Several young men came to Jesus through our outreach there and are themselves involved in ministry to this day.
During my late 20s and early 30s I fell away from God bigtime and began again to live the sort of life I was living before my conversion. But this time as an adult, it was even worse. Although I was not doing drugs I was drinking alot, among other things, and I fell back into depression. To make a long story short, It took me a little while to regain my senses and come back to the Lord, but slowly and surely I'm doing it. His patience is amazing!
As the years went by, I began to develop a burden not only to evangelize young people, but also to help disciple them and equip them with the things they need for their entire lifetime as Christians. I feel a responsibility to God to be a mentor to young disciples, helping them to become mature believers in the Lord Jesus Christ. To whom much is given, of him will be much required!
Troy A Lasseigne