So, my story starts off like any other Christian kid. Grew up in a good Christian home, going to church every Sunday. And I asked Jesus into my life around age 4. But around 5th grade I started to hate going to church, and it became like a chore for me. I started to care less about God, and that led up till middle school. Where probably the best thing that could have happened to me, happened. I got caught stealing a lot of money from my parents. And I just remember my parents sitting me down, and just opening my eyes to how I was living my life. And after that my parents made me work to pay them back and earn back their trust. At this point I was spending all my time in sports because that's all I had. I was playing hockey at the time and coming up on my spring season I started to have left knee pain. So I eventually got my knee checked out, and it turned out that I had about 6 tears in my meniscus that would need surgery. And I remember the doctor saying your knee is permanently damaged, and you can't play hockey again, not even skate. And during the recovery of my surgery depression hit me hard. I remember not wanting to leave the house for months. And at this time, we had started going to a new church called LEFC. But I was still going to my old youth group, and I think my parents knew that I had zero connection there. So, they eventually forced me to go to the LEFC youth group, which changed my life for the better.
I started to love going to church again, and I decided to play basketball because it's a non-contact sport. But around 3 months before my freshman season I started having right knee pain. I immediately knew that it was my meniscus again. But I kept playing anyway, because in my head there was no way I was missing my freshman season. I got my knee checked shortly after that. And at this point we had switched hospitals and were not going to Chop to get a second opinion, because Hershey was at a standstill. Chop figured out what was wrong with me pretty quick. The doctor sat me down and said you have a Discoid meniscus.
Which basically means my meniscus has the structure of tissue paper, and that I could tear it just walking up the stairs. Then she went on to say that you will need surgery again, and you won't be able to play sports again. So after my surgery I felt like God had completely abandoned me. I just thought to God why would you give me a chance to play another sport, just to take it all away. Depression found its way back and I was just utterly lost. I had people reach out saying sports isn't everything, and God has a plan for you. Which I believed, but at the time it's like how do you truly believe that. Sports was my life from day 1. And that was the problem, I thought without sports I'm nothing. And I learned with the help of family and friends what it means to be a Christian, what it means to really love the Lord and devote your life to him. But then coming up on my Junior year, I tore my right knee again. After another visit with the doctor, I found out I'm going to need another surgery. And this time it's going to be a longer recovery of 6 to 8 months. And through all this I was getting sick weekly not knowing why. So, we saw a specialist for my stomach. And after a lot of tests, I was diagnosed with Crohn's disease.
But' through all that was happening I was the happiest I had ever been, for the first time ever I felt God walking alongside me. And at this point I had accepted that I can't play sports anymore, and for the first time I truly believed that God has a plan for me. That was the moment I really felt God's presence. It just opened my eyes to a new way of living.
But it wasn't happily ever after. Once everything was going well, and I started living my normal life I found myself not continuing to pursue God to the fullest. That's when my life came crashing down, and I believe God used it to humble me. I tore my shoulder which caused a lot of other issues, and my Crohn's just kept getting worse. It forced me to stop doing all the things I love. Which was a struggle at first. But I wouldn't have changed what happened. Because I've learned to put my life in God's hands and stop trying to do everything my way. And through all this I have grown so close to Jesus, and without the struggles that might not have happened.
I am here today to get baptized to share my faith with others, and to be a testimony of God's great will.
I grew up within the church but I never fully understood why God would want me. I grew up in a divided home. My mom and dad split when I was in 4th grade, and I lived with my mom for 2 years. And those were the most horrible years of my life. My mother abused alcohol so much and was gone for days at a time. I remember going to the kitchen and not being able to make food because there was no food in the kitchen. On July 4th, 2018 my mom got so drunk she started to cuss at my little cousin who was like 5 or 6 at the time making her cry. I had to take the kids inside because the adults could not control themselves they all got very drunk. So I called up my dad and asked if I could live with him right after that day. He picked me up and I started to live with him. We had a rough 2 years after that. My mom went no contact for the next 2 ish years her lifestyle caught up with her. I fell into a serious addiction to pornography to fill in my life what I felt was missing. I also fell into a deep depression because I felt like I was a failure because I couldn't quit pornography and it got to the point where I didn't think I deserved to be alive anymore and it's been a constant battle since. We started to go to LEFC my 8th grade year and I got connected with Dylan and Dave and they were understanding to me even thought I was quiet and didn't want to talk to someone. It 2021 a week before beach camp, I wanted to kill myself. While my dad and brother were sleeping, I grabbed a knife from the kitchen and went up to my room and broke down crying because I didn't want to hurt anymore. I wanted it to stop. As I was crying ready to end my life I just couldn't do it so I put the knife away. Then the week of beach camp came. On the last night on July 9th during the life groups time I opened up at the end and told everyone how broken I felt and how I just wanted to feel God's love and I broke down crying and that night I dedicated my life to Christ. It's been less than a year since I made that decision. But God is being proactive in my life even though am still hurting He has made me whole again. He made me feel hope. Even through the fires of this life I have felt his love to fill in where I am missing it and healing my broken heart to restore me. God gave me the confidence to tell my parents my struggle and they have been helping me get through it. Though I will never be perfect I learned I don't need to be because Jesus was perfect enough for the both of us. God through my sophomore year got me connected with a great group of friends to help me through my newer trials and past trials. God has done something in me I never thought possible he gave me the ability to open up again to tell the world about the fire I have been through the fire I constantly have walked through. Jesus to me means everything. He gives me hope when I see no way out. He gives me love when I feel no one loves me and gives me peace of mind when I am terrified. My favorite quote ever is by Marianne Williamson, she says "Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, 'Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?' Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightening about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others." And I am going to do like that old children's song I am going to let it shine. I am still healing from everything I experienced, but God has been working to bring resurrection into my life and help me make disciples out of others.
Hi, my name is Brooks Warren and I am 6 years old. I love playing soccer, spending time with friends, and catching critters like toads and frogs. I started going to LEFC last Summer and I have loved hearing Bible stories (My favorite is Samson) and learning about Jesus' love for me. Last year, I made the decision to ask Jesus to come into my life. I talked to my mom and dad about what it means to become a Christian. They explained how God loves us so much that he sent Jesus to die for us and forgive our sins. I know what Jesus has done for me and I love being a child of God. Since I have accepted Christ into my heart, I have learned to obey God. It makes God happy when I listen to my parents, treat my little brother nice, and tell my friends about Jesus. I am excited to be baptized because it shows everyone that I love and believe in Jesus.