I never realized how damaging addictions could be. I thought I had them under control, but they actually were controlling me, and destroying my family.
Peace and acceptance is something our society always seems to be looking for and I was no exception. I grew up in a home where alcohol and fighting were common; consequently, it was a place where I did not want to be. By the time I was in my teens and early twenties, I found myself absorbed in living “life to the fullest” and searching for someone to love and accept me.
I was baptized in a Lutheran church when I was younger, and my family went to church on special occasions, like Christmas and Easter. Later in my teen years, I attended youth group there. I was never a really bad kid growing up, but things were not always happy at home. When things were bad, I would have evil thoughts about my Dad who was a heavy drinker. During these times, I would question whether there was a God and wonder why He was letting these things happen to me.
When I was very young, until I was seven years old, my parents took me to church. After that, I would occasionally go with some neighbors. When I was about 18 or 19 years of age, I was starting to wonder what religion was all about. At the same time, my girlfriend was urging me to get to know God. This drove me back to the church that I had grown up in. I attended several Sundays to hear what the pastor had to say.
My name is Michael Brooks, and this is my story. I was baptized as an infant in the Episcopal Church. My mother and my aunt served on the Altar Guild. They were both key in the coffee hour following services each Sunday. My uncle Roy sang in the choir and was the church sextant. So, as a boy, I thought I was well connected, and due to my family’s contributions to the church, we were good people, and of course, heaven-bound due to our good works.
When I was about 15 or so, I began to wonder and inquire about what the Bible really had to say. As a child I had attended Sunday school at the Hereford Mennonite Church. And, as a young teen, I went through their catechism classes. But I didn’t feel like I was learning what the Bible really had to say, so I began my search for the “truth.”
If you had known me a few years ago, when I was a wild, drunk, popular entertainer in various bars, and then knew me now, you would insist you had met two different men. That is the difference that Christ can make in one’s life. My story demonstrates the great mercy and love of God to reach into the depths of hell to save a wretch as undeserving as I. Christ had to break my hard heart with the gospel. My name is Dale Stengele, and this is my story.
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