2. Me . . .
I was born and raised in a Christian home, which meant I went to church my whole life at Lehigh Valley Baptist Church. I also attended our church-school from Kindergarten all the way up to 12th grade. Since I was always at church, I grew up hearing about who God is and what salvation meant. (Note: salvation, saved, and born again are Biblical terms referring to the forgiveness of sins by God and the rescue of a person from the power and penalty of that sin. This is God’s requirement for everlasting life. Lost is a Bible term used to describe those who have not turned to Christ as their personal Savior.) I knew that salvation resulted in a changed life, but because of my pride and selfishness, I didn’t see that I needed a change. I liked how I was living. Many people came to me and told me they were praying for me, but I always put it off because I didn’t think I needed it like others did.
“I grew up playing soccer, so sports became a huge part of my life.”
I got to be really good at it over the years, so it became my number one priority to work hard and improve in my skills and maybe go professional. When I joined the youth group at my school, I was then introduced to basketball, which I also really enjoyed and wanted to get better at. I just loved sports so much that it was something I lived to do. I was worried that if I surrendered my life to God, I would not be able to play sports anymore. I was thinking that God would have a completely different plan for me, and I didn’t want that.
During my years in the youth group, I was able to go to teen summer camp. There was going to be preaching, devotional time, fun and games, but I only went there for the fun and games and because all of my friends were going to be there. The first year when I went to camp, I could sense God was getting a hold of my heart after every message that was preached throughout the week. But again, with my pride and selfishness, I refused to act upon it. Many of my friends got saved that week, and I was really happy for them, but I still thought my life was good without God.
Another year went by, and I was now preparing myself for my second year of summer camp. This time I thought it would be a good idea to wait for the right time to get saved, just to say I did it. So that is what I did. On the second night of camp, the speaker preached a very powerful message like I had never heard before. In the middle of the message, the speaker said that some of you are sitting here tonight, waiting for the right time to get saved; now is the time to get saved, before it is too late. It almost felt like everyone turned to look at me, as if he was talking to me, but really, God was speaking to me through the speaker.
“I was in tears, and I felt so guilty for waiting.”
At any moment, I could have died and would have missed my opportunity to surrender my life to God, but I could not wait any longer. After the message was finished, there was a time for people to respond to what was just preached. I wanted to talk to a counselor, but I couldn’t find one that was available. So I went to the front and asked God to send me a counselor to talk to about my need of salvation. He answered that prayer, and a counselor came, and we went to a quiet room to talk. I told him that I had been waiting for the right time to get saved, but I had waited too long, and I needed to get it dealt with now. He read to me Romans 3:23 – “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;” – and John 3:16 – “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” This showed me that I was a sinner and that I was in need of forgiveness. He even shared with me his story about how he also waited to get saved, and how much he struggled with knowing for sure that he completely surrendered his life to God. On that night, June 22, 2011, not worrying about losing my opportunity to play sports again, I completely surrendered my life and received Jesus Christ as my Savior. I never felt so excited in my life to tell my friends what had happened.
“I have experienced such an amazing change in my life.”
Since then, God has continued to allow me to play the sports that I love. Now this time, instead of playing for myself, God has allowed me to use sports as a way of influencing others in a godly way and sharing the gospel (the good news) with other athletes. God is now and forever will be my number one priority. When I went to college, I was introduced to the sport of volleyball, and now I have many opportunities, just like I do in basketball and soccer, to coach, play, influence, and share the gospel. God has a purpose in all of it, so I desire to serve Him and represent Him through the talents and abilities He has given me. I am looking forward to see what else God has in store for me in the future. Making God the number one priority in my life is the best decision I ever made.