Andrew J.

Andrew J.

from AZ
Story #661
My life before God was a childhood of abuse. Born in Arizona, my abusive parents managed to lose custody of us. Brother’s leg busted by my Father. Sister malnourished and underweight. They kept a chain on our fridge to keep us out of it. Then one day, when allowed unsupervised visitation, they kidnapped us and moved us to Idaho. I am the middle child, older brother acted out and turned to smoking, drinking, drugs, and abuse. Younger sister went inward and turned into a bookworm, now a Geologist. I chose to use my entire family as a lesson of what not to do. I went into sports. I lived in a small town, and played every sport as the year progressed, and I was best at baseball. Every year I played I made the All Star team. I went to Sunday school maybe a few times in my childhood, but there was no mention of God or Jesus, or any teaching about it.

I stuck with sports to stay out of trouble, but still managed to get into it with my brother who instigated it. On my own I was a pyro and a thief, and I skirted the edge of right and wrong. My parents exposed us to pornography at a young age, and it destroyed my thought life and how I pictured a healthy relationship I believed there was a God, but I did not know Him or His name, or His Son's name. My troubled youth was protected, but I did not know it yet. The Holy Spirit was guiding me, but my eyes were blind to it.

So there I was Senior year ended, I was ready for college. Being poor allowed for Grants for College, and I was just barely accepted to the University of Idaho. My friend Dustin asked me to come to his house after school, so he wouldn't have to be alone as he talked to the Army recruiter. Unbeknownst to me, Holy Spirit was guiding me to the military. Guided my choice to choose Airborne training straight into my contract. He was there when I was held back into a different class, because I had broken a fellow soldiers nose. This allowed me to be in the very unit which would send me to Iraq. In Iraq 2003, I experienced things that made no sense, and I thought it was cool and I was lucky...

How I came to a personal relationship with Christ...I survived RPG rocket attacks, sniper fire while I was sleeping, a roadside bomb. I knew I should not have been alive. He led me to a woman, who I fell for and came to after my deployment. We had premarital sex, and God used my sinful choices and sinful life to bring me to this moment. I came to Arizona on leave, to visit my pregnant girlfriend, and to find out the sex of the baby. I wasn't even aware of the fact it was a Father's Day weekend. At this point, our relationship ended before it could really begin, but I was there to support her. Her family invited me to Father's Day Sunday service. It was there, that the Holy Spirit touched my hardened heart, and broke through the calloused and crusty outer exterior. I was emotional and crying out of nowhere, and couldn't contain the sense of fatherhood building up inside of me. It all culminated on June 22nd, 2004. I was in my barracks room in Ft. Bragg, N.C. I was an 82nd Airborne Sergeant at a crossroads.

As I sat there on my bed, I broke down crying again, Holy Spirit was convicting my heart. I knew I was not good enough to be a father, to a little girl! This sinful man deserved to be dead in Iraq, not alive and being overwhelmed by the Holy Spirit! Frank Sinatra's words echoed in my head, "who am I? A bum with no money...". I called the Pastor that led the Father's Day service, and he led me to Jesus over the phone. However, I was under-prepared for the battle ahead, and was living with an undiagnosed brain injury. The next years of my life, turned into the worst downward spiral leading to near death by suicide. I was arrogant, prideful, and zealous without knowledge. I challenged the devil thinking I was now untouchable.

Fast forward and I have another daughter, a wife, and another deployment this time to Afghanistan in 2007. As I sat there, I contemplated pulling the pins on the two grenades in my hands. Two because with one I may get lucky and survive. I had found out that my wife at the time had chosen the company of another man. Fast Forward some years past divorce and bottomless depression. Separated from the Military. The day after I chose to drink to excess and take a bottle of pills, is the day my life was set on a new path. I was connected to a veterans group which helped me pay 3 months out on all of my bills. The TBI(traumatic brain injury) I received from the roadside bomb, makes it so every time I sleep and enter REM, I lose a large chunk of memory from my previous day. It made it impossible to maintain my finances. My car was repossessed, I then lost my job, and was less than a month from losing my apartment. Within that 3 month gap I was given, God sent me my personal savior.

Ever since meeting my wife in a miraculous way, my walk with Jesus has been exciting and amazingly blessed! He gave me a woman who Loved Jesus as much if not more than I did. She connected me with a Church and body of believers that has blessed me and my family! She brought me out of debt, and manages my finances. In every way my TBI makes me weak, she is strong!

I made a deal with God, to read the whole Bible. Once I did, it was like something in me just clicked. The Holy Spirit came on me for the first time since my recent baptism made possible in the new Church I was now a member of. In prayer I asked the Lord to “Reveal His Hand in my life.” Then for the rest of the day I was a passenger, a movie goer, present in my own spiritual thoughts for what God was about to do. As the day went on, Holy Spirit would come on me, and give me an image or memory of my life. Like a slideshow, one by one He gave me revelation, and showed me what He did for me, and I was completely overwhelmed! He showed me in a very real way, that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.

Of the things He presented, I found out that I almost drowned 6 times before I was 6 years old. Each time He revealed to me how He helped. He showed me the times in my childhood where He sent someone to speak into my life and change the path I was on. A firefighter spoke words to me after I burned down half a tree. A judge who saw reason and gave me mercy instead of justice. A friend who asked me to be with him as the Army recruiter talked to him. Then He showed me in Iraq that it was He that made the RPG’s fired at me change course 4 times, the last one violated the laws of physics. As I stood there, God placed His Shalom on me, and for some reason I felt peace and stood still while my buddies dove for cover. As the RPG zipped toward me like an oversized 4th of July rocket, it suddenly SLOWED down and TILTED UPWARD in an Arc that passed directly overhead. I watched it with my eyes, and head, followed it as it exploded harmlessly in a puddle. It was as if the Lord swatted it with His hand. The next revelation was He was the reason I woke up in the middle of the night, pulled open my sleeping bag and saw the tracer round from the Sniper, pass directly over my face. The last thing He showed me was the roadside bomb, and how He took the shrapnel which should have killed me. I was close enough to feel the rocks pelt my face, but the lord kept me from death.

It all made sense now, my path made clear. He was pursuing me my whole life, and leading me in my choices, because He knew that at the right moment I would choose Him. I was saved in Iraq, in order to become a father, which would spur the choice to follow Jesus! I now have 3 stepchildren, and 4 of my own for a total of 7! The Lord saved me, and led me, and saved me, and led me, and continues to do so. Now I can proudly say, that my entire house serves the Lord! I have seen even MORE miracles than I have before I knew Jesus! I serve in my local Church, and using my gift I help other believers to know their purpose in Jesus as well. I know my future, and I study and pray, in order to show others what their future is! Jesus Loved me while I was a sinner, and Led me to a saving knowledge of Him! Now that I served my country, He allows me to serve His people. Thank You Jesus! Maranatha! - Andrew J.

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