I grew up primarily in the south part of Los Angeles. I lived at various times with different relatives (going to Catholic church most of the time) until I was about 14 years old. By this time I had decided there was no God and church was for losers. Yeah, I was pretty cynical for a young kid. When I turned 14 my mother married Andy and settled down a bit. He was looking for work so they decided to move back to Massachusetts (to his hometown). It was the summer of my freshman year in high school.
While my mom and step-dad looked for housing and work my younger brother and sister and I were taken to Vermont to live with Andy's sister. The only rule of the house was that we had to go to church every Sunday – Baptist church (Did you know that Baptists go to church a lot more than Catholics?). It was okay and I started to enjoy hanging out with the youth group. After a month or so my aunt announced that we were all going to camp for a week in the later part of summer. Growing up in the city I had never heard of "camp" so I didn't know what to expect.
This was 34 years ago and I can remember it like it was yesterday. We played games and had Bible studies every day – no big deal – I could day dream through anything (I thought). Then, on Wednesday night, an evangelist preached the evening message. The chapel was a large, old rickety wood building with splinter-filled pews and straw on the dirt floors to keep the dust down. I sat in the back (so far back these pews were actually under the stars through the big opening in the back of the building) with all the other trouble makers. As they played the invitation hymn and the preacher asked if we were sure we'd go to heaven when we died I felt like my whole world was caving in on me. I was standing there singing and acting like I really belonged – looking around at the people making their way down to the altar to give themselves to God. The tears started running down my cheeks and I didn't know why.
Though I didn't know it at the time, while the music was playing there were scores of people praying for me, for my soul. As the tears fell I finally realized I needed God in my life. I stepped out of the pew and made my way to the altar. Somewhere along the way I picked up an entourage – my aunt, my uncle, my cousins, and several of my friends followed behind me. By the time I made it to the front I was too weak to stand and I kneeled and begged for God's forgiveness. I was smothered in God's love and in hugs from all those that were with me. As I stayed there someone (I don't even remember who) led me through the sinner's prayer and helped me to understand that I was now a child of God.
That night my brother and sister also accepted Christ into their hearts. And, 4 years later, my mom and step-dad were born again and were adopted into God's family.