Monday, August 18, 2014

My Hubby's Testimony - Don't Miss This One!


I am going to brag for a minute.  My husband is one of the most compassionate, loving people I have ever met in my life.  I have learned more about God's grace and provision through him than anywhere else.  It comes with a rough past and some painful memories.  But let's be real here...life is not about butterflies and roses all the time, is it?  There is a lot of crap that happens because of sin entering the world which makes me SO grateful for God's grace.



My hubby did not have to turn out as great as he is.  He could have bottled up all the pain and become a big ball of rage.  Most people do who have been through such trauma.  But he has a different perspective on life and is using it for God's glory.  I'm SO proud of him!  Seriously y'all, I just can't express to you how much I admire him!  He is such a strong, respectful, admirable man!

I asked him to share his testimony on here and though it's hard for him, he wants his experiences to help encourage other people that are hurting.  I know that it's a lot of words...please please please take the time to read through it!  I pray that the deliverance he experienced through God encourages you!  I'm so excited to share this with you!  Kevin, take it away...

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The distinct sound of a jail door slammed behind me as the dim light in the lifeless concrete room goes dark. I’m 13 years old. Alone and angry. Thinking to myself “How did I ever get in this situation?”


Confused but not quite fearful, this had become the norm in my life.

The distinctive part of my story starts in 6th grade. An otherwise normal child in an urban two-parent family, I began to be subjected to very severe abuse at the hands of my parents as their marriage unwound. The abuse got worse and worse, from shouting matches and emotional damage to being physically abused repeatedly. The days turned into weeks and the weeks turned into months of dealing with almost daily beatings and hearing nothing but hatred spewing out of my family.

At home, I was really scared. I tried to escape in any way that I could. Normally that meant going out to play basketball or to walk around the neighborhood, anything to avoid being at home because I was so afraid of my own family. Eventually as the abuse continued and I was unable to run away from it, I started acting out, begging someone to notice what was going on in my life. I skipped school so that teachers would start asking questions. I got into fights so that the police would arrest me and I could go somewhere to sleep and eat without fear of getting beaten at the hands of my own parents.

Five times I was locked up. Almost half of my 8th grade year was gone; white-washed under lock and key. As the time passed, increasingly alone and ashamed with no comfort in sight, I began to withdraw. Isolation is after all, easy, when nobody loves you.

So set the tone of my adolescence. I did not know what it meant to be loved and supported; to be encouraged and cared for. Rage built within me as I longed for purpose in my life. Suicide became an increasingly appealing option. Now 14 years old… and I had nothing to live for.

The 5th time I was locked up, and one strike away from permanent residence at TYC (the juvenile prison system in Texas), was the last time I would see the inside of a jail cell. It would not, however, be the end of my struggles.

I remember coming “home” on a dreary early spring afternoon to find my mother standing outside the house refusing to allow me inside. Feeling okay with that decision, I began to wonder the streets of my neighborhood. I stayed in a friend’s garage that night, but for the next several months found myself constantly bouncing back and forth between neighbor’s houses and the playground where I often slept in the tunnels to hide myself, and my shame.

Eventually a perceptive 9th grader, who would later become my best friend, noticed something was amiss and invited me into his home. It soon became mine too.  His family cared for me like I mattered, like I had something to give; like they loved me. That is where my life changed.

This family – my family – never made me leave. I was never hurt, I was never forsaken. They loved me because God was in their lives and in their hearts.



They were bilingual and often spoke Spanish. I did not and yet it didn’t matter. They loved Jesus and they accepted me and it was here that I first began to comprehend who God was. I’d heard of God before, but always felt like He didn’t care. I mean how could a just and merciful God put a child through so much? If God loved me so much why the abuse? Why the neglect? Why the pain? Why the solitude of an empty, cold jail cell?

One day while in the youth service at their tiny Antioch church, about 30 of us high school students stood near the alter as the pastor prayed over us. As he stopped in front of me and directly prayed over me, I felt my heart pounding and my chest heaving with emotion as my head swirled with all these tough questions I’d always thought about God.

Soon I heard the voices of my friend and our youth leaders filter in around me. They had begun to put their hands on my shoulders and my back and they prayed for me. All of a sudden the other voices faded to the background, I heard one young man speaking to me in ways I couldn’t comprehend. I had never had a conversation with him before, as he had always spoken Spanish. I’d never clearly understood him until this moment.

He started speaking to me in such a calm way, telling me I could find peace in Christ. He kept talking about laying everything down at the feet of the Jesus. About removing burden and how God could take it away. About the importance of the cross and how that meant He loved me. He spoke of forgiveness and what it means for God to take away the pain. How could he possibly know all these things? By this point I was trembling and the tears were flowing, yet I felt this eerie calmness enter over me and got chills up my spine.

I fell down, yelping in emotional pain, pleading for God to take away my pain and begging for mercy. I wanted so badly to let go. I didn’t want to go any further on my own. That night I accepted God into my life for the first time.

What follows from here is a decade of intense ebbs and flows in my walk with Jesus. I sinned over and over again. I drifted from God, only drawing back to Him during times of great anxiety and need; wishing for just enough Jesus to purge me of the shackles on my soul, but not loving Him enough to be obedient to his desires for my life. My love for God was shallow at best.

Eventually my life became too destructive to bear. I found myself back in church crying for God to come back to me, pleading and begging for mercy. As I sobbed into my hands that first day back I very clearly heard God tell me, “I never left you.” What an amazing thing to hear in my greatest time of need! Soon after I was baptized and my heart began to change.

As my desire to pursue God increased in the following years, He opened doors that I could have never expected. God revealed in me that He designed me to overcome my past as He was preparing me for the next step; true obedience.

Having a very obvious heart for young men in need of being loved, I entered into youth ministry. With my feet firmly planted on the ground there, God opened up the avenue to the One Heart Project. This ministry allowed me a glimpse back into what it felt like to be an incarcerated teen and how desperate and lonely that time was.  God used those moments to cultivate in me a deep-rooted passion and desire to stand up and do something about it.

The connections I made through One Heart launched me into the decision to purchase a 4-bedroom house so that I could open it up to young men, recently out of jail and broken families themselves, who needed to be loved and to be shown redemption in the way that God intended.


 Working with these young men and other teens at my home church allowed me to counsel, mentor and support others in a way that I myself needed, just over a decade prior. At times I am still astonished by God’s faithfulness, grace and mercy during this time. To think, these young men look at me and see a pastor, an honorable leader and a friend, is almost incomprehensible based on where I was when I was their age. What a plan God had for me all these years!

The spiritual maturation that God led me through in this process and the way that He taught me to dutifully obey his plan, turned me into a man that I loved and respected for the first time in my life. With this newfound love of self, I was able to pour out that love toward others for truly the first time. Deep seeded issues in my heart began to fade and open up room for love. Relationships were strengthened everywhere I turned. Forgiveness and understanding began to flow from me. I began to discern God’s voice and listened to wise council while turning away from the idols and ways of the world. In short, my heart changed and with it, my life did as well.

Today, I do not want, I do not fear, I do not regret. God has blessed me greatly with what I have been provided; an abundance of provision, a beautiful wife and a new family to call my own. Despite the heartache and painful memories, God has delivered more than I could ever desire because he loves me more than I could ever understand.


 Those deeply burning questions embedded in my soul are still there. “Why do such terrible things happen to children?” “How could a parent possibly abuse their child?” “How is any of this fair?” It’s all still a mystery to me. But this much I know, GOD HAS A PLAN. While I couldn’t see, nor understand, from my perspective the “why” in all of this, God did.  He saw the plan. He has blessed me with lessons I will never forget, relationships I will never lose and love that will never cease; and for that, I am eternally grateful to my Savior.

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Isn't that awesome?!  I seriously cry every time I read it or hear him tell it.  Praise the Lord!!  Thank you for reading, folks!  I hope you were blessed by Kevin's testimony.  

Below is a short video that our church did on Kevin's story.  Check it out!





Simple Moments Stick

29 comments:

  1. Wow Kelli. That's quite an amazing story. What a testimony of God's love. I know you have to be incredibly proud of your husband. I love that he's giving back and showing these boys/young men the love that his friend's family showed him. That's what's it's all about, anyway. Love.

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  2. This. Is. Amazing. I literally teared up reading this! Please tell Kevin thank you so so much for sharing his story with us! I know that couldn't have been easy. It's absolutely amazing and wonderful and simply beautiful how God can use anybody for His greater purpose :)

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  3. I seriously have goosebumps reading his testimony and then watching the video. Not that I knew your husband prior, but I would've never guessed that he had gone through so much as a child. What a miracle that God put that new family into his life.

    P.S. I totally posted about part of my testimony today. Crazy how great our minds think alike!

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  4. Thank you for your husband for sharing his amazing story - so beautifully written and how amazing how he was able to come through from all of this and be such a wonderful caring husband and friend and one day father!! Hugs to you both!

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  5. Kevin has such an incredible testimony! I'm in awe of how God was able to use his pain to later help others who have gone through the same thing. Knowing what I do about both of you, I can't wait to see how God continues to use you both to further His Kingdom! Thank you for sharing, Kevin.

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  6. This is so good. God is so good. As I am asking questions about why some men hurt women, this story of God's grace is like a balm on my heart. Amazing. No words.

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  7. I can 100% understand why Kevin would still have those questions. Because I 100% have those questions. Why God would do that to child. Someone so innocent. Holy moly the poo he went through....I can't even imagine. Thank you to Kevin for sharing this with us and letting us all in. Amazing.
    And when I'm done crying I'll watch the video.

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  8. Thank you Kevin for sharing your testimony with us! I believe 100% that God has a plan and being able to see that through all the bad that has happened/happens is so amazing, a beautiful thing. He was with you, through all of it, never leaving your side. All of that molding and shaping you to make such a huge difference in so many others lives. God bless you Kevin, you are Kelli are some pretty special people!

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  9. Oh my goodness. Goosebumps. God is so great! What an amazing and powerful testimony that Kevin has shared here... and just look at how his pain and suffering in childhood has led him to have an impact for God's kingdom.

    This was THE best way for me to start my week.

    Thank you Kelli for inviting Kevin to post and thank you Kevin for baring your soul and for sharing your story.

    Wishing you both a lovely week.
    xoxo

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    1. Oh yay! I'm delighted you shared this on the #SHINEbloghop! Such a wonderful post!
      xoxo

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  10. wow.wow.wow. Thanks for sharing Kevin and Kelli!! What a powerful testimony of God's restoration and now Him using Kevin to minister to others - whew!! What a story. I love how God redeems and restores! So beautiful to see and that last picture of y'all is just PRECIOUS!

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  11. I am crying reading it! God's overwhelming love for us is always astounding. It is amazing to read how His love and grace transformed and repaired your husband and led him to do great work. Thanks so much for sharing that today!!

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  12. Wow! I literally got the chills reading this! Praise God for his faithfulness and for placing that family in Kevin's life to be a light for him. So awesome!

    Paige
    tomatoesforcucumbers.com

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    1. Yes! So so grateful for the family that took him in :) They're still in our lives and consider them family. Thank you for reading Paige!

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  13. Wow Kelli. I knew you had found a good one, but this story is amazing. God is so faithful and I am so happy that Kevin has been able to experience his love and overcome the terrible childhood he had growing up. He's also a great writer!

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  14. Wow! How amazing to read all that God did in his life!!! Thanks so much for sharing such an incredible story!

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  15. Oh my goodness. This is such an amazing story of God's faithfulness!! Please tell Kevin thank you for sharing his testimony. I love how God's light shines through even the darkest moments of a person's life, and how God can use the most challenging times in our lives to not just call out to us and mold us, but to then use us and our story for His glory. What a wonderful, beautiful story this is!!

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    1. Will do, Amy! Yes! Me too! I'm so glad that he wants his story to be used for God's glory :) It's so beautiful! Thanks for reading!!

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  16. This is such an amazing testimony-- so many thanks to Kevin for sharing this here so we could all read about his difficult journey that led him to Christ and to do amazing things for others who are going through a difficult time.

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  17. wow what an incredibly testimony!! amazing, amazing. praise God for what he did in your husband's life, how time and time again He forgave and told him I never left you. thanks for sharing this!

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  18. What an amazing testimony! Thanks for sharing, your husband seems like a great man of God.

    God bless,
    XO, Claire
    Http://www.littlemissfashionqueen.blogspot.com

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  19. Oh..my..goodness. I had no idea (well I mean how could I) You tell him he is so brave and so strong to share that and clearly so strong in his faith. What an awesome family and back story! Praise God! I just adore you both!

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  20. How gracious is our God to use other people to rescue us from darkness.

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  21. This is amazing - makes me want to cry!

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  22. woow...this is a powerful testimony. it's amazing how God uses our brokenness for greater good for the Kingdom. amazing! thanks for the boldness in sharing.

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    1. Isn't it powerful?! Amen! It's the one thing that I know gives me hope in my brokenness. Thank you for stopping by, Gen!

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  23. tears...sitting at my desk...how did I miss this post. I am so glad I found it. What an amazing testimony. Oh man, I am so overwhelmed by this and I want to share it with everyone...you have yourself a great guy Kelli!!

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  24. Wow, what an absolute honor to read Kevin's testimony... God is so good and so faithful!

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