It all started when my friend, golf buddy, and colleague, Kelly, asked me the simple question that would change my life forever: “Where are you on your journey with God?” Before I answer this question I must start from the beginning.
My older sister, younger sister, and I were baptized in a Greek Orthodox Church. However, we didn’t go to Catholic Church and I didn’t grow up knowing God. I also didn’t have a typical childhood, or the teenage rebellion years because I grew up taking care of my little sister who suffers from autism and seizures. Because of her, I learned early in life about responsibility, sacrifice, being patient, caring, loving and compassionate. It also meant I didn’t play with the neighborhood kids or with my friends after school because I had to take care of my sister. So, I grew up feeling lonely and unworthy.
Fast forward to early December 2016, over lunch at work, Kelly and I started to talk about God and Jesus. She asked me, “Where are you on your journey with God?” I raised my arms, put them against the table, and said “If the left-hand represented not knowing God at all and the right-hand represented knowing him fully, where would you fall in?” Kelly pointed about three quarters to four-fifths to the right. Reversing the question, I pointed to one-tenth; I was just near the beginning. Little did I know that that question would lead me to an amazing life changing journey. It got me to think that I should get to know God more and start serving Him.
So, in the beginning of 2017, I started to volunteer at a church as a videographer. A couple weeks later, another friend asked me to attend his church, and so I found myself alternating between two churches each Sunday. As the weather warmed up, Kelly, another colleague and I would go golfing and have a meal together every weekend. One particular afternoon, a week before Canada Day, we ended up talking about salvation. I said that if I worked hard and did good deeds that I would get into heaven. Kelly said God is the only one who gives salvation, and that salvation cannot be earned. She said that Jesus died on the cross for our sins, and that what Jesus did on the cross would not have been sufficient enough if I had to work for my salvation. I was shocked at this truth; for some reason I felt this sense of loneliness and unworthiness which I felt many times before in my life and I started to become emotional. She suggested that I pray for myself and for my salvation. That night, for the first time in a long time, I prayed for myself. I asked God, “Why do I feel alone and unworthy? I don’t understand. Can you make it clear?”
I couldn’t sleep that night and it didn’t help that I was in physical pain from helping my dad repair our fence. So, the next day at my church, I was feeling tired and sluggish, taking double the time to set up. During the sermon the pastor called me out: “Victor, are you getting this?” I immediately came out of my fatigue and gave a thumbs-up. What I heard him speak next pierced my heart. He talked about people who fell from grace: “They feel unworthy and they think that doing good deeds and works would qualify them in the eyes of God.” He prayed “Father, we thank you for you saw the broken down person. You saw the person who was crying this week because of feeling unworthy. It is not your good deeds that have made you worthy. It is what Jesus did on the cross that has qualified you. Perfect love cast out all fears so embrace the love of Christ right now.” That message was about me, for me!
That night God gave me a decision to make, whether to stay where I was or accept Jesus. It was one of the easiest decisions I ever made. I prayed to God and gave myself to him, confessing “I am all in!” God broke me, mind, body, and spirit that day, only to build me up again in His way. Subsequent events, such as the first word, “love”, planted in my mind at the encouragement of my pastor, the Bible reference, Psalm 139 and the token of appreciation from serving at VBS, all affirmed that God loved me and that I was worthy beyond measure. I realized it was His love that I needed to learn to receive, as I only learned to give love by acts of service for my little sister. I no longer felt alone or unworthy.
Later on, Kelly invited me to visit CoaH, and eventually I started attending it weekly, plugging myself into Life Group. At this point, I was attending three churches as I was so hungry for the Word and thirsty for living water. I had an abundance of faith but I lacked knowledge, so I signed up for Christianity Explored (CE) to learn more in depth about Jesus Christ. There I learned many important and foundational truths that would propel me into renewing my mind and to walk with Jesus Christ every day.
Currently, I strive to incorporate His teachings in every aspect of my life, to read and re-read one chapter of the Bible multiple times every day, and mediate on the Word to better understand God and Jesus Christ. I pray regularly before each meal and bedtime, but also pray throughout the day when I need to repent, or majority of the time, simply to praise and thank God and Jesus for the blessings that were given to me. My continual attendance in Life Group gave me a different perspective by my fellow brothers and sisters, in my journey to know God and Jesus even more deeply.
I wrote this personal testimony to not only demonstrate God’s plan and love for me, but also my decision on taking the next big step in my faith journey by getting confirmed and selecting one church body of which to become a member, City on a Hill.