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TJ Realized His Life Was Fake

02.01.16 | Stories of Life Change

    My life was fake

    Quite simply, my life was fake and full of selfishness. I have the classic story of being raised in a Christian home and attended church on a regular basis when I was young. I was fortunate enough to attend private Christian school from Pre-K all the way through high school, so I thought that I was saved by default. 

    I was extremely selfish in my faith and would only turn to God when it was convenient or when I really needed something. I could definitely put on a good show in front of people that knew I was a believer, but my faith was not the focus of my life. Despite my selfish lifestyle, God blessed me with an incredible wife, children, a home, and career. Unfortunately, I didn’t recognize this until I began to truly study and immerse myself in God’s word. It is hard to reflect back on my life and realize that I may have wasted so much time being selfish, but I find great comfort in knowing that God is working through me. It is up to me to allow God to be first in my life and I wouldn’t know how to do that without the support of my brothers and sisters at Village.

    Truley Understanding Forgiveness

    I first accepted Christ in the first grade, but truly understanding the forgiveness that was afforded to me took a long time to grasp. Throughout my college years, I definitely strayed away from my faith and was not focused on my relationship with Christ. Shortly after graduating from college, I was married and now responsible for leading a family.

    While my wife and I were going through the process of buying our first home, we were faced with a trial that tested our faithfulness in God’s plan for our family. One evening, I felt this incredible need to get out of bed and just read the Bible. I didn’t know what I was looking for or where I was headed, but I found myself in the book of James. My life was changed almost instantly as I read James 1:12. “Blessed in the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.” I knew that God was speaking to me and I had to make the decision to put my life in God’s hands. All of this happened shortly after we began attending Village, and I know God was strategic in his timing. I was able to be baptized at Village shortly thereafter, and I re-committed to living a life that is focused on Christ. 

    "this is where we are supposed to be.”

    My wife and I were looking to find a church to call home shortly after the birth of our second son. We had visited many churches in the area, but didn’t have a clear picture of where God wanted us to be. My wife grew up attending Village in Sugar Grove, and we knew some of the people who were involved at the Aurora campus. We were living in Aurora, just around the corner from the church, and decided to visit. We were immediately greeted and introduced to multiple people in the church, which was something that we didn’t experience at any of the other churches we had visited.

    Shortly after the service, Travis introduced himself and we spoke for a few minutes. As soon as we got into the car, I looked at my wife and said, “This is it, this is where we are supposed to be.” She shared the same feeling and we began to get involved right away. We became members after just a few months of attending, and I was fortunate enough to be baptized by Travis, which was my first real public proclamation of my faith. My wife became involved with the children’s nursery and is now one of the nursery coordinators. She encouraged me to serve at the nursery check-in desk as a way to meet new people and make connections. That experience opened up additional opportunities and has helped me and my family to make new friendships.

    I also have to give credit to a couple named Luke and Katie for hosting a small group that really changed my life. We became involved in the small group just last year, and it has been a great experience that has really grown my faith and created strong friendships. I am now fortunate enough to be leading a small group and I look forward to further growing my own and others relationship with Christ. 

    My family has a home at Village

    The most exciting thing about Village is seeing the growth and diversity of the church body. There is a true and genuine love that people have for each other here. I have never seen, or been a part of a church that genuinely cares and wants to be involved in the lives of people.  I love knowing that I have the support of my brothers and sisters and don’t have to be afraid to ask for help. My family has a home at Village, and I am so excited to see my family grow here.

    Something I'll never forget

    This is a very recent memory, but it’s definitely one that will stick with me for a long time. Shortly after the service a few weeks back, I was standing and gathering my things to get ready to leave. While exchanging pleasantries with people and I was preparing to leave, I was approached by a friend named Herman. We were just catching up and having a nice conversation and the topic of careers and work came up. I think Herman could tell that I was stressed and that work is something that consumes my life. We shared similar stories with working long hours and missing family time, and I began to pour out my feelings at that point. Herman just stopped, grabbed my hands, and started to pray for me. I have never, ever, had someone pray and encourage me like that. While Herman may not even know what that meant to me, that is something that I will always remember.

    That experience just reinforces that Village is where God wants my family to be. A short prayer after a church service with my brother in Christ is something that I will never forget.

    I was missing so much in my life

    I finally have a sense of joy in my life. Being able to open up my heart and receive encouragement from not just one, but so many people at Village has been incredible. I am no longer afraid to share and proclaim my faith because I know that I have a family in Christ that will support and help me grow in my faith.  Knowing that I am a part of a community that genuinely wants to see me and my family grow closer to God brings me true joy. Until attending Village and becoming involved, I didn’t realize that I was missing so much in my life.