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Zak Had a Rough Childhood, but Found True Belonging

03.01.16 | Stories of Life Change

    My mom had me when she was 18, and we were in and out of my grandparents house while I was in elementary school. Later, my mom got a new job and met the man who would soon become my step dad. We moved into his condo in Elgin. I thought it would be kind of fun living somewhere different, but those were 2 very long years because I became lonely and depressed.

    IT STARTED TO GET WORSE

    My mom then found out she was pregnant with Aiden, my younger brother. We moved to Elburn the week before 7th grade started. I started to make a lot more friends, or really, my first friends at that point. After my mom and my stepdad got married, he got more aggressive. I guess he must have felt more security in the relationship or something. It abuse was mostly verbal at that point. I played a lot of video games as an escape.  I also started getting into illegal drugs. During my seventh grade year, the abuse worsened. They took a break and he moved back into the condo, and we visited on the weekends.

    My mom started to see a pattern that when we would visit for the day, he would get really angry in the evenings. He later started to come visit us a lot more at our house in Elburn, and that's when he started to get more physical. He would push and shove me around. I started to try to step up a little bit. Being a kid I thought I could do whatever I wanted, trying to be Superman or something. They weren’t quite fist fights, but the pushing and shoving worsened, and my step dad even sexually abused me a few times, so my mom got an order of protection around 8th grade.

    SHE WANTED US TO HAVE A FOUNDATION

    One day, my mom brought up church after talking about it with some coworkers. She decided to find a local church for me because she didn't participate in a church when she was young, but she wanted me to have that foundation. She started sending me to the weekly Wednesday night youth group at Village. One of the summer trips they talked about was a camp called Lake Ann. I had never been to camp, so I thought it would be exciting.

    WHAT I WAS DOING WASN'T WORKING

    At camp, they talked about the Gospel, but I wasn't sure what that was and had so many questions. I was kind of confused, so I sat down with my counselor, and he laid it out for me. The day before we left is when I trusted Christ. I realized I wasn't getting anywhere in life, and that whatever I was doing was not working. I just kept going back to patterns of sin and I felt the same way. I realized that Jesus died for all my sin, and the bad things I do and it really hit me. I had done a lot of garbage, and I couldn't get out of it on my own. He forgave all the things I’d done wrong: past, present, and future. I didn't see a need for the drugs I’d gotten into, so that stopped, and I started reading my Bible a lot and felt a great abundance of joy from that.

    Now, I serve every Wednesday with the worship team, and that's pretty exciting. I get to worship and help in the sound booth. I like how everyone gets excited during the worship time. I like coming on Sunday mornings and hearing the messages. They're really good and they’ve challenged me a lot in my thinking.

    HOW DISCIPLESHIP LOOKS

    I started meeting with a friend named Nick about a year ago. We just met for a few hours on Monday nights and he walked me through the basics of the faith. I didn't really understand the basics of Christianity, so we started going through the Gospel of Mark. I didn’t realize it at first, but that relationship was called discipleship. It made me realize I have to get into my Bible a lot more because my relationship with Christ was not as stable as I had thought.

    Recently, I've been meeting with the Student Ministries Director, Mario Arindaeng. Mario had brought baptism up and asked me if I'd been baptized, but I hadn’t. I feel like I have been growing a lot and Christians are called to be baptized, so I actually got baptized a few weeks ago, so that was pretty big. It was really encouraging to see how many people were there to support me. Mario and I meet on Fridays, and he’s really challenged me to live a gospel-centered life. He encouraged me to be a leader in the youth group, pray for everybody, and work on finding someone I can disciple to continue the discipleship cycle.