Sunday, December 13, 2009

My Story

At eighteen years of age, I was finishing my senior year at high school, while looking ahead to the future. I still had not decided on which college to attend, and I felt disheveled due to the numerous decisions I had to make. What school should I go to? What should my major be? In addition to these questions, I had a nagging ache inside of me. Raised Greek Orthodox, I was familiar with Christ and the Scriptures – at least I thought I knew God. There was developing within me a hunger to find out if there might be something more to my faith. I turned to the church for answers and began to check out books on spirituality from my parish's library. These books only confused me. They were ridden with lessons that encouraged extreme self discipline and the practice of good works to gain God's approval.

I attended church faithfully, and viewed the Lord as a powerful Judge, who I could never please. One of the colleges that interested me was Wheaton College, and I decided to attend a three-day “Get Acquainted Weekend” to learn more about the school. I stayed in a dorm along with two students and attended classes to learn about the school. One of the events on the agenda for me was to attend a free concert. The performer was Leon Patillo, who was a former singer with the band Santana. Being rather musical myself (I play the guitar and sing), I was interested to experience this.

The concert was nothing like what I expected. My understanding of Christian music was limited to ancient Byzantine chanting and Christmas Carols. Leon's concert was contemporary, professionally done, as well as profoundly inspirational. He took time to share his story of how he embraced Christianity. He spoke of Jesus so freely. It was as if Christ was His closest Friend. He shared the simple truth of the gospel. I learned in my heart that knowing God was not a matter of what I do, but of what Jesus had already done for me.

Jesus' death on the cross paid the price for my sins to be forgiven and for me to receive the free gift of salvation. When I was younger, I attended a summer camp that was also put on by Wheaton College. A counselor shared the gospel message to me then, but I was not ready to make a commitment to Christ. I was afraid. As Leon Patillo shared, I remembered that day at summer camp. I became gripped with the reality of my own sin and my need to accept the Lord's forgiveness. I realized that my experience with Christianity had been rooted in ritual, but God desired for me to have a relationship with Him.

At the end of the concert, an invitation was given to come forward and accept Christ's free gift. I was hesitant, but a man asked me if I wanted to go forward. I slowly made my way towards the foot of the stage. Then I prayed along with others to receive Christ into my life and heart.

I began to see changes in my life. I found my fears being replaced by God's love, my confusion with confidence, and my sense of distance from God with a rich intimacy with my Heavenly Father.

If you haven't embraced Christ in this way, know that you can – even today. The Scripture says,”For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. “ (Ephesians 2:8-9) I learned that night at a concert that all my striving was futile. All Jesus wanted me to do was to surrender and receive His free gift of salvation. Why don't you do the same, if you haven't already. Just pray a prayer like the one below.

Dear God,

I realize my need for you. I am a sinner and You are holy. Thank you Lord for sending Jesus to die for me to pay for my sins and forgive me. Jesus, I ask you to forgive me of the things I've done that have hurt you. I accept your sacrifice on the cross as payment for my own sin. I receive your free gift of salvation. Help me to know You as You really are. I choose to follow You. In Jesus Name I pray, Amen.

If you have prayed this prayer for the first time or if you have rededicated your life to Christ, let me say congratulations! The Lord is singing over you with joy and the angels are rejoicing. I encourage you to tell somebody of your decision. You may email me at, I would love to support you in your new walk with Jesus.

It's important that you begin reading the Bible - it is like food for your spiritual life. Read a little each day. I encourage you to start with the book of John, which is found in the New Testament.
Also, take time to pray each day. Give God thanks, tell Him Your frustrations, and surrender to Him your worries. Then be sure to pray for others. Also, begin to tell others about Christ – you will find great joy in doing this.

Finally, attend church regularly. Go to a place where the Bible is preached without apology in a way that you can understand it. Look for a place where the people truly love God and each other, but remember there is no perfect church.

Your journey with Jesus has just begun. Know that one day you will see Him face to face. Until then, let's follow after the One, who loved us first.

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