My name is Jacob Stephens, and I am a servant to the author of my story, the Lord Jesus Christ. This is a declaration of why my faith is in God. He proved his love for me by sending His son to die for my sins, so that I may have eternal life in the goodness of God’s presence. He returned to heaven so that his Holy Spirit may live in and work through me to further His kingdom. My spiritual growth has involved a series of realizations, such as the importance of being a part of the church, the importance of having a personal relationship with Christ, and finally the necessity of assigning ultimate value to worshiping God, which means serving him and loving him with all of my heart, my will, and my mind.
I didn’t understand the importance of being a part of the church community until my early high school days. One of my youth leaders taught a powerful lesson on why we need Jesus, not simply another Sunday school lesson on a Bible story. This was the kind of lesson I needed to grow.
Then I came to Hopewell Christian Fellowship and was led into understanding the value of personal relationship and experience with God. I was taught several spiritual disciplines including service, meditation, worship, and study of the word. It was with Fusion I had my first
personal experiences of God, I heard him speak to me while sitting in silence meditating, and felt his strength and endurance work through me on the Reading mission trip.
These brief experiences were certainly faith boosting, but they still weren’t enough to change my heart’s number one desire. My faith was merely mental, and deep down my heart wasn’t seeking after God. I heard all around me having grown up in the church that devoting my life first to God would give me the best life, but it would take more than hearing about it to change me. Before I gave my life to God I fell many times in my own sin. I pursued the fleshly desires of my unchanged heart. I chased after girls when I should have been spending time in the word. Later on I tried drugs, my friends thought it was cool, and eventually I started seeking truth out in the twisted reality of psychedelics. All I found in pursuing these things was empty success, damage to myself, and hurt people around me. I thought that the temptations of worldly things somehow would give me happiness, meaning. I didn’t understand that it was only when I pursued God’s righteousness first that I would be blessed with everything I sought out in the world: happiness, content, mission.
God worked through Christians around me to lead me to his light. A brother in Christ, out of love told my parents of my trying LSD, as much as it turned my life upside down at that time, I can’t thank him enough now. A couple months later a sister in Christ challenged me to a higher standard of not doing drugs for the sake of having a better relationship with my parents because then I wouldn’t have to lie to them about anything. The Lord repeatedly says throughout the Bible to honor your parents and you will be blessed. He certainly has blessed me since I’ve been honest with them. Living to this higher standard gave me a taste of the deep joy God gives a person when they seek him as their number one priority. As I felt this new feeling living for God was giving me, I desired to know God more. For the first time I began seeking God out on my own, wondering who the author of my story is. I began listening to the Bible on audiotape as often as I could when at work. I would go through entire books of the Bible in a day, and soon one of my youth leaders showed me various pastors’ sermons.
I now have a mission greater than myself, a cause worth dying for. Having that sort of purpose gives me the sort of cause I was designed to fight for. My faith is wholeheartedly in God, because he carried me out of my old life of sin by showing me the well of water from which I will never grow thirsty. God is leading me into the joyous, righteous life he wants me to live for him.