My life has had its up and down experiences, from on my way to college and playing professional soccer to getting kicked out of school and being addicted to partying, girls, and drugs. But what I’ve learned is that God is always there with you even when you think he’s not. I can stand here confidently and tell you that God has transformed me and freed me from my past so that I can share his hope with you.
Life started out pretty simple. I grew up in a Christian home and actually remember the day that I accepted God into my life. It was May 5th, 1994. I was driving with my dad and I asked him if God loved me because I remember hearing that song “Jesus loves me this I know” but I was 5 years old and at the time and I really didn’t know, so my dad and I prayed on the way to Chuck E. Cheese. Growing up, my relationship with God was just a “go with the flow” sort of relationship. I never really read the Bible, paid attention or participated at church. Unless there was ice cream—then I was in! But I never fully grasped God’s love for me, and I took it all for granted. On the outside, I was an outgoing, fun, energetic kid, but what some people didn't realized was the fear, pain, and struggles I grew up with.
My dad used to be a police officer. Sometimes he would take me out of school early and take me down to the station and I thought it was the coolest thing on earth until I learned the violence that my dad faced on the job. My dad had a knife pulled on him and had to fight drunks and gang members. From then on, I didn't think that my dad had the coolest job anymore, because how cool is your dad’s job when one day he doesn't come home? I struggled with that fear every day. I couldn't sleep, I was sad most of time, and I struggled in school. The only good that came out of it this was it strengthened my faith in God. It was hard for me to accept that my dad was risking his life out there, but I tried to trust that God would bring my dad home every night and he did, and I thanked him every day for that.
The day my dad retired was the one of greatest days of my life. He ended up getting a job here at Saddleback Church and is now the Chief of Staff here. I thought life was going to be a smooth ride after that, but I was wrong. In high school, people saw me as the pastor’s kid who never did anything wrong, and to be honest, I definitely looked that way. I didn't party, do drugs, or talk to girls all that much, mainly because I thought girls didn’t like me or think I was good looking, and I was very unsocial. I just went to school and played soccer and that was it. I had the opportunity to play pro at 16, but decided to finish school. During this time I kind of replaced God with soccer. Soccer was my church. It didn’t matter what happened that day, I could just go out to the field and kick a soccer ball and that was where I found my value. I figured if God wasn’t going to get me friends or girls then I’d control my own life, and if I could be the best soccer player at school then maybe people might think I’m cool, so I trained all day, every day.
At the end of junior year I met a girl and long story short I fell for her and she dumped me…she dump me hard. At this time I was so angry with God, asking why he would do this to me and I lost it, blamed God for everything and felt completely hopeless. I felt like I was being punished, so why would I believe in a God who punishes? I was in so much pain, so to seek escape I started partying, doing drugs, and using girls for my own pleasure and treated them terribly. In the last years of high school, I became a drunken drug-addict womanizer, and left God out of the picture.
After high school, I started my first year at Azusa Pacific University on a full soccer scholarship, so a lot of expectations were put on me. I still really didn’t want anything to do with God. The ironic thing though was I was going to a private Christian school. My first year at college was a struggle. I was always alone and hated being there, so I ended up getting back into drugs and stopped going to class and at the end of the semester I got kicked out. I thought life was over and I had let everyone down. So I started drinking to try to kill the pain and depression I was going through and I did that for 3 years, and for about 3 years of my life I don't even remember what happened.
But there is one day that I remember and I will remember for the rest of my life, and it was the day my little sister took me to Chili’s. My little sister and I are very close. She’s my little guardian angel as I like to call her. As we’re eating, she dropped a bomb on me and said our parents had asked her if I was doing drugs. My heart just stopped. I asked what she told them and she said she didn’t know. The thing is, she did know. She told me she was scared that she might lose me forever and she started crying. When someone that close to you tells you that they’re scared for your life and that you might die because of your own actions, it hits you harder than anything you can imagine. At that moment, I knew I needed to change. The love my sister had for me in that conversation reminded me of God’s love for me. That day I prayed and prayed for God to help me change my life, to help save my life not just for me but for my family who care so much about me. About 2 weeks later, I got a call from the soccer coach at Cal Baptist University, and he said "Hey Jordan, just wanted to catch up with you and see what your plans are. For some reason, God has really put you on my heart lately, so I thought I just give you a call." Right then I started crying and told him everything. Once again God answered my prayers. The next month I was back in college, back with playing soccer, and with a restored faith in Christ. It was the greatest feeling in the world and I realized how much I missed God in my life and how much I need him, because without him I’m nothing.
Now I’m doing an internship here at Saddleback Church working with my dad, and I thank God every single day for keeping me alive and keeping me safe from the things in life I value the most but also took for granted. All I have to say is don't give up. God will show you the door and with him all things are possible and if there one thing I hope you guys learn from this it is to never lose sight of God, because he loves you and he’ll never stop loving you.