A life of sadness changed to joy through Christ.
It was 6:45am and I was parked on the smallest street in the City of Albany, calling his house and knocking on the apartment door with no response. The thoughts of, “did I waste my time, effort, and money for nothing,” “is he going to come or was it just all talk?” ran through my head. It was the morning we were supposed to leave for Heatwave, our high school conference in Wildwood, NJ. It was the first event we were able to do since COVID-19 hit the world. I was waiting outside of Eric’s house, having confirmed with him the night before that he was coming, but there was no response that morning. Finally, I get a “who is it” at the door. I respond with “Ms. Amanda, here to pick up Eric.” About ten minutes later, a kid who has grown about 2 feet and is two years older than the last time we were able to hold an event, emerges from the house with two reusable bags and gets into the van.
There would be a few more obstacles that we must overcome to finally make it on the bus to head down to Wildwood. While there, it was a week full of fun and activities, from the boardwalk, to basketball, escape rooms to arcades and rides, but this wasn’t the real reason for our trip. This trip was meant to build relationships with our youth, to introduce them to Christ and foster an authentic Christ-sharing relationship with them, with the hope of them making a commitment to Christ. However, every time I looked over at Eric during the general sessions, I would see his head looking down, he wasn’t engaging in the music or the speaker. Maybe this was a wasted trip?
Then on day two I started to see him mouthing the words to the songs. And on the third night, the speaker held an alter call for those who want to take the step to accept Christ. As I sat their watching kids go up, I just prayed that God would touch the hearts of Albany City Life kids. As I was praying this prayer, I looked up and saw Eric walking towards the front. Tears filled my eyes. Maybe he was listening to what was being said. As I walked up and stood behind him, I saw tears streaming down his face. He turned around and I asked him, “why did you come forward tonight?” He responded with, “I don’t want to be broken anymore.” The tears of sadness and joy just started to flow. I looked at this young man, who in the past few years, got to see his dad be released from prison and then die just a few months later, who’s school and programming got shut down due to COVID-19 and was stuck in his house all the time alone and disconnected and I saw the loneliness, sadness and hurt just fall to the wayside and the joy of Christ shine through his tears. The smile that replaced the sadness just beamed with joy. I saw Christ change this young man’s life; he wasn’t broken anymore.
*Names have been changed