By Chris Garrett
I’ve told my story many times over the years. Sadly, I’ve found it a common one. A young woman marries her high school sweetheart, has a baby boy, and one year later, the father doesn’t want to be married anymore and leaves. Struggling with the aftermath, mom and child live in poverty, experience years of physical and sexual abuse during a second marriage, and that boy grows up living a life full of poor choices born out of a deep struggle with self-worth.
It took a brush with death to get my attention. I did not grow up in a Christian home. Church for my mom was a distant and irrelevant memory of a few visits years earlier. As an adult she never went back, and so I never went to church either. Like so many people today, I stumbled into adulthood searching for meaning in material things, experiences, and relationships. When none of that worked, I searched for it at the bottom of a bottle.
In 1999, at age 28, I had a heart attack. Sitting in the hospital, facing the realization I could have died, I discovered something I never knew. I wanted to live. And that is when my life changed forever. Now I was ready to listen to God.
I heard an ad on the radio for Forefront Church in Virginia Beach and decided to attend. It was there I heard Jesus’ story of love and grace. I surrendered my life in November 1999, and the story still being written today is better than I could have imagined. I am married to a wonderful woman, have two awesome daughters, and I am a pastor.
I am so grateful for what God did and does for me, and every chance I get, I tell anyone who will listen that God wants to write a better story in their life. Let him.
Chris Garrett, formerly on staff at The Creek in Indianapolis, Indiana, and Venture Christian Church in Richmond, Virginia, now resides in Virginia Beach.