ANDY'S STORY   

 When I was growing up my family and I were part of a church family in Arkansas. We went to church regularly, we went on trips with our church and were involved in many other church related functions.  In June of 1999, we moved to Texas, I was 17 years old. It was a very tough time for me. Everyone I grew up with for the past 17 years was now 2.5 hours away and I was starting a new school in the 11th grade. My family visited several churches but never found one that we continued to visit regularly or became a member of. While I was attending high school here in Texas, I did not make too many friends, but it was during this time that I met a very important friend. I became friends with a very special girl, which later became my wife.

    Over the next several years I finished high school, completed a trade course at Kilgore College, got married and began working in my trade. In January 2011, I began looking for a new job. I was about to go back to work for a company I worked for previously, when another company called me and asked me to come and visit with them. After visiting with them I decided it would be best to go to work for them. I had become distant from the Lord, I was not reading the Bible and was only going to church on and off on occasions.

    Once I started my new job I noticed the owner of this company was a very active Christian. I remember within the first few weeks of starting, he asked if I was a Christian, and without hesitation I replied yes sir. Subconsciously I knew I was not living my life as a Christian. The owner helps operate a mission group and goes on missions to Africa regularly. I always enjoy listening to him talk about his trips to Africa, and how he and others have helped share the Gospel. It was also during this time my wife and I had our second son. I wanted to set a better example for my two sons, so I began to clean up my words. Over the next year, I began to have a desire to read the Bible. Within a few years, I got offered a sales position then moved into a management position. It was at this time that life got very tough again.            

    The company went through several changes that I struggled with, and I began to bring work home with me. At this point, my family life was becoming affected from work, and I was miserable at work. I was working long hours and becoming distant from my family. I did not know where to turn, I began to pray every day asking our Heavenly Father for help, for patience, for understanding, and to make me more like Christ (He is the potter, I am the clay, for Him to mold me to become more like Christ). I began listening only to Christian music on the radio and began getting encouragement from the songs. The changes at work did not stop. As bad as things seemed to be, and as bad as I wanted to leave the company and look for employment elsewhere, every time I prayed I felt that I was right where I was supposed to be. Something within the next week would happen to confirm that. My attitude began to change, my character began to change, I continued to pray daily, and began to read the Bible daily. The changes in the company began to settle. Looking back on the past few years I feel God allowed me to go through those trials to draw me closer to Him, to change my character to become more like Christ, and to improve my patience and understanding.

    God continued to work in my life even as everything was beginning to settle down. However, I was still not going to church regularly. Our church then got a new Pastor, Paul Michael Vacca. I went to the very first service, and God spoke to me through his message in a way I had never experienced before. I went to church the next Sunday, and it was like Pastor Vacca had been following me around all week. Out of all the people in the church I felt he was preaching directly to me. I began going every Sunday for the next few weeks and had the same experience. I have now become a member of our church and attend regularly. Even now, if I miss a Sunday, I usually watch it online the following week.                            

    Then it was time to take another step. I am more of a shy person and do not like big crowds, but want to be more involved in the church. One Sunday morning two positions opened for a discipleship program the church was starting. I did not know much about it at the time, but was interested. Almost instantly I thought that was something I needed to get involved in. I would have probably thought about it and then checked into it, or possibly gotten too busy and never gotten involved. Before I could get out of the church, Pastor Vacca caught me and asked me if I would be interested in the discipleship program.  We talked about it a week later, and I joined the program.                                                 

    Looking back, it truly is amazing how God has been working in my life and continues to work in my life. Whether everything seems to be perfect, or if we are going through a tough trial, God is always working in our lives. My move to Texas at the time seemed very tough, but I know now even then God was working in my life. He moved our family to Texas for a reason. I may not understand the reason, but because we moved I met my loving and beautiful wife, who has always been there for me and has been a positive influence in my life as well as her family. The trials I went through at work seemed bad at the time, but on the other side God has placed many awesome people in my life that have been a great influence. God has also improved my character, patience, understanding and so much more!