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How My Life Changed When I Found God

Wanting to change his life for the better, a young man accepts an invitation from the Church Of Christ and discovers how his life can be with God in it.


My name is Michael Russel, I’m from Gaithersburg, Maryland, USA. Growing up I never had a father-figure in my life—outside my uncle and my grandfather. And my mom—she did her best that she could for us but it was still kind of taxing on her raising four kids by herself. It became pretty stressful for her and she fell kind of hard on alcohol. It made things unstable but I didn’t really know how to help her. 

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Stories of Faith

I was a really hyperactive kid. I was diagnosed with ADHD so I was always jumping around, fidgeting, messing with something, making noise. Because of that I kind of got picked on a lot and so I used to get in lots and lots of fights. 

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“Things Got Hectic”

It was hard for me to make friends so I ended up leaning on my twin sister. We shared everything and because of my disposition of being kind of  hyperactive, I was kind of annoying to other people. So the only way I could make friends was through her friends. 

Once high school came around, that’s when things kind of got—things got really hectic in our lives. I started skipping school and trying to get away from everyone that was like always making fun of me or I would end up skipping school with a few kids from a couple of [my] classes and they always went to parties in the middle of the day. They kind of made me—they kind of distracted me a lot from my life and so I fell pretty hard into that kind of scene. 

Trying to be accepted by a group of people that seemed like they were having a lot of fun, I tried really hard to get their approval, you know? Just trying to be accepted by others when you don’t like your own life. It was really stressful on everything, including my mom. So much to the point that she ended up kicking me out of the house when I was 17. So I ended up falling back on those people that I always partied with all the time for help and shelter. 

But it’s hard doing your own thing without a support system behind you because my dad wasn’t there and my mom had kicked me out, and my friends were all in and out of bad things so they didn’t really have any foundation. [When] I turned 18 I was able to apply for my first apartment. But even then I was trying to reach out and—reach out to the hands of my friends that were always partying. We would always game together and then they would invite some of their friends along. Two of the guys that came over, they happened to be known drug dealers—and needless to say, we got evicted from there because some of the badder folk, they were still doing drugs and everything. Breaking in and out of the apartment and still trying to have parties and stuff and it became very noisy and even though I was trying to settle things down, they just wouldn’t listen. Eventually, we had all gotten kicked out of [the apartment] and the police had came several times to noise complaints.

And so from that point, I started seeing all the people that refused to change because honestly it kind of disgusted me. So I ended up pulling me and then two of my other friends out of that situation because it just became really bad and I saw them get really delved into it. From that point we—our group started creating an inner circle where we’re like no one else but the people we can really trust now because things [were] getting really crazy with the people we’re hanging around. 

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“A Safe Place”

One of my friends that [is] in our inner circle, he was going through his college—he was finishing up his NCLEX for nursing, in his finals in class and one of his close classmates actually happened to be a member of the Church [Of Christ]. And so when we all went out for dinner after the [college] finals she ended up inviting me and a couple of the guys to a couple worship services. Of course, we said no at first. I mean, in the back of my mind I was kind of interested. She ended up inviting me to a couple Unity Games and activities. And then just seeing how involved everybody was with the Church and how close knit everyone was I basically fell in love with it right away because—to have a place where you’re just automatically accepted and everyone’s super friendly and there’s really no like… direct judgement on you. If felt good to finally be in a safe place, you know? 

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“Learning to Be A Christian”

I started out [as a] Baptist when I was [really] young. My godmother had us baptized as Baptists and then I went to Jehovah’s Witness, and my grandfather was a big Witness. I delved into [Catholicism] for a little bit because of a few friends but I never got baptized or stuck [with it] because—I don’t know, it was a lot of…a lot of things that felt wrong over there. 

So when I came to this Church, my first thought was “I’m not sure how it’s going to be.” Because I never really heard anything [about] it. So that first worship service I remember, was in Gaithersburg and we sat there and listened, and the way they were preaching was very, very sincere and everything—[the minister] mentioned several times they were taking [the answers] right out of the Bible and nothing was from his own opinion. Even though the minister had asked questions to the congregation, I’m looking around waiting for people to answer back or someone that will give their opinion and the minister [says] “No wait, we’ll ask the Bible for the answer.” Sure enough he found a scripture—a passage that would directly answer the question that was there. 

[Afterwards] the minister answered all of my questions there that I thought about. Even as I started coming up with more questions I asked, I asked him after the fact and he was able to answer them for me even the ones he wasn’t directly able to answer at that moment. Because in the past churches I’ve been to, they—[would always say] “Oh, don’t try to confuse things brother, just listen and enjoy the service.” Or “Just believe, just believe what you don’t see” kind of deal. People want answers to the things that are confusing them, and if you don’t answer them it’s just going to cause more issues. But for the fact that [in the Church Of Christ] these answers came right out of the Bible and not out of someone’s own opinion or life story was really impressive for me because I didn’t—I had never really read the Bible myself and I didn’t know it was that really direct with everything. 

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“Learning to Be A Christian”

After that [worship] service it really impressed me and I felt like I was welcome. Even with the brethren, they were very welcoming to me. With the minister, the teachings and the brethren alone, definitely secured [my decision] to continue coming back for more. And just learning to be a proper Christian definitely helped me to round out my life as well. 

The blessings that I’ve received are numerous. Too numerous to count because everything throughout my life has been like an up and down roller coaster. But just learning… learning to listen to the teachings of God, and learning about peace and guarding your heart definitely helped me to calm myself down. 

Since I became more and more active in the Church, I started seeing more and more opportunities—just doors opening up on their own. I consider this a blessing from God because where I would normally be distracted and not really absorbing all of the information—because when I was younger I had ADHD and everything—[God] has really found a way to keep me stable and steady so that I can be able to take in everything that I’m taught. Learning to sit still and listen to the minister teach helped me to definitely ground myself and keep myself stable so that I can focus on what I need to be doing.

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“The Cup Runneth Over”

I had to get my GED and I went through my certification programs and I was able to get that and secure a pretty sweet job that takes care of me. 

As far as family goes, unfortunately, my mom was taken from us but only like—just according to His plan—as soon as my mom was taken, the following year our dad finally stepped back into our life. As soon as one door closed the other one opened back up and now I have met my father and he looks like me only older and a little bit bigger, and no hair. But he’s a really good guy actually. It was just a lot of misunderstanding throughout childhood. So now I’m blessed to have him in my life as well and then his whole extended family. Plus my sisters all have kids and stuff too. 

Needless to say, I joined the Church [Of Christ] and  I’ve been a member since—and I think that was 2011. In April, I was baptized. Being part of the Kadiwa [youth group of unmarried brethren ages 18 and up] organization taught me that there’s more to life than just parties and having drunken revelry, and drunken fun here and there. Actually, there’s a lot of great people out there. Especially people that are grounded in their lives and have [a] good sense of direction. That gave me the realization that I don’t need to always be around certain people to have fun but there’s this whole group of people that know how to have fun and good clean fun too. Which is great because being part of that [bad] lifestyle for so long you get fed up with it and when you want something that’s more, I guess more reserved, more relaxed than something like a wild party all the time, the blessings just keep coming forth just like bigger and better family now.

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“Be Open Minded”

Be open minded and put yourself forward to try new things because if you’re so willing to try something that will—that’s temporary or that will pass away shortly—because I’ve tried the things that the world has to offer and they don’t ever last, they’re gone within the night. And so why continue to waste your time on these things? You should keep an open mind and definitely listen out for something that’s greater because the gift that God has to bring lasts forever and the feeling He gives you—you may take a pill that gives you euphoria for a couple [of] hours but the feelings that—the euphoria that faith and God brings to you is always. It’s like never-ending like—”the cup runneth over”, for real.


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How My Life Changed When I Found God