As a child, my mother used to push me to wake up early in the morning to get ready for church. I guess it was a good thing because I wouldn’t be standing here today if she hadn’t. I thank God for my parents, Samuel and Rose Gee. I’m from a small country in the west coast of Africa called Liberia. I came from Liberia when I was really young so I can’t recall many stories to share. My mother has always been passionate about her faith in Jesus Christ. She’d make sure I prayed and she almost always read Bible stories to me when I was younger, so I feel like I am an expert on Bible stories. She even made me memorize Bible verses from the Old and New Testament. Even though we went to church my mother and I never had enough, and many times we went without. When we came to America, all of a sudden we are blessed and it seemed like my dad had it all. He had a nice big house, and a good job working in the medical field. I’ve always been closer to my mother and I still am. As I got older she had a busy job and it seemed like there was no time for me anymore. My relationship with her really weakened when my sister Samantha was born. She got all the love and was so cute which meant she was the center of attention. I did get a little jealous.
Things slowly began to change. My mom stopped making me to go to church and I was becoming rude, mean and nasty towards others. When I did go, my mom’s church was simply boring to me. It was really long and they didn’t have a youth group. The pastor’s lessons were so deep and meant for the adults, so I got distracted easily and my head wasn’t big enough to comprehend everything. All I could do was endure the long and painful periods until it was time to go home.
A turning point in my life came two years ago. While driving to church I changed my mind and told my mother how I really felt about her church. She was very understanding and I asked her to drop me off here at the Community Center. The plan was for me to crash at the Teen Center until she got back from church. I didn’t realize how early it was and I walked into the Teen Center expecting to see some of my friends or at least one. Nobody was there so I sat alone and waited. Then I see the most joyful and coolest guy ever walking towards me. He said “Hi there, what’s your name?” and I replied, “Theo” and he told me his name was Luke and asked if I would like to join his youth group service. I didn’t see any other way to pass time until my mom got back from church so I joined them. To my surprise I saw a familiar face Cassidy Case, who was a good friend from school, so I sat by her. The lesson was good, but I can’t remember what it was about. At the end Luke said, “lets pray” and everybody clapped at the same time. I was startled because that was new to me, but it was also cool. I loved the atmosphere, the kids, and the environment. From that point I knew this was the church I had been searching for all my life. When I went home I told my parents about it and they agreed to let me start coming to NSL.
I was so interested in the church and eager for more information and I got a bonus when I found out about youth group on Wednesday nights. I was thinking “is Church on Sunday not enough that they have to add another day to the week for God?” I decided to check it out and everyone was really welcoming. It was on a night called “Variety Show,” and almost everybody performed including me. It was amazing how easily and quickly I fit in. I was welcomed and loved instantly. If I ever miss a Wednesday night it hurts so badly because I feel like it’s a place I want to be, and waiting another week seems like forever. In Youth Group when someone says, “you are loved,” they mean it. The youth leaders are fabulous because they teach us about “Jesus stuff,” helping us read the bible, comprehend it and praying together, while also having a good time. I am maturing and becoming the man I am expected to be. Saying “you are loved” really makes an impact on people because it surely did on me. Since I have been going to NSL my life has become brighter and Jesus is with me always. I am a better person, I no longer struggle with going to church, and I pray every night before I go to sleep. I even try to invite my friends to NSL because they might never know about Jesus unless I invite them, or in my case drag them. I talk to my buddies about God and they just don’t take it seriously and all they ever say is “it’s your belief so I don’t care.” But God hasn’t given up on them, Luke hasn’t given up on them, and neither will I. I just want to thank Luke and the Youth leaders and for making NSL a place for me.