Matt Coker | @MatthewSCoker
My name is Matt Coker and I’m a grateful believer in Jesus Christ who struggles with pornography, overeating, depression, and co-dependency.
I’ve given my testimony a quite a few times in the past few years, and I’ve always focused a lot on what God has saved me from. But now that I’ve got some significant clean time under my belt, I plan on also sharing what God has done with me since. But first, let me tell you how I got here.
Usually, when I give my testimony in person, it's when I'm standing in Celebrate Recovery meeting. And not many people tend to come to CR because they have a problem with pornography. But statistically, 80% of the men and 50% of the women have viewed pornography in the last month and 50% of the men and 20% of the women look at it habitually, addictively. In fact, that's true of ALL men and women.
So, the odds that you reading this right now have a problem with pornography are high.
I'm about to say something that might shock you, but I beg you to read until the end. Don't jump ship when I say this, because it's hard for me to admit, but a necessary part of my story: I’m a registered sex offender. And when someone wears that label, people immediately assume you have done the worst, most disgusting, perverted, devious things a human being can do and you are endangering them and their children just by existing.
So, what did I do to get put on this list?
Jeff Weddle | @anti_itcher
“Hey, look at the cross-eyed monkey!” yelled the girl in front of me in the lunch line. Everyone turned to look.
Yup. I’m cross eyed. The official word for my eye problem is Juvenile Retinoschisis. I’m legally blind. I can’t drive. I can’t recognize faces well. I am not, however, a monkey.
Kids love to point out faults in others. I had an obvious fault they loved to pick on. I had a few good friends, but my larger experience with people is that they were all creepy jerks.
I tried as often as possible to melt into the background. If I don’t get noticed, I won’t get picked on. I kept my mouth shut. I also observed people so I could find their faults in case I needed to rip on them to defend myself.
By the time I was in junior high, I had sarcasm and ridicule down to a science. They became my most redeeming qualities. Friends would sit next to me just to hear my hilarious diatribes against teachers or other kids. I was a jerk, but a funny one.
Joseph Brazil | @blackdog575
We’ve all heard of them. Chances are you’ve seen them on Sunday morning, or your kids go to school with one or two. They’re just different enough from others their age, yet they’re difficult to single out of a group. Strangely, they’re the only classification of today’s youth commonly recognized by an acronym: P. K.
They’re the behind-the-scenes, Sunday morning utility players, who always seem to get those inglorious, but always essential, tasks, such as moving tables in the fellowship hall or spot-checking the bathroom trashcans before Sunday School.
I’m one of these P. K.’s., being born to parents who willingly entered the front lines of ministry. I owe them a great deal of thanks for understanding the need to raise up children to follow after Christ personally, not just by example or because it’s what they were being paid to do.
Ellen Martin | @ellenmartin03
Because the ministry of The Back Row focuses on healing, I will tell my story of healing. I cannot summarize everything Jesus has done for me. He is continually transforming my life. I am so incredibly grateful for and humbled by all He has done and continues to do.
I’m currently 23 years old and completing my Masters of Education degree. I grew up in a Christian home. I have two younger brothers – aged 21 and 17. I accepted Christ when I was seven years old at a Christmas Eve service at my church. I did not know how much that small prayer would affect my life. In fact, I still have lots to learn. I was baptized at age ten at my grandparent’s cottage. Life has been an incredible and crazy journey ever since.
I attended a Baptist church from when I was six until I was twelve years old. After a series of events, my family was asked to leave the church. At that time, I realized I had a decision to make. I could either stand up for Jesus for the rest of my life, or succumb to the devil’s wishes and turn from the church.
Throughout my teenage years I struggled with honouring my parents. We were close during my childhood, but I struggled with trusting and listening to them once I reached my mid-teenage years. Emotionally separating myself from my parents left me feeling unloved and unwanted. As a result, I ended up seeking love from the wrong people.
Brian McKay | @RealBrianMcKay
When I started thinking about the overarching theme of my life as a Christian, it became readily apparent what I should write about.
Doubt. Perfectionism. Overthinking.
These are all issues that I deal with on a daily basis. It sounds like a lot, but they're all connected.
It really started when I became a Christian at age 10. One of the things I've always dealt with is a kind of obsessive personality. When I was young, for example, I loved Pokémon. I loved learning about the U.S. presidents. I wanted to know everything I could about certain topics. As a Christian, it kind of continued. I wanted to please God more than anything. If I did something I considered sinful, I asked forgiveness immediately. The problem was, I convinced myself that pretty much everything I did was sinful (which, I realize now, it wasn't). I felt that if I sinned, God was just kind of standing there, slowly getting ready to walk away unless I repented. I just never wanted to do anything that dishonored God. Like, I understood that I was saved by faith, but I still had this underlying feeling that if I didn't repent immediately, I wouldn't be right with God enough to get to Heaven.
Marty Field | @MartyMooseField
“It was never easy for me. I was born a poor black child.” Ok, so maybe I can’t steal the opening line from the movie "The Jerk", but I will say my story definitely has its moments. The more I think about it, the more I seem to remember ways in which my life could have been so different.
I was raised in a moderately strong Christian home, where I was taken to church pretty much every time the doors were open. Mom and dad both sang in the choir, played in a Gospel band, and taught Sunday School for as long as I could recall.
My story spells out like many. I was “saved” at the age of eight, mainly because Hell/my preacher scared me and my best friend went down front the week before.
My parents made sure that I didn’t miss any choir musicals, VBS weeks, or any other special children’s function that our good old Southern Baptist Church provided. Even into my teenage years, I was the pinnacle of what the All-American church kid looked like.
You see, by this point, I had already overcome so much. I was dropped on my head as a baby. Yea, I know. That’s what people always joke about. “What’s the deal? Were you dropped on your head or something?” Yes, yes I was. I would share more about that, but I can’t remember. Man, I’m hilarious.
Janice Eicholtz | @JanJanMom
I don't remember a time in my life when I did not know Jesus. I have always felt like He was my best friend: an attached, invisible friend. So, when I was doing well, He was right there, smiling proudly. When I was not doing the right things though, He was so sad and disappointed. Every Sunday of my childhood, when the altar call came, it was all I could do to keep from going forward. From "Pass Me Not" to "Just As I Am", I was miserable. Finally, at age eleven, I broke. I answered the call. I became a REAL believer and a few months later, I was baptized. It was a wonderful feeling, until the guilt returned. I was constantly disappointed with the fact that I simply could not be good. I was becoming a young woman and I had a crude sense of humor. I just could not make all the right decisions. It was so daunting. Each Sunday came with an extra dose of guilt as those invitation songs were a constant reminder of my inadequacies.
Eventually, my strong conviction that I would never be 'good enough' won out and I began to live a life of duplicity. I still tried really hard to be a good person, but I didn't really hold back too much from 'having fun'. I've listened to stories of people who never went to church until they were grown, heard the Gospel, became a Christian, and their whole world changed. When compared to my life of sinful rebellion, as a CHRISTIAN, it makes me feel pretty awful. It shouldn't, "For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him." (John 3:17)
Even today, I struggle with thinking that I can never measure up. And honestly, I can't. "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus." (Romans 3:23-24)
The real, brutally honest testimonies to God's redeeming power from people on The Back Row.