James Daman | Guest Writer
My name is James and I’m a grateful believer in Jesus Christ who has overcome sexual sin and anger.
The person I am today is not the same person that I was eight years ago when I walked through the doors of Celebrate Recovery. I was a broken man. I was living a lie, I had no idea what God’s path was for me, and I didn’t know the truth about who I was. I didn’t know what it meant to truly have a relationship with someone, especially Christ. This is the story about who I was and who I am now.
I grew up in the Midwest, the son of a pastor and for many years, I felt like I couldn’t be honest. Even as a child, I felt like my behavior was constantly monitored and that I had to mask who I truly was. Everyone in my church knew me as the Pastor’s kid, so if I misbehaved, it was immediately noted and reported back to my Dad, who was the pastor. This happened so often, that my Mom took over my Sunday school class. I guess she was tired of hearing about my behavior and needed to manage it constantly. I also had a severe speech impediment as a child; it was so bad that I couldn’t even say my name. When I would stutter at home, my little brother would hold my throat just so I could talk, which for some reason, always helped.
I was relentlessly bullied as a child due to my speech impediment and the fact that my family didn’t have a lot of money. This made school brutal, I couldn’t find much solace at home because my parents divorced when I was 9 and told me that I had to choose which parent I would live with. I chose my Dad, but he worked a lot and wasn’t home much, so when I brought home good grades, no one was there, except the TV and video games. The bullying and loneliness I felt as a child made me feel like I was lost in a black box, where I couldn’t find the exit. I knew I needed to get out, but couldn’t. The divorce made things very difficult at home.
My life at this point was tough, I had family members in my life that would constantly curse at me say things like “I wished you were never born.” However, God had his eye on me because he put someone else in my life.
I had weekly appointments with my speech therapist and counselor. God put her in my life to show me what unconditional love meant! I took solace in the time we spent together. She helped me gain confidence in myself and overcome my stutter. I got more involved in my church and went to a church camp for most of the summer. At summer camp, I made so many friends and I wasn’t bullied at all; I felt transformed in this environment and accepted Christ into my heart in middle school. I was heartbroken when I had to move on to my last year of middle school without the support of my speech therapist due to changes in the school district. Starting school again, meant summer camp was over and I soon lost touch with the Christian friends I met.
I had a few friends my last year of middle school but I was still bullied constantly. I spent most of time outside of school playing video games and most of my time in school planning how I was going to beat them. During my transition from middle school to high school, I was introduced to the “cool kids” and craved their attention and because I spent so much time with them, we became like a family. I felt accepted and not threatened by my peers for the first time besides church camp. I noticed that they paid the most attention to me when I emulated everything they did, including things I’m not happy about. I got even more attention from them when I took things to the extreme and went even further than they did. Looking back on this period of my life, I realized these “friends” really took advantage of me. I never got back what I gave them.
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?
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.
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.
Megan Oaks | @MeganCOaks
Hi, my name is Megan, a strong believer in Jesus Christ who struggles with trust, alongside many other character defects.
Every Thursday night, I have the honor to serve with a wonderful team of people in my home church through Celebrate Recovery - a ministry I had never heard of until moving to Clovis, and one that I thought “was not for me”. After all, I don’t have a drug or alcohol addiction, I’ve never served “real time” behind bars (although I have been handcuffed and held for a few hours, but that is another story), and I was not court mandated to attend. Why did I need to be there? What could I possibly receive from a ministry geared toward those hurting from addiction? That was my mindset until 7 months ago, when my entire world was flipped upside down and all I thought I knew, was quickly shattering to the ground in the fiercest way imaginable.
Aaron Jeffries | @arjeffries1
Let’s talk about the birds and bees and the flowers and the trees and the thing called love.
Ok, now that I have your attention, I’m not really here to embarrass you. I do however want to give a testimony on how I saved myself for marriage.
It is no secret that we live in a sex driven culture. You can’t walk through the mall without sexual images jumping out at you. It has become so bad in this society that children know more about sex, and pregnancy than the average adult. Not to mention Hollywood glorifying abuse with movies like “Fifty Shades of Grey”.
Before we dive in any further, I will say I’m not here to bash anyone or make you feel like a failure. I want to let you know that Jesus loves you and can give you more than what any other person can give you.
Growing up, I didn’t date much. In fact, I stayed home more than went outside. I knew that I wanted to be married and to find the perfect woman - a woman who was pure in heart, loved God more than the air she breathed and would be a great mother to my future children.
The real, brutally honest testimonies to God's redeeming power from people on The Back Row.