Teresa shares her story of homelessness and how God changed her life.
Sanny tells us about how he has gotten to know Christ during his time in the U.S.
“Baseball was the first sport I ever played. I started playing at 4-years-old and continued through college. My identity was in sports,” said Matt Diekemper. “As I got older, the competition got harder. I wasn’t as successful and needed a new place to put my identity.”
At 11-years-old, Matt was exposed to pornography for the first time.
On the inside, I was a mess. I thought if anyone knew who I was, they would never accept me.
“At first it was just a curiosity. My curiosity slowly turned into an addiction. I had no idea the harmful effect it would have on my life,” he said. “On the outside, I was a good kid. I never got in trouble, had good grades, and worked hard at everything I did. But on the inside, I was a mess. I thought if anyone knew who I was, they would never accept me."
In high school, Matt had surgery on his shoulder and missed his senior season of baseball. “During that season of injury, I dove deep into pornography. Porn was like a joke. My friends and I openly talked about what we were consuming in those videos.”
His addiction to pornography continued to entangle him throughout high school. After graduation, his baseball career continued at Drury University.
“Immediately when I got to college, I dove headfirst into the party scene. I wanted to be accepted, and it’s what I thought I had to do to fit in. There were several weeks where I was drunk more nights than I was sober."
During his junior year at Drury, God began to draw him out of darkness.
I remember quickly deleting things off my phone because I was terrified that someone would find out.
“One day, the leader of the local Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) followed me on Twitter. I began going to FCA’s big group meetings and was invited to the Denver Christmas Conference.”
“On the way to the conference, I remember saying to myself, ‘Matt you’re going to have to clean up your act for a week.’ I knew my life was not the Christian life. I remember quickly deleting things off my phone because I was terrified that someone would find out about my addiction to pornography.”
During that weekend, Matt heard an unexpected testimony that changed his life.
“I was sitting in a ballroom with thousands of college students. A woman stood on stage with such courage and shared her testimony. To my surprise, the only difference between her testimony and my life was that she was a lady, and I was a young college guy,” he said.
“We had the same exact struggles; alcohol and pornography, and random hook ups. She talked about the grace of God and redemption. She described her encounter with God’s forgiveness, and it was something I wanted.”
God used her story to display His dominion over sin.
Matt soon came face-to-face with the same gracious, redeeming Savior that the stranger spoke about on stage.
“God spoke to my heart that weekend. It was as if He looked at me and said, ‘You’ve been trying so hard to fill a void. You’ve been trying all these things to fill that emptiness, and they can’t do it. But come to Me, I can.’”
“I sat on my bed that night and cried. I realized I couldn’t overcome this on my own,” he described.
A stranger boldly took the stage in front of thousands of students and shared an honest account of God’s redeeming work in her life. God used her story to display His dominion over sin.
“Over time, I encountered God’s forgiveness and began to walk in community. Because of Jesus, I have experienced freedom and victory over my sin.” What was once shame and secrecy has now become a testimony of God’s faithfulness.
“I wish I could remember the name of the woman who shared her testimony. If I could, I would send her a letter thanking her. That moment was a turning point for me,” said Matt. “I feel like God is now calling me to share my story.”
All throughout the Bible, we see that Jesus is the ultimate storyteller. During His ministry, He used stories to teach and display the power and glory of God. May we also glorify God by boldly sharing stories of His transformation in our lives.
Is God calling you to share your story?
“Let this be recorded for a generation to come, so that a people yet to be created may praise the Lord.”
“I didn’t keep the child,” she said while staring at her folded hands.
“When I was 14-years-old, I got into a rough crowd. I started sneaking out, drinking and trying drugs. I hit the party scene hard,” she explained.
“I’m okay. I’m all right. I’m alive.”
During freshman year, she met everyone at the usual house party. Except this time, things went differently. “Everyone left, and it was just me and another guy. He got infuriated over something, and he beat and raped me.”
That night, she walked home thinking, “I’m okay. I’m all right. I’m alive.”
She woke up with a bruised face, black eye and two broken ribs. Her injuries were obvious, but despite people’s efforts – nobody found out the truth of that night. The abusive relationship continued, and her life began a downward spiral to mask the pain.
When she arrived at Missouri State in 2014, she thought it would be the great escape from her past. “I continued to party and sleep with guys, while staying in my previous relationship. It was easier to sleep with a guy than talk about my emotions.”
“I felt worthless. Dirty. Unlovable.”
At 19-years-old, the party scene took a sudden halt when she found out she was pregnant. “This was my breaking point. I knew he didn’t want to have kids. I didn’t want him to be the father of my kids. I wasn’t ready for this.”
She told her best friend, and they promised to take it to the grave. This decision began to define her. “After the abortion, I didn’t think about it. It was shoved really deep in me. Nobody knew about it, so it was easy to hide.
Subconsciously, it was tearing me apart. I felt worthless. Dirty. Unlovable. I had no value,” she said.
The summer before her senior year of college, she ended up working with a youth group. “I was preaching one thing and practicing another. I saw the changes I needed to make, but I was at a point of no return.”
One night at youth camp, the youth pastor’s wife approached her. The pastor’s wife encouraged her to reach out to a Christian and share her life. God placed a friend from Hill City on her heart. When both of their names were called, out of 200 people, to work together at a sorority function – it was by no mistake.
“I started going to a city group before stepping foot into Hill City. I remember thinking – I’m not worthy enough to be here. My life is a disaster."
“The abortion was a crushing weight.”
They started the Gospel-Centered Life book, and it became a pivotal moment. “For a long time, I believed I was the only broken person. I began to see the depth of everyone’s problems. It just looked different in each person’s life.”
She eventually joined a redemption group and started sharing about her previous abuse. “For the first time, I could see a glimpse of hope. I wanted to place my hope in God, but my baggage was just too much.”
“The abortion was a crushing weight,” she said. “I was scared to share. There was a lady in our group who had a child, at the same age I had an abortion. I thought she was going to judge and hate me.”
After weeks, her secret fought its way to the light. She explained the abortion and braced for criticism and judgement. To her surprise, she was met with the exact opposite. “They responded with so much compassion and love. It was the first time light met an area of my life that was buried in dark shadows,” she said with tear-filled eyes. “This is God’s grace."
“God keeps putting people in my life to help carry my burdens.”
She explained the moment when Daniel read Romans 8:39, and replaced words with her life. He looked at her and said,
“Nor abortion, nor sexual abuse, nor drunkenness, nor shame, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
For several months, she’s experienced healing and community through Hill City. “I wanted to handle everything alone. But God keeps putting people in my life to help carry my burdens.”
The journey to pursue Christ isn’t always easy. “I’m working through things, I still struggle a lot. There are some things I haven’t prayed about yet,” she said. “But God has never stopped pursuing me.”
Her young life changed when she encountered the God who spoke of forgiveness and redemption. His grace carried her to the foot of the Cross, a place where every sin – including abortion – is forgiven.
“Our sin is nailed to the Cross.”
After years of carrying condemnation, she met a loving Father who said, “There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1).
Shame tells us to take our secrets to the grave, but the Gospel reveals that our sin is nailed to the Cross – the grave is already empty.
“For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
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The Kellys describe how the Refresh Marriage Conference changed their marriage.
Katelyn Wilson shares her unconventional, yet beautiful, experience of foster care and motherhood.
Matt Petry describes how -- despite growing up in the church, he completely missed the Gospel.