I grew up in a home where both of my parents professed their belief that Jesus Christ is their personal savior. From the time I was a young child, I attended an Episcopal church with my parents every Sunday. I was always told that I was a “good kid.” I didn’t get into the kind of trouble that others around me did. I continued attending church each week through my teenage years and up until the time of college. I looked the part of a Christian and talked the part of a Christian. I believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, but I would spend little time during the week outside of church thinking about God.
When I wasn’t around people in my church, I would have a more worldly approach to how I interacted with people. My friends at high school probably didn’t really know I was a Christian. I would go to parties where there was alcohol, I used foul language on a daily basis, and I started hanging out in places that weren’t the best. I had become very adept at changing my outward appearance to suit the particular situation.
While attending the University of Pittsburgh, I met my future wife, Jill. She and I continued dating throughout college until we graduated. At school I was partying, drinking, and participating in a lot of worldly endeavors. The partying continued even as I moved back to the Philadelphia area and began my career.
Jill and I had become very serious throughout the years and had plans of getting married after we graduated. Finally, three years after graduation from college, we were married. We had lived a very worldly life. Our thoughts were filled with trying to gain material wealth in order to provide a good living for a family that we planned on having in the future. However, we were hanging out with the wrong crowd, going to clubs on the weekend and drinking more heavily. We even had times where we would go out separately for a guys’ or girls’ night out. This was a recipe for disaster in our marriage.
At this point we had our first child, Devon. Jill and I were going through a very tough time in our marriage due to wrong choices we had made. I realized that I had strayed far from the Lord and found that past sins were now coming back to haunt me with a vengeance. The trust that we had in our marriage was almost broken beyond repair. We were separated for a short time and headed for divorce. The funny thing is that before everything came to a head, Jill and I knew that something was very wrong in our marriage. We both felt the need to begin looking for and attending a church on a regular basis.
God was leading us during these tough times. The Lord finally led us to Valley Forge Baptist. It was during a sermon that Pastor Wendal was preaching when he presented salvation through the Lord Jesus Christ that I raised my hand at the invitation. I knew I didn’t want to continue down the road I was on, and I remember feeling so broken and unworthy, almost to the point of despair. Pastor Wendal spoke of knowing where a person would spend eternity and that by trusting in Jesus Christ and asking Him to be your personal savior, you could go to heaven. I knew the path I was on before I accepted Christ that day was surely leading to eternal separation from God.
But as always, God had a plan. Jill accepted Christ shortly after I did. We then began counseling at the church with Pastor Eifert. He took the time to show us, from the Bible, how a marriage truly is supposed to function, how a man and wife and children are to function with God as the center and focus of their lives. Looking back on our lives thus far, I believe that even with all of the sins we committed, God never turned His back on us and led us to want to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. You see, only God can make so much of the good things of life from all of the pain I created from my sins.
I cannot begin to express how much of a difference Jesus has made in our lives. There was a point where we weren’t even sure if our marriage would make it another month. Now we have, with God’s help, put our marriage back together…stronger than it was before. Is it perfect? I will be the first to tell you, “No it is not.” However, we have seen God do amazing things in not only our lives but the lives of our children. Yes, after all of that pain God has even blessed us with another child, Rylan. How remarkable is God that He put back together something we thought was completely broken beyond repair. To God be the glory!
By Ryan Fitzpatrick
Church Member | Valley Forge Baptist