When asked to give my testimonial for Youth Week a while back, I truthfully didn’t think much of it. I didn’t particularly think that anyone would really care about what I had to say. More often than not when I’m asked to speak in a public setting, I do it off the cuff and just say whatever comes to mind. But I’d like to tell this story properly, so I’ve decided to write it down.
I guess the most honest way to start my testimony is to start by admitting that I haven’t been a Christian my whole life, and if I’m being really truthful, I haven’t even been a Christian for most of my life. My parents did what they could when I was young. They took me to Pisgah United Methodist every Sunday or every other Sunday, and I would often bring my Mr. Fantastic toy or doodle pictures on the offerings envelope to pass the time. To me Sunday meant chicken nuggets from McDonalds after church. But I was young. My family stopped going to church around the time I was seven. Not because my parents weren’t religious, as my father actually used to preach from time to time. Things just got in the way, life moved too quickly. There just wasn’t the time. From age seven to twelve I never really thought much about religion, I just knew I believed in God and that was that. No further discussions. But when I was twelve, the game changed. I was coming home from school one day and the buses were delayed for about half an hour leaving school. My friends and I thought nothing of it, all the bus driver told us was that there was an accident with a school bus earlier in the day and they were taking extra precautions.
The next day I found out what really happened. Earlier that morning while crossing the street to get on his school bus, a man was texting and driving, and did not stop for the bus that was waiting for a child. He hit a young boy crossing the street, and the boy died on impact. His name was Hasani Weseley, and he was my friend. More than a friend he was a student of mine. As a Black Belt at the time it was my job to take some of the younger students under my wing and help them along. Hasani had a lot of promise, and to this day I wonder about how great he could have become. This is when I left God. I was so angry, so confused, so naive. In hindsight, this is where my life began taking an unwelcome turn. When I was in the eighth grade I didn’t have any friends, I was terrible with girls, and I started feeling like I was really alone in this world. I became severely depressed, but I never said anything to anyone about it. This led me to making some choices that I am not proud of.
By the time I started high school I considered myself an atheist. I had barely any friends and I kept to myself most of the time. I was generally unhappy and it showed in my attitude towards people. When I did speak to people I was callous and unkind. This continued until my junior year of high school. I decided to make a change and made an effort to be more kind to people. I did not however have any intention on changing my stance towards religion or lack thereof. That was until I met a real life angel in the form of Kate Morgan. When we met she knew what I was like in the past, and how I used to treat people. But instead of judging me for it and turning away from me, she did the godly thing and befriended me. She did not pressure me into religion but instead had conversations with me and shared with me the reasons of her convictions. After we had been dating for a short while she invited me here to Ardmore, the first church I had stepped inside in over a decade. Through Kate’s kindness and the kindness of others in the youth group here, namely Brad and Dane, I found myself becoming more and more comfortable with the idea of faith, and began talking to God. The more and more I talked to Him the more I realized it was never a matter of me not believing in him, but me not wanting to believe in him because I was just so angry at everything. Through these trials I became a stronger person, and a stronger follower of God. Through the kindness of others and their compassion towards me, I have found a place to stay here at Ardmore.
– Ben Casinger