Updated: Oct 25
God captured Harlee's heart after accepting just one invitation during a difficult season.
Two years ago, my family and I relocated to Conroe. As a teenager, I caused much trouble within my family and made inferior decisions. During my first year, when I was feeling particularly down, a young man with a distinct country style invited me to join the youth group. When I asked which church it was held at, I chuckled at the idea of attending a cowboy church. Later, on the way home, I shared this unusual invitation with my family. My friends had told me they were going to church on Sunday, as some old acquaintances had invited them. The thought of going to church filled me with dread. The only church I had ever attended was what Pastor Randy called a "foo-foo"church, where the focus was solely on reading without any substance. This experience left me with the impression that all churches were like that. Pleasantly Surprised My family and I went to church on Sunday morning, though I wasn't too keen on the idea. My parents had promised that if we enjoyed the service, I could attend the youth group on Wednesday nights. I secretly hoped we wouldn't like it. We took our seats on the third row from the back, right on the aisle, and waited for the service to begin. When the band started playing, we were all surprised at how much we enjoyed the music. After the worship, the pastor, whom we were initially skeptical of because he had an unusual appearance, was quite humorous and made us laugh. Overall, it was better than I thought it would be. He seamlessly transitioned into telling jokes during his sermon, which was impressive. I gained a lot from the service, which was my first. However, as a snobbish teenager, I couldn't admit it then. After Randy finished his sermon, he ended with a prayer and said, "If you haven't given your life to Christ, or if you have but haven't been living for Him, simply raise your hand and say, 'Preacher, that's me.' We want to put a Bible in your hand." I felt strongly convinced because I knew I hadn't lived as I was supposed to. I raised my hand, but I knew it wasn't just me. It was God calling me to come back to Him. An usher gave me a Bible, and I felt a huge weight lifted off my shoulders at that moment. It was by far the best service I had ever attended.
Stepping Out of My Comfort Zone
Wednesday night comes around, and I am nervous. I don't know anyone! I walked in, had food that they served, and went upstairs for service. The room was full of teens. That didn't stop my nervousness. We worship, and then Pastor Amber walks on the stage. She prays and tells us we can be seated. She gave her message and was very straightforward and to the point, but I didn't feel like I was being condemned. She told us the facts and ensured that we all know that everyone makes the same mistakes and that God still loves us no matter what. I walked out of service thinking, "Dang, this place knows what they're doing!" I knew immediately that we were never changing churches.
Months later, in January, my family and I decided to volunteer our time at the church after growing closer to the Lord and making better decisions. We took the Growth Track class and immediately began volunteering. I started at the Helping Hands Coffee Bar and then started ushering, greeting, helping at the Connect Center, and welcoming first-time guests! I felt so at home.
Diving In Since then, I have volunteered in many areas, mainly wherever people need me, and have a stronger connection with the Lord. Through my story, I try to teach people that you can never be too astray from God. He will always have open arms for you and never give up on loving you. You must take whatever life throws your way, good or bad, knowing God is there to protect and help you.
We want to thank Harlee for sharing her testimony and hope you are encouraged by it. If you have a story or testimony to share, email firstname.lastname@example.org.