I was adopted into an amazing family after my biological mother gave birth to me when she was young, single, and already caring for my half-brother. I grew up in a non-Christian home, but there was a Catholic influence on my dad’s side through my grandma.
Because of my adoption, I was able to live a mostly wonderful childhood in a suburban community of Sherwood Park, Alberta, full of school, sports, and friends. However, I’ve always had a deep sense of longing, sadness, and emotional sensitivity. That yearning in my soul that I could never put my finger on has only been truly satisfied through Jesus Christ - who I came to know at age 27.
During my non-Christian life, I tried to find solace and identity in sports, music, creative pursuits, drugs, other forms of spirituality, fleeting intimate relationships and a long-term one that inevitably failed. In the party and music scene that I worked in, sadly my use of heavier drugs and alcohol crippled my mental health and caused me to spiral downward until I hit rock bottom.
When I was 18 in 2012, I “flew the nest” to Vancouver Island University (VIU) in Nanaimo, British Columbia, for baseball and a BA Major in Digital Media Studies. After years of rising to a leadership role in baseball, the dreams I had to make it big in sports came to an end. After graduation in 2017, I fell into an alcohol addiction while striving in multiple jobs. I worked at a pet store, in interior renovations, started (and shut down) two media companies with friends, was the site lead for a landscaping/contracting crew, and pursued music production while DJ’ing in nightclubs and bars and other events.
Fast forward to 2020 - the COVID-19 pandemic hits. Following a breakup with my incredibly kind long-term ex-girlfriend of 6.5 years, I was a depressed, anxious, heavy “functional” alcoholic and occasional hard drug abuser. I was working full-time landscaping while producing music for several artists while living in a hectic household of seven roommates who were co-workers from the nightclub scene where I was a DJ. It wasn’t all bad, but I was hurting and slowly burning myself to the ground.
In January 2021, I caught a glimpse of incredible light - after a woman came into my life who was worth changing my lifestyle for. I had a taste of what I considered true love. But after six months, my own addictions and mistakes caused her to jump ship in July 2021. I was absolutely shattered, and I knew it was my own fault.
The following month I lost 20 pounds from a lack of appetite, had extremely dangerous experiences with hard drugs to ease the pain, and experienced suicidal ideation at the lowest moments. However, my landscaping boss of four years, who is a Christian, came to my aid and was a source of strength and encouragement - even to the point of paying for half of the cost of weekly therapy for my mental health.
By God’s grace on September 18, 2021, I had my last drink. I was staying at a friend's house after moving out of the house of seven people. I was alone and house sitting for him while he was on vacation - and while having a drink that night, I put the beer can down. That was it. I haven’t turned back since.
While newly sober, I experienced a spiritual “explosion” in my life. God was using all things in creation to lead me to Jesus. I started experiencing incredible “synchronicities” where my inner world and outer world connected in such a supernatural, abstract, and miraculous way that could only point to a Divine Hand at work. Like breadcrumbs in the wilderness that led to the Bread of Life, everything from repeating numbers on clocks, to words on licence plates, to "coincidences" near churches and biblical metaphors and symbolism playing out in my life in supernatural ways. God was getting my attention through basically everything in His creation, apart from writing “AUSTIN, COME TO JESUS” in the clouds!
This cosmic funnel of experiences over 3.5 months ultimately led me into the pages of Scripture, where Jesus Christ was truly revealed to me. I completely surrendered my life to Him on December 6, 2021, and what followed was an incredible call into the Body of Christ, and into ministry in January 2022. He lit my heart on fire and gave me His Spirit.
Jesus, through His amazing transformational power, sobered me up and brought me into the family of believers. He blasted every door open to create a new ministry in the nightclub I work at by planting a church inside the club to reach those who are lost with the good news of Jesus - exactly 365 days after getting sober. He’s called me to serve on the university campus that I spent years at, to reach others for Christ by serving in the party scene there. He brought the woman I love and I back together for a wonderful season, and is now working on her heart, and mine too, as we take some time apart.
A new life surrendered to Jesus Christ freed me from addictions to drugs, alcohol, pornography, working myself to death, crippled mental health and an overall selfishness and desire for the things of this world. The life transforming power of Jesus filled the void in my life to the brim with His love and mercy. Looking back, I see His hand at work throughout my whole life - as He patiently endured me coming to the end of myself so He could bring me fully into Himself.
I don’t deserve any of it, and in so many ways a sinner like me is more than grateful to even be alive. But I am, and I’m forgiven. Because that’s just who He is. Jesus Christ took all my sins and pain of the past and has replaced it with wholeness that’s found in Him and a renewed purpose for living. He is alive and active and is stretching out His nail-scarred hands to you today. Would you allow Him to transform your life? And, would you respond to His call to obediently follow Him as He lays out a new plan and purpose for your life?
I’m so thankful for my JOURNEY TO JESUS and how He is now using me to impact the lives of others and see His kingdom expanded.
[This is the first of a series of Mission Canada related stories that will be posted in the month of July. Please watch for more to come.]
Please consider joining me in the effort to reach and serve students at Vancouver Island University. There's a need to cross the divide between today's church and secular university culture - to walk alongside young people and point them to the incredible love that God has for them!