I have always known God because I grew up with Christian relatives. Even though I knew God I was not a good and faithful servant. I got into all kinds of trouble even with the strict discipline that I would receive from my family (if you come from the Caribbean, you know what I mean).

When I was seventeen and living on my own, I came across some hard times and did things that I was not proud of to survive. Whenever I thought about doing bad things, my inner voice would speak to me because I knew it wasn’t right and I would live to regret these bad choices. Sometimes I did not listen to that voice and I always felt disgusted and disappointed in myself whenever I got into trouble. When I depended on myself to survive it always just seemed like my life was getting worse.

By the grace of God, I escaped death on two occasions. First, when I was fifteen, I was in a car accident and severely injured, and next when I was twenty and at a nightclub where someone chased and shot at me several times. During these times in my life, I made sure that I prayed to God before I got into my bed.

One year when I went back to Jamaica to visit my mother, she told me that she prayed for me that I would give my life to God. I always felt that God was calling me for something, but I was too busy trying to survive on my own to listen. Then it started to make sense; the not one but two near death experiences, the hard times I encountered, and many other struggles I faced. I sensed that God had a plan for me, but I still wasn’t 100% convinced.

As I said, I always knew God, but it was my 2009 New Years Resolution (I refer to this as my Jonah moment) where I resolved to completely give my heart and my life to God, and immerse myself in His word. During my quest, God connected me with Pastor Sule Prince through my wife. Pastor Sule became a good friend and my Christian mentor. He bought me a book called “How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth” and taught me how to do an Exegesis (which is going back into biblical history to capture the original meaning of the Scriptures) and Hermeneutics (which is what the Scripture means in the present day). The most important thing that I learned is that it is not what you learn from the Bible that changes you, but how your life is changed when you apply those teachings. Indeed, it is impossible not to change or realize the change in your life. I found that the more I read, understood and applied what I was learning, the better man I was becoming. I was no longer constantly arguing with people, swearing or looking for ways to get ahead quickly. In fact, when people around me did these things it made me feel sick on the inside (like when someone scratches a chalkboard with their nails) because that used to be me!

Everyone who knows me knows that God has blessed my life and kept me safe. When I look back at where I came from, I realize that all my experiences happened for a reason. I think that God wants to use my testimony to bring people who are going through similar experiences to Him. I know I am not perfect or ever will be, but I know God has transformed me into a new man.

I intend to continue to grow spiritually by learning the Bible. In the future, I would love to go to Seminary to further my Christian education and to get involved in outreach ministry. I love God and I cannot get enough. I know there are people out there that need to know that God loves them and He can change them too.

God is merciful and graceful. He has died and risen for me and I accept his gift of eternal life.

(Deron Dawson attends the Milliken Wesleyan Methodist Church in Markham, ON.)

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