Hi church, my name is Anthony. I am a freelance photographer and this is my story of how God has transformed my life. To give you a bit of background about my life – I grew up in a non-religious household, had no interest in converting and was quite put off by it.
During my final 2 years of senior high school, I experienced tough circumstances that affected me in many ways. I found myself struggling to do well in my subjects, not being pleased with my results even though they were not too bad. I encountered a lot of conflict at home which started to alter my view about life. I became very distant and pessimistic. I often floated between friend groups as I felt like a burden to those around me and I often had thoughts about wanting to start over. It got to the point where an intervention needed to happen. So my high school friend, Louisa, brought me to the school nurse. From there she advised I see a doctor and in 2016 I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety disorder. The following visits to a psychologist did not seem to make a difference at the time; she was not the right psychologist to help me heal. Eventually I stopped going as I felt guilty about putting my parents under financial pressure just to sustain my mental health and instead I visited the school nurse more often. However, after every visit, I could not help but think about what was going to happen next and where I would end up.
One day, Louisa asked if I wanted to visit her youth group on a Friday night called Ablaze. I initially declined. After a few more weeks of declining her offers I caved and said yes, I will go. While it was a reluctant decision, deep down in my heart I could feel something stir, but I could not figure out what it was. Upon entering the youth group, I was quite shocked at how inviting, friendly and human everyone was. It seemed too good to be true, every person who wanted to interact with me GENUINELY wanted to get to know who I was with no hidden agenda. Over time I became closer with those who attended the service. In early 2017, I decided to accept Jesus as my personal Lord and Saviour. During the altar call that night as the youth pastor was asking people to respond, I felt a tug in my heart to take a leap of faith and walk up for prayer. As my struggles were being prayed for, I submitted my life to Christ and I felt relieved. God had taken my burdens and granted me a new life.
While my depression and anxiety is not completely eradicated, it no longer has such a deathly grip. My outlook on life has drastically changed – now I want to live my life out for Jesus and keep pursuing His love and His kingdom. I now serve in the WAM Creative Productions team, utilising my God-given talents to serve the church and bring glory to Him. I am stepping out in leadership within that ministry. I also have opportunities to lead discussion during our weekly Life Groups. The past few years have been a big trial, but I am now starting to see the fruit sprout from the seed that God has planted in my heart. Becoming a Christian was a big jump for me and has revealed a great deal about my values, where I place my trust and also the areas in which I fall short. God reminds me that He will provide for my every need and that he sees my heart in every hill and in every valley. I am so grateful to God. I am constantly in awe of his goodness and all that I have to do is to choose to follow him every day. No matter how high the mountain or how deep the valley, God will be with you every step of the way and He will always prevail. All it takes is your trust in Him.
James 1:12, “Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those to love him.”
Elevate Willawong 3, Hope Church Willawong