“I met this kid John when I was a freshman in high school, when he moved into the neighborhood. We became friends and would hang out, and eventually he invited me to church in Brick. I had no clue as to what to expect there. I was just thinking that we would have a good time. When the service started, I felt really uncomfortable, and I told him I never wanted to go again. But we remained friends after that. He wound up going away to college. We reconnected my freshman year of college, and we started dating. We dated for a little while, and things started getting really serious, really fast. We started talking marriage and how great our future would be, and it scared the daylight out of me, so we broke up. I was 19 at the time, and he was 20.
“We still hung out after that. There were times we would go to Wawa and hang out after parties and drive around eating mac and cheese, and just whatever we wanted and had a good time together. 4th of July came and I was 21 years old. I was at the Bamboo in Seaside Heights, and that night John was working at the Beach Bar down the boardwalk, bartending. I remember he kept texting me that night, ‘Come and visit me, I am at work at the Beach Bar, let’s hang out!’ And I kept getting these texts from him. And I would text him back, ‘Yeah, yeah, I’ll make it there, I’ll stop by.’ But I don’t remember what happened that night after that, because I completely blacked out. I only remember going to another bar and completely blacking out after that.
“The following morning I get a phone call from John’s number, and I am like, ‘That’s strange, why is he calling me at 9 in the morning?’ So I answered, and it was his little sister. And she was sobbing, ‘John is gone. He’s dead…’ Earlier that morning he ran off the road coming home from work and crashed into a pole. He died immediately. He was 22 at the time. And I remember thinking, ‘Wow, that could have been me. I could lose my life.’
“I remember being at the memorial service, just in shock and feeling guilty. I was supposed to see him that night. What if I had seen him, would it have made a difference? I was really taking a look at my life in the fast lane, and I realized that you can go at any time. Life is a vapor. I am sure he didn’t know he was going to go that night. The next Sunday I wound up going to church and just cried during the whole thing. A woman there prayed with me, and I gave my life to Jesus. I have been following Him ever since. He has changed my life. I stopped drinking, settled down, got married to an amazing man and have amazing kids, and now I sing on the worship team at my church and for Jersey Shore United, and run their social media. It is all such a blessing.
“Being so closely connected to Jersey Shore United, I am able to see how much they are doing for the community and the impact they are having. Barry Moll (Founder of JSU) is out to help anyone, people with no hope. The prevailing thought in our culture is that ‘Christians are not there to help, they all stay in their little box.’ But Barry breaks the mold. He shows by example that, ‘We want to get out there, and we want to help you. It doesn’t matter what you do or don’t believe.’ He and JSU are truly being the hands and feet of Jesus, which is why I love helping them, because that is important for me in my life.
“God has really used my story to minister to others. Whether through Jersey Shore United, or just on my own. When I meet people and I hear their story, I tell them, ‘Hey, I know where you’re at. I have been there. No judgment here. I am the last person who can judge you.’ I am all about compassion and sharing with them the same Jesus that has made such a difference in my life.”
~ POTJS is doing a 4-part series on Jersey Shore United this week. There are still hundreds of families without homes at the shore. To find out how you can help, or to find more information about the exciting Day of Hope at the Great Auditorium in Ocean Grove this Saturday (where I also happen to be speaking), please click here: http://