I Was a Time Bomb
Opportunities from the Enemy
"The Bible says the enemy comes to kill, steal and destroy," says Vince Lichlyter, the lead singer of Jonah 33. "And I can look back at my life and see how the enemy strategically placed stuff in my life to destroy me. He almost succeeded."
As an adopted kid, Vince always felt like he never really belonged in the family he'd grown up in. Desperate to fit in somewhere and figure out who he really was, Vince fell into the wrong crowd. He found that he could become popular by winning fights and doing drugs.
At the age of 13, Vince thought he had all the answers and didn't want anybody to tell him what to do or how to live—including his parents. "Life at home was a time bomb," Vince says. "I thought my parents were so wrong about their rules against the stuff I wanted to do."
The Turning Point
With a don't–mess–with–me attitude, Vince ran from his hometown of Tacoma, Washington, to Seattle. To Vince, running away was a way to have, as he says, "opportunities" to enjoy the things his parents wouldn't allow. He could be his own boss, live his way, hang with friends and have as much sex, drugs and fun as he wanted. And that's what he found: a life without rules. But there was a dark side to his life in Seattle, too. He was homeless and lived under park benches and in bus depots. Then, at 19, he moved in with a crack dealer and things got worse. "It all came to a head over a lot of money and a lot of violence," he says. "My life was in immediate danger and I needed out. I called my parents, knowing I had to come home to survive."
By that time, Vince's parents had retired and moved to a really small town in the hills of Arkansas. Vince arrived there, got a feel for the town and decided he hated it. "I was still a city kid," Vince says. He was bored. One night, Vince went to a church lock–in because he couldn't think of anything else to do.
At the lock–in, Vince met Rob, the new youth pastor. Vince got to know Rob and one night even went over to his house with the intention of proving Christianity wrong. But instead, Vince was blown away by the truth of the Bible. At three in the morning, Vince made a life–saving decision. He says, "Surrendering my life to Christ was just that, surrender. I was just like, 'all right, it's either this or suicide.'"
The Power of Prayer
Looking back, Vince sees that God used Rob and the small Arkansas church in big ways before they even knew him. When Rob became the youth pastor, he was given a list of teens to pray for. Rob shared the list with his old church in Houston. Guess who was on it? Yeah, Vince. Even before he called his parents from Seattle, people at two churches had been praying that Vince would find Christ. He says, "I escaped with my old life, but some people I hung out with didn't," Vince says. "I can't help but think my escape from all that was a direct result of prayer."
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Copyright © 2006 by the author or Christianity Today/Ignite Your Faith magazine.
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