Decorative orange dots

John’s Story: From Pain to Peace

January 19, 2022
All Campuses
Share this post

John Harrison is a pastor’s kid. He grew up going to church, but he didn’t like being there. Though his dad was on staff, he distanced himself because he felt like he couldn’t connect with the people. And while he heard the message of the Gospel many times, he never came to faith. 

As a teenager, he rebelled, and at the age of 14, he started partying. He drank, he smoked, he did drugs, and he began looking for fulfillment in sensual pleasures. He continued down a destructive path throughout high school, and then he went to college and found a bigger party there. As the years progressed, he descended deeper into a harmful lifestyle. He binge drank five or six nights a week and was searching for a happiness he couldn’t seem to find. But when graduation day came, his choices began to catch up with him.

When his parents gifted him a photo book they had worked on since he was a child, he had a breakdown. He felt unworthy of their love and affection, and he didn’t like who he’d become. Though it should have been a time for celebration, it became a time of sadness. Soon, his girlfriend of four years broke up with him and his friends turned on him because they didn’t understand his depression. 

“I hated myself, and I remember thinking that I was broken beyond fixing,” he says. At that point, he didn’t know what to do, and he started feeling hopeless. But when his sister reached out to him, things began to change. As they sat at lunch, he poured his heart out to her, and soon they were crying together. Obviously concerned, she simply asked him, “Will you go to church with me?”

Though he had heard that question many times before, he was in a desperate place now, so he said yes. He went the following Sunday, and on his very first visit, he met a pastor who invited him to something called Alpha. After hearing that it involved free food and a chance to meet new people, he was in, but he arrived full of skepticism. 

On his first night there, he was determined to get a rise out of his group, so he said, “I think it’s weird that you guys pray to some imaginary guy in the sky.” However, rather than responding defensively or with pat answers, they replied, “Yeah, it is kind of weird, huh? Thanks for sharing that with us.” And he was blown away. This was not the close-minded church culture he grew up in. 

Week after week, his Alpha group listened to him and loved him. And because he enjoyed it so much, he attended a retreat called “Weekend Away” when it was over. On the last night of the event, they “gave the Holy Spirit the mic” and they waited on God to move. Though he thought it was ridiculous at first, John soon found himself asking the Lord to show up. And He did. 

“I just had this overwhelming sense of peace,” he says, “and I heard Jesus whisper to me, ‘You’re not broken beyond fixing.’” In that moment, he surrendered, and he was born again. A few weeks later, he was baptized, and then God’s greater plans for his life began to unfold. He was called into full-time ministry, and now, he is on staff at our church. Not only does he serve as our missions coordinator, but he helps people connect with God through the Alpha program, just like he did. 

If you have questions or doubts about faith, Alpha could be your answer. There’s no pressure and no agenda — just a chance to hang out, meet new people, and explore things that matter. New sessions begin on January 25, so sign up today and join the journey.