When You Need to Change
August 1, 2003 - During high school, my room in the basement was painted black, with the words “Go to hell” painted in yellow across the wall. I was one confused, angry young man.
by Bill Lenz
I grew up with four siblings, two of whom were born with brain damage. My father had epilepsy and experienced grand mal seizures. I was torn between loving my family and feeling ashamed of them in public.
In seventh grade, I experimented with alcohol. By the time I was a sophomore in high school, I was entrenched in a druggie lifestyle. I tried to escape the pain of our family situation and the shame incited by other people’s ridicule by finding a “family” of fellow drug users.
I tried to reform during my senior year. But without drugs to medicate myself and to escape, I felt things I didn’t like to feel, and I had to face things I’d been running from for years. I would weep for hours, pound my head on the floor and beat my fists on concrete walls until they bled. I hated myself and I wanted to die. I felt like I was going insane.
In September of 1975, I asked my mother to drop me off at our cottage to be alone for a couple of days. Before she left, she handed me a Bible. Later that day, I took the Bible out. In the front, it listed verses to read when you’re lonely, hurting, confused, etc. I was all of those. The reference for “when you need change” was John 3. I read about Nicodemus, who came to Jesus with spiritual questions. Jesus told him that unless a man is born again, he could not enter the kingdom of God. I knew I was onto something.
That night, Billy Graham was on television. I could hardly believe it—I had just read about being born again that afternoon, and here was a guy explaining it so clearly! When he finished, I turned off the television and sat on the floor. I simply prayed to invite Jesus to come into my life, to forgive my sin and to give me a new life. I felt a peace that I never had before.
My desire for drugs and alcohol was gone, and without even thinking about it, I quit swearing. Gradually but continually, my life began to change. I requested the Bible study that was offered after the telecast; that helped me to learn God’s Word. During the next four years, I met other Christians and got involved in a church. I spent lots of time praying, and reading and studying my Bible.
My wife, Janet, and I were married in February 1981. In March, we and a handful of other people started Solid Rock Ministries, an outreach of sharing the Gospel in bars and in the streets. By the spring of 1982, we saw the need to start a church. Thirteen people came to our first service at a small cemetery chapel in Appleton, Wis. In the spring of 2001, Christ The Rock Community Church moved to a facility on 78 acres to accommodate a congregation of 3,000 and its 100-plus ministries.
I am so grateful to God for His work in my life and for the privilege of serving Him.
“Finding Jesus” features testimonies of people who have accepted Christ through a ministry of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. If you, too, found Jesus through a ministry of BGEA, please write and tell us about it. And tell us what you’re doing now.