Redemption on the River: "Going Home"
A February TV Special Web Extra
February 3, 2011 - In the latest Billy Graham television program, viewers will see the impact of the 2010 Rock the River Tour West through the eyes of local young people. This is one story from the Fraser Valley event on August 7.
I’ve known for a long time that I needed something, that I needed to change my life.
by Janet Chismar
Melissa walked into Millennium Park late and alone. She had asked her son’s father to come with her, but he backed out because of the rain as did another female friend. Still, she came. “I’ve known for a long time that I needed something, that I needed to change my life,” the 26-year old said, quietly.
When Melissa arrived, she immediately was captivated by a video sharing the candid, gritty testimony of Brian “Head” Welch, the former lead guitarist for the metal band Korn. “He talked about using a lot of drugs, and having problems with his wife and kid. I could relate,” she said.
Melissa’s own life had been something of a roller coaster even since she got married at 17. A few years into the marriage, she left her husband and got involved with a man who encouraged heavy drug use and promiscuity. To break away, she got pregnant with someone else, thinking a baby would help her clean up her lifestyle.
Life did cycle up for a while until her son’s father went to jail. “I had to do everything on my own and went on welfare,” she said. Melissa was lured back into a relationship with the second man when he promised to take care of her. The promise proved empty, and Melissa began searching for a way to escape.
“I was trying to decide whether to see him that night,” she recalled. “But I went to Rock the River instead. I decided to change my life.”
So it was that Melissa was standing by herself after the Head video ended and Franklin Graham began his third message. “I heard that story about the prodigal son coming home before,” she said, “but that night it sounded like it was for me. I thought, ‘If I make this change, I am going to have to go back home to my parents too.’”
Then Franklin said, “This could be your last chance.”
Melissa knew he could be right. “I had gone to events like this before but I was always too scared to go up front. Maybe I was meant to go to Rock the River alone. If someone else had come with me, I might have just stood there too.”
That didn’t happen. When Franklin invited people to come forward, Melissa knew it was time. “He did a last call and I felt I had to go forward, and I started crying. I wanted to stop all the craziness in my life.”
A group of caring women gathered around Melissa, took her to the special counseling area, prayed with her, and even took her to Tim Horton’s for coffee afterward.
“I had been to church before, but no one ever talked to me there,” she said. “This was so different. People cared.”
Melissa was baptized on September 19, 2010. Since then she has found a church, completed an Alpha course and is involved in a women’s Bible study.
”Yes, I did have to go home,” she said. “Home to my parents and now home with God. There is no better place to be."
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Be sure to watch the February TV Special featuring first-hand testimonies from other young people whose lives were forever changed at Rock the River. www.billygraham.tv.