My name is Ryan Rowe, and my wife is Jessica. I’ve been at Restoration Church in Madison, Ala., for nine years. Huey and Ruth Hudson are the senior pastors of this Foursquare congregation.
I grew up going to church until I was 5. I really didn’t have an understanding of God. When I turned 14, my grandfather died. This was the first time I experienced death. I felt that if there really was a God, why did He have to take away somebody I cared for so much?
I started finding satisfaction in pleasing others and trying to fit in at school. I turned to drinking and partying. I constantly disrespected my parents. This continued through high school.
My sister, on the other hand, came to know Jesus when she went off to college. She returned home on breaks and witnessed to me. I mocked her. Little did she know that each time she shared with me, a little more of the wall I had put up broke down.
During my freshman year of college, I was at a party one night with friends. One of my friends was a bartender, and he made a flaming drink. The drink spilled on my hand and caught it on fire. I had second- and third-degree burns. At that point, I began to think maybe somebody was trying to tell me something.
A week later, a friend came to my house and showed me the movie Left Behind. I got scared and really began to think about God. My sister happened to be in town that weekend. She had bought me a Bible several years before, and I had it on my bookshelf. I asked her where in the Bible I should start reading. She said the book of John. I began reading that night, and it came alive to me. I cried out to Jesus: “God, I know I haven’t lived right, but I ask for forgiveness.”
My sister had a friend who went to Restoration Church, and she asked me to come to church the next day with them. Pastor Huey was preaching. At the end of his sermon, he invited, “If there is anybody who hasn’t received Jesus into your life and wants to, raise your hand, and we will come and pray for you.”
I remember lifting my hands to God and seeing a bright light coming through my eyelids, almost as though somebody was holding a flashlight to my face. Everything lifted off my chest. I was so excited. I came home, and my mom noticed there was something different about me. I really didn’t know what being saved was. I just knew I wanted more of God.
A month later, my mom gave her life to Christ.
I had to give up all my friends, because they wanted to continue to party, and I didn’t want to be around it anymore. I had no one, but I trusted God.
Then I met my friend Julius at church. Not long after I came to know Christ, I went to a program called Summer Beach Project in Panama City Beach, Fla. I was discipled, and I learned how to witness. I came back on fire for God.
I got involved with our youth group. They were in need of a bass guitar player. I had purchased one prior that I had never had the desire to learn to play. I picked it up and started teaching myself. I started writing songs to God. God started using me in areas I had never been used before.
Now I’m on the worship team in the main sanctuary, and I rotate leading with different worship leaders. I’ve also been involved with our evangelism team. I was married three years ago, and we continue serving God and our pastor.