I spent all of my time focusing my attention on playing sports. As I grew older I found that I could throw things really far and fast. I was pretty accurate with a football. This lifestyle of athletics would consume my life. I would say that playing sports, specifically football, became an idol and my entire worldview framework was centered on this very thing. I often tell folks that I went to school to play sports. I became varsity quarterback and was operating at a pretty high level but my moral life was almost completely bankrupt.
During my senior year, I had a girlfriend that I did not treat well. I was very selfish and this proved true in many areas of my life. We ended up in a crisis pregnancy situation which we (very much under my heavy pressure and persuasion) decided to terminate. From here, I didn’t know which way to go and only knew the easiest thing to do was to run. I ended up leaving her and walking away.
I left for college and eventually landed back at a Division II school in Northeastern Pennsylvania. In my first game, I was hit awkwardly and thrown to the ground. I was diagnosed with a third degree shoulder separation. I thought my life was over, with no faith foundation, nothing to ground me, a traumatic situation, and now a prescription to opioid pain relievers. I fell in love with these pills. They allowed me to not have to deal with physical pain, but far more importantly, they helped me escape reality. And escape is just what I did.
My life got out of hand to the point that I began using heroin, and I found myself in various legal challenges. I was in and out of jail and had convinced myself each time I was released that things would be different. However, I continued the same old routine every time, and I would end up back in jail. My life was a mess, and I finally accepted the fact that this was my destiny.
The last time I was in the county jail my mother sought desperately to find somewhere that would help me. She couldn’t afford to send me to many viable options at that time, until she came across a place called Pennsylvania Adult and Teen Challenge (PAATC) in Western Pennsylvania. By the sheer grace of God, I was permitted to enter into this program at a later court date.
It was November 8, 2006 that I walked through the doors of Teen Challenge. I came in very much uninterested in the program.
I simply was willing to go because it was a better option than jail. However, the Lord had different plans. It was New Year’s Day,
after the ball had dropped, that I found myself in the small chapel in Western Pennsylvania crying out for the mercy and grace of God. My life had changed, and now I was on a path to know this God who redeemed me!
One of the many things I needed to do was apologize to the girl from high school. After completing the PAATC program, she agreed to meet. There was a lot of anxiety, but I was able to apologize for the way I treated her nine years earlier. What was amazing is that she shared with me that she too had given her life to the Lord as well. Our relationship was restored and less than a year later we were married. My beautiful wife, Toni, and I now have four wonderful children: Isaac, Ayriana, Isabella, and Kristopher, Jr. The story continues to amaze me!
Since then, God continued to take me on a journey eventually becoming the first graduate of PAATC to ever become the corporate President/CEO. The work of God is amazing, and I am very thankful for the people He has placed in my life and the many wonderful gifts He’s given me, but all of it is rooted in the gracious gift of His Son, Jesus Christ!