That was two years ago, but for the high school senior who attended MOVE Arkansas this summer, it’s still a day that scars his memory. As he shared the story with his youth group this summer, he emphasized that amidst the pain and darkness of that moment there was also the presence of God. He said it was that same presence that pushed him to give his life to Jesus at MOVE.
After Gavin’s parents separated when he was in first grade, he and his mom moved from their home in Beloit, Kansas to Salina. Gavin said he watched his mom remarry with optimism, but the relationship didn’t turn out the way they had hoped.
“A couple years went by and my step-dad turned out to be really abusive toward my mom,” he said. “He made her feel worthless. I would always go see my friends in Beloit, and one day when I was leaving, they were fighting pretty bad. I had this feeling in my heart like I shouldn’t go but I did. I got a text from her later that said she loved me and how I was the greatest thing that ever happened to her. I got this bad feeling about it. She didn’t answer my call, but she had never done anything like this before. An hour later, I got a call from a state trooper who told me she tried to take her life.”
When Gavin arrived at the hospital in Salina, he learned his mom was still alive in the ICU.
“I knew God was watching over her and giving her a second chance,” Gavin said. “My family sat by her bed and prayed for her. She made a full recovery and I know God did this. It made me feel like I should do stuff for Him. It was the greatest feeling ever.”
Gavin and his mom moved back home, and he attended the youth group at Beloit First Christian where he had several friends. But he said it wasn’t long before he started making some poor decisions.
“I fell off track and I didn’t keep up that spiritual momentum,” he said. “My friends kept on me, though. I was worried about coming back to the church. I didn’t know how people would respond after I had been gone for a while. But our youth pastor welcomed me back with open arms. That overwhelmed me. I’ve been coming since January, and it’s been amazing. I’ve been growing closer to God, and this time it feels like it has hit me 10 times harder.”
The ups and downs led right up to the moment when Gavin felt it necessary to declare his decision for Christ in front of his youth group at MOVE. He received enthusiastic, strong hugs and loud applause from everyone around him.
“When I made my decision to follow Christ it brought me to tears to see how much everyone supported me,” he said. “We hugged and prayed – it was amazing. I know everything will be different when I go home because I want to accept God in my life and stay on that path.”
Gavin said he hopes God’s plan for him will be with the Salina State Trooper Academy when he turns 21.
“It’s not the safest job,” he said, “but that night when they found my mom, it was a state trooper who talked to me the most. He was accepting and told me everything would be alright. That’s what I want to do for people.”
Today, Gavin said his mom is doing well.
“She was happy I re-joined the youth group, and if you were to meet her today, you’d never know what she went through,” Gavin said. “She’s a completely different person. God’s done all this and been there through it all.”