Hi, my name is Jonathan Ball and I am now 28 years old. I was born in England where my parents were called as church planters. I was raised in a good Christian home with parents who loved me and taught me the truth, yet from the ages of 12 to 20 I lived like hell, and that is exactly where I was headed according to the Word of God. I followed others into the same pattern of sinful living: drugs, alcohol and sex out of marriage. I became so rebellious to all authority, I had murder in my heart which made me a murderer in God’s eyes (1 John 3:15), I had a filthy mouth, and I drank iniquity like water. I loved what was wrong; I was a thief, a liar, and I had a filthy mind that loved pornography. In every way I was an enemy of God, even though I didn’t say that with my lips, my actions were totally against everything that was holy, righteous and good. I deserved hell.
Because of God's grace I was saved from death multiple times. There were times that I almost overdosed on strong drugs like ecstasy and special K, and there were times that I was almost shot and killed because I lived in the company of death. But thank God for His love… even for His enemies, and for the prayers of family members who loved me unconditionally. God spared my life from the grave and I owe Him everything.
Through those years of sin I was in and out of Juvenile Hall and multiple rehab programs. I graduated to county jail, and ultimately to the LA County jail. It was a dark place full of need. All throughout those years I was aware of God, I knew He was real and was seeking me. I had tried to straighten up many times and had prayed to be a Christian but I had never truly repented for sinning against God and still loved the sinful world, so it was only a matter of time before I would return to the sin that I so longed for. A pig, after being washed goes back to the mud, simply to cool its flesh and so does a sinner who makes a shallow confession of faith with no true repentance. Only when we are made a new creature will we love and obey God.
At the age of 20 I was running hard from God and was slamming speed daily, nightly, and was trying to live the life I wanted; the life of a criminal. I was on the highway to hell. But God had other plans. I was sent somewhere one night and was told to take my stuff with me. But before I got through the gate of this property in Malibu, my car got stuck and would not budge until the cops rolled by and found me with a short barreled 12 gauge, weapons, needles, and paraphernalia. God was done chasing me, He got my attention. That night I was arrested and lost everything I thought was important; my motorcycle, girlfriend, weapons, gear and my freedom. But in that deep emptiness I found that someone was waiting for me. Someone who'd been seeking me all my life, Jesus Christ! Hallelujah!!!
Sitting alone in my cell and coming off speed I couldn’t sleep but my mind was rolling. Alone, I knew exactly what God wanted from me…. He wanted me to surrender everything! I learned that unless a man surrenders all, denies himself and follows Jesus he will never find eternal life. So I did, I threw up my hands and told God that I would give Him my whole life, give up my sin and follow Jesus Christ, just as long as He helped me to do it for the rest of my life. I admitted to God that I couldn’t make it without Him because I never had the strength to change but always failed. But that is when I found the grace of God, and He has been faithful to help me just as I asked. Going on nine years since that night, I have never been disappointed in Him. He is my source of strength and wisdom, my greatest ally, my Friend, my Protector and my ever present Lord.
I learned by experience what grace is… it is when we lack power to do something (like save ourselves from hell) but we humbly confess our inability to God and ask for His strength, then He gives us the power to do what we cannot do ourselves. We cannot be free from sin ourselves, for we are born a slave of our sin nature. It is only when we cry out to God in true godly sorrow and repentance for our sins, and put our faith in the Son of God that we become “born of God”, born of God’s Holy Spirit, and by that Spirit in us we become partakers of a new nature, a Divine nature. It is only by God’s Spirit in us that we start to desire to do what is righteous and good in God’s sight. Then we are justified by the shed blood of Jesus and once we are clean we are drawn into sweet, sweet fellowship with the Creator of the whole universe. This is what happened to me in 2002.
Now my life is filled with joy. Yes, life is still difficult and we are promised hardships in this world if we follow Jesus but Oh, how wonderful it is to know Him, the One who gave us eyes to see beautiful sunsets, skin to feel the cool evening breeze, tastes buds to enjoy a juicy cheeseburger, and yes, God even gave us sex as a gift only within the bounds of marriage. What a wonderful God He is. He set me free from drug addiction, and because I don’t want to sin against Him I obey His word and am waiting till I am married to have sex again. God has changed my heart and mind just like He said He would do in (Ezekiel 36:25- 27) to those who truly repent. He has given me a hunger for His word, a constant prayer life, and a desire for the lost to be found.
The Malibu court gave me a reduced sentence and I only got 9 months in county jail of which I did six. A Christian lawyer took my case, paid for by my Christian friends and the support of my family. The judge court ordered me to enroll in a discipleship school called B.A.D.D. organization (Born Again and Delivered Disciples), where I spent the next 6 years learning the word of God and hands on ministry training. As I grew deeper into His Word, I discovered a growing desire to do ministry where I can use my short life to further the kingdom of God. My life has been full. I've had the privilege of leading people to Christ, some on their deathbed, and seen others saved from the pit of addictions. The life of a Christian is one that follows God, desires His will and dies to his own will.
I hope that as you read this God speaks to your heart and conscience. For those of you who know and love Jesus Christ, I hope my story encourages and strengthens your faith. If you have never surrendered your life to Christ, to make Him Lord and Master then you are still in great danger of getting justice on the Day of Judgment. It is not God’s will for you to perish and He is rich in mercy to all who call upon Him from a sincere and humble heart. Sin has separated you from God who is holy and that is why Christ was sent, to pay your penalty in His own life’s blood and bring you back to the Father.
I encourage you even now, if you know that you are not right in the eyes of God, to get on your knees and confess your sins to God, forsake them forever and put your trust in Jesus Christ to save you. Christ alone can save you and not your good works. After we are saved our good works only give evidence of our salvation. Those who surrender to Christ forsake sin on every level. If you told lies, become truthful, if you fornicate, become pure and wait for marriage to have sex, if you steal, steal no longer and work so you may have to give to those in need. Honestly, we are not promised tomorrow but we can live for our Creator today and He is good. After that go to www.saveyourselfsomepain.com or you can email me at email@example.com
P.S. I would love to hear from you.
Jonathan is in leadership training and working on his ordination for ministry. He is co-pastoring Epic of Malibu and is a man on fire for Christ.