Ryan Searles is a different man than he was just a few short years ago. Through God’s grace, his family’s love, and some key interactions at church, Ryan’s life began to change. Ryan shares how God drew him near, even when life seemed to be meaningless.
Explain a little about your childhood, as far as church and your faith.
I grew up Catholic and I did not really enjoy church too much as a child. Honestly, it felt like a chore getting up and going. My brother died when I was younger, as well as my grandmother that helped raised me. I think I just carried a lot of resentment towards God and could not hear anything anyone would try to tell me about Him.
Who did you see Jesus as when you were younger and even growing up through high school and your twenties?
I saw Jesus as an always welcoming, loving, forgiving person when I was younger. I never really understood too much about him other than what I had heard in the church growing up.
Generally speaking, how would you describe your life prior to meeting Jesus Christ?
I would definitely say it felt like I had no purpose eventually. I really felt like I did not know why I was getting out of bed every morning.
What was the catalyst (game changer) for you spiritually?
It seemed like everyone I always met, especially through NorthStar, was always so naturally happy and excited to go to church. So, I forced myself to go a lot in the beginning. Then I really started to listen to Mike Linch, C.A. Phillips, and a lot of people – including my family – about what Jesus did for me. I started really listening in church and hearing what was being taught to me every week.
I distinctly remember one of my first few weeks, when Mike said something like, “if you just come to church every Sunday, and do not participate in things like small groups and other events at our church, it’s not going to cut it for you eventually.” So, with that, I signed up for a small group and started going and learning about God. I started reading my Bible out of interest to read about these things I have always had questions about. I still have a ton of questions, but everyone here seems to lead me towards an answer, or at least point me in the right direction.
Who is Jesus to you now?
Jesus is still very similar to me as I always thought of him. I look at him now a lot more as the ultimate sacrifice for humanity. Giving your life for the lives of so many others, some that despised and hated him at the time even.
If people were only going to see Jesus by seeing your life, what message would you hope to communicate?
The message I would hope to convey through my life would be that God is always forgiving and calling us back. If I had continued on my ways a few years back when I was doing drugs and throwing my life away, it was pointless. Then people that I loved started helping me, forgiving me, pushing me to do the right things. I went through treatment, a sober house in Maine for a while, and worked with the homeless; but none of it still filled that void I felt inside like going and participating and practicing in the word of God.