This is my testimony of how Christ has worked in my life
Hi, I am Jeff Kohnz, the artist, and this is my testimony.
I realize that this is probably not something you would expect to see on an artist’s website, however I do feel the need to share my testimony. I believe that Paul stated it so well in his letter to the Galatians: “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20, NIV). I’m not writing this to boast of being “a man of God”, but rather to give glory to God for completing a radical transformation in my life. I can only hope that my testimony will give someone else out there hope and a longing to know Christ.
Back when I was growing up, my parents took me and my younger sister to church every Sunday. I remember sitting in the hard wood pews, listening to the hymns, not really understanding or caring about what the reverend was going on about, and hated every minute of it. This went on until I was in high school. I don’t remember the exact time or reasons why, but my parents decided to move on to a new church. You know, one of those churches that had soft chairs instead of pews and played electric guitars and drums for music before the pastor came to speak. I admit that I liked the music better and the shorter services were nice. I got involved with the youth group there and made a lot of new friends. I experienced a good group of people who loved Jesus and God, but I still didn’t fully understand it.
There were several meetings and parties, as well “as altar calls”. I went for one of these, but didn’t know what I was talking about. What I saw was a bunch of my friends, sitting in these soft chairs, one by one, kneeling down and bawling their eyes out. Each time that happened, a group of us would go over to them and pray with them. While I have no doubt that any of them were sincere in their experiences. I just know that I was the last one, but I didn’t know what I was doing or how to do it. I did the kneeling down and had people pray over me, but my heart wasn’t in the right place.
Soon after high school, I was working on weekends, so I didn’t go to church anymore. I was talking in online chat groups a lot, walking further from God and everything I thought I knew of Him. I got involved with the wrong people and was doing the wrong things. I was experimenting in pagan religions, living life to my own standards, and not caring much about anyone around me.
Fast forward a few years, and I found myself living with my girlfriend and having all sorts of issues. A lot of fights, no trust, and not much going for us. I was convinced that there was something seriously wrong with me, to the point of being on antidepressants. My dad took me in to the pastor of his church, who listened to my struggles and pains. He led me in a salvation prayer. I remember the day and people there, but I don’t remember the experience. I knew that my heart still wasn’t in the right place. Things didn’t really ever get better, either. I didn’t go back to church, nor did I really want to. Funny thing, my girlfriend ended up getting pregnant with my daughter. We got married a couple months later, married by that same pastor. We had a lot of problems from the start, and both the baby and the wedding didn’t make it better. We both had our fair shares of problems that ultimately brought us to a divorce a couple years later. Personally, I was once again getting involved with the wrong people and talking online to someone I shouldn’t have. I won’t go any further into everything else that happened. I ended up living with my daughter and my parents. I started going back to church at that point, for a little while. I figured, “why not.” I liked the music, and saw a lot of younger people there. I went for a few months and then went my own way again for a while. I was out at the local pool hall on the weekends, playing pool for a league. I got into porn and so many other bad things, all of which God has thankfully delivered me from.
I decided to move out of my parents’ house, as they were going through their own divorce, and my sister and boyfriend just had a baby, so they were moving in. I got an apartment, started dating again, and lived my life with my daughter. I broke it off with the girl I was dating shortly after that, and started going to church with my mom again. I remember one day, in church worship, hearing a song called “Bless Me Indeed” by a group called Mercy Me. I walked up to the guy singing after church and asked him what that song was. We talked briefly, and he invited me to their high school aged group that weekend. I went, had a lot of fun, and met a few new people. I started attending somewhat regularly.
One night, a loud thunderstorm was going on outside of my apartment. I remember that night very, very well. I was going through so much garbage in my life at that time. It was April 29th, 2004. That night, I decided I had had enough junk and was done. I told God to take it for me, because I couldn’t handle it anymore. I gave my life back to him. I knew that I was pretty screwed up, but it didn’t matter anymore. My life ended that night, and God took over from then on. I enjoyed going to the group meetings, talking with people my age and reading the Bible for once. I still had issues, but those would go away someday. I was free. I was alive. I was SAVED.
Over the next few years, our church went through two splits. I struggled with this, as so many of my friends left. The pastor that I had met from asking about a song had left. I took about a month off from church, just to get my head together on that whole mess. I ended up going back, though. It took some time before I felt comfortable again. Finally I met some guys in the church that had been going for a while as well, and really, REALLY, connected with them. I finally had that brotherly relationship that I needed. People to hang out with that wouldn’t judge me or condemn me.
Soon after this church splitting mess happened, a new Worship Pastor came in and took over the group I was attending. At some point, he and I got into a discussion about art. I showed him some of my old drawings through the years. It took a lot of time and a lot of encouragement before he finally talked me into painting during worship service one Sunday morning. It was Easter Sunday in 2008. I had this huge wood panel that had been setup and painted black for me. It had the words “Life, way, and truth” on one side, and “King of Glory” on another. At the top was a huge crown, and below were 2 people, with arms raised, worshiping the King. It came out really well, and I wish I had some pictures of it.
Today, I look back at that painting, and stand in awe of it. You see, I painted a man on the left, kind of what the back of myself would have looked like back then. On the left was a woman, slightly shorter than me, with long brown hair. I would like to note that this is the first of a few different times this type of prelude has happened.
During this time I had decided to go back to school to earn my Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Information Systems at DeVry University. I was working full time as an automotive technician and taking on a full time load at school. I was very busy all of the time, which I know caused a lot of stress and tension at home. But, thank God, I made it through with a 4.0 GPA. Within 2 weeks of my graduation, I was offered a job as a Software Developer. This was an answer to many, many prayers to get out of the automotive field. I still enjoy working on cars now and then, just not for a living.
Even though I was saved, and on my way to being a good Christian, I still had my struggles. I always felt alone and broken, after having gone through a divorce and not thinking anyone would want to date me, having my daughter with me and all. I did date a few times, but everything wasn’t right. It just didn’t work. I dealt with finding women I liked and they wanted nothing to do with me. It seemed that I was destined to be alone. I’m sure I made a few people uncomfortable back then, and I truly apologize for that. But, the good thing is, no matter what I do, how I mess up, Jesus died for it. That isn’t a “go do whatever you want” license. It’s a “nobody is perfect, except Jesus, and that’s why he died for you”, “get out of jail free” gift.
There was a time that I was driving to my job one morning that I had a crazy vision of walking up behind someone that I knew was my future wife. I drew this picture out one night, and I still have it to this day. The craziest thing I could have done was to think that I could find this woman on my own. I tried and failed a few times. I learned it wasn’t my job to find her. God already had her in His plans for me. I did have one other vision, of me dancing with my bride on our wedding day. She was slightly shorter with long curly brown hair.
Go forward a couple more years, and I had met my wife. I knew the very first time I saw her in person that I was going to marry her. She was the one, and we married in April 2009. Since then, we’ve had an excellent life together in a marriage that was built by and founded on God.
Life as a Christian isn’t always easy. We’re not perfect people by any stretch of the word. We have struggles, pain, sorrow, and everything else that people who don’t want anything to do with God have go on in their lives. The hardest, most painful day of my life came on October 6, 2010. My wife and I were expecting, and lost our baby to a miscarriage. We knew in our hearts that it was going to be a girl, and we had decided on the name Samantha Michelle. People have actually asked why our God didn’t deliver us from that experience. My answer has been that God has a plan for us. God didn’t kill our baby. God didn’t cause this to happen. We live in a broken world, and sometimes stuff happens that we can’t explain. God didn’t allow this to happen to teach us anything, either. It just happened. Doesn’t it hurt? You bet it does. I hurt even nearly a year later. But, we rejoice in knowing that we will someday go to heaven and meet our daughter that was raised by Jesus. Imagine a childhood where you could talk to Moses or play with your great, great, great, great, grandpa. We know that our God is in control, and we continue live in his grace.
Today is July 31, 2011. My wife and I are expecting a healthy, strong, baby boy in mid-October. Our family is healthy, happy, and living a God-centered life. I paint more often now than I have in years. I enjoy spending time with a wife that I couldn’t have imagined I’d ever meet. Coming from a creative mind, that’s really saying something right there. I have a beautiful daughter, a hilarious step-son, a daughter in heaven, and a son on the way. I am working in a well paying job. I have a lot to be thankful to God for. My dreams now are to buy a bigger house and get an artwork career going, even if just on the side of what I do during the daytime. Thank you for reading this, and may it bring you hope and joy. There is a God. Jesus is real, and he saved me! If you would like to talk about what Jesus can do for you, please feel free to contact me. Thanks for taking the time to read my testimony.