Monday, June 24, 2019  

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 Sam & Lauren Hays

I grew up in a red blooded American family.  My father served twenty-four years in the Air Force retiring when I was nine years old.  My family never attended church, but if you had asked us if we were Christians we would have said we were.  The truth of the matter, however, was that we were relying on our patriotism to carry us through into heaven after we died rather than the blood of Jesus Christ.

This became all-too evident when I got to high school.  My parents started having trouble in their marriage when I was in ninth grade.  By my junior year, my father had moved out and my parents were on the brink of divorce.  It was in this time of searching, in the world, to satisfy all of my longings that I realized I was without hope, and it was in that hopelessness I found cause to hope in Jesus.

At a Methodist Church in Niceville, Florida, I heard students genuinely praying, not only like they believed someone was listening, but even as if they expected someone to do something about their prayers.  It was in this setting, over the course of two or three months, that I came to know Jesus as my redeemer.

From there, I took the good news of Christ home to my mother.  She started coming to church with me and I began to see God changing her life.  My father soon noticed a difference in us, began attending church, and came to know Jesus himself.  He moved back in, and my parents are happily married to this day.

This is how it came to pass that, in my first year of following Christ, I watched God, in the power of His Spirit, restore and heal my family.  Not long after this, I met my wife, Lauren. We met in high school, dated throughout college, and got married in Spring of 2012.  If you get to know us on any level, it should be easy to see that I married up.

In the midst of all this work that God was doing in my life while I was in high school, I began to since a call to ministry.  This, however, presented a problem.  I was sure that I was going to go to the United States Air Force Academy (USAFA).  While I tried to write off this call to ministry, I applied to USAFA. By Christmas during my senior year in high school, I could no longer run from God’s leading.  I called the admissions office at USAFA in order to withdraw my application.  Instead, I found out that I had been accepted with a full-ride and was told that I must decline my admission if I did not wish to attend.

And this is the part of my story where I turned down a full ride to one of the most prestigious military colleges in the world in order to attend community college!  I went to North West Florida State College for two years before going to Flagler in St. Augustine.  While I was in college, I worked with youth groups, lead bible studies, and organized a ministry for students and residents at a homeless shelter. 

After college, I attended Beeson Divinity School in Birmingham, Alabama.  While there, I realized that my passion for youth ministry must also be a passion for families.  While I might, as a youth pastor, have two, or even three, hours a week with students, parents are around their children far more than I ever could be.  My vision for youth ministry shifted to parents. I see myself devoting a significant portion of time to parents.  I want to be a resource for them.

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