Joel's Story "Chapter 1 - Miracle Existence"

When Joel was born, he weighed 1 pound and 6 ounces because his birth mother had tried to abort him using drugs and a coat hanger. Immediately after Joel entered the world, he had to have open-heart surgery on a ruptured valve in his heart.

 “I know my birth mom was a pastor’s daughter, and she was a piano player and singer. My dad pretty much got her pregnant and then took off on her. She was 17, so she was young and scared, and she gave me up for adoption. In that process, I was a baby, so I wasn’t sure of everything that was going on, but I was in the hospital for months on end in incubators until I was 1. I then got put into foster care and was placed with a lady named Sunshine who took me. Since I didn’t have parents, I didn’t have a name. So they called me Steven for a long time.” Joel lived the first year of his life in and out of hospitals with no parents, until he was taken in by his adopted parents. 

“My parents that adopted me were from the east coast, and they were praying about adopting a baby. I got placed with them, and they had me for about 11 months before the courts allowed them to adopt me. During those 11 months,  they lived knowing there was a good possibility that they wouldn’t be able to keep me because the courts had already given them a warning. My mom that adopted me kept holding me, praying and praying. After these 11 months, they finally cut the tape and said, you guys can have him--you are good to go. They took me in, and I grew up with this incredible family that wasn’t perfect.” 

Little did Joel know as a baby, his mother that adopted him had a miracle existence just like him.

“My mom that adopted me went through sex-trafficking from ages 4-16. She had no choice in the state of force. She was molested and raped by her mother, her father, her step-father, her grandfather, and sold into sex-trafficking. She came out of that not knowing God until 19 years of age. At that time, she met my dad coming out of the Navy at a coffee house on the east coast. She met him not knowing God but she always knew that there was a God. And because of the pain and torture she went through and all the things that I saw on her body growing up--things that no kid should see--to see how she treated my brother, my sister, and I was the coolest. She was very loving, supportive, and driven to steer us towards God. But we were still kind of babies growing up in the faith, needing to learn about God on our own.”

Chapter 2 on Joel coming soon.

Joel's Story - Chapter 2 "Am I Not Important"

"Growing up adopted, my siblings and I all went down a rough path. I got into a situation where I had some unhealthy relationships, searching for love. I was just trying to find this completion in my life, because I was wondering why was given up for adoption.  I kept asking, ‘Am I not important?’ As all these thoughts were going through my head, I wasn’t angry, I was just confused.

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Because of that, right before my mom passed away, I got  a rebellious streak, and everything that you think that you will never do as a Christian completely took a turn of events in my life.

At 15, I started abusing narcotics. I took things out my mom’s medicine cabinet that were prescribed to her for things that she was dealing with. I got into alcohol-- and this was while I was still going to church and leading worship groups. It is crazy how you can put on a different face and pretend you are happy everyday when inside you are really hurt and empty.

Between the ages of 15 and 21, I ended up in the hospital 3 times, almost dead because of the drugs and the alcohol. The third time I landed there was because I had blacked out and rolled my car off of the road. I didn’t even know what had happened. An ambulance had taken me to a local hospital with a concussion. I was only there for a few days, and as I was blacked out, I remembered having an encounter with God. The first thing I remember about waking up was saying ‘Jesus, I need your help. I need to be set free from this.’ I felt his love and presence enter me like never before.

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In that moment, God started doing surgery in my heart. I could feel him fixing things. When I got out of the hospital, I got into some counseling and accountability groups, as well as recovery classes to make sure that I didn’t go down that path again. I realized that I needed to start pressing towards God. So I got back into music and I started touring with my brother in a band. We would go to a lot of youth events and colleges. In that process, we had started recording our second record, and my life started to turn around and I started to become whole again. God had given me a new chance, and the thing is, I had to allow Him to. I had to do the work on my end, and it really paid off.

READ CHAPTER 1 OF JOEL'S STORY BELOW