My name is Derek Cecil. About 5 or 6 years ago, my family was introduced to Pleasant Valley Community Church. We were connected to the church by our daughter’s school, through a program called “Love Loud.” At the time, we were not attending church regularly, we were not walking with Christ. I was battling addiction and was in and out of trouble. My wife was battling depression and anxiety. My children were young and hadn’t been taught about Jesus, they had never really heard the Gospel. My wife continued in the Love Loud program throughout the 2018/2019 school year. This was a year that would end up being life changing.
I ended up in trouble, again. My wife was at the point where forgiveness could not be given. It was a cycle she did not think she could repeat again. My stepdaughter’s heart had grown cold, she was tired of the cycle as well. My son would suffer and be so hurt when I was gone. My family was falling apart. Over the years, PVCC supported my family and spoke truth to us even when we wouldn’t or couldn’t hear it. During my last incarceration, I received a visit from a man I had met a couple times prior. He was a pastor at PVCC, Matt Woodfall (Pastor Woody). After our visit, I immediately went back to my cell and began reading my Bible. I made a promise to myself and my family: I would go to Friends of Sinners if the opportunity presented itself. I had made my mind up that I didn’t want to live the life I had been living anymore.
I was released from jail on January 23, 2019 and reported to FOS. My wife and children started attending Celebrate Recovery with me and began attending church every Sunday. I began seeing changes in myself, my heart began changing, and my family could see the changes as well. We have a better understanding of the Gospel and know that Jesus is the Great Redeemer. The more we began to believe, the more we could forgive, and we began loving each other with new hearts.
This year, I was baptized on March 10th. My wife and daughter were baptized on September 15th. We have become members of PVCC. We are in a Community Group at church and have made wonderful friends. For the first time, we can be on the other side of the “Love Loud Program” and it is a true blessing to be able to give back. I am 10 months sober; I have been able to go transitional from FOS and was able to move back home with my family on September 3rd. Jesus has saved me! He broke the chains and gave me more to live for than my addictions would have ever allowed me. He has taken away the resentments between my wife and I and gave us the platform to start new. He has melted my daughter’s heart and when she tells me she loves me; I know it to be truth. Jesus has made a way for me to be a sober and involved father to my son.
“And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.” Ezekiel 36:26
By Christ finding me, it has rippled throughout my entire family. None of this would have been possible by us relying on ourselves. We are forever thankful to those who never gave up on us. Jesus saved my family and made everything new.