What is heartsupport?
Heart Support is a non-profit organization built on a foundation of faith; one that desires to strengthen the youth and adults of today. An online community built to encourage, inspire and bring a message of hope. A place for anyone to talk about struggles and difficult issues and to find healing and strength in this community.
Our ultimate vision is to have a team men and women equipped in counseling today’s youth and young adults to be used as a tool in prevention and mentoring others.
Meet our team members
I was raised in a non-Christian family, and this is my story of how God found me. My parents divorced when I was at a very young age. My father moved to Virginia where his parents lived, and my mother, sister and I staying in South Carolina. We moved from our beautiful home in Greenville, SC to the government aid housing in the same area. We lived there for a year and a half, then settled in Columbia, SC where I grew up most of my life. Transitioning from government aid housing into a location with great schooling and a different lifestyle all around was difficult for me. Because I didn’t have many friends and was struggling to find a place, I held onto my sister for dear life to have someone to connect with. Both of my parents at this time remarried and I lived with my mother, sister, and now my step father. Having step parents is a very difficult thing to understand and deal with at such a young age. Now however I understand much more and love both of them dearly.
Moving from the “ghetto” to a neighborhood in Columbia caused me to grew through the ghetto lifestyle and into the punk rock scene. By going to shows at the age of 16 I had my first encounter with what I believe to be my first true “desire.” To be in a band, and play music, to express my pain, angst, and love through music alone. I started my first band with some friends called “Smash Adams.” Practicing in my mothers house above the garage and playing small shows around town, VFW halls, and at our high school. I then moved onto a band called “Last To Know”, playing with them brought more experience, but the band that really set me in my ways and pursuit was “She Walks In Beauty.” At this time I was about 18 or 19 years old. It was your typical metalcore band yet reaching heights in our local scene and playing shows outside of my state made me believe it was just the beginning, or so I thought. I would work two jobs during the summers so that I could afford merch to sell at my sell at our shows. My Popa gave me a check to record our first demo. I was truly seeing my dream come true. I was making a name for myself and doing what I always wanted. Unfortunately, I also dove head first into drinking, partying, lustful acts and experimenting with certain drugs. I ended up moving out of my mothers house and into a house with 4 dogs and 3 roommates. My room was the size of a closet! I went to a technical college but dropped out using the excuse that “it took up too much of my time.” I sold my Nissan Maxima for a cargo van so I could actually have a “touring” vehicle for out of state shows.
I decided later on to take two classes at the technical college, one being Introduction into Audio Engineering and the other in Music Business. During that time, my band fell apart at the seams. Some of my guys wouldn’t even show up for practice; one quit and the other one would always show up drunk. I saw my dreams and passions falling apart, thus making me extremely depressed. I started going to the practice sheds on a nightly basis, watching other bands practice while I drowned my sorrows in any bottle of alcohol I could get my hands on. At this time I was living with my friends and working for a handyman, waking up between 4-5 a.m. to work until 5 p.m. four days a week. I’d come home to more drinking and partying. I hit a dead end in my life. I was sleeping around with girls and dipping my hands in drugs occasionally. I also had a close family member who struggled with heroin at the time, and that alone was a huge trial and brought me much pain. I have personally never dealt with heroin or cocaine, but seeing it first hand and how it was affecting my family member was a huge issue in my life. By the age of 19, I was struggling with so many things. Not being loved by my family, lost in drugs, alcohol and girls. I had no where to go and no one to reach out to. I started to feel worthless and hollow. I began to think of committing suicide. I thought of leaving all of this crap behind. At the time, I figured where ever I was going to go had to be better than the place I was in! I remember sitting in my seat in class with my head down crying in despair, and asking God WHY!
Then the day came that completely changed my life. I was working on a house with my boss one morning and decided to go outside for a cigarette. I talked to the Lord and told him “God, if you are real, if your son Jesus Christ is truly real, then show me! I don’t want my life, and if you want it you can have it, but if not then I’m going to kill myself…” I instantly felt an enormous flow of love in my soul. I couldn’t stop smiling! I was still in the same place, with the same struggles, working at LOVED! I was no longer ALONE! I felt someone cared! That someone was God! I then took on a whole new life that God had given me. He was there to help me, to show me the way, to bring understanding to this mess I had called life. I was the happiest man on earth that day. I truly didn’t have to kill myself or live like this any longer. God was there to show me the way out and to live a filled life! That night I started to pray to him and think of ways I could work on who I was and where I was. I started reading the bible and looking at myself in a whole new light.
A few months later I got the opportunity to be a member of an amazing metal band called August Burns Red, which I have been a member of for more than 4 and 1/2 years! I tour the world and consistently build my life with Christ as my cornerstone. Recently God has put on my heart to reach out to other people and to tell them of God’s love for us! It is an honor for me to do so, thus I decided to start YourLife Ministries. I appreciate your time and reading my testimony. There are some things I did not explain through great detail but if you’d like to know more about particular things in my life, feel free to contact me on the “Ask Us” link. Their are too many stories of my life, and if I were to try and type them all out, I think i’d be able to write a book or two! Thanks again and God Bless!
“so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ”. ~ Ephesians 3:17-18
Editor-at-large for Heart Support, writer, literary enthusiast, and rad wife. Passionate about encouraging and investing in today’s youth, with a heart for mentoring and inspiring young women.
Watch Ben’s testimony below:
The question you may be asking yourself, because the video leaves you hanging, is “What happened!? How are you here now!?”
Upon returning home to Houston I packed up everything within a few days and moved to Austin, TX where one of my best friends, and staunch atheist, offered his couch as a place for me to get my life together. I lived on his couch as a shell of a man, crying at night when he was sleeping, and drinking the pain away. My friend came up, however, with a solution to cure my depression. CHURCH! He would take me to church to “find a nice Christian girl to rebound from the divorce”. So an atheist and a drunk walk into a church…….no…really.
We ended up at a church called Gateway that was the only church my friend could stomach and actually enjoyed. He had told me he had heard it was “fun” to which I responded, “I don’t know about this…….church isn’t supposed to be fun”. For the first time in my life I heard the Gospel, and NOT religion, but the good news of Jesus Christ – that the maker of heaven and earth wanted to enter into your pain with you, died on a cross for it, so that you were no longer a slave to a pattern of destruction, and loves you more right now that he does on your best day. From there I met three men (one of which was our lead pastor) who took an uncanny interest in me and began to show me and live out this reckless, untamed, grace-filled Jesus I had never heard of. I fell in love with the Jesus these men told me about and began to serve at the church.
Crazy things happened. I started changing. Things I didn’t even want to change began disappearing. I remember one day when I realized I hadn’t looked at pornography in 3 months and thought something was wrong with my libido. The more I fell in love with Jesus the more he began to whisper “see this area here in your life that’s destructive…..I want that too.” Sometimes I resisted. Christ would win out. And I never did it begrudgingly. I discovered more joy and ultimately found I was most content in my life by glorifying and enjoying God. I even wrestled with and asked God whether I was to remain single for the rest of my life because of the divorce. That struggle became moot when I met a woman that understood grace and Jesus’ heart better than I had, especially when I discovered I was the only man she had ever dated or kissed and didn’t care about my past. We were married in August of 2011 and are college pastors at our church.
Christ has a redemptive story for us all. He will take the least of us and transform us for his glory and put men and women in our lives to be his emissaries. My prayer is that I can partner with you in that and help guide you, answer questions, and be an incarnational version of Jesus to you. I want to get messy in YOUR life.
“And I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding.”
I was 10 when I first watched porn. And since then I was hooked. I entered high school when I was 12 and ran from fear, rejection, and hurt into porn and video games. I’d wake up at 6AM and play till 2AM during the summer and would watch porn to forget that I was wasting my life away. Every night, when I left my computer, I spun around in my chair and wondered what the point of my life was. But I never stopped long enough on that question because I just buried the answer deeper and deeper under headshots and naked women.
Three years later, when I was playing on stage at my church pretending to be Christian to hook up with girls, the answer to that question came to me. My youth pastor walked in and started worshipping, and something changed. God chose me. Even as I was lying and pretending to get with girls I only wanted to use. Even as I was six years deep into my addiction to pornography. Even as I was using every waking moment to live in a virtual world that wasn’t as hard as the one I was really in. Even still, He gave me two things that day that have never left me: hope and purpose. Hope that He’s real and that He loves me just as I am. And purpose for my life that never ends even when I give up on it sometimes.
But not everything changed. I was still drowning in addiction and chasing my value in women. And one year later, a friend of mine asked me to help get them to rehab for an addiction to drugs. As I found her answers, God led me to the man who would eventually be my sponsor through the Twelve Steps. In the two years since, God has healed me in so many ways. He’s done unimaginable things through me. And He’s been with me unfailingly as He promised. And even though sometimes I still fail, I have a God who walks with me every step, every stumble, and every fall. To pick me up, dust me off, and cheer me on. I don’t have to be perfect because I have a Savior who was. And He gave that to me when He was killed for me and came back to life. Just because He wants me.
So now I’m trying to spend my life loving others that same way: stupid. The irrational, confusing, you-shouldn’t-still-love me kind of way. In hopes that they’d see through me the Savior who does the same for me each and every day. Because I have a hope that it’s real. And I have a purpose to live and love like it is too.
I’m a skeptic. In all things.
When I first started asking questions about Jesus as a teenager, I wasn’t looking for him. I was looking for proof.
I’m good at that after all. I’ve spent most of my 25 years of life asking questions and telling stories and working to get the truth. It wasn’t a surprise then when in college and post-graduation, my work was primarily in journalism where I worked as a reporter writing about divided city governments, torrential storms, car accidents and holiday festivals.
I came to know Christ through a firestorm of skeptical queries. I asked a lot of questions and read a lot of books in high school about God until he stopped me and asked me his own question: Will you follow me?
I wish I could tell you everything changed after that. I wish I could tell you I became kinder and a better person suddenly. I wish I could tell you I stopped asking questions, but that didn’t happen.
See, I’m also a worrier. See, I need Jesus every day. God has to step in to remind me of his greatness every day. He has shown me in my fear that he is meant to be glorified through my weakness.
I’ve walked away bruised from broken friendships, and I’ve fallen in love with the wrong men before. I’ve said horrible things to those closest to me and I’ve taken too long to apologize, but Christ gives me hope and grace, and I want to follow that.
One of my favorite stories in the bible is of the prophet Isaiah. He was preaching in Judah when seraphs appear around him singing, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.” Then God asks him “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”
Isaiah answers, “Here am I. Send me.”
I want to answer that way. It might be scary and it might not be easy, but I want to go do hard things for Christ. And for me that meant telling stories about fear and failure about Christ and faith. So after getting married in 2012, I pulled away from the newspaper business and starting looking for ways to combine my love of the written word with my faith.
I don’t have a biblical degree and I’m not an expert. I say sarcastic things, and sometimes my soul is downcast. Some days I’m lost. Some days I don’t understand.
But in all my questioning, in all my worries, God has shown up to trump my uncertainty and his love outdoes me.
Every time. Without a doubt. Without a question.
I’ve seen so much in 25 years. I’ve passed by good things to chase this one great dream of mine. They always said, “It’s all about the chase.” Well, maybe they’re right. But when the chase is over, I’ll know it’s on this road that I’ve found the God who has all along been chasing me.
I’d give nothing to get my younger years back. For all I’ve seen, for all I’ve felt, for all I’ve learned. I am found in Germany tonight and all the world can’t find me wishing I was somewhere else instead. With these little legs and calloused hands I’ve shown the world my gift. Matthew, “Gift Of God.” If all the world is my easel, then the stage is my canvas and these drum-sticks my brushes.
I grew up in a home that was safe. I knew about God as far back as I can remember. I knew what was wrong according to the Bible’s set of guidelines and I knew what was expected of me as a Christian boy in a Christian home. But there was an emptiness in the pit of my stomach that I wasn’t fully aware of until I was all alone in a hotel room in Finland in 2009.
It’s not until you find yourself outside the bubble you’re born into that you realize how big the world really is. You become aware of all of the souls who were discarded and never put back on the shelf. You find that at the end of the day, we’re all just looking for genuine love, love that doesn’t leave when the going gets hard. Love that says it’s ok and picks you back up when all is lost.
I looked for love in pornography for 10 years. For a decade I lost myself in a world of fantasy, a world of selfishness, a world of pain. I knew getting out was the answer but I chose to stay. On August 6, 2010 at 8:32pm, I prayed with a friend on a rooftop in Connecticut and made the decision to be free of pornography, in Jesus’ name.
Pornography is wrong. It is a popular, powerful, painful, lifestyle that will never reward you joy. It will only steal from you, and keep on stealing. Over and over and over again.
Though only a small subject in the context of my ‘testimony,’ it’s this one thing that ruined my life…until I found redemption in Christ’s love. There is a road that leads home and many men better than me have walked right past it. But I won’t make that mistake; I’ve found love and oh how He loves. The bruises on my fists are the story of my return.
Being raised Roman Catholic I was baptized as baby. While my parents considered the ways of Catholicism to be important, the faith became centered on works instead of actual knowledge and application. Thus, faith became very stagnant as we went to Church each Sunday but failed to have a weekly understanding. At the age of 9 my parents strayed from the ways of the Church, running from God entirely. Naïve, my brother and I both followed suit and walked alongside them. The next four years were spent running from God, misunderstanding his desire for my life, while I continuously chased after bad decisions.
When I was 13 my best friend passed away from a chronic heart condition. It was then that I truly began to experience great frustration with God and myself. I was disappointed that there was nothing I could do to understand the situation; I was angry with God for taking him from me. The months following brought with them a great deal of emotional and spiritual scarring. In an effort to cope with the pain and resentment I began to self-harm, leaving the story and pain on my arms and legs as a constant reminder of the hardest struggle of my life. The guilt continued setting in as I pushed the blame and aggravation to God.
At 14 I watched as my next-door neighbor, attended her local church each Sunday with her family. Eventually she asked me to come along to a morning service and later invited me to her Wednesday youth group. While at first skeptical and still disappointed with God, I decided to go with her and get a feel for the Christian community once again. It was in her youth group that I was truly able to begin to ask some of the questions I’d been wondering about and to let go of some of the anger surrounding my friend’s death. I continued to go with her and her family to service as I attempted to reevaluate God. That same year, in the middle of winter I sat with my friend in her garage talking about the service when we got home one afternoon. After explaining to her that I wanted to reinvest my relationship with Jesus, I asked her to pray with me asking Jesus to come and be the savior of my life. I remember being at my most vulnerable, crying hysterically and sitting on the cold cinderblock of her chilly garage. It was then that I asked Jesus to take command of my life so I could be saved.
Although I had asked for Jesus to be my Savior, the application and understanding of faith still wasn’t strong. It wasn’t until I got to my sophomore year of college, where I attended my first campus fellowship meeting, that God truly started molding my heart and speaking to me. In March of the following year I witnessed the baptism of my good friend, Caylynn, and watched as God truly transformed her to be His. It was then that I saw others on fire for God and begged to follow in their footsteps, chasing after and learning to be like Christ. I returned to my dorm room that afternoon with the intent to speak with God and ask for forgiveness. Following this claim, I was baptized this past November and given new life in His love.
Since developing my relationship with Jesus and seeing His greatness I have truly begun to listen and recognize my purpose. In this world I’m simply meant to reach out and help. I’m created by God to offer hope and restoration to those with a story. I’m created to walk along the broken in times of struggle, to make sense of life, and offer God’s love unending. As I continue through my journey with Jesus He has provided me the tools to offer the message of hope to others. I look forward to lighting the world in counseling and providing restoration. Now, as the scars exist to tell the story of what has passed, they serve also as a point to talk how God has rescued me from one of the deepest points of my life. Through Jesus’ love and the promise that his word offers to each of us as sons and daughters, I confidently stand before the world as a movement of His love. Each day I’m thrilled to be called His, to recognize the struggle, and to feel the joy of a greater restoration.