Gratitude for Jesus and My Church! (Part 1 of 3)

By Chris Directo.

(HiloICoC•org Webserver note: This article is the first part in a three-part series. This group of articles is a testimonial of a member of the Hilo Church of Christ. The views presented in this testimonial are the views of the author, and not necessarily the views of the Hilo Church of Christ.)

“Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade men. What we are is plain to God, and I hope it is also plain to your conscience. We are not trying to commend ourselves to you again, but are giving you an opportunity to take pride in us, so that you can answer those who take pride in what is seen rather than in what is in the heart. If we are out of our mind, it is for the sake of God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you.” 2 Corinthians 5:11-13.

As I look back on my over fifteen years as a Christian, I realize that I have a lot to be grateful for. God has done so many miracles all around me. He has also used the people in my life to have a great impact on me.

I look back at three in particular.

Here’s the first person I’m thankful to God for.


Jesse and I hold up our Bible study notes during our first summer as Christians.

Jesse, who I sometimes refer to as “Jesus,” was the person who first studied the Bible with me. I’d known him since junior high school, but hadn’t seen him for a number of years. We were pretty good friends, but little did I know that I’d soon be owing my life to him.

Even the way we reunited shows how God was working in my life. When I was registering for my college class on O‘ahu during my freshman year, I lined up behind a local-looking guy. His back was to me, but as soon as he started talking, I recognized who it was. It was Jesse.

We started hanging out during our first month of college. We did a lot of “college” stuff together, until he started hanging out with some church people. He kept trying to invite me to do church stuff with his church friends, but I didn’t feel like it.

(I found out later that someone from church, a total stranger, had invited him to a campus Bible discussion. He went and started doing a lot of church activities.)

Jesse never gave up inviting me to church activities, and he also kept hanging out with me, although not as often as before. And I kept saying no to going to the church stuff.

Jesse has played an important role in my life. (photo by Chris Directo)

I finally said yes to one of Jesse’s invitations to a Sunday service that provided lunch after. Food meant a lot to me, a struggling college student, so I went to church for the food.

At least, I thought I went for the food.

As soon as the service started, I loved it. I was blown away by the singing, the fellowship and the preaching. Although God had always loved me, I had not loved him.

I fell in love with God that day.

Jesse was baptized soon after. A couple of weeks after that, I was baptized, and I have been a Christian for over fifteen years.

If Jesse had stopped talking to me about God, or if he became satisfied with himself learning about God’s grace and kept it for himself, or if he had “waited” for a convenient time when I would be receptive to God’s word, it’s arguable whether or not I would be under God today.

I feel God used Jesse to get my attention. God tried my whole life to show me his love. Because Jesse loved me enough to not give up speaking the good news of Jesus, I finally listened.

I owe my life to God, and, in a big way, also to my childhood friend Jesse.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of this series!