Christopher Bartninkaitis is only 20, but his life has been a roller-coaster ride.
I became a Christian about three years ago when I got to a point in my life where I had tried everything—drugs, smokes and alcohol. Even though they made my problems and concerns disappear for a while, they came back and were twice as bad. When I became a Christian something sparked and I was happy again. I knew I could talk to God and he would be there for me.
As a child, my parents took me to church every Sunday and taught me the Christian faith, but there was a downfall in my life when my parents divorced when I was eight, and my sister moved in with my mum. This was a hard part in my life as I was so close to my sister and mother.
In 2008 my father remarried, and he and my stepmother had two younger boys. At that time my sister moved back in with my father as my mother had a mental breakdown and was diagnosed with bipolar disorder.
When I was 14 I moved from Perth to Tasmania. This was a new start for me and I was really going well in life until I hit 16 and my other family moved to Tasmania, and where I was staying was no longer an option.
So I moved into a homeless shelter as I was not welcome at home. The homeless shelter became my home for the next 12 weeks. That is when things went really downhill.
I didn’t know who I was, where this Jesus guy was and why he would be doing this to me and taking my family away from me.
I went searching for hope in other areas. Smoking, binge drinking, taking drugs and sex. All these things just found to be a temporary ‘fix’ for my hurt and brokenness.
By the age of 17 I felt enough was enough. The only friends I had were just hanging out with me because I had money, drugs or alcohol. I still had no family and no connection to my sister, which hurt.
The only person who stuck through it all with me was my best mate, who realised the whole time how stuffed up my life was and thought it was time for him to invite me to church.
Within a few months of me attending his church I was playing in their youth band and had made the best decision in my life—that was giving my life to Jesus Christ.
From that moment Christ led me to missions with YWAM (Youth With a Mission) from July to December in 2014. In 2015 I completed my certificate 4 in Christian Ministry and Theology through C3 College. I’m passionate about kids’ ministry. To be able to see kids learning and understanding the love of Jesus Christ and seeing him impacting their lives for the better is just amazing.
I love my church, Rockingham Salvation Army, because it has such a family vibe; from the minute I walked in I felt welcomed, loved and cared for.
This year has probably been the best one yet. I work part-time at The Salvation Army as the children’s and families ministry assistant. I’m also a part-time carer for my mother, and I have an amazing girlfriend who has a family that treats me well.
My life has totally changed dramatically for the better. From someone who went to parties every week and got wasted to someone now who is working in a church and serving God’s kingdom.
I give all the praise and honour to God Almighty for sticking by me and giving me amazing opportunities to serve his Kingdom.