In a lifetime there are a handful of moments that are truly life changing. Some of these moments are more obvious. As a youth those moments can be your first discoveries of your skills, desires, your first crush, an influential teacher, a best friend and those interactions with your parents that truly do shape you for better or worse. When you leave the nest and spread your wings the decisions become more involved and carry much more weight. What will I do with my life? Where will I go to college? What do I want to study? How will I pay for it all? Should I start a business? Oh, I need to get a job, right?

As a believer in Jesus, it is important to put a premium on obeying Him and following the guidance of the Holy Spirit when it comes to decision making. The truth is that sometimes obeying God is a simple step of faith and other times it’s a huge leap into the unknown. That deeper place where God is calling us to trust Him above all.

I was 20 years old, living on my own, working a part-time job and going to school full-time. I was living in a different city and going to a different church than the ones I had grown up in. Life was not easy at all and I was very poor, but I loved Jesus. I wanted Jesus and his plans for my life, but I really had no idea what that meant. I was attending a community college, but had just been accepted to a local university. This is when my life really began to change!

I mentioned that new church I was going to… Well, I was getting involved and meeting new people. One of those people just happen to live in the condos across the street from me. His name is Elias Reyes. Elias became a friend even though he was commuting back and forth from DFW to Virginia where he had just taken a new position at a church. As the months went by, Elias knew I was making a big decisions about my future and school. One evening he came over and threw out the idea of a school called Hampton Masters Commission or HMC. HMC was an intensive year long discipleship school that was also partnered with a bible college. Well, HMC is in Virginia and I’m a TEXAN!! Every reason not to do this rose up in me and they all sounded good!

As the weeks went by, I continued to be nudged by the Lord about Virginia and HMC. But I’m strong and was always able to offer strong rebuttals (not really). However, I was a believer in Jesus and He is always the trump card. I was young in my faith and the Lord kept reminding me of that. I knew that I needed discipleship in a big way. Where do you get discipleship I thought? At a discipleship school obviously!! That spring I ended up flying out to Virginia to visit Elias and the school. Shortly after my return, I made the decision to obey the leading of the Holy Spirit and move to Virginia the following fall.

For a small town Texas kid, this was a huge life changing move. Elias braved the 24-hour drive with me of which I cried the first few hours. I had no idea what the future held, but I had peace that strengthened me in knowing I was obeying. Little did I know that this huge step of faith would literally being the stepping stone setting up my life, work, friendships and ministry for years to come.

20 Cedar Lane was the landing spot after our long trip east. Elias had just recently bought this beautiful home only a 1/4 mile from the banks of the James river in Newport News.

20 Cedar Lane to me represents faith. It represents growth. It represents transformation. It represents a boy becoming a man.

It was at 20 Cedar Lane where I submitted myself under character building mentorship (thank you, Elias). Over lunches in this home, I became best friends with a classmate who is still my BFF today (howdy, Nic). I also have some of my most cherished memories with some of my house mates (thanks Josiah & Matt). But really, 20 Cedar is where I learned how to walk and talk with the Lord and then take time to listen to what he is saying. I still walk, talk and listen to the Lord, but I do miss that James river scenery.

Time passed by and I ended up living in Virginia for three years. I spent three years in HMC and two years in bible college. These schools helped stabilize my Christian foundation, deepen my understanding of theology and allowed me to glean from wonderful leaders who became great friends.

I think God has a 20 Cedar Lane in all of our lives. Maybe even a handful of them. That time in life where you take a step of faith and God meets you right in the midst of it and changes your life forever! I pray that you would open your heart to those steps of faith even if they seem daunting and impossible. There are books to be written, business to be started, money to be given, relationship to be kindled, lives to be restored and His kingdom to advance.

I pray you find your 20 Cedar Lane.

Marvin Slaton – Modern Day Director

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