Written by Maura Williams
Christopher Gerdeman’s story ends and begins on a cool November afternoon while he sat in his vehicle parked near an Eastern Jackson County lake.
His heart was broken. A woman he’d loved had ended the relationship that he’d forsaken family and friends for. He was only 22 years old yet he felt he had no reasons left to live.
Chris held a 38 revolver in his hand. He raised it and put the muzzle in his mouth. For a second, with his finger on the trigger, he thought, this is such a selfish thing to do. He pulled the trigger.
“I remember thinking, God must have something yet for me to do,” Chris recalled as he told his story of redemption.
Chris, now 24, had been a member of Graceway Church all of his life. As a child he’d come to church Sunday mornings with his parents. He made a bunch of friends and at 12 years old went to camp. As it so often happens, he was saved there.
“I decided to start walking with the Lord,” He said.
His relationship with God was just beginning. But by high school the allure of partying peers drew him into alcohol, drugs and sex, “all stuff I was raised not to do,” he said. “I just wasn’t paying attention to what God wanted me to do.” He hid the behavior from his parents for years. “I was just home long enough to sleep and shower.”
By college his carousing had gotten out of hand; it came to a screeching halt on a Kansas City road when the motorcycle he was a passenger on careened out of control and wrecked leaving Chris with cuts, bruises and a broken shoulder. “I was pretty banged up,” he recalls.
Recovery was long and slow, and Chris lost what had been his dream job as a lineman for Kansas City Power and Light. People he thought were his friends didn’t visit. Without a job, Chris exhausted his bank account trying to make ends meet.
A young woman he’d known did show up, time and again. Chris fell in love.
His wounds healed but he hadn’t completely changed his ways.
“But no matter how late I was out on a Saturday I was in church Sunday morning,” Chris said. “But I was kind of a false witness. I felt good about going, but I wasn’t applying any of it to my everyday life.”
When his girlfriend left, “it crushed me,” Chris said.
That day on the lake when he pulled the trigger, and the gun did not fire, Chris made a choice. “I had two groups of people in my life. One group was a bad influence, the other loves God. I decided to start focusing on God.”
Now when Chris sits in the seats at Graceway he absorbs the Word. Last year he started coaching T-ball, he’s joined small and medium groups and is cultivating good relationships with church friends – some new and others he’s known all his life.
In August Chris was baptized. “It was on my heart to do it.”
The smile on Chris’s face speaks volumes about his life today. “When I hit rock bottom, I realized I was either going to wither away or grow in Christ. I had to have been meant for something else. I have my ups and downs. But I am a whole new person.”