“When I joined the Air Force, the playpen opened. I started a lifestyle of partying, pornography, and unhealthy relationships,” said James Romero. “I grew up in a home with unhealthy relationships, misunderstandings, and feelings of isolation from my family. As soon as high school ended the Air Force was my opportunity for a new life. I got really into physical fitness, and it felt good because I was getting attention from women. As this lifestyle continued, I started to feel empty. I definitely began to see these sin patterns and choices weren’t giving me life.
“When I was deployed to Iraq, there was a dependence on God, but my view was different than it is now. I acknowledged there is a God because I needed comfort. My life could have ended at any moment. At that time, I didn’t know what it meant to fully trust Christ with my life.
“After coming back to the States, I started a relationship with a girl I reconnected with from high school. When our relationship ended, the Lord continued to pursue me, and I started reading the Bible gifted from my dad when my parents separated. I had no idea what I was reading.
“One day while I was shopping at Central Market, I met a young woman who asked me thought provoking questions like, ‘If you were to die tonight how sure would you be that you would go to heaven?’ In our conversation, she invited me to go to The Porch, Watermark’s young adults ministry on Tuesday nights, with her and her sister. I only went to church a handful of times growing up, so I wasn’t familiar with the Christian church. I was overwhelmed by The Porch experience, but God continued to pursue me.
“At the service, God reached my heart through the music. I don’t even remember what the sermon was. I just remember music about a God who loves me, who cares for me, and who is pursuing me. Jesus Christ offered me the free gift of His grace and forgiveness that He paid for on the cross. I didn’t realize I was hearing the gospel, but God was opening my heart to receive it. I remember going home after that and saying a simple prayer to trust in Christ and to turn to Him for the forgiveness of my sins.
“From that moment forward, it was radical life-change. I joined a community group with a group of men who helped me learn to confess my sins and insecurities. These men showed me how to walk with Jesus, read the Bible, fast, pray, and have authentic relationships. They taught me the purpose of community and the benefits of walking in the light.
“One of the guys was attending re:generation, Watermark’s biblical recovery ministry, and invited me to join. I had no idea what it was, but I trusted my community’s suggestions. Re:generation proved to be another step toward my full devotion to Christ. It was through this ministry I realized no sin or addiction had power or control over me because of Christ’s power, not my own. Re:generation was a tool that grew my relationship with Christ to a deeper level of dependency and trust.
“Later when my wife, Kate, and I started dating, we had a mutual desire to prepare well for marriage. Throughout our dating relationship and engagement, we were able to seek counsel from the Christians around us for all of our decisions. Because of the discipleship and the biblical community I had been a part of, I wanted to go into marriage leading Kate well and loving her selflessly. I knew it was necessary to abide with Christ, be in His word, and be surrounded by other godly men before making a lifelong commitment.
“Even with all of our preparation, marriage has still been a learning process. Our big struggle has been communication – allowing the other person to share their feelings and thoughts without interruption. God has used marriage to teach me how to have a servant’s heart. I never thought doing dishes or going to the grocery store would be opportunities to grow closer to Him or ways to glorify His name, but I imagined Jesus standing next to me, saying, ‘James, this is what I do for you, I clean up your mess. I’m always cleaning your mess, and I never leave.’ It was such a powerful moment to realize how much Christ does for me daily.
“Four years later, our full trust in Christ is still helping to strengthen our relationship. Even though I fail every day, I’ve learned how to depend on His Word and His people. My trust and commitment to Christ has allowed me to grow in my faith and in servanthood, not just to Kate, but to everyone the Lord has put in my life.”