Called by the Holy Spirit
When everything else fails, try Jesus. Derron Manning came to this realisation after searching for peace and comfort in all the wrong places and in the wrong things.
"I felt like I was at the end of the road, living a life outside of Christ. I had done all there was to do - the girls, parties, alcohol and ganja, but I was still empty. There was this longing in my heart for something more," he said, adding that he was brought up in the church so he knew what he needed to do to find what he was looking for.
"Somewhere along the journey, I felt like I needed to experience the world in a new way, so I knew I would go back to God one day," he told Family and Religion.
He was baptised in 2003 at 12 years old, but lost his way along the path. However, he recommitted in 2014 at the age of 22.
Manning said the catalyst that led to him recommitting his life to Christ was the constant feeling of loneliness and emptiness that he tried desperately to fill with other things of the world.
"I had reached a high point in my university career. I was fairly popular and had much influence on those around me. I started to deejay at parties and that added to the popularity. I attempted to run for a post in student leadership, but something deep down was saying 'no'. I tried to fight the feeling but couldn't. Now I know it was the Holy Spirit calling me," he explained.
"It was at a praise session that I cried out to God; it was the first time I can recall having a true encounter with Him. I could feel the chains breaking. For the first time, I was experiencing true freedom. I surrendered right there. Little by little, all my addictions started to fade and I began to experience the transformative power of God."
He said sometimes he remembers the things he used to enjoy and feels like going back just for another high. The key for him, however, is remaining prayerful and in tune with his Bible. Thankfully, he has friends who motivate him to use the word to fight back.
"The best thing about this journey is that I have true joy and I don't live a life of guilt. I can lift my hands without feeling condemned because I know I have been cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ. My past is my past and I know that great things are in store for my future and knowing the love of God makes all the difference," he lamented.
Manning is the prayer and evangelism coordinator for his local youth fellowship at the Bethesda Gospel Hall on Hanbury road in Mandeville. He also enjoys being around young people and ministers to others through his social media pages with text and videos.
"I just want to tell other young people that Jesus loves them. Despite their flaws and imperfections, they are loved. You can spend all your life trying to be accepted by everyone else and still come up short. People will always have something to say but you must know who you are and understand that God is able to turn your mess into a message.
"There is a difference between knowing church and knowing God. Many have fallen into a trap of just doing what seems to be right but not truly having a personal relationship with God, but when you know God for yourself, everything changes," he concluded.