Passing of close friend and family split motivated Jay to hope for something better
Wishing like every young person to be carefree, Jay Cook faced only an exhausting struggle with depression for which alcohol was an unsatisfying solution.
“I hung out with friends who smoked and did drugs most weekends whilst at parties,” Jay says. “I drank most weekends as they drank also.”
He admits to having “no real regard” for his wellbeing or that of others, and because he lacked direction in life he was unable to process two painful events.
“I battled depression for several years with the separation of my parents and again for a short time with the passing of a close friend,” he explains.
During this toughest time of his life, he remembers briefly contemplating suicide.
Not looking forward to another weekend of drinking, one night Jay asked a close friend about the Christian youth group he attended.
“That Friday night I had a great time,” Jay recalls. “Before I left, I spoke with the youth pastor about God and how Christianity works.”
Now curious about the unusual joy these Christians had, Jay began grilling his friend about the “Lord Jesus Christ” they talked about.
“My friend was so great to talk to,” Jay says, “because he didn’t at all try to preach or force his faith on me. He sat back and let me ask him questions.
“I think I would have asked him several hundred questions over the next week or so.”
After enjoying the next youth group night, Jay decided to investigate more at the Sunday morning church service.
“I always knew that God existed,” Jay acknowledges. “I just never knew how He fitted in with my life and what it would mean to follow Him, because I was raised with no religious values whatever.”
After attending church for a month, Jay remembers asking himself one Sunday night, “Why is my life really looking up?”
“The only reason I could think of was attending church,” he recalls.
The evidence of God’s hand was indisputable. “God is working in my life!” Jay exclaimed to himself.
Late that night, he decided to pray for the first time.
“I thanked God for the past month and the changes in my life. And I asked that it would continue and that He take care of me always.”
Not long after this, Jay began to regularly meet with a church pastor, and later surrendered his life to the Lord Jesus Christ, in total trust that He took the punishment for his wrong-doing.
“Since becoming a Christian I have moved away from the bad influences in my life and grown closer to the young adults at my home church,” Jay says gladly.
Jay recalls that his close friend helped him realise that he could enjoy life to the fullest without hanging around those who drank, smoked and did drugs.
“God helped me understand that I didn’t need be around those people I thought were friends when I could fill my life with Him and Christian people.”
In early 2012, Jay met his wife Jess at a young adults’ supper, right at the time when he was very content in singleness.
“I had spent a long time looking and seeking a partner with no luck, but God’s timing is everything,” Jay says.
“When He felt that I was ready, He provided me with the eyes and heart to see who He had for me.”
Jay recognises that being a Christian is not without its struggles, as the change in his values and beliefs led to him moving out of home.
Since he was examining everything according to God’s Word, the Bible, Jay explains that “I saw things that I never saw before in my home.”
Moving away from his family led to struggles with loneliness, but he reports that “God has provided me with the security I need, He has kept me feeling safe, and has provided friends to help me through.”
In January 2013, Jay and Jess Cook were married.