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How I found freedom beyond the rules

Sam Gibson thought going to church and following the rules was the same as following Jesus. Watch him share why he was wrong ...


Sam Gibson's idea of what it meant to be a Christian was all about following rules.

And growing up in church didn't stop him from breaking them — a lot.

"I wasn't influenced by the wrong crowd," he says. "I was the wrong crowd."

Sam discovered weed in middle school, and over the years, he progressed to harder and harder drugs.

One night, at a college party, he looked on the outside like he was having a great time doing all the drugs he get his hands on. But inside he remembered thinking, "If I do enough drugs, I probably won't wake up tomorrow, and that would be a good thing."

Sam didn't want to die. And he knew doing drugs wasn't what he needed to do with his life.

Sam reached out to his family, and they helped find a rehab clinic in Florence, South Carolina. In a year, he was clean.

"I wasn't clean because I wanted to be clean," Sam says. "I was clean because I didn't do drugs, and that's a big difference."

Then one of his teachers invited him to NewSpring on its opening day at Francis Marion University in 2008.

Sam wanted to follow Jesus, but he thought that meant going to church, reading his Bible occasionally, and maybe putting a "tip" in the offering bag.

Jesus did the entire to-do list.

At a Communion service the following Spring, he heard a warning not to take the bread and wine when you're living in unrepentant sin. For example, the speaker said, "if you're sitting next to the person who you slept with last night, and that's not your spouse."

Sam looked to his girlfriend, who is now his wife, and they knew they had to let the elements pass. 

As they left church that day, they agreed: "Either we stop going to church, or we figure out what following Jesus really means."

At a service a few weeks later — on May 17, 2009 — Sam recognized in a moment that being saved was never about doing all the right things. Salvation was about recognizing that God had done everything for him, and he had to surrender his life to Jesus.

"Jesus did the entire to-do list," he says. "He did that for me."

Sam started volunteering with Fuse and eventually became Florence Fuse Director in 2011. Now he serves as Florence Campus Pastor.

Press play to watch him talk about his life-transforming understanding of salvation.

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