All I ever wanted to be was a rock star. 

At age 24 with hair two feet down my back and an earring, I was the drummer in a rock-and-roll band.

Though I had grown up in a religious Italian-American family, I knew nothing about a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

It was the 1980s, and my “day job” was at a music store in Huntsville. A colleague named Mark Warren was a member of a local evangelical church. He spoke to me about God.

I was unreceptive.

All the stories you hear about the worst part of the “rock-and-roll lifestyle” were part of my life: drugs, cigarettes and carnal relationships. By 1984, I was seriously considering suicide.

On the road for a gig in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, we pulled into a service station. The windows were down and, while we weren’t looking, someone placed an evangelistic tract on the back seat. I found it, quickly flipped through it, understood its clear message about how to go to heaven and avoid hell — and then tossed it out the window.

Later, sitting depressed in the back of a darkened night club, the rest of the band rehearsed as I planned my suicide.

In those moments of deep despair, I felt God say to me, “The success and peace you are seeking and desiring you will find in a one-on-one relationship with Jesus Christ.”

That wasn’t the moment when I accepted Christ. The next few days were a blur.

When I returned to Huntsville, Mark invited me to a revival service. During the invitation, He asked if I would like him to go forward with me.

As we huddled with the pastor, Mark was crying — his tears soaking my red-and-white pinstriped shirt. 

I heard God say to me, “As Mark sheds his tears, so my Son has shed His blood for your sins. Go free.”

I looked at the pastor and said, “I am a free man.” I walked back to my seat. I never again did cocaine or tobacco. Christ had set me free from this bondage.

Later I moved to Montgomery, joined a Christian band and began work as a graphic artist. I also finished a degree in graphic design at Auburn University Montgomery.

Now as husband to my wife, Donna, and father to our three sons — Nathaniel, Jacob and Joseph — I want to be the godly man Christ wants me to be.

Our lives have been touched by two Montgomery churches. At Vaughn Forest Baptist Church I played drums for three years as part of the worship team. Back when we first joined, VFBC was a new church start — meeting in trailers, one of which was a mobile chapel provided by the State Board of Missions.

Now our family serves God at Montgomery’s First Baptist Church — also a strong missions-minded church, which started Vaughn Forest.

As a state missionary, I seek to honor God and help His kingdom by striving for excellence as the graphic artist on staff at the State Board of Missions.

Once I wanted to be a rock star. Now I just consider it an honor to serve the Rock of Ages as one of His ministers.

– Jesse Conte

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