“… for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”
(Philippians 2:13)


God@Work in the life of Steve Scarduzio

“I just wanted to run away from the life I had here in South Jersey and Philly.”

“I see God’s hands in every part of my life,” Steve can say today, but growing up this was not the case. Steve not only struggled with his purpose in life; he didn’t understand the purpose of life. As a young boy, he always had a strong belief there “must be something more,” but what was it? “I used to get headaches, even nightmares, trying to picture what was here, before anything was here. It’s hard to explain, but I wondered what existed beyond what existed. I remember when I was around eight, waking up from seeing blackness, nothingness.” For much of his life he never felt he fit in anywhere.

At birth, damaged kidneys prompted surgery at six weeks old, resulting in removal of one kidney and then more surgeries for the other during the next few years. Doctors told his parents he would suffer kidney failure at puberty. At age thirteen, Steve was put on dialysis. Whether due to hospital operations or not, Steve was also painfully shy. “I didn’t really talk, not even to extended family members. I was afraid of adults.” When he and his parents ate out at restaurants, he would not speak directly to the server, but instead whisper his order to his mother who would then relay it to the server.

Through his Jewish mother and Gentile father, he was raised in the Jewish faith, given a bris and bar mitzvah, yet he didn’t really know much about Judaism and never had a real relationship with God. “We basically celebrated the Jewish holidays.” The family would visit his paternal grandparents at Christmas where Grandfather Guss and Grandmother Ava had a huge impact on his life. “My grandparents were strong and faithful Christians. They never preached or judged. They just loved me and my sister.” His parents and his older sister, Gina, were always there for him through all the struggles. But mostly, sickness and insecurity shaped his young life. One of his proudest moments was winning the Most Courageous Athlete award in his senior year of high school.

“I just wanted to run away from the life i had here in South Jersey and Philly.”

A chance encounter between his parents and a former baseball coach opened up a job opportunity in Atlanta, and Steve was eager to move. “I just wanted to run away from the life I had here in South Jersey and Philly. I was miserable, and my parents knew it.” In Atlanta, he had a decent salary, a brand new car, and a new roommate, Trevor, another employee at the printing company who happened to be a Christian. Steve thought Trevor and his friends were nice, but they seemed “weird.” Christians were a little “strange.” They would bring Bibles over. They didn’t drink. They didn’t curse. What fun could they have?

Within six months of the job, his boss ? a former high school “friend” ? began blaming Steve for all the business problems in the office, yelling and lambasting him so others could hear. The conditions were awful and the accusations unfair, but “I couldn’t leave my job because I needed money. If I went home, I would feel like a failure.” Because Trevor worked the night shift, most evenings meant being alone, full of anxiety. The world seemed black and hopeless.

“I was so lonely, I began going out to bars and clubs, drinking in order to have the courage to talk to people. I tried to “have fun,” but the next day I would wake up feeling hungover, realizing I had spent lots of money for nothing.” After months of feeling sick and tired, one day while lying in bed, something told him, “Enough is enough. If you continue this way, you are going to die.”

Nervous and shaking, Steve walked downstairs and asked Trevor if he could go to church with him. Trevor’s response was jubilant. “He jumped off the couch with a huge smile, eyes watery, and gave me a hug. He seemed so excited.” Even though his dad was a Gentile, Steve felt a little guilty, like he was hurting his Jewish family by going to church. “But something was missing inside me, an emptiness that I later found only God can fill.” At Trevor’s church, Steve asked Jesus into his heart and began to learn how God can change a life. He understood that Jesus/Yeshua was the Messiah.

After ten months more, due to the brutal job situation, Steve returned home and worked at another job in accounting. But not having a church or Christian friends, he returned to his old friends, many of whom would make fun of his new Christianity, his Gentile identity, making vulgar jokes. Not going to a church or walking with the Lord, “I got very depressed and life seemed kind of hopeless again. I didn’t really want to live.” Then one night while searching for music, he stumbled upon a song called “Golden” by the band Switchfoot, a Christian group, whose lyric “You are golden, you are golden, child,” spoke to his soul.

Health problems resurfaced in 2012. Then, a confluence of events and people made Steve realize that “It was time to get right with the Lord.” While in the recovery room, after a successful aortic valve replacement, Steve aspirated, his lungs severely burned and damaged. Doctors induced a coma and told Steve’s sister that he may not make it. A tracheotomy was placed in his neck along with a feeding tube. During the month-long coma, Steve had vivid dreams of Jesus and him floating above the Earth together. He had a dream of moving to Kansas City where his uncle, a Christian, lived! His sister’s friends, Lori and TJ, perfusionists at Lakenau Hospital, were Christians who cared for him. Shortly after he returned home, he read a testimony on Facebook from the football player David Akers and then saw a response from Danielle Batten who mentioned FAC. Danielle responded to his post by inviting him to attend church. Since that auspicious Sunday morning in February 2013, after “a first uncomfortable walk into church,” Steve’s life has been undergoing a joyful transformation.

The Catalyst Men’s Group has helped deepen his spiritual walk and fellowship. His dad has joined the group also. Together with Joelle Clark, he formed a singles miniChurch at FAC. He also ministers to the homeless in Camden. Steve is hoping to begin counseling studies soon. “I know now that I’m not a victim in this life. I’m here for a reason ? to serve and love the Lord, and my confidence is in Him. I feel I have a purpose in my life to inspire others. God wants not 10% of my heart or income but 100% of my life. And now I look around for people to say hi to.”

Several weeks ago, Steve attended a tent meeting where one of the speakers chatted with Steve before the service. When he heard Steve’s story, he asked him to share it with the audience. With some hesitation, Steve felt the Spirit say, go for it. “I would have never imagined in a million years that this shy, quiet, sick Jewish boy from Cherry Hill could get up in front of a large group of total strangers, Baptists, at a tent revival meeting ? sharing my testimony of God’s grace in my life.” Philippians 4:13 has become one of Steve’s favorite verses: “I can do all things through Messiah Jesus, who strengthens me.”

Steve still hooks up to dialysis five days a week, three hours a day, but he knows that God is with him 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, in a coma or in front of an assembly and that God can use him for His glory at any place or time. “Life is busy. Get into the Word. Bear one another’s burdens. See God’s hands in every part of your life.”