CeCe Sims and Doug Bender have something in common - growing up was tough.
They are the latest additions to the I Am Second video website and both share their experience about how the pressures of youth impacted them and how they found God in the midst of that.
CeCe Sims grew up in Nashville, Tennessee, and after school got a scholarship at Auburn playing basketball. But when the pressure became too much, she turned to drugs and alcohol.
"The weight of life got to me," she said.
Her confidence began to ebb and playing basketball wasn't bringing the same joy. The lack of confidence led her to feel that she was not good enough for the team but she also felt unable to quit and disappoint her parents. When it all got too much, she faked her own kidnapping.
She ended up in rehab to sort out her confidence issues but she found something else there too - God.
"I just so much wanted to get an understanding of God that would almost answer every insecurity that I had about myself," she said. As a result, Jesus became her best friend and her insecurities went away.
Doug Bender is a small group leader and author of "I am Second: Real Stories. Changing Lives". He recalls the pain of growing up without friends and the nights he spent crying himself to sleep.
He also shares the scars from the time he had a birthday party and no one showed up. The lack of friendship made him question what was wrong with himself, and to feel as though no one loved him. He begged, "God, I just want one good friend."
When his family moved to Virginia, the trauma of the birthday party continued to hang over his head and he remained so insecure that he would run away when someone came to talk to him.
"I didn't quite understand the fact that God loved me," he said. "I just wondered... because I didn't love me."
After some time in Virginia, a boy named Daniel became his friend and when his 16th birthday came round, more than 30 people showed up.
Despite all the new found friendships, what Daniel appreciated the most was that God had heard his one small prayer and answered it, and more importantly, what he had realised was that all this time God had been his friend.
He shared: "All these years I had prayed, God I just want one good friend, I want one person who cares about me, who hears me when I talk, that knows me in all my awkwardness and still likes me, that's all I want, just one person who likes me. And that day I finally realised that God was that person, God was my friend."
John Humphrey, I Am Second project manager for e3 Partners Ministry, the organisation behind the website, "These stories demonstrate, once again, how God can heal the brokenness in our lives. Only by making Him first can we be truly whole."
I Am Second looks at self-confidence issues
Published 22 August 2012