I was not familiar with God and did not know that He was alive and present everywhere. I grew up in a very messed-up way; I am sure that there are many who suffer worse, but it is still hard to look back and see where I come from.
Both my mother and father were addicted to crack while I was growing up; I spent most of my time in the homes of relatives or friends. God was never mentioned in my home and all I learned from my parents was how to make a crack pipe out of nothing. I remember being a decent kid, craving a close personal relationship with just about anybody, so when my mother got pregnant I could not wait to have a sibling. I found out it was going to be a baby brother; I can still feel the chills on my body when I think back at that day I found out I would have a companion. I was eight years old when my brother was born and I really could not play with him much. I wanted to be outside running around building stuff and things like that, but he was just a baby. I still felt alone. My parents, as always, were very irresponsible and always made me care for my brother. So he became somewhat of a burden and not much of a companion as I had initially thought. There were many times that my parents would leave in the middle of the day and leave me to care for my brother all on my own and they would not return till the next day or the next night. It was frightening at times, sleeping alone in a house in the middle of nowhere, with no adults just a baby — it was nuts what my parents did. Anyway, two years later, two days after my tenth birthday, my parents separated and my mother had found herself a new lover. It was another woman. Yep, you heard right, a woman.
I had a hard time understanding what was happening in my family’s life. The day my mother left, she took my brother, but left me behind. I felt so rejected; it was not the same kind of rejected feeling I would get from the kids at school. This was far worse. I felt unloved and unwanted; I felt as if my life had no value. My innocence was now gone and resentment and hatred had now become my life’s pilot. My grandparents agreed to raise me, since both my parents did not want to have anything to do with me. They lived in a neighborhood about 15 miles from where my parents lived. The house that my parents raised me in was in a very secluded place. There was not a house near there for miles and all that was there were orange orchards every way you looked, but now I was in the ‘hood. I made some new friends. They were much older than me but they accepted me, especially after I told them about my parents. They had gone through similar things in their lives. Things would change so drastically over the next year.
By the time I was 11 I was drinking and smoking and by the time I was 12, I was smoking pot, snorting cocaine and was living in the streets. I managed to do well in school somehow. I don’t know how I did it.
My grandmother got saved when I was 13 and she was always very excited about her “religion.” She was fanatical about that. She would always try very hard to get my attention and talk to me about God, but I always said if there were a God, I would have a family and I would not have gone through the crap I went through. So, most of the time I tuned her out. Notice I said most of the time. There were some things that did linger in my head, things about love, peace, and a better life. She constantly made an effort to tell me about Jesus Christ, but I went about my business.
At 14 life just began to stink. I was tired of doing drugs and being called a loser, but the enemy had me in a firm grasp. I wanted to change my life and do better for myself, but the enemy would not give me up easily. As a matter of fact, things continued to get worse in life. I had not heard from my mother in about two years and I got word from a cousin of mine that she showed up at my grandparent’s house asking about me. He said that my little brother was with her and that he was much bigger now. I went to speak with my grandfather to inquire of what had happened. He told me that my mother had come by to pick me up, because she and her “partner” had bought a new house and it had a room for me. There was no way I was going to live in a home with two women who consider themselves to be married. My grandfather asked me to please stay with him and not to with my mom or go back out to the streets, but I did anyway.
I became more addicted as time went by. I was now using a variety of different drugs including crack. At 16 I was stealing cars and robbing people for money to buy drugs. All this and still doing well in school — it was crazy — I don’t know how I did it. I always made sure I went to school because it was the one place that had everything: there were parties, drugs, friends . . . so I attended. On April 16, 1997, I was 16, and my grandfather got word that I was out robbing and stealing, getting high and not valuing my life. He and my grandmother went out in their car to search for me. I guess they thought that they would execute some kind of intervention or something. It never happened, as they were driving around looking for me, a drunk driver ran a red light and struck their car right on the driver side door. My grandfather died that night, and when I got word of that I felt as if a hurricane was stirring up all my insides. My grandmother survived, and I went home to live with her because I did not want her to be alone. She would try so hard to lead me to Christ that I eventually got agitated with her, so at 18 I headed back to the street.
I dropped out of school only needing 1 credit to graduate, but I did not care much anymore. A beautiful girl came into my life; she was unlike any other girlfriend I had in the past. She was so caring and just a very lovable person. I got her pregnant and in June 15, 2000, I became a father. I was 19, addicted, and jobless.
I loved being a father; for the first time in my life I felt a real connection with somebody. I remember telling myself that I would not do to my child what my parents did to me. In January 14, 2003, my girlfriend had another boy, and I was still addicted, but I was now working and had bought an old beat-up trailer house that we called home. I spent most of my time with friends at bars and parties, getting wasted. My grandmother would call to invite me to church service. I would tell her that I would go, but Sunday would come around and I would pull a disappearing act. Years had gone by, my sons were 6 and 3 years of age, and I noticed that I had been doing to them the same thing that my father had done to me. I was giving all my attention to my drug habit, and trying to figure out ways to deceive my wife so I could go out and be in the bars with other women.
At age 26 my world would flip upside down or right-side up I should say. My grandmother received a very bad report from the doctors; they told her that she had a very aggressive cancer in her breast. We know that the Lord can use anything for his good and my grandmother was healed from cancer and she was going to share her testimony at church. She invited me to go and I felt like it was the least I could do; after all I had lied to her many times about going to church. It was October 29, 2006, and I walked into a church for the first time. I heard my grandmother speak about how God had healed her, then I heard the pastor give a message about love, how Jesus Christ loved all of us so much that He was willing to die for us. The Lord’s words spoken through the pastor that day reached a place that had never been reached before — my heart. By the time that the pastor gave the invitation to receive Jesus, I was sobbing uncontrollably. I rushed forward and accepted Him as my Lord and my Savior.
There is so much more to this testimony like most others I am sure, but like most of us who are sharing God’s mighty work, we would need to write a book about His transforming power.
I am now 31 years old, 6 months away from my 32nd birthday, and have been sober for over 5 1/2 years. The Lord has done such a mighty work in me in this short time. I am part of a prison ministry team, share the gospel at a drug rehab center, take part in a deliverance ministry, sing in the choir at church (even though I am not very good at singing) and I visit with people in their homes to pray for them. What a wonderful and awesome God we serve! There is no way that I would ever be capable of doing such things. I am fully convinced that the Holy Spirit is in control of my life. I would be surprised if anyone read this far along, but if you did, thank you and God Bless You.