I was brought up by parents that loved me but did not teach me anything about God, women, sports, or basic ways of caring for the body – meaning no education in the fundamentals, at all. My first language was Spanish and my parents were the only people I spoke it with as everyone else I spoke to was in English once I started school. I was never taught to read or write in Spanish so the only words in Spanish I could use to communicate with them were words I learned from them leaving a big barrier in being able to express myself fully to my mom and dad.
I was not given any responsibilities such as making my bed, washing dishes, the car, or cutting the lawn. There was no discipline what so ever and so when I did something wrong there was no spanking and not even a lecture just don’t do that again. So the beginnings of my Christian walk starts with being in total darkness, no God, no discipline (no laws), no immediate consequences, and with the idea that I will just have to figure it all out by myself through the wonderful process of trial and error.
I get married at 20 but become a father at 19 and of course I have it all figured out and ready to be a good husband and father. I had a hard time praying during this time except those foxhole prayers which came naturally and now looking back I know I realize that I wouldn’t even attempt to pray because I really didn’t want to have an answer to prayer because that would remove all doubt about God and then I would have to try to live according to His will and not my own as I still did not know at this time about the truth concerning freewill.
I had within two years of marriage been exposed to the Worldwide Church of God at age 22 and started attending for 3 years until the Church changed direction in their doctrines and I stopped fellowshipping when they began teaching a Trinitarian God. I then stopped going to church for the next 14 years as I allowed the cares of the world to choke the word.
So during these 14 years I had gotten into licentious living and was so unhappy with my life that I turned to drugs (crack cocaine of all things for one year) for relief. During this one year of drug use I had been given an ultimatum to either choose the family or the drugs so I chose the drugs and left my wife, kids, family business, and all possession as I had become a slave much worse than being a physical slave in Egypt.
I will share one story which ended up being the very last time I would use drugs which of course I did not know this at the time. I found this guy I thought would be a good prospect to get more drugs from so I told him I had 40 dollars and at the same time his buddy is talking to someone else that had the same idea as mine so we all decide to get in their car and as we start down the road the passenger pulls out a gun for the purpose of robbing us.
I quickly gave my 40 dollars but the other guy would not give up his money I think he had probably 200-300 as it seemed he just got paid. I wasn’t that worried at the beginning but as the robber kept asking and getting more frustrated I started to think this guy might just shoot him not because he wanted to but because he was angry and then would have to shoot me to get rid of any evidence.
Well luckily for me, he at least pulled his wallet out and the robber finally just snatched it out of his hands. Once they got the money they stopped the car and let us out in the middle of the projects. Well you would think after the scariest moment in my life I would have learned my lesson but not yet. I actually still had 5 dollars so my very next thought wasn’t boy am I lucky but let’s go get 5 dollars worth.
I walk up to someone tell him I just got robbed and only have 5 dollars which probably for various reasons refuses to sell to me which makes me quite upset (this is where God performs a miracle which I don’t realize it for what it is for several years) and puts me into a state of contemplation and realization due to the two incidents happening within close proximity (almost dying and getting mad) that I was able to look back and see the depths of where my god (drugs) had taken me by causing me to throw away everything that I had loved so dearly in exchange for something that didn’t really care whether I lived or died (of course drugs had no power at all but as my idol it did).
I already had a pending drug charge before this incident and when I appeared before the judge I was ordered by the court system to attend drug treatment which I didn’t think I needed (it’s amazing having to be forced to do right) and eventually becoming a drug and alcohol counselor for four years with about 9 years now without use having the desire completely lifted from me by God’s mercy.
It’s interesting to note that Christ was a friend to publicans (which I as a thief have stolen from my own father), harlots (which I as an adulterer through pornography have been unfaithful to my wife), the demon possessed (which I as possessed with the spirit of resentment have been in rebellion to my God and brothers), and sinners (which I as a drug addict have been unthankful to my Maker) so it looks like I’m in good company with the sick that need healing.
I learned countless lessons through my addiction which have prepared me well for the role of extending the mercy granted to me to others. I realized that all problems regardless of the details all have the same common denominator which is that the solution is always spiritual in nature.
I started at United Church of God in 2006 and was baptized for the first time at the age of 40 in 2007 and remember what the minister stated was after spending 40 years in the wilderness. It was only 18 months later that I left this church as I felt I wasn’t being fed properly to attend with the Restored Church of God which only lasted about 4 months before I was cast out for Sabbath breaking and not tithing in early 2009. It was only 2 years this time before I found myself without a church. This time instead of a 14 year hiatus it would be about 4 years. So after 40 years in the wilderness and 5 years in Babylon God led me to His true body and at last being able to worship in spirit and truth.
I hope that as others read my testimony that instead of looking at the differences in the details of my experience from yours that you’ll be able to see there really isn’t that much that separates us. I trust that you can also see that God has been working all the details of my life and yours for our benefit. I praise God for His calling and His tremendous mercy in delivering a wretch like me from myself.
Blessed be the Lord for He hath visited and redeemed his people,