I am convinced that I am called to be a pastor. It is my greatest passion to lead others to Christ! I feel like many churches have lost focus, have forgot that the church is a hospital for sinners and not a county club for the saved! Many treat the church like its the destination and not the connecting point! I want to inspire people to be the hands and feet of our Lord Jesus!
Here is John’s story.
I was born into a fatherless home to a mother who had six kids. My mother, who raised me and my siblings on her own, was a drug addict and an alcoholic. My earliest memories are filled with my mom being beaten by various men and women, who she either was dating or let live in our home.
This is the phase of my life I’ll call “please stop hitting my mommy”:
From my very first memory, I remember my father hitting my mother. From there it was something we tragically had to witness from then till I was about 11 or so. My mother has been beaten so much and so often that as a result she has no teeth. She has been stabbed jumped and everything in between. I mention this because this is what I witnessed during all of my formative years as a child. Instead of just being able to be a child who was affirmed by his parents I was a child who desperately wanted to protect his mother. However, if I tried to intervene I was beaten as well. We were extremely poor. There were always drugs and sex around us – it was all I knew.
This phase of my life I’ll call “momma was never hit again”:
Around the age of 11 I started to use drugs myself: first alcohol, then marijuana. At age 12 I was arrested and sent to boot camp for four months. While incarcerated I met a group of friends who were in a gang; I joined that gang and they became the family I never had. Let me say that during this time period my mother was never hit again, not because she started picking better men, but because me and my three brothers hit puberty. We had seen too much, been through too much, and we had enough. As a result, we were hardened and not afraid to fight off these wolves.
The following four years, life for me got worse. I was in and out of juvenile hall, boot camps, treatment facilities – anything the state of California could do to punish me. To no avail. I had become a criminal and drug addict and there seemed to be no hope for me.
This phase I’ll call “But God”:
I was arrested and sent to boot camp for the third time. I was over it, so I escaped. When sent back to court, I went before the judge whom I had seen countless times before. He was fed up with me. He had lost all hope for me. He wanted to send me away for seven years! At that time this judge was transferred into adult court and was replaced by a judge who was really big on treatment. She reviewed my rap sheet and determined I needed treatment. Long story short, she sent me to a treatment center in Visalia, CA. After being in this treatment center for two weeks I was invited to attend church. I agreed. I wanted to get away from all the dudes and see some girls. God had a different plan. Everyone in the church was bowing their heads and lifting their hands. I did the same so I wouldn’t stick out. It was in that moment I met Jesus Christ. We had a conversation that went something like this,
Jesus: “Give me your life.”
Me: “If you change my life I will give you my life.”
I went back to the facility, and on the outside nothing changed. The very next day I woke up a new person. I did not want to swear or lust anymore. I did not want to be a gang member anymore. All of that was replaced with an unquenchable desire to read God’s Word, pray, and go to church as much as possible!
This Phase I’ll call “Great is Thy faithfulness”:
Although I experienced setbacks, God never gave up on me! He stayed faithful to the plan he had for my life.
As of today, I have been clean for nearly three years. I am a husband, a godly son, a community missionary, a minister in my church, and a mentor. The Lord has redeemed all of my brokenness!
I am certified by my life experiences.