In 1989 at age 7, I watched as my father, an Assemblies of God pastor in Trinidad and Tobago, a man that built many churches and won many souls to Christ, walk away from His calling and moved my mother and 6 siblings to the United States to a culture we were not prepared for. That strict caribbean discipline my father once had, started to fade as he worked his 9 to 5 job doing his best to support us.
In school, I struggled with trying to fit into inner city Miami schools but was teased for my caribbean accent and mannerisms. My mother did the best she could in keeping me in church and grounding me in the Word, but my lack of self esteem and trying to seek approval from others entangled me with other misfits trying to find our place in this new culture, so we stuck together. I was a smart kid but I slowly started to fade into darkness.
At age 16 I got worse. I left church and I started using drugs. Later I became involved in selling as well as trafficking drugs with friends. Strip clubs, pornography, hanging on the streets, sleeping with different women, fighting, carrying a gun for protection and even resorting to crime was my life. I've seen and done things I'm not proud of even to this day. Even though a part of me was enjoying that life, another part of me never felt comfortable living that life, I knew there was more to life but didn't know where to find it. My family had no idea, I was the last person on earth they would think that would do the things I'm testifying about. Looking back at it now, it was only the grace of God that I escaped incarceration and death so many times, but unfortunately some of my friends didn't have such favorable outcomes. I lived in total darkness. I wasn't the person my parents raised anymore. I was lost, emotionally numb, selfish and coldhearted. I ruined every relationship I was in, my goals and my college education. I even failed at marriage which led to a heartbreaking divorce. I started to hate myself. I had a good family and lots of friends yet I felt alone.
In 2013 was the year everything changed. After losing my marriage and watching my father die from cancer two months after. I suddenly lost my two best friends in the world. I fell into deep depression. I couldn't smile genuinely anymore. No drug could numb the pain in me. The feeling of guilt, shame and failure was overwhelming. One Saturday night in August I finally woke up from that long selfish nightmare I was living for 30 years. I wanted to end my life, after having guns pointed at me and myself pulling guns on others, I never thought I'd actually pull a gun on myself. Growing up in church I had enough knowledge that I'd end up in hell if I killed myself, but that didn't stop me because I felt I was living in hell already. But there was a force greater than that force to end my life that stopped me from pulling the trigger. I couldn't sleep that night, The next morning I got in my car and just drove. I spotted a church near my house called Trinity unaware that it was an Assemblies of God church at the time and just walked in. I didn't know anyone. No one invited me, I just walked in. I just needed a place to rest. I couldn't run anymore. I was tired. I honestly don't remember who preached that day, the sermon, or the songs they sang. All I remember was the conversation in my heart I had with Jesus during the altar call. With tears running down my face, I said "why would you want a person like me, I'm covered in tattoos!" He said "you'll be covered by my blood" I said "but I have a past!" He said "I'll give you a future", I said "I lost my bride!" He said "I'll make you mine", and lastly I said "you better not leave me!" And He said "I never did" and I finally surrendered.
Im haven't been the same ever since that day. I have a new heart, a new life and a new Father. Im not alone anymore. I live everyday for Him. I'm not focused on people accepting me anymore, my desire is for them to accept Jesus. After so many mistakes, regrets and bad decisions, there's one decision I'm proud about, and that's to follow Christ. I'll never understand why God chose to use a sinner like me and I probably never will. One day I'll ask Him when I get to Heaven, but in the meantime, I will be doing my best to bring others with me.