This is my testimony of how I came to know Jesus Christ.
I grew up in an abusive and violent home. My father would abuse me, my mother, and everyone else in my family. I remember spending quality time with my father as a child. He would hold me, show me animals, we would eat at restaurants and travel to markets. He would buy me food. I went to a Mexican-American restaurant and loved it. As I ate nachos with salsa, we had a good conversation. When I wore my seat-belt the wrong way, he corrected me. I was proud to have a good father. At least that’s what I thought.
That was the last time we had a good father and son time. The next several years of my life would be a living hell. He started to change. He stopped spending time with me. He stopped loving me and became a completely different person. When I did something wrong and he whipped me with a belt.
I was shocked. I didn’t know how to react. I guess I thought it was normal, but I realized it wasn’t. Not only did he abuse me physically, he abused me emotionally. He often restricted what I loved to watch on TV, what I’d wear, what I’d listen to, etc. He took a pack of Yu Gi Oh cards that my mother bought me and destroyed them. I was very hurt, powerless, lonely, angry, afraid, etc. I was completely devastated when he killed animals out of pleasure and laughed about it. I had a love for animals so when he did that, I hated his guts.
My father was like God to me. I couldn’t fight God and since I couldn’t fight God, I fought everyone else. Although my father didn’t spend time with me, he taught me some very valuable lessons. If you want to be respected, make everyone fear you. Be more ruthless and heartless than everyone else around you. That’s exactly what I did to feel some control over my life. I swore that despite him being an adult and me a child, I was going to get revenge against him!
I was violent at a very young age around pre school to Kindergarten and sometimes in first grade. I’d abuse girls, other boys, and even family in several ways. These were innocent people who did nothing to me. I can vaguely remember beating up this young boy who was crying and begging me for mercy in school. I’d punch him repeatedly in the diaphragm. I’d punch my friends around on the playground. I body-slammed one into the sand. They’d tell me “stop it dude. It really hurts.” and I could see the pain in their faces.
I got in a lot of trouble with the authorities. Teachers would yell at me, send me to time out, send me to a different room. I’d abuse another girl in church who was the daughter’s pastor. I’d pull her hair violently, punch her in the face, pinch her violently, etc. She resented me a lot and cried. There was one girl who had a huge crush on me in 1st grade. I didn’t like her at all so I insulted her in her face. She reported it to the teacher and I was sent into time out. I aggressively looked at other kids exclaiming “what?!? what are you looking at?!?” I destroyed a girl’s most cherished and loved possession out of revenge. I can still remember the pain on her face as she screamed and cried.
Several people did their best to put me on the right path. The teacher pulled me aside during a class activity. Though I hung out with the wrong crowd, she knew there was still hope for me. She said softly “you’re a really nice boy!” in an attempt to get me to change. For a moment, I reflected on what she told me. Unfortunately, I rejected her efforts. I wanted to prove her wrong. I did not want to be a nice boy. What has being a nice boy ever gotten me? Abuse from my father? I didn’t want to be weak again so I wreaked havoc again with my homeboys. We were causing so much disruption in the class one day. The teacher, seeing that I wasn’t going to change, firmly yelled “the next step is detention!” I was shocked to see how far I was going and how quickly my teacher’s view of me changed.
My parents were outraged when they found out what I was doing. They strongly scolded me. I was very rebellious against my father. I was passive aggressive and doing whatever I could to reject his authority. “Why are you doing this to us?!? What have you been doing at school?!?” They exclaimed. My father lectured me. He said “son, you’re not supposed to hit women. You’re stronger than them. They’re weaker than you..” I was very angry because he was a hypocrite. He was doing the exact same thing to my mother! I took his lecture with a grain of salt. They would both scold me on what God wanted and how I was disobeying him. In my private time with my mom, she’d beg me to be a good boy and tried to put me on the right path. I paused and reflected on what she told me. She was the only person in my family whom I felt closest to at the time. If I wasn’t going to listen to my father, i’d be a good boy at least for her.
I thought that was the end of it, but it wasn’t. Jealousy, anger, and pride got the best of me. My homeboy received an award that I wanted so badly. I demanded he give it to me. He refused so I spit in it. If I couldn’t have it, he couldn’t either. He just stood there, looking so hurt and betrayed. Teacher yelled at me like never before. I also hurt my other “friend” deeply. He wore a pair of shoes I didn’t like and because I didn’t like it, I ignored him for the whole day. He tried so hard to get me to talk to him. He was very hurt and betrayed. He’d often cry in desperation and shake me, exclaiming “what’s going on?!? Why aren’t you talking to me?!?” I’d stand there cold and emotionless without uttering a word. I back-stabbed good friends because I was jealous or wanted approval.
I attacked my brother several times out of fear and anger. I insulted my mother and lashed out at her emotionally. I threatened people in my family with weapons. I finally mustered up the courage to hit my own father at a few points in my life. He gave me a worse punishment than before, but my resentment and hate only grew. The one major event that still haunts me to this day was when I tried to kill my own family member. I was so enraged by what she did, I tried drowning with my bare hands at first. Next, I tried choking her. When I realized what I was doing, I stopped and quickly regretted it. I had gone too far.
Although I was raised in the Christian faith, I never really believed. I just went with the motions because my father forced it on me. I had no choice, but to attend church. I tried hard to resist, but it was no use. Truthfully, I didn’t want to serve God. In fact, I cursed God. I flipped my middle finger up at the heavens and cursed him.
Things changed when I went to a Christian bookstore as a kid. My mom bought some Christian comics as I looked around. As we were going home, I read several comics about people who lived their lives doing evil. One man in particular lied, cheated on his wife, mistreated his coworkers, etc. There was one instance where his wife made him a peanut butter sandwich. He was ungrateful and cursed his wife. One day, he fell off of a building and died a slow painful death. He suddenly woke up at the sound of God’s voice and an angel took him to the underworld. He asked the angel many questions and the angel spoke of judgement day where God would judge everyone of their sins. He was scared and confused until finally, he stood before God naked. God showed him all of his sins and demanded a justification for them. The man made excuses before pleading for mercy. God told the angel to open the book of life. The angel said
“his name does not appear.”
With righteous anger, God said “depart from me ye who do evil in the darkness! Go and join the Devil along with all of his demons in the lake of fire!” The man screamed “no!” and begged for a second chance, but it was too late. He was thrown into hell to suffer for all eternity. At the end of the comic, there was a sign that said “THIS COULD BE YOUR LIFE!” I also saw two different scenarios. One was of the life he was living and the other was the life he could’ve lived. A life of morals and goodness. I realized there were consequences to your actions and God will execute justice in the world.
After I cursed God, I regretted what I did and almost panicked. I had nightmares of hell. I can remember sleeping when suddenly, several shadowy arms burst out of the ground and grabbed me. I tried so hard to resist and cried for help, but no one was there. They pulled me down into hell where there was pitch blackness. I woke up very scared. In another nightmare, I was thrown into a swamp and there was pitch blackness. In another nightmare, I saw the Anti-Christ. I was deeply disturbed because he was in the form of a man in a suit from one of my trading cards. I felt a strong, eerie, and evil presence emanating from him. He looked at me with a wicked grin. I was so scared, I said “go away in the name of Jesus!” like Christians often did. I was shocked because it had no effect on him! I had no authority in Christ because I wasn’t saved so it didn’t work. I saw him transform into a large hideous beast which roared it’s head off and I woke up.
Days went by and I began to feel like there was a God watching me. One night after church, I felt like God was going to smite me out of existence for all of my wrongs. I felt it so strongly to a point where I exclaimed “No! Don’t do it! Have mercy on me!” I was so scared, I even told my parents “something’s missing from my life!” with a trembling voice. My mom tried to console me the best way she could. Even after all of that, I still would not accept Jesus.
After many years, I was so desperate to get away from my father that I prayed to God for freedom. Miraculously, it happened! Our parents split up and I went to live with my mother at 11 years old. I was now free to live a new life without my abusive father. I was now free from church and God. I could finally leave them behind and walk away forever.
One day however, I felt a small and calm voice call my name. I was scared and surprised. I said
“Who is it?!?”
“I am the Lord, your God. Search for me tonight.”
When night came, I began to learn about God’s plan of salvation and the message of the Gospel. I learned about how God sent his son to die for everyone’s sins. I started to cry when I watched Jesus suffer in the movie “the Passion of the Christ.” I remembered all of the people I hurt so deeply one by one and felt remorse. I cried out of guilt because I hurt so many people. I watched the scene where the thief on the cross basically said “Don’t you fear God since you are under the same sentence?
We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong. Lord remember me when you come into your kingdom!” I had lived a life of arrogance and revenge. If someone hurt me, I felt the need to hurt him/her in return. That was the code I lived by so I felt there was no hope for me. I deserved to suffer for all eternity in hell for all of my wrongs without mercy. Jesus then looked at the thief as he was dying and as if he was looking at me, he said “truly I tell you, you will be with me in paradise!” I learned how Jesus conquered death and rose again on the third day. I cried so much to where I ran into my bathroom and locked the room. On the floor, I said “Jesus, I know I have sinned against you…I ask for you to forgive me and come into my heart and save me…” As soon as I said that, I felt a heavy burden was lifted from my soul and loving hands comforted me. I was completely changed from the inside out!
From that day on, I renounced all of my violent and evil ways. I wanted to be like Jesus whom despite being tortured and killed without mercy, showed unconditional love to his enemies! There was no greater power than the power of Christ’s love! I wanted to break the cycle of violence and show love in the midst of hate! I became a new creation in Jesus and I never was the same again.