Hi, this is my story, or “testimony” as we Christians like to call it, of how I came to love and believe in Jesus Christ. Thank you for taking the time to read about my salvaged life. I pray that I portray this portion of my life as transparent and honest as I can. That my story may relate to you.
I’m a good person! So I thought…
Before God opened my eyes to horrible status I was in, in relation to Him, I was a “good guy”. Heaven bound when I die! So I thought… Then I met the man Jesus, the Son of God, at a little church in Inglewood California, and realized I was deceived, a slave to sin, about to bust Hell wide open!!! At that church, back in June 2004, I heard the Truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and was miraculously put in right standing with God…
My story of receiving Jesus Christ
I, like most people, didn’t think that I was a bad person. Didn’t think that I was an “evil sinner“. I wasn’t as bad as most other people; I thought. There were people just living life more evil than I was. I thought I was just about good enough to get myself into heaven. Pretty sure of myself.
God was a “loving” and “forgiving” God right? He’d overlook my ‘petty’ transgressions right? I mean I generally got along with everyone. Tried not to evil intent for anyone. Didn’t have any enemies that I knew of. I felt pity for homeless people, would give them a buck or some change when I had it. I was generally courteous, opened doors for old ladies and attractive women. I thought I was a pretty “righteous” dude!
Along with being “righteous” around people. I drank profusely on regular occasions. Smoked that strong weed, “Chronic” when I could afford it, cheap Mexican dirt weed when I couldn’t. After I broke up with my last girlfriend I was shacked up with I took to smoking marijuana most nights of the week. At first, I didn’t think that I was a “pot head”, then after awhile I reveled in the fact that yeah, I was a pot head. Killing brain cells, as well as my short term memory, was a “cool” way to relieve the “stress” of my life. Helped me sleep in peace… Heck, most of the time I slept as if in a coma. Smoking weed was a crutch to help me temporarily feel elated and forget the low depressing life I was starting to live. At a younger age I would never buy weed myself, eventhough I smoked it. I would get “hooked up” by friends. I was too scared to buy it myself. Marijuana has become so mainstreamed, nowadays I could get it almost anywhere, across the street from home, at work, even online. Wasn’t hard to find. After awhile, I had friends that would call up asking if I needed to put an order in and what quality I could afford at the time. Marijuana is a ‘social’ drug. To me it was fun to do alone, and fabulous to do as a group. I even think I turned someone close to me into a pot head just because I didn’t want to do it alone most times. No fun being a loser alone. I knew drinking and smoking were bad for my health, yet I still did it. I thought I was a pretty “righteous” dude. A good guy.
I had some perverted habits… I loved collecting porn on my computer. Internet porn was the driving force behind me getting into the computer networking field back in the day. The urge to get free porn inspired my desire to learn more about computers and the Internet. I was fascinated by naked women. Even with having girlfriends in sexual relationships, I still had a massive stash of porn. With all this sexual stimulation, I masturbated regularly to relieve my sexual frustration. I made myself to think it was something else to do to relieve the “stress” of my daily life. The girlfriends, as I mentioned, I lived with along with their children, (because I felt “why buy the cow when I can get the milk for free?” I was all about getting that “milk” too, wooo buddy!!! Getting that “milk” ruled my mind). When I wasn’t living with women and sleeping with them, I was contemplating ways to bed as many as I could, lusting in my mind all the time. I thought it was natural for a man to constantly think of sex. Figured God programmed men that way. Why men always talk about sex like it was a sport, “scoring”. Why we bought nice cars and fancy clothes, just to get someone to have sex with us. Having “sex” is displayed everywhere as the norm it seems like. I was a big fan of sex; safe sex, straight sex, freaky sex, strange sex, online sex, multi-player sex. Going to the local liquor store to get my favorite smut mag was normal to me. This addiction to sex affected my relationships with women because I associated sex with love. I figured if my woman wasn’t giving me the “milk”,sex and how I wanted it, on a regular basis that she didn’t love me and that I needed to find my “milk” elsewhere. I was also a firm believer in the myth that men could totally separate love from sex. I had no idea of what real love was. My idea of love was a selfish feeling, where I was the center of focus. If I wasn’t “making love” regularly, I didn’t feel loved. After my last relationship, I decided to look for ‘fast love’. Sex with no ties at all. Sex with no responsibility. Sex with none of the real love I desired. Just the physical act, which I thought would fill the hole in my soul till ‘Miss Right’ came along. I even started searching for sex partners online through Craigslist, and bragged about how easy it was to meet women there. I would post in the Personal section things like “F–k buddy wanted”. I was a big, red-blooded sexual dynamo, so I thought. I thought I was a pretty “righteous” dude! A good guy. In an early relationship, when I was a young man, I participated in murder. That’s right, murder, though a lot of people don’t think that it is. I had gotten the young woman I was with at the time pregnant and we decided that we were too young to have a child and that we would have kids later, when we were married. We went to the big city and my girlfriend had an abortion that I paid for. She was devastated for awhile, I felt like I just missed stepping in front of a moving bus. We took a life because of selfishness. I could have had a son or daughter in their early 20’s to love and cherish. But we ended that and never ended up getting married… We just took a life. Unborn, but still a life.
Back to computers and the Internet. My computing skills turned me into a super thief! I didn’t buy any music or software for years. Was able to get full length bootleg movies “free” from some shady areas on the Internet. You could find all the resources you needed online to download to your heart’s content. And why not I thought? Wasn’t everyone doing it? Every song you ever wanted is available on the internet. Big expensive software programs are out there, with the anti-piracy mechanisms removed. I even taught other people how to get things “free” themselves. I mean think about it, if the average person always found money, they knew they didn’t earn, just laying around, they would eventually pick it up and put it in their pockets. Whether they knew whose it was or not. That’s what pirate downloading is like. I knew it was wrong. I knew I hadn’t paid for any of these items, and was genuinely afraid of being caught since I had so much pirated stuff. Had nightmares every now and then of the “Feds” busting down my door and arresting me. Finding all my pirated stuff, all my porn and telling all the newspapers about it. Being in the computer industry, I knew they could find me out someday if they looked. Yet I still did it. It was like I couldn’t help myself. Yet I thought I was a pretty “righteous” dude! A good guy. Single and in my mid thirties I was trying to live the Hip-Hop life-style. Hardcore rap was my music of choice. Gangsta rap music had it down I thought. Drinking, drugging, sexing it up, taking out fools that looked at ya funny, yeah that’s what I was all about. Figured everyone else was all about it too, since gangsta rap is so popular nowadays. I mean you can hear little grade school kids reciting Lil Wayne songs from the radio. Good dance beats and glorifying the street life. Keepin it real…
I was a pretty good dancer, prided myself on easily learning all the latest dance crazes. Always headed to the club to get my boogie on. I was the Party General! Friday afternoons you found me frantically calling around to find out where the party spot was for the night. With the best drink specials. Where all the “honeys” were gonna be. Even with drink specials, I found myself spending 50, 60 even up to $100 on drinks whenever I went out. Being drunk and acting a fool was cool. Gave me an excuse to say what I wanted and do what I wanted. I was generally a shy guy, alcohol would give me that “liquid courage” to be smooth or boisterous. I had many friends, most of them female. Most of them, I felt, truly liked me though I was afraid they wouldn’t if I wasn’t the fun party animal I tried to be all the time. Actually, I really felt lonely. Even with zillions of friends and places to hang out, I felt lonely. You see, I didn’t have any family. I mean I had a mother and sister in Arizona, but I hardly ever saw them. I have family all over the country, but I didn’t keep in touch. My mother was suffering from major depression and lived with my sister for these last couple of years. I wasn’t a total heel though, I called my mom about once every week or two to say Hi. Sometimes it would even be a month or so between calling my mother. My sister, I didn’t talk to at all. My sister is a beautiful Christian woman. Who after a lifetime of witnessing my immoral, carefree lifestyle, finally had to throw in the towel and tell me in a letter that she didn’t want anything to do with me. Things I had done in the past and my lifestyle separated me from her. I wasn’t even invited to her wedding. I was crushed, but good ole pride slid right in and said ‘the hell with her’. If she didn’t want me in her life that was fine, I still loved her. I did love her but it wasn’t fine. I covered the pain of being separated from my family with more alcohol and drugs. Had to have that “hazy” feeling most nights just to go to bed. I never thought I had an “addictive personality”. Never thought I would have to depend on any substance to keep myself together. This made me more lonely and depressed. I noticed my morality slowly dwindling away, numbing myself with substances, compromising my God given judgment more and more. Hoping for something great to happen in my life, but not seeing anything on the horizon. I was a mess!!!
My New life in Christ!
I became acquainted with a co-worker. A beautiful woman with an unexplainable “glow” about her. I knew she was Christian before we formally met by the way she spoke and carried herself. A true Christian through and through, a ‘good girl’, but that didn’t bother me… Although I was attracted to her, I knew I couldn’t come at her like I had with women in the past. Nor did I want to. She wasn’t like any woman I knew before. When I was around her I felt a wholesome goodness. I was painfully open and honest when I was with her, felt I had to. Didn’t feel like I had to be fake to impress her. We became fast friends. After some time she invited me to her church. I went. I was curious to see if lightning would strike me down or if the doors would slam shut in my face. But just the opposite practically… The people there were warm and friendly. Made me feel right at home. The pastor, a warm bubbly guy, gave a powerful sermon that day. A sermon like I had never heard before. It was as if he was talking to me directly. As if he knew me and what was going on in my life. I was riveted to my seat, I totally forgot about anything around me. After the service, I met the pastor and his wife, beautiful people, genuinely loving. I met a few of the other members who were just as friendly. I felt as if I were at a family reunion. I was asked if I was coming back. “YES!” I said. This church right here was pretty cool. And I went back. Each time the pastor gave a sermon that touched me down deep inside. It was unexplainable. I mean the pastor was teaching the Word of God right out of the Bible. I grew up going to church. Was even baptized as a teen. But never heard the bible explained so relevantly. Never thought many things in the bible pertained to my life. I thought it was just a good ancient book that was a little behind the times. The things he was saying made perfect sense and applied to me directly. My eyes were starting to open up to the glory of God through each bible-based sermon. Something was drawing me, pulling on my heart. Hearing the Word of God shed light on the ugliness going on in my ‘righteous dude’ life. I thought I was already a ‘Christian’. I didn’t realize that just being a good person wouldn’t get me into heaven. I thought I was ‘saved’. My mom was “saved”. My dad was “saved”. I went to church with them, learned right from wrong, so I figured I was “saved” too (as if I were born into Christianity). God was a forgiving god right? He’d surely let me slide into heaven, I never killed nobody… I was starting to hear that that wasn’t the case. I’m hearing that the way I was living my life wasn’t nearly in line with how God wanted me to live. God wanted me to be perfect. My sin separated me from God. Nothing good that I did in my life would reconcile the sin that separated me from God. That I was a slave to sin. Deceived by the ‘enemy’ (the devil. And yes, he’s real too, alive and well… or evil I should say). And I’m hearing that Jesus is alive and loves and cares about me. That he wants to save us all from eternal life in Hell. That He died on the cross so that my sins would be forgiven. That he endured the justified wrath of God for me. That the shedding of His blood on the cross for me would wash away my sins. That if I didn’t confess my sins, truly repent, with my mouth proclaim that Jesus Christ is Lord, that I was destined for Hell. I was shocked. I hadn’t done those things ever. Confess my sins? That would make me out to be a sinner, a ‘bad person’, wouldn’t it? Repent? What the heck does that mean? With my mouth proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord? Proclaim it to who? I don’t know these people! But on my third visit to the church the pastor gave an altar call. He asked if anyone wanted to give their life to Christ and become a member of the Body of Christ, to come up front. My throat closed shut, I felt as if I was in a life or death situation (little did I know). Everything in my being told me to keep my butt there planted in my seat, that this little show would be over soon and we could all go home. But something louder inside said “Mike! Come to me, everything will be alright.” My heart practically yanked me out of that chair. Jesus was calling me home, into his kingdom. I went up front with some of the others and crying on my knees, asked Jesus to forgive me and come into my life. I was truly scared to death, but at the same time I truly felt right. I felt overjoyed… I felt sick to my stomach. I felt… Saved.
Later that day, when I made it home, I stopped and looked in the mirror. There was a new person there, an actual child of God was looking back at me smiling. I went into my bedroom, pulled out my porn stash of magazines, sex toys, DVDs and dumped them in the trash. I could feel their filth and had to get it away from me. I went back into my room and pulled out my box of marijuana and paraphernalia, threw that away. Grabbed a bottle of Hennessy cognac, one of my favorite alcohols, poured a glass, held it up and looked at it. Nothing. No urge to swallow it down. Sipped it and almost gagged, poured it out. I was never happier in my life. I was forgiven by God for everything, even of taking a life, free from the burden of my sin and guilt that I had amassed. I was given strength to throw away my vices. I was what they call DELIVERED!!! A Whole New World The next few months went by with the God moving me to learn all I could about Him, being a Christian and my purpose in this world. I couldn’t get enough of God’s Word. Along with Sunday services, I joined Wednesday night bible study at Inglewood Community Church. There I was able to hear more of the teaching of Jesus. I had many questions reeling through my mind. I wanted to know what happened to me. How was I delivered from the life of sin I had been living? What did it mean to be saved? I was continuously learning more and more about the love of God. Many truths of life and heaven were being revealed to me through His word in the Bible. I felt a peace of which I had never before experienced, of which this world could’nt give. The weight of guilt and despair lifted. I knew that Jesus Himself had forgiven me of all my sins and given me the gift of eternal life. The love of Jesus was manifesting itself in my life. I started to feel genuine compassion for others. Although my life was transforming before my eyes into something beautiful, I still had a major problem. Through church and personal bible study, I began realizing that there was an area of my life that needed restoration. My relationship with my sister. How could I profess the love of Christ and not have a loving relationship with my own family? I had a new ‘church’ family, but I still wasn’t talking to my own sister. I prayed to the Lord to fix this area of my life, that my sister would find it in her heart to forgive me. I felt moved to sit down and write my sister a letter. In it I told her about my new life in Christ and all the wonderful things taking place. I mailed it to her the next day praying to hear from her soon. I didn’t hear back from her, but I wasn’t disheartened. I wrote another letter and prayed that in it she could feel my love for her and have the heart to forgive me. I called my mother much more those days. She was living with my sister at the time. One day I prayed to be able to talk to my sister. I called to speak to my mother and my sister answered the phone. We ended up talking non stop for about an hour. She told me she had received my two letters and was so overjoyed, she didn’t know what to say. She told me that she had given up on me, but always prayed for my life to turn around. We ended the call with tears of joy. Now I visit my sister and her husband all the time. They are not only family, but some of my best friends. God really answers prayers. My mother passed away March 11, 2006. It was a very sad occasion, I’ll miss my mother dearly. But I know my mother had accepted Jesus Christ and now is in the presence of God, basking in His radiance and glory. Since I know my mom is with Jesus now, my sadness has turned to joy. She no longer has to suffer the trials of this cursed world. She no longer has to walk by faith in an invisible God, but in full view of His glory (she’s so lucky). I thank God for her many prayers for me over the years, asking the Lord to lead me to Him. I thank God for the legacy she has left behind. I lost the number one female figure in my life when my mother died. But God being so good, He blessed me with another woman in my life who is now my wife. My wife has a testimony of her own. But in short, she was a friend I’ve had for many years who I shared the true Jesus Christ with during phone conversations. The spirit of God moved in her heart and led her to a saving faith in Christ. I’ve been a ‘born again, in love with Jesus’ Christian for 15 years now. I serve as a deacon/minister at Inglewood Community Church, Inglewood CA, studying to be a minister. My life has totally turned around, for the best! I’m not perfect by a long shot, but I experience God’s grace, love and forgiveness everyday instead of loneliness and guilt. I know my trust in Jesus Christ has put me in right-standing with God. My faith in Christ has justified me before God. I didn’t have to “work” my way to receive grace from God. He gave me His grace as a gift, all I had to do is believe and accept Him. I don’t fear dying or going to Hell for my past sinful lifestyle or the sin I still commit. My faith grows everyday as I learn about God. I seek Him and He reveals Himself to me, as promised by His Word. My life is full of new loving, healthy relationships. I’m still a sinner by nature, but Christ is transforming me into His image day by day. I am perfect, sinless, in God’s eyes, because of what Jesus has done for me on the cross over 2000 years ago. Satan, the Devil, no longer has a hold on me, I have victory over sin, through the blood sacrifice of Jesus and the power that raised Him from the dead. I live to love and please God, no longer do I desire to do sinful things. I have God’s true peace, joy and happiness of a quality that can’t be found in this world. But most of all I have what a lot of people are searching for… Hope.