Bios of people, like you, who have encountered Jesus Christ and had their lives changed…
True accounts of people from all walks of life encountering the grace of Jesus christ…
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…
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 the 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 “pothead”, then after a while I reveled in the fact that yeah, I was a pothead. 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, even though I smoked it. I would get “hooked up” by friends. I was too scared to buy it myself. Marijuana has become so mainstream, nowadays I could get it almost anywhere, across the street from home, at work, even online. Wasn’t hard to find. After a while, 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 pothead 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 buy 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 a while, 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. My deepest regret ever.
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 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 couldn’t 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 on March 11, 2006. 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 had, had for many years with whom I shared Jesus Christ during phone calls as we kept in touch. The spirit of God moved in her heart and led her to a saving faith in Jesus Christ.
I’ve been a ‘born again, in love with Jesus’ Christian for 17 years now. I serve as a deacon/minister at Restoration Family Worship Center Church, in 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 every day 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.
Bio: Pastor of Restoration Family Worship Center Church,
CEO of Los Angeles Mission, Founder and Executive Director of LAARP, Los Angeles Regional Reentry Partnership
Troy was a victim of drug and alcohol addiction for several years. After rededicating his life back to Christ in December of 1992, Troy found himself at the doors of the Union Rescue Mission (U.R.M.) in downtown Los Angeles. The U.R.M. has a Christian Life Recovery program that helps men and women get back on their feet. While in the program Troy saw the need for a type of service that would augment the efforts of the mission (transitional housing).
Troy completed the program with high expectations not only from his peers but also from the staff. Prior to leaving the mission, Troy returned back to school to earn dual degrees in business and religion. He would go on to graduate with honors. Troy would become very active in the church he was attending, becoming a member of the evangelistic team as well as the young adults’ ministry.
While Troy was happy serving God at his church, there still remained a burning desire to help those who were still suffering from the ills that he himself had overcome. Troy would begin to speak at various churches as well as para-church organizations on the subject of drug addiction. In 1996, Troy would move to the City of Inglewood and receive his ordination as a minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Fueled by a burning desire to see men and women delivered from the chains of addiction, Troy would form Christ-Centered Ministries.
C.C.M. would begin working tirelessly with the missions of the downtown skid-row area, in an effort to build bridges for men and women trying to transition out of their recovery treatment programs. Working with local churches in the City of Inglewood, C.C.M. would form alliances that would serve as avenues for the graduates once they left the mission’s program.
Van ministries would be birthed at local churches to pick up graduates from the missions. This would serve as the catalyst to institute recovery-based teaching components at the local churches in an effort to better educate the church members on the plight of the individuals they are trying to help. In addition, it offers a unique style of teaching that deals with everyday struggles. This partnership has been successful with many churches, but none more so than Restoration Family Worship Center Church.
Troy serves as Pastor at Restoration Family Worship Center Church (community fellowship arm to CCM), where they have a thriving recovery class that is taught every second Friday night, as well as a van ministry that picks up men and women monthly from the U.R.M. of downtown’s skid-row area. C.C.M. received its non-profit status from the federal government in April of 1999 and has made plans to build its first transitional home by the summer of 2007.
C.C.M. has received several commendations for their efforts in terms of dealing with the plight of the homeless. C.C.M. has an outreach ministry that travels and ministers to the homeless on a monthly basis. By supplying food and clothing to the downtrodden, C.C.M. touches thousands of lives annually. Every Thanksgiving and Christmas for the past four years, C.C.M. participated in huge outreach efforts to raise funds for the homeless, as well as adopting a group of men from the program to make sure their holidays were special.
Listening to Christian radio in Los Angeles over the years has really blessed me in my walk with God. One of my favorite radio ministry teachers is Pastor
Please read Raul Ries Testimony: Transcribed from a message
I’ve been thinking a lot lately. And I was thinking how God is so gracious, loving and kind: how He gets a hold of our lives. Before I came to the Lord, my wife’s family, Naomi and Grandma Kopp had been praying for me. Believe it or not, since I was a little kid, I had never been witnessed to by anybody.
I was raised Catholic in Mexico and my grandmother lived in Mexico City, she was an opera singer. She met and married my Grandfather who was German. My father was born in Mexico City, and by the age of 9, his father had left the family. My grandmother stayed in Mexico and this is where we grew up. My mother was visiting from New York City, met my dad, and never went back to New York. She is originally from New York, but her parents were from Spain.
Even as my parents loved each other, my father had a very bad habit; he had a drinking problem. He had started drinking when he was nine years old. Because of his drinking, our home was not a normal home. As far back as I can remember, there was yelling and cursing in our home. I can remember my father physically abusing my mother and my grandmother, his mother. As little kids we would scream and yell because we were so scared.
I can also remember my father taking me, at the age of 5 because I was the eldest son, to the nightclubs and the bars. My father was a brawler; he liked fighting. He had a good job with the Bank of Mexico, but the drinking led him to violence. I remember sitting outside at the newsstand where he left me, waiting for him to come out. He would be so drunk. He had a little scooter, and every night, we would get home by the grace of God. I remember this whole experience, him hitting me and beating me when I was growing up. I was so rebellious. By the time I was 8 or 9 years old, my goal was to kill my dad. That was my life.
In 1957, my mother was invited to come to LA, leave my father, and go to live with my grandparents and my mom’s sister. One night my father came home totally drunk, and passed out. My mother woke us up early and we went to the international airport in Mexico City. I remember going to the airport, getting on a plane, and leaving Mexico at the age of 10. I remember how happy I was because we were rid of my dad.
In 1958, my father began writing to my mother about how unhappy he was and how much he missed us. He promised my mother that he had changed. So, in 1959, my mother allowed him to come to America and live with us. I remember hating my mother because she brought him back into our lives. I didn’t want him to live with us. I didn’t have any feelings for him, I was so bitter towards him. And again, he began to drink and abuse my mom.
In 1960 or ‘61, we moved to Montebello, but soon after, my father decided to buy a house in Baldwin Park. I started, as a freshman, at Baldwin Park High School in 1962. My mom had a very good job working for the Union Bank in Los Angeles. She thought that by moving and having a new house, everything would be better; but every time dinner came, there would be arguing, fighting and screaming. My father would get so drunk, that he would get violent and hit everybody. I remember at the age of 15 having a lot of confrontations with him, and I began to get violent. I began to take my frustrations and anger out on people. At parties or on the streets, I would start beating up people. It became a consuming fire in my heart. By grace, I didn’t kill anyone on the streets. There were times when we left people lying there and we thought they were dead. This went on for the four years I was in high school.
By the time I was a senior in high school, I had already been in and out of jail, but never once booked. We had a club called the Hession Car Club, and our advisor was a cop named Al. Because of our relationship with him, they would let us go. Then one night I was at a party in West Covina, and I saw a guy there with my girlfriend. I left and got all of my friends. We went back to the party and ripped people apart. The guy almost died. The next day, the police came to the high school, took me in and booked me. Eventually, I had to go to court. At the time I was eighteen and just about to graduate. I was given a choice, either go to prison or go into the military. Well, at that time, Vietnam was going on, I said, “I’ll just go to Vietnam. It’s a license to kill and I can do whatever I want.”
I went into the Marine Corps Boot Camp, and had twelve weeks of hard training. Because I scored highly in physical fitness, 478 points out of 500, I received the rank of PFC, and I was made platoon leader. I went from MCRD, to Camp Pendleton, and began to train for Vietnam as a 0311 Grunt. I remember so clearly: 1966, on December the 8th, I got my orders. I remember my father and brother taking my best friend, Champ, and me down to San Diego and getting on a ship, the U.S.S. Gaffey, as I was going to Vietnam.
I remember leaving San Diego and starting the trip to Vietnam. I was wondering if I would ever return, especially when I looked out and saw 5000 marines on the ship. I wondered how many would not be returning.
It took about 15 days at sea but we finally arrived on the USS Gaffey navel ship into Da Nang, Vietnam. I could not believe the humidity and the smell and all the green jungle. We were separated and sent to our different units. I was sent to Alpha Company 1/7 up into Chu Li, Phu-Bi and ended up on the outskirts of Da Nang. We were participating in operations and patrols.
As time moved forward, watching some of my friends become casualties or being wounded in combat, I became angry within. This anger toward the enemy consumed me to the point of hating my enemy. By this time, I had already been wounded twice and my time of service was almost completed so I started to think crazy things in my mind. My commanding officer sent me to see the hospital shrink and he recommended that I be sent to Oakland Naval Hospital, Project 49A, for further observation and treatment.
I spent the next six months of my life under psychiatric care, group therapy counseling, because I was so violent. Satan had taken possession of my life. After six months of rebelling against the help offered to me, Dr. Wilson recommended a discharge for me. I was then sent to Camp Pendleton for my discharge to become a civilian again.
I remember when I was at Camp Pendleton my girlfriend, Sharon, got pregnant. She had been in high school with me, but we had actually fallen in love through letters, while I was in Vietnam. They allowed me to have time off so I could go and see my family. That’s the time when Sharon and I got together and she got pregnant. So, the Marine Corps gave me time off to get married. My discharge hadn’t come back yet. Finally, it came back, on September 15, 1967. I’ll never forget that day, when they called me in and said, “Hey, your discharge is back and it’s an honorable discharge.”
I got out and found a job in LA working for the Union Bank. I also decided to continue my studies in Kung Fu San Soo, at Jimmy H. Woo’s Studio. The moment I got out, immediately, I started going back, not only to my old friends, but I started going back to my old life. But this time I was a little bit older, I was 20 or 21 years old at that time. It’s amazing how the war had matured me, tremendously. I wasn’t afraid to kill now, I wasn’t afraid to do anything. When we would go to parties or whatever we would do, we would cause chaos. I remember all the opportunities that God gave me. My wife would never preach to me, she would share the gospel with me, by sharing her love with me. She showed me God’s love through her life, living it.
One thing I never wanted to do, I never wanted to be like my dad, and become a physical abuser. Well, I did. The first thing I did was start pushing Sharon around, kicking her and punching her. Pretty soon, I was choking her but by the grace of God, the angels protected her. It went on for about 4 ½ years until finally, she decided to leave me. When I realized she was going to leave me, I decided that nobody would ever have her or my kids. The best way to do that was to execute her and my kids, and kill myself. As the police would come, I would just shoot it out with them and that would be the end of everything. And then nobody wins.
When I got home, she had already gone to church. As a matter of fact, it was Easter Sunday, April 2, 1972, and I had already made up my mind to kill her. So I got home, and I saw her packed bags on the side. I walked into the house, went to the closet, got my rifle and loaded it with eighteen rounds. I started walking around the house; I began to destroy my whole house, just knocking down everything. I went next to the TV and I was just standing there. I was so angry and so mad inside; I took the butt of the rifle and hit the TV. When I hit it, it came on. And when the TV came on, there was this bald headed guy talking about Jesus, it was Chuck Smith.
He was with Katherine Kuhlman, on one of those programs with “The Jesus People”. I was listening and I wanted to shoot him with my gun, but I couldn’t pull the trigger. It seemed as he was talking on the TV; he was talking directly to me. You know how that is? It was like a bow was being pulled back, the arrows were letting go and they were stabbing me in the heart. And I kept saying, “Man, why don’t you shut up? What are you trying to say?” All of a sudden, I found myself on my knees, listening to him. And for the first time in my life, I began to cry like a baby. You know it’s not too cool to cry when you’re hardened. I just began to cry out to God, “God if you’re really real, and you are a God that can save people, as you saved my wife, I want you tonight, right know, to come into my life.” And you know what blew me away? I didn’t see lightening or hear a voice, I just, by faith, prayed a prayer. And I felt a complete change in my life. As I got up from my knees, I wiped off my tears and put away my rifle. I got in my car and went looking for my wife, to tell her what had happened to me. I couldn’t find her. As I entered the church that she attended, they were giving the altar call. So I just went up to the altar, and when they got done counseling me, I went home.
When I got home, I knocked on the door. The light was already on, my wife was at home, and I heard her weeping and crying inside. I knocked on the door and said, “Sharon open the door, it’s me.” She was just crying and the whole thing. What she did was put the latch on the door, then opened it, and said, “What do you want?” I said, “I’m born again! I accepted Christ.” She shut the door in my face. She didn’t really believe it. So I knocked again and I said, “Sharon honest, I’m born again.” She finally opened the door. It took probably about a year and a half to two years for her to believe, as she watched my life change. But what blew her away was that immediately, I got saved, man, I got saved.
The next day, I went to a Christian bookstore, and I bought a Bible. Now, I didn’t know anything about Bibles. There were little Bibles, big Bibles, you know, huge Bibles. So I got the biggest Bible I could, cause I wanted to be a Christian. I got this big family Bible. At that time, the hippies had these fishes that had the Greek writing: Jesus Christ, God, Son and Savior. They had little ones, medium ones and then they had these big sharks. I got the biggest one I could find, with a leather cord, and I put it on. I didn’t even care; I just wanted everyone to know I was a Christian. Can you imagine a big Bible and a big fish walking around?
So, I began to read the bible. I started going to Chuck Smith’s church, Calvary Chapel. I went down there and I began to get rooted and grounded in the Word. I would go down there on Thursday nights and Saturdays with a van full of people to hear the Word of God. And then the Lord called me, it was weird, I didn’t hear His voice, but I was sitting there reading my Bible and praying and I had a vision. I had never had a vision in my life. I don’t even know what it was, but I saw myself awake and half-asleep, and I saw my old high school. I saw my principal and my vice-principal and I saw all these hundreds of kids. The Lord told me, “I want you to go back to your old high school.” I said, “Okay!” So I waited and I prayed. Then I went to Baldwin Park High School, I remember, it was 1972.
I walked on the campus, Dr. Hollenbeck and Barnholdt, the Assistant Principal, were there. Mr. Barnholdt had been my baseball coach. I remember walking up; I had my fish, “the tuna”, and my Bible. The next thing I knew, the police were escorting me off campus because they thought I was nuts. They didn’t want me on campus. So, I went home totally bummed out, thinking, “ Aw, man, what’s going to happen now?” I went home, and God spoke to me again, “Go back to Baldwin Park High School.” I said, “ Oh Lord, they just kicked me out. They called the police, and the police told me if I come back again, they’re going to put me in jail.” Once more, God said, “Go back to Baldwin Park High School.” So I said, “Okay, I’m gonna go back.” I went back the following week, and Mr. Barnholt and Mr. Hollenbeck took me into their office and they talked to me. They gave me permission to be on campus, check this out, to be on campus, and to go into the classrooms and in the mall area, and I could talk to people about Jesus Christ.
So I started at lunchtime. I would sit out on the grass area and all these kids would look at me, with my fish and my Bible, and they hated me. I would just sit there. I didn’t go up to them or talk to them. I was waiting for the right time, because I didn’t know anything about the Lord, I was just learning myself. I mean, what could I give them that I didn’t even have. I just knew Jesus loved me and he cared about them, and all of a sudden man, in coming missiles; cake, milk, they were bombarding me with stuff. I just said, “Lord give me five minutes and I’ll kill everyone of these kids. Believe me God.” I was so mad. I said, “Lord I don’t need this stuff. I don’t even want to be here.” But the Lord told me to stay there.
So, a couple of weeks went by, and a couple of months went by, and I stood there faithfully every day. All of a sudden, the Lord began to open the doors. Kids began to come and talk to me, and I talked to them. Then one day, in the mall area at Baldwin Park High School, the Lord spoke to me at lunch-time: “Get up on this picnic bench, I want you to talk to them about me.” You know how lunch times are at a high school, everybody is doing their own thing: we had no PA and I’m not a screamer. So I got up there and started, “Hey, for God so loved the world man, that He gave His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, that whosoever would give…” this whole thing. And as I was talking, making a fool of myself, I thought, the Holy Spirit was zapping people. The Holy Spirit fell on that school so heavily, all of a sudden, as I looked out, there were about 1800 kids sitting on the grass listening.
And what blew me away, is I didn’t expect God to use my life: cause who was I? I mean, I barely graduated from high school and I could hardly read. I was asking the Lord, “ Lord, what am I going to do now?” As I began to just share God’s love with them, I said, “Anyone here want to accept Jesus Christ?” Five hundred kids came up and got on their knees, and gave their lives to Jesus Christ. The school was totally blown away. Then Gladstone High School opened up, Azusa High School opened up, Charter Oak High School opened up, Glendora High School opened up, Bassett High School opened up, and soon, I was visiting eight high schools a week. I was just going out on the streets; that’s how my ministry started. I had a bible fellowship in my Kung Fu Studio at night, but during the day I would go to the schools and work with the kids. That was my heart, my life: that kids would come to know Christ as their Lord and Savior.
I never thought, I never expected that God would do such a tremendous work as He has done over the last 28 years. I never dreamed that God would do such a thing. . He has not only blessed my life personally, but the ministry he has given me. He took me from my Kung Fu Studio, to pastoring a church of over 12,000 people on 28 acres. Along with teaching, He has opened up the doors for us to have a Bible School and Pastoral Program. With these programs, we have been able to spread the Word to Central and South America.
Our Missions Ministry has exploded with several churches throughout South America. We have established churches in Chile, from top to bottom, and are starting a Bible School to train the Nationals. We also have churches and Bible Schools in Columbia. In Villevicenzio, in the heart of guerilla activity, we have one school, and the other Bible School, El Secreto, is in the jungle. These schools are turning out dozens of pastors and leaders every year.
My vision is to reach all of Central and South America with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Through the work being done at these schools and a team of pastors from the United States, our goal is to take the Word of God and establish churches in every major city in South America.
In the early 80’s, I began broadcasting on the radio. Today, our Somebody Loves You Radio program, which is nationally syndicated, is heard daily on stations in the United States and Central America.
Soon after we started the radio program, we began the Exit Festivals, which gave birth to the Somebody Loves You Crusades. God has used the crusades tremendously, with thousands of people coming to know Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. From the beginning of my ministry, at the high schools, God put a burden on my heart for the youth, and I have been able to reach the kids, still today, through the crusades.
Looking back on all the things God has allowed me to do, I am still amazed that God chose to use us.
As a young kid growing up in Mississippi, with five brothers and one sister, we all had to go to church.
Most times we would fall asleep during church. So, really, we were forced to go to church. It was not so bad but we knew every Sunday we had to go and church in Mississippi is mostly all day.
When I got older I did not have to go to church so I didnt. I always believed in God but only went to church on holidays.
When we moved to Los Angeles in the early 80’s my grandmother went to church all the time. But we did not go, it was boring to us we did not understand what was going on there. But when we did go we liked Sunday school because if you read and not talk you would get candy after church so that’s was the reason for going.
After being in LA for a while I was shot in 1993 five times with a .357 and a young girl was shot once in the head and she died on the spot. I prayed to God asking him to save my life. I told him I would change, by starting going to church and doing right by people.
I knew that God saved my life and now I had to keep my word. I did not start right away because I was healing from being shot but maybe a few years went by I started to go to Church and get a better understanding of God.
That’s how I found the Lord Jesus Christ. Been with him ever since.
Thanks Lord for all the blessings that you have given me.
Name: Quoleshna Elbert
Occupation: Designer, Blogger, Soldier for Christ
This is my testimony and, I can honestly say now, that if I had to live life over again I would choose to avoid a number of experiences; but having already lived them, there’s not much I would change; because I see now—more than ever—how God plans to use every good and bad thing as a tool to change lives for the better if we humble ourselves and allow Him to use us.
When someone gives a testimony and you find yourself feeling pity for them…I think something is wrong, somehow. Because a testimony is about the present and ongoing victory–not about past failures.
Like everyone my past is full of substantial events and seemingly small choices) My life is made up of both positive & painful experiences—all of which shape who I am. One of these life-changing moments occurred when I was four; during a period of time when my mom and I were facing unforeseen challenges which caused us to have to rely on family for housing. It was during this time in our lives that I was approached and molested for the first time by a cousin. In some ways, I don’t consider myself a victim in the sense that, though a child, I did know that things were wrong, and yet participated in wrong. I’ve since learned that this has been an issue in our family for generations. And, it’s a problem that God is now using me to address in our family. Apparently, he brought me over 3000 miles to do so…! But, God’s timing is always perfect…
In the last half of 2009, the Lord led me to confess this to my family, starting with my mom (who I had never told). Under God’s urging and with his strength, I later shared with the rest of our family and felt led to plead for assessment and change. You know the most miraculous thing is that the instant I chose to be obedient, God lifted my own shame and replaced that shame with a deep love and appreciation for the gift of my family, and the hope and beauty of family and community, in general.
The best part about all this is that there is a glimmer of hope that—perhaps starting with a few of us—this side of my family will begin accessing all the strength and innate love that God has gifted us with; there’s hope that we may be more unified, supportive, healthy and honest with each other and ourselves. But even though I don’t know, for certain, what the Lord has in store for me or for us, what I know is that he’s led the way in confronting one issue and in urging for change that extends beyond that. He’s softened hearts, he’s opened up dialogue, he’s provided the necessary tools and the necessary emotional strength to get the ball rolling. I trust his will is going to be done as long as I just do what he calls me to do. “We can only do what God calls us to do. No more than that.” That’s a quote from an older woman that has adopted me as a play daughter (as of about a week ago since the writing of this testimony). A woman I am so in love with because of her gentle spirit, her wisdom, her passion for Christ and her transparency. A woman I would not have met if I hadn’t started this journey.
My testimony is not only about what God has brought me to, but also what he had brought me through. The other side of my family, my father’s side, is remarkably close-knit and about as functional as you’ll ever find. However, like many young women today, I didn’t grow up with a consistent father figure to show me what a healthy relationship with a man looks like and how a good man treats and loves others and, specifically, ladies. Coupled with the only other dominant experiences with males I’d had as a child, well, I think I could have grown up into a very different woman. But, my mom’s desire to protect me as best she could, her unwavering love, high expectations, and her solid support were a saving grace; I believe as important has been my father’s side of the family, consisting of a generous, supportive and frank grandmother, strong aunts, good-hearted uncles, and caring cousins.
There’s a lot going on under our skins that we don’t share with others out of well-warranted fear of judgment. For me, I think some people look at the surface and see someone who loves Christ, who’s pretty accepting of others, who is honest (to the point of tactless, sometimes), and they assume I have and do live a pretty stainless life except for “acceptable” mistakes. But, the full story is that my life is a testimony to God keeping me. Yes, my life could have been different in many ways, but the Lord had a different sort of testimony in mind for me to be able to share; even now he guides me away from some things, towards others, and even keeps some opportunities at bay. That’s just the truth of things. I am in no way perfect (just ask my Mom and my genuine friends). I am frustratingly human and weak and need constant guidance and help! But, my life is a testimony to God’s grace for someone who just desires to live for him (and I promise he knew that about me before I even did!).
It’s also a testimony to how he can help us to move forward in God’s love vs. our own imperfect power, anger, and fear; through His Spirit, he can make us clean and give us renewed perspective. And guided by his wisdom, He can then help us use all of our experiences to help others find their voice and their freedom and their hope and their courage…just as I hope that this testimony does for you.
God bless you!
Quoleshna’s testimony was posted with permission from Quoleshna Elbert.
Name: MC Purpose
Location: Long Beach, CA
While I was smoking a blunt making booty-shaking tracks, the Spirit of the Lord spoke to me. He said that He was going to use me to reach people through music. He said I would go to prisons, schools, hoods and be on the radio and t.v.Then He gave me the name ‘Purpose’. Of course, I thought I was tripping because of the blunt, I even laughed about it. God saw something in me I didn’t see. All I saw was a weed-smoking, foul mouth, flesh lusting, Sunday Christian. As time progressed, I realized I was playing church. I saw a lot of people faking it and I didn’t want to be that way.
I began to seek Jesus in a real way even though I was still smoking etc. I truly confessed my sins and asked Jesus to help me get right. It was a struggle but I continued to fight even if people doubted or called me a fake Christian. God knew in my heart I was real with it. One night I was going through something and I was trying to handle it the right way, but I didn’t. I believe this is when I began to feel conviction because it hurt my spirit. So I asked for forgiveness and said “Lord it ain’t easy walking like Jesus”, then in my spirit I heard “put ya holy shoes on”. God had given me my first song ‘Holy Shoes’. After an evening service, I exposed a secret to my wife I was keeping cause the Word convicted me. I felt in my spirit God was telling me to tell her. I told her I had herpes and she thought I was lying until I showed her.(I had an outbreak at the time) She tripped how I hid it for a couple years but I had my ways, plus I had my own place in the beginning.(God protected my wife and kids from it) That same night the Holy Spirit fell upon me and healed my disease. I fell to my knees and began to cry and I remember I kept repeating “Yes I believe”. God confirmed the purpose He called me to do. After all the crimes and hard times God still accepted me because of His mercy and grace. He saved my life so many times in the streets.
To sum it up, I’ve been delivered from disease, drugs, womanizing, cussing, getting drunk, lusting (sometimes my eyes wander and my thoughts slip, but I rebuke it in the name of Jesus. Just keeping it real) I’m not where I want to be yet, but I’m not where I used to be. Several of God’s prophetic words have come to pass. I’ve been to the prisons, schools, projects, radio and TV. He said a lot more but I won’t tell it all like Joseph because their are a lot of haters out there. There’s a lot of Purposes out there but God called me by name. It’s all good as long as were all doing it for God’s glory. Pray for all the gospel artists because the Holy Ghost take over is going down.
To all my readers if you don’t know God, you need to open up your heart and ask Him to reveal Himself to you. A lot of people just wanna do their own thing and would rather be blind from the truth. For those who truly wanna get right, just ask God to forgive you for your sins and to put Jesus in your heart. Ask Him to show you His ways. He’ll accept you as you are and clean you up to be pleasing in His sight. But you gotta be willing to change the way you think and not do what your flesh wants to do. It’s gonna take some time but don’t give up. Don’t wait until you’re standing before God on judgment day to realize He’s real. The devil wants to take as many people to hell as he can. I lived a life without God so I understand why you would think He doesn’t exist. People killing each other, wars, hunger, kidnap, rape, etc. That’s more of a reason to have God in your life for protection. I don’t ask God why good people die anymore. I had to ask myself why did He save someone like me. No one can explain what God does, so don’t try.
Check out these scriptures and talk to God. GOD BLESS.(ecclesiastes7:29, isaiah26:10-11, romans1:18-32, revelation20:11-15, psalms50:16-21, 2peter3:3-13, romans10:9-18, john3:16, 1peter1:13-21 read the whole new testament and ask God to give you understanding
Name: John Colon, a disciple of Jesus Christ
Praise the Lord!!!
To give you a quick synopsis of how my life in Christ has gotten to this point: “The Lord has been asking me to join His crusade for a long time. But I wasn’t paying Him any attention. ‘’So He had to get my attention.”
2005 was one of the toughest years that I can remember to date.
I separated from my wife and children in November 2004. We divorced in May of 2005.
I tell you Friends I was a sinner. I was a good sinner. I didn’t realize that until the Lord changed my life.
Well during this time I gave up on the Lord. I did everything that one could possibly do in a short time frame to upset a “PARENT”, our Father.
After my separation and my divorce became final I started having sex with several different women and I was boldly arrogant about it. I was having sex with 7 different women after my divorce, not to mention the one-night stands in between. I became abusive with smoking drugs and drinking alcohol. I found myself totally letting go of anything that was left to hold on to morally. And this is just one small year in my life because my sins go as far back as a teenager free in the World, but I just want to give you a small overview of how the Lord will go out and find his lost sheep.
Anyways, so near the end of the year around October 2005, the devil sought to drive a stake in me. He set me up with a pretty good side business selling “drugs.”
And when I say “good,” I mean between a friend and I, in only three months time we were moving over 6 pounds of Chronic (marijuana) every two weeks. I mean I started out thinking man if I could only make a couple of extra bucks I will be satisfied.
That couple extra bucks turned into $200 for five minutes of work hourly. The money and the habit became a sickness. And I didn’t even realize it. The women were throwing themselves at me. The Homies donned me a “g” because I was moving so much weight in such a short time. The good times were rolling and just as suddenly as I found this new “FAME,” everything went bad. It took a terrible turn for the worse.
I remember it was now mid-December 2005 my friend and I made our biweekly drive to the “Bay Area” to pick up our “drug shipment.”
Two days after we made this biweekly pick up my partner in crime was robbed for 2 pounds of the marijuana. I was in shock; we were both in panic mode now because we would get these large shipments on consignment. So what do we do now?
If things couldn’t get worse things did, (WELL THAT’S WHAT I THOUGHT).
To make matters worse the very next day after we were robbed for our merchandise the Police were outside my #1 girlfriend’s apartment with a warrant for my car and house. They were investigating a crime that happened in another county that I had nothing to do with. But because I had a prior from over 10 years ago I fit the profile and my truck was the same make as the vehicle used in the robbery. It’s funny how God sends people to stop you from making bigger mistakes.
Well for the robbery I was not at all concerned, but when the light shined on me I realized that I had half a pound of “marijuana” sitting in my truck with a scale, plus another half a pound at my house in a safe. I thought quick and thought well I’m not guilty of the crime; if I tell them the truth about the “marijuana” they should let me go…Nah!!!
Since they were from a different county they couldn’t prosecute me for something they found in LA County and they couldn’t find any evidence of the actual robbery they were investigating but the whole incident ended me up in jail for the night in a foreign county. I immediately started praying to the Lord.
A week later the detectives gave the evidence to LA County Sheriffs Department. Not even a week of being free from the false robbery case I found myself back in jail for the drug possession, but a new twist was added to the plot my roommate had a gun in a closet where I slept. I was oblivious too this. Panic and Shook kicked in again.
Now they eventually dropped the charges for the false robbery case that I had nothing to do with, but the bigger problem was that I was a prior felon and in possession of a whole lot of drugs and a .22 caliber rifle that was found in a storage closet in my room where I slept so the scenario became very serious.
The Los Angeles DA wanted to convict me of possession of drugs, Intent to sell, and a prior felon in possession of a firearm (even though it belonged to my roommate).
I realized at this point it was the Lord pulling my coattails again trying to get my attention.
Something had to give. Now I didn’t immediately stop drinking and smoking right away, but I knew my life had to change. And I wanted to change I just did not know how after 20 plus years of sinning.
At this point everything fell apart.
My physical father disowned me. He was ready to fire me from my position as office manager. Everything just got tougher and harder. The Lord was breaking my will.
I went by a friend’s house to try and forget everything that was going on through my old methods of drinking and smoking it away.
We started smoking a “HASHEES” chronic blunt. My mind snapped in that room.
At that very moment, God spoke to me and said “This is your last chance, you are going to either follow me or I am going to kill you.”
The devil was in there and he was waiting for me to continue killing myself. He was laughing at me. I knew it. But the last thing I heard the devil say before I ran out was, “Well fellas I guess we are losing another one.”
I know that sounds crazy, maybe it was momentary insanity but it was also a moment of clarity.
Now the only people in the room were my homeboy, his girl, my girlfriend and me. The devil used the movie we were watching as a vessel to relay this message to me. And everything just clicked.
I got up and ran out the house. I was confused and scared. The devil and the Lord were fighting over me in my head. I told them both to leave me alone and just started walking down the street.
I started cursing out the Lord for leaving me so many times in my life. I started going down the order one by one where I felt like he had left me alone to fend for myself.
I remember shouting out like a crazy person in the middle of the street “Where were you Lord when I needed you?”
“Where were you when I was being abused?”
“Where are you now Lord?”
At that very moment I looked up in the clouds and maybe it was the drugs or maybe it was the LORD…
But suddenly I fell to my knees in the middle of the street and started “Repenting.”
Something just started to comfort me and let me know that it was going to be alright. At that one minute, I knew the Lord had just picked me up. He finally heard me. I started praying and walking, walking and praying. I walked for about 3 or 4 miles trying to get the drugs out of my system. Funny thing was I didn’t have a clue where I was going. I just let the Lord lead my footsteps and he wouldn’t let me turn around and go back to the house. I didn’t want to go back.
At first, I did the normal, “Oh Lord please save me,” until I realized that he just did.
I realized that he is saving me for something bigger. I ended up going to Church with my Girlfriend, the only one that remained after the dust cleared.
I was hesitant at first to go back to Church. I know I needed saving but the last time I went to Church and found a home I got let down by the Pastor, because at that time I was still looking for someone to hold my hand in the flesh and tell me it’s going to be alright. I made that Pastor superhuman with no ability to sin until I saw him sin like me and I got up and ran out. The devil knows how to manipulate everyone. I did not understand that what I was truly seeking was Christ, not a man. I wasn’t prepared for the “Living Christ” the one who lives in me.
So for me to go back to church I felt like how am I supposed to follow a man to get me closer to Christ. I have a relationship with God. Personally, I can talk to him anytime, not to mention my girlfriend attended Faithful Central which to me felt like a joke. I remember boldly telling her “That God isn’t in NO Forum’, ‘The Lakers play at the Forum.”
But I went because I felt like at least I could make my decision far enough away where no one could see me. I now know without a shadow of a doubt that the spirit of the Lord is everywhere.
Funny thing I saw to youngsters that I use to sell “drugs” to sitting to rows ahead of me. And I was like “DANGGGG,” this is crazy. So I know the Lord was showing me something.
I remember there was an altar call and they both stood up and went down. Well, I said to myself I am not ready to do all that. I am not going to embarrass myself by going down there. This is my first day back in the Kingdom of the Lord. I was just happy to witness the moment.
But the “Word” was strong and convicting and yet comforting.
That following Wednesday a Pastor friend of mine prayed for me at my office. Again I felt the Lord moving me. He ended up inviting me to Bible study, I thought you know what since you had prayed for me I would go and visit the Church.
Pastor John Portis had been pasturing for about 6 years out of his house and had a new building of worship for only a short time and He had been inviting me weekly to his new church located at 54th and Western of Apostolic Faith. I saw him to be different from other so-called “Christians.” He always talked about being saved and born again. I was like well I read all you have to do is confess your sins believe that Christ died for your sins and I was saved and had eternal life.
He kept telling me that was only the first step. I pondered that for a while. I felt moved and I wanted to know the “Truth. “
The burden became clearer to me. I ended up at Wednesday Bible study later that evening. I left there feeling worthless. The “Word” is truly a double edged sword that cuts both ways. I was verily mystified and wondered what else the Lord was trying to tell me. Sunday came and I was back at Faithful Central.
A couple of weeks went by and I was at weekly bible study and Sunday service. In addition, to Sunday service and Wednesday Bible class, I was now attending Saturday worship and reading the Bible daily, and praying all the time.
I started noticing that I wasn’t drinking and smoking as much or at all. The need was fading away, but I wanted it all to end. I didn’t have that desire anymore. The Lord was changing me right before my eyes.
One Sunday Bishop Ulmner made a long alter call for anyone who wished to rededicate their life to Christ. After refusing for about 30 minutes my young friend and girlfriend looked at me and they said if you want we will walk with you if you are being led by the Spirit. I said “Yeah” the Bishop had just said something that triggered the Spirit that lived inside of me. The Lord was doing double backflips inside me. I started making that long walk down them stairs. And everything started changing per step. It was amazing.
The following week I made it my mission to give it all up. I now understood that I needed to make a change for good. I had to give up all my desires of the flesh. Between the Sunday service and Wednesday Bible study, the Lord was spoon-feeding me like an infant new food for my spirit and I liked it. I loved it.
The Lord was pushing me over the edge. He allowed the devil to make one final ploy to destroy my spirit he knew that I was becoming strengthened in Christ my savior and now he had decided to attack me from another angle my beautiful son, whom I named “Zion” who now lived in Atlanta, 2000 miles away. All I could do was pray because I could not physically be there to help him, to protect him from evil. I was distraught, but I looked to the Lord for comfort instead of drugs and alcohol, a true test of faith. My will was finally “BROKE.”
Finally, I came to my Pastor and said “Okay what is this Holy Spirit that you keep referring to?’ ‘Because I find myself repenting and giving up all my flesh desires and needs but there was something else that the Lord was calling for me to do.”
I said “I need evidence that the Lord is with me.’ ‘I can’t do this by myself anymore.’ ‘I need the Lord to take over.’ ‘What do I need to do?”
He said, “John you are almost there, don’t stop.’ ‘Comeback on Monday and I am going to show you what you need to do to receive the Holy Ghost.”
I said, “Cool, I will be here.”
Sunday came and service had me in tears. Bishop preached a moving and emotional sermon. I remember feeling that life has got to get better.
I fasted and prayed all day Monday I showed up later that evening determined to receive the Holy Spirit. I went to my Bible study Church for prayer which would be a day out of the ordinary.
My Pastor showed me some references in the Bible that basically said, if you want to receive the Lord in your heart, all you have to do is ask, but you have to knock to get his attention, and you have to truly mean it.
Praise the Lord because before I left that Church I was filled with the Holy Spirit after 3 hours of intense praying. And everything in my life is truly new because I know what it means to be “Born Again,” in the Spirit.
Fortunately, the story is still a work in progress.
Friends pray for me. On Monday, June 26th, 2006 I must turn myself in to the authorities to start my 240-day journey of incarceration. But I know through the mercy of the Lord, He has something special planned for me. I will take what he gives me humbly. I know he loves me and will only give me what I can handle. And the spirit of the Lord dwells inside of me, so I fear no evil. Praise the Lord.
I will update the testimony as the Lord unveils it to me. Praise his holy name.
Thank you, Jesus!
You’re Brother in Christ, John Colon
Name: Greg Ryan
Bio: Owner Christian Clothing Company,Teacher, Great Commission advocate, Personal Evangelist, Bible believer
How it all started
Many people have asked, “How did you find Jesus?” I am convinced Jesus called me many times to become a son of God. Every time he called, I was busy or distracted by something important to me.
The weekend I was saved
I was in a business meeting one weekend in January 1993. I was there to learn how to make more money (money was always a distraction for me). While attending this business meeting, a man named John Ankerberg told the audience Saturday night that he could prove Jesus was a real person, that He walked on the earth some 2000 years ago, that He was God and everything the Bible said about Him was true. He invited us to a Sunday morning service. This idea was very interesting to me.
What I believed
I believed there was a God, so I figured I was on the right side. But I never really went to church or gave it much thought. Mr. Ankerberg told us Sunday we had to have a personal relationship with Jesus. It was not enough to know who Jesus was. In order to be saved, Jesus had to know you. This rang my bell. As I sat in my chair thinking about this relationship with Jesus, Mr. Ankerberg invited anyone whom God was dealing with to the front. Before I knew it, I was upfront asking Jesus to forgive my sins, come into my heart, and become Lord of my life. While I was praying, Jesus answered me. He came into my heart and I became a new creature. For the first time in my life, I was on the “winning side.”
I was now a child of God, but I knew nothing. I was instructed to get a bible and read it every day starting with the book of John. I was told to talk to God (pray) every day. They also suggested finding a church that teaches and believes the bible is the Word of God. The bible reading and praying were easy, but it took me many months before I found a church.
Once in church, I began to really get into the Word, and it began to come alive to me. God opened His Word to me, and I got excited about learning His Word. I shared my experience with many of my friends, but only one of my friends became saved. This was very frustrating to me. I could not reach my friends. I continued to learn more about God’s ways, and I found I was not able to relate with my old friends. I had developed new friends and relationships through church, but I still had friends who would not go to church and did not have a relationship with Jesus.
God moves me out of my comfort zone
It seemed like every Sunday pastor preached, Matthew 28: 18-20 and told us to go and make disciples. I found myself enjoying hearing the Word, but I wasn’t excited about doing anything I heard. I would hear the sermon, get a little frustrated, and then go home and justify to myself that no one I knew wanted to hear about salvation.
Sometime early in 2002, I decided to try to do more for God. I knew I could not sing (and bless anyone). I thought about writing but then walked in a retail bookstore and was overwhelmed by all the books already written. I knew I wanted to do something but did not know what to do. So I prayed and asked God for an idea.
I was really looking for a better way to heat water or cook something. The George Foreman Grill came to my mind (we had just bought our second one). I thought, “Get one good idea and just get paid over and over and over for it”. Yea, I liked the sound of that so I waited for God to answer.
The commitment to do more for God also involved me trying to become a more active witness for Him. I felt like the Great Commission was something every believer should do. So while I waited for my life-changing invention, I decided to go to the golf course.
My idea to witness
My plan was to wear an FCA (Fellowship of Christian Athletes) shirt every time I went and played. That way, when someone asked me about FCA, I could tell them about Jesus. What I great plan (or so I thought). I would get to do something I really enjoyed and introduce everyone I knew to Jesus. This would have been perfect if someone, anyone, would have asked me anything about my shirt or FCA.
I determined my harvest field was the golf course. I did not want to lose my great idea (combining witnessing and golf). So I prayed for something I could put on my shirt that would “make” people ask a question.
I was frustrated leaving my “harvest field” aka: golf course one day. No one had asked me anything and in fact, the people I had played with acted horribly. I had a Ray Boltz CD playing when I drove away. I asked God for something I could put on my shirt that would make someone ask me about Christ and the song “One Drop of Blood” came on.
How it came to pass
God’s timing was perfect. I pictured a drop of blood on my shirt, I started getting excited. Then I drove by a huge billboard with a drop of blood on it. It was a blood donation advertisement. I then asked God for something else, and I pictured in my mind a drop of blood rolling down the spike that held Jesus to the cross, about to fall to the ground.
I KNEW THAT WAS IT. (I saw this same image almost a year later when I watched “The Passion of Christ”.)
I then tried to draw this logo. (Have I mentioned I have no artistic ability?) I asked my wife if she could draw it. She did much better but it still was not good enough. Our church had just hired a youth minister from California. I saw him one Sunday and asked him if he knew anyone who could draw. (I had never really talked to him before, I just figured, since he was from California, he might know someone creative.) Turns out it was him. Dave (Ross) replied, “I do graphic art design”. God is so good. I asked him if he could draw an old-looking spike with a drop of blood about to fall from its point.
Since I have absolutely no artistic talent, I prayed that God would have Dave draw the logo the way God had shown it to me (in my mind). When Dave brought me the drawing, it was what I wanted to put on my shirt.
Not knowing anything about clothes, I asked the local FCA director where he had his shirts embroidered. I took the drawing to a local company, they created a pattern, and we made the first One Drop of Blood shirt.
The First Day
I have to tell you the first day I wore the shirt I was a little nervous. I had never thought about the logo on my shirt before. Most of the clothes I had came with logos; it was just something that came on them. When I put the ODOB shirt on that day, something was different. I felt like I had put on Christ. I was glad I had made a commitment to wearing the shirt whenever I went to play golf because I was seriously thinking about not wearing it. I was afraid! As the doubts and fears went through my mind I thought, “Are you sure you want to do this?”
Looking back now I can tell you it was just Satan trying to intimidate me and steal my witness. I summoned up what little courage I had and out the door, I went. Two people that day asked me about my shirt. I told them it represented the blood of Jesus and that it was their only ticket to Heaven. I planted some good seed in their life that day, and I have been wearing the ODOB shirts ever since.
Witnessing made easy
In my first 9 years of being saved, I may have handed out two tracts. Since developing The One Drop of Blood logo I quit counting after 60. Each tract I handed out was because someone had asked me a question about the shirt.
I wear the ODOB shirts to work every week. I ask God, “If there is someone I come in contact with today who needs to hear from You, have them ask me a question.” There are many days no one asks me about the logo. I do not get discouraged when I do not get to share Christ with someone. I am doing my best and God knows it. In fact I get a sense of accomplishment that I took a stand for Jesus.
Many of my friends wanted a shirt
After I told many of my friends at church about my shirt and how was able to witness to two people in the same day, they wanted shirts. So I had a few more made. When I gave them their shirts, they asked, “How much do you want for them”? That is when the thought hit me, “there may be some money in this”.
Someone told me that I needed to protect the logo with a trademark.
So I did.
The men I gave shirts to asked what they were supposed to say when someone asked about the logo. I was the expert. I had witnessed to two people, but what I had found was that it was two more than they had witnessed to. So I prayed for God to help me give them an answer, and I thought of a tract. I looked at many different tracts, but I wanted it in my own words so I developed a tract. I gave it the tract to my friends and they were ready to go.
Trying to make a business out of an idea
For about a year I went to different churches in my area. They were very receptive to the idea of helping their people be better witnesses. But I found out most churches are not set up to sell clothes. Most are not interested in stocking clothes either, so I became frustrated and stopped trying to go church to church.
I was introduced to a copywriting course and I started learning how to write sales copy. My plan was to use direct mail and catalogs to the different churches (we still plan to have a catalog). Then one day in February of 2006 I heard a man talk about the affiliate program on the internet. I knew the internet was the vehicle this business needed to succeed.
Warrior Hear My Call
Since asking Jesus into my life I have had this thought in my head saying, “Warrior Hear My Call.” I now know that was God calling me to battle! One Drop of Blood has entered the battle for the souls of men. We have the Blood of Christ, the word of our testimony and we are prepared to fight to the death. (Revelation 12:11) Come and join us and let’s see what God will do.
The rest is the future of One Drop Of Blood!.
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