Faithfulness Beyond Belief | Articles | The Fellowship

Faithfulness Beyond Belief

    Jun 25, 2023 | by The Fellowship

    I was 17 in 2003 when my mom died from cancer.  It crushed my dad who ended up going to the Philippines to start a new life and a new family!  My sister was in college and my three brothers were a lot older with their own families. I was left on my own and felt totally abandoned. I was angry at my dad, angry at my siblings and, ultimately, angry at God!

    At 18, right out of high school in San Leandro, California, I found an apartment in the ghetto with the cheapest rent around.  It was right next to a crack house. There were gangs and drug dealers, fights, domestic violence, theft, robbery and, of course, drug raids and cops on the scene. I became a product of that environment.

    I was living off my mom’s life insurance money, which quickly ran out.  So, I got two warehouse jobs, but knew friends were making way more money selling drugs.  Joining them, I sold weed, edibles, ecstasy pills, and even cocaine.  The money I made led me into really heavy drinking, which at first, was just on the weekends, but soon, four to five days a week.

    When I turned 21, the real partying started. I would stay out all night and began stealing with my friends by breaking into cars.  Then we upgraded to college parties and ransacking dorms to steal laptops, shoes, purses -- anything of value.  Soon we were stealing memory cards and game cards from stores like Best Buy and Target.  They were very valuable, so I made a lot of money reselling them.

    Eventually, I started breaking into houses, but felt convicted that I was invading peoples’ actual homes and it was really wrong.  So, I stopped hanging out with those guys and went back to partying and drinking. That led to big problems with lust!

    Having gotten married at a very young age and not knowing what a healthy marriage looks like, I was not living faithful. A friend introduced me to “Vietnamese Bars” -- basically underground strip joints. I became a regular, started inviting my friends, and got to know the owners, strippers, and escorts, even doing drugs with them in the back rooms.  Soon I was the “go to” guy for planning parties at these bars.

    Since I was married, my wife and I struggled.  Funny thing, I always felt my activities were wrong -- but told myself that I did not care about the consequences and had no fear of the devil.  Then realization hit that it was God I was opposing!

    It was when we had our first-born daughter that I became a God-fearing man.  In spite of everything, He gave me a daughter?  After all the bad things I have done, He still gifted me with a daughter?  Suddenly, I realized God was way bigger than me … and I needed to dedicate my life to Him.

    Proverbs 9:10 declares: The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. So, I left that lifestyle behind to start focusing on my family.  But I was still very much into drinking! Much heavier drinking, not just with friends, but even more with her family!  I hung out with her uncles and cousins at family gatherings where shot after shot was poured.  This went on for years!  I would drive my wife and daughter home from these parties while intoxicated… or passed out and my wife had to drive us.

    When my wife’s cousins, nieces and nephews became teenagers, I was that uncle pouring them shots.  The realization hit that I was part of a generational cycle of alcoholism.  I told my wife that if we did not stop, our kids would be next!

    We got involved at our church, but still struggled with living a double life.  Even though attending church more, we would be drinking Saturday nights and hungover at church on Sunday.  We had one foot in the world and one foot in the Word.

    My wife and I decided the only way to focus on our faith and family was  to remove ourselves from that place.  We prayed and prayed for discernment to make the right decision and for God’s provision and resources to move.  In His timing … we ended up in Texas!  It was so hard leaving friends and relatives behind, but knew it was best for our family.

    God led us to The Fellowship and I got baptized in 2019.  My wife and I founded Project Feed, a non-profit organization serving the community.

    I work as Marketing Manager for the church and my wife and I lead a LIFE Group. I am not trying to give myself any credit, because it is nothing I have done -- but everything that God has done for me!  His faithfulness is beyond belief as I look back at my past: I never went to jail, only got arrested once, and did not die!  I still have my family! He was with me the whole time: calling, teaching, correcting and protecting!

    I know it may sound like a cliché, but God is not done with me yet!  I know he has plenty more opportunities for my family and me to serve Him -- and it will all be for His Glory!

    But God demonstrates his own love for us in this:
    while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 
    Romans 5:8

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