I came from a dysfunctional family and I lived in a neighborhood that required me to develop some survival techniques at an early age. If I went down one side of the block I’d run into one crowd that was belligerent and had to fight my way through that. If I went down another side of the block I’d find another group of individuals of a different ethnic background. For protection I had to get involved with people from my own ethnic background. As I grew up I associated with gangs in the street and participated in that lifestyle, breaking the law etc. It was a hard time in my life because I’d suffer a lot and end up going to jails and correctional facilities.
Rather than reforming me, these incarcerations instead brought me in contact with people who encouraged negativity and self-destructiveness. My early years were progressive in that each day seemed to get worse and worse. I justified doing illegal things because of the environment I found myself in. As time went on I was led into people and places that most people only hear about in the newspapers. They call themselves the Cosa Nostra (a.k.a. the Sicilian Mafia). In that type of association you had to live up to their expectations and be loyal to them no matter what they said or did. I was involved completely.
I started using drugs and alcohol. I was in conflict with those people and it caused me a lot of grief and and pain. Between the mafia and the drugs and alcohol and my only family’s severe dysfunction, I found myself in a very precarious position with nowhere to go and no true identity. I felt lost; I felt really lost and hopeless. That’s the point I was in when I began sleeping in the streets of New York City. I was so low that people I really loved and cared about shunned me because of what I had become. Then one night while I was sleeping in the streets of New York City, I came to a place in my mind where I got tired. I got tired of fighting; I got tired of trying to muscle it on my own; I got tired of trying to think I could work it out based on my own abilities and skills and I finally surrendered.
I knew I was condemned. I was living a living death. I remember trying to think of a way out this life. That’s when I realized the God’s love for me. “God so loved the world,” I remembered that verse, “that he gave his only begotten son that whosoever believes in him shall not perish but have but have eternal life.” God reached down and brought me out of that life of destruction. I know I was close to death because when I checked into rehab and went up to Vermont, they did a physical exam and concluded my lungs were shot, I had the beginnings stages of emphysema, my body was a wreck, my immune system was zeroed out. I was in total disarray physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. But God, in his mercy, brought me from death to life. I stopped smoking; I stopped drinking; I stopped using drugs. I finally surrendered. I finally realized that the Word of God is powerful. It brings deliverance and healing and a unique experience that makes you trust and understand his glory and realize the magnitude of this love.
God helped me not only to acknowledge that I had a problem, but to encourage me to do something about it. I was willing to receive his deliverance and healing. And that’s what my testimony is really about. It’s about a message of hope. It’s a message that God can deliver us from a present situation and encourage healing and deliverance. He protects us and brings us a bright future, a future that brings him glory. I received God’s gift of eternal life, began cultivating an intimate relationship with him as my heavily Father—the one who is loving and caring. I began looking forward to every day and I learned to be thankful for what God has done for me. Since then, much has changed. God worked through his family to help me get on my feet. Over time I helped and continue to help others in need in throughout the capital region.
God is changing lives all the time. Maybe you'd like to find out what he can do in your life? Why not visit Living Hope this Sunday? Click here for more information.