Readers Testimonies
Jim

I was a violent addict. I supported my addiction through armed robbery, kidnapping, extortion and black mail. I hurt people to get what I wanted, and because of the pain I carried from my past I would lash out and hurt others. I had a $1,500.00 a week cocaine and heroin habit.

How I Came to Faith in Jesus

When I was 4 my mother was killed. After her death I was raised by my surviving family. Through them I was taught religion, racial hatred and violence. By 12 I had survived years of chronic sexual abuse and torture. Some of my earliest memories include hiding the blood stains in my clothes and having a cigarette put out in my mouth. Discipline meant beatings with wire cables, metal rods and even butcher knives.

At 14 I was an I.V. drug user, experienced criminal and I sold drugs to my classmates in school. I was into satanic music and witchcraft. I became obsessed with death and would often cut myself. At 19 I placed a loaded gun to my head and pulled the trigger. The bullet failed to fire. I was 28 when I stabbed an innocent man. He survived, and I spent five years in prison. I was released in 2004.

In 2008 I was arrested in possession of a fire arm due to an armed robbery gone bad. I was relieved. I figured with my charges I was looking at life in prison due to my prior felony convictions. I told God I needed peace. I cried out to Him, ďI donít care about freedom, just give me peace.Ē Three days later I was released.

I had made a call to Teen Challenge for a phone interview about a week before my arrest. On April 14, 2008 I came to the Shafter, California induction center and began my journey with Christ.

How My Faith Has Made a Difference

Since then I have come to know Christ on a personal level. He freed me from addiction, sparing me the symptoms of withdrawal I had experienced when I tried to get clean before. Now Christ is freeing me from the pain, rage and shame that used to drive my addiction ever deeper.

Before Teen Challenge I was planning to be a killer and become famous before the cops killed me. Today, through the love of Christ, I am learning how to love. My hope for the future is to share what Jesus has done for me. I am planning to spend the rest of my life sharing my story and telling others about Christ.

I work with people that come out of similar drug and gang related backgrounds. We go to high schools and juvenile halls to share our stories with kids. We go to the streets of Los Angeles and feed the homeless, passing out clothes and blankets.

I've been blessed with the opportunity to work with youth ministry in several ways, as a youth pastor, through park outreaches known as 'Kid's Club,' and I've worked at the San Diego Youth Convention, as well as an L.A. ministry called Ministry Through Arts (MTA) which is a drama and performance outreach team that allows our youth the chance to develop evangelistic skills using their talents.

What happened? How did I go from a predator on society, to the man I am today? I'll tell you...

I met Someone who has changed my heart, and my life. Jesus Christ. Thatís it, thatís what happened. And if it wasn't for my relationship with Him, I would most likely have become a killer by now.

I've been a Christian for over four years now. I am a recent graduate from L.A. Teen Challenge Ministry Institute and a youth pastor for a church in Hawthorne. I am continuing in my discipleship training with the goal of serving in full time ministry. I start working with San Jose Teen Challenge this month (December 2011). I am still growing in Christ, and grateful for the love He has shown me.

Martha
I was raised in a Christian home. However, abuse at the hands of a distant relative led me to lead a double life. I was driven to take dangerous dares, stealing, setting fires, and acting out sexually by age 8.

By the time I was 10, I was completely miserable. I felt hopelessly driven to more and more dangerous activities. I couldn't stop.

That summer, I went to a church camp and the speaker plainly announced that I could not make myself good, and that Jesus wanted to change my life.

I did not believe it could happen, but I was so desperate that I confessed and apologized to God for my sinfulness. I accepted Christ's sacrifice on the cross as payment for my many sins in a prayer.

Everything Was New

The next day I was amazed to find that I was a new person. The compulsions and tortured thoughts of my former life were gone! I felt clean. Everything was new.

It has been many years since that day, and God has been consistently faithful to me, even when I was not faithful to him. His mercy and grace are amazing in my everyday life and the miracle of my salvation has never dimmed for me.

There is a lot more I could say. Miracles have kept me alive and given me clear signs that the Lord really loves me. But there is just one more part of my testimony I'll share.

An Answered Prayer

About five years ago, I had very little money and my clothes were literally falling apart. I prayed, "Lord, you know I need clothes. And you are the Lord of all clothing, too. I'm not going to worry about it anymore. I'll leave it to you to work out."

Three weeks later, four large boxes arrived. They were full of beautiful outfits suitable for my job. A note was enclosed from my sister-in-law: "I lost weight and thought you might like to have these clothes."

I had not told anyone about my prayer. I was ashamed of my poverty. But since then, I have told anyone who will listen about this answer to prayer and the riches of God's grace. God is so good!

Jeff
I was raised in Portland, Oregon, in a secular, lower-middle income class home. I went to church very few times during my adolescent years. When I turned 16, I began to get involved with drugs and alcohol.

Drugs, Alcohol, and Crime

At 17, I began a live-in relationship with a woman who was two years older than me. It was a difficult relationship, characterized by drug and alcohol abuse, physical domestic disputes, and crime (primarily theft of various items).

During this time period, I came very close to losing my life on a bad LSD trip. I lost touch with reality, jumped through several windows, and assaulted several individuals. I was told later that when the police and medical personnel arrived, an individual was coming after me with a gun.

I ended up in the emergency room with serious lacerations all over my body. After dealing with the law and going through the healing process, I continued my risky lifestyle.

Rejecting God

I remember at one point telling my father that there was no God. Although he did not live what I would consider to be a Christian life, he assured me with tears in his eyes that there was a God.

Once while in a park in Portland with my girlfriend, a young couple approached us and began to share the gospel. I told them that they would be far better off if they were to forget this Christian stuff. I offered to share my weed with them. I know now they most likely went off and prayed for us.

Thoughts of Eternity

At some point during my nineteenth year, I remember beginning to be consumed with thoughts of eternity and where I might spend it. Even though I didn't believe in God, nonetheless, I was overcome with this concern.

These thoughts went on for a few weeks. I recall coming across Bible tracts on various occasions. I would read them, and then go on my way.

My grandmother was a Christian, and she was praying for me. I also had a Christian co-worker that would share her faith with me at times.

One day I was at home, sick with the flu. I began to ponder becoming a Christian. I really couldn't see myself as a Christian, as I had envisioned myself at 75 sitting in a rocking chair, still smoking my pot. For some reason as the day went on, I found myself thinking more and more seriously about Christianity. I came across one of those Bible tracts with the four spiritual laws.

Accepting God

I suddenly found myself praying to the God I had claimed earlier didn't exist. I felt this supernatural power come over me that day, and I knew I would never be the same as long as I lived.

The best way to describe it was like coming out of a trance. I suddenly had an awareness of God, Satan, and the reality of the Bible.

It is now more than 30 years later. I have been happily married to the same woman for all these years. We have raised three sons. God has blessed us in wonderful ways. I am involved in jail ministry, and am looking forward to eternity.

Although there have been a few minor hurdles along the road of life, I wouldn't trade back to the old life for anything. Praise God for changing the life of someone who didn't believe he existed.