“If you told me when I was deep in my drug addiction that I would be where I am now, I wouldn’t believe you.
“I grew up as a product of my society. From an early age, I chose the streets and ran with the wrong crowd. At 12 years old, I started having sex, doing drugs, and eventually started selling drugs later in life. This way of life was just the norm for everyone around me, so I never questioned it.
“These early habits turned into a whirlwind of sin and addiction. At 16, I had my son with a girl I was dating. I wasn’t sure what to do next, but my mom stepped in and helped me with parenting. Becoming a dad made me realize I couldn’t act so recklessly, but that didn’t last long. I still was living for the weekend and the party scene. I would work hard all week and then go out on the weekends and leave my son with babysitters.
“I continued this rebellious life. I was constantly high on drugs and tried pulling others in. I didn’t care about anyone but myself. I went on to have a daughter with another girlfriend, and while I did experience some success, I couldn’t stop my habits. Inside, I was so depressed. I spiraled into more drugs and sexual sin. I placed my value on having the best of the best – women, drugs, liquor.
“To me, God was a folktale with no power in my life. I fully believed I made my own luck and success. I didn’t want anything to do with the God I heard others talk about.
“When I think back to that time now, I see there were people in my life who didn’t give up on me. A small group of people I knew would invite me to church and try to have conversations about God with me. Even my grandma prayed for me daily and reminded me of God’s character.
“But I was so enslaved to my sin. I was living on drugs, to the point that I couldn’t even eat. And then, one night, I ran out.
“In the middle of the night, feelings overtook me. I never felt so scared. I curled under my covers like a little kid and cried in fear. I cried out to God, ‘If You are real, save me from this. I am scared. Give me a new chance. Give me a new life.’
“It felt like a fight for my soul that night. It was as if God was pulling me in one direction, and the devil was pulling the other.
“When I woke up the next day, I didn’t want anything of my past. I know it wasn’t that moment that saved me, but from that night on, I decided to put my faith and trust in Christ.
“Within the next week, my aunt expressed that she felt a call to host a Bible study with friends, and I was quick to jump in. At the Bible study, I met a man with a similar story to mine. He took me under his wing and started reading the Word with me. He showed me what a relationship with Christ looked like in everyday life. Then, a separate friend invited me to Awaken, a conference for young adults hosted by Watermark. For the first time, I was surrounded by other young people my age praising and worshiping God. I couldn’t believe how amazing God was to do this!
“At the event, I met a guy who spent most of the weekend talking with me in-depth about the gospel and exactly what Jesus did for me. I was so against learning about God and faith in my past, but my eyes were opened. I was receptive to everything I was learning and hearing – including an invitation to re:generation, Watermark’s biblical recovery ministry, and the importance of membership at a local church.
“Throughout the next year, God built deep and authentic friendships around me through re:generation and my community group.
“When Watermark opened the South Dallas campus, I knew the Lord was calling me there. It is closer to where I live, and most importantly, the neighborhood is such a familiar place to me from my past. I know there are guys like me in this neighborhood, and I want people to know there is hope. Through serving and being an active church member, I get to speak life into a community where, for so long, I spoke death.
“I put my worth in all the wrong things, but Christ showed me there is nothing I could do or own to earn His love. He died so He could reconcile me back to Him. I was such a horrible guy, but God chooses to still love me and show me that He is enough. I’ve watched God do miracle after miracle in my life, like my parents surrendering themselves to the Lord and my now thirteen-year-old son learning to walk in the ways of Christ. I know there is power and hope in the name of Jesus.”