‘He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior’

Titus 3:5-6 (NIV)

God saved me from destruction. I didn’t know why God would have grace on me, but that is the fundamental essence of the Gospel. That we deserve eternal death, but God, so loving and gracious, sent his only begotten Son to save us from hellfire.

‘Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,’

1 Peter 1:3 (NIV)

I grew up going to church every Sunday. Earliest I can remember, I was four/five years old attending church services and hearing my mother play the piano for the congregation. Then my parents got divorced and I moved from our home in Virginia to Texas. My dad was not around anymore, and I had no idea why. My two older brothers were much wiser than me, but we all took it as a normal event. That it was normal to not have a father around. This was 2006, and I was just about to turn six years old. The next ten years of my life were spent without a father. But with the addition of another mother. My mother had a new partner. This was also just a normal part of my life. It was normal to have two mothers. To discipline you. To teach you right from wrong. To teach you the ways of being a man, from the perspective of being a woman. We spent less and less time in God’s word as those years went by. Less and less time at church. Less and less time in fellowship with our creator. Less and less time abstaining from sin. Sin corrupted my life. As I grew, I figured the ways of this world with my very distorted sense of morality, with a hint of a Christian foundation. All my brothers were lost. We all ended up getting into drugs. Everyone I knew around me partied and did drugs. That was the way to be successful in middle school and high school so naturally, I joined along. I had ample time to lie and steal in order to do drugs and throw parties, but that didn’t last long. When I was fifteen, I was exposed and found out about all the mischief I had been into. At that point, I turned my life back to God and realized I finally had a chance to be completely clean. Although I didn’t know the bible whatsoever, I knew that God had struck me down in discipline to have me either turn to him or to turn to the world (the devil) to get my peace. I had written into a journal at that time how amazing it felt to be clean and finally be relieved of my misery. I spent the next eight months or so being relatively sober. During that time, I felt righteous but I was yet still drinking alcohol and throwing parties. Somehow, I rationalized all of my sins. That lead me to eventually end up in a deeper hole than I had started in before.

Around about February 2017 (at sixteen years old), one of my longtime friends had introduced me to psychedelics. This absolutely amazed me. And within a few months, I abandoned my God. Why he did not strike me down with wrath then and there I had no idea. After that, the next year was filled with horrible sin. More lying, stealing of course. But my worldview was changing traumatically because of the drugs. I turned into a Gnostic. I essentially believed I was God. I had no concept of sin. I was as divine as Jesus. I could do anything I wanted. This physical world was just a prison for my physical body. I still had a reverence for Christ, but as I have said, I believed I was just as powerful as Jesus Christ. I was exactly where the devil wanted me. I had turned myself into the embodiment of Isaiah 14:12-14.

‘How you have fallen from heaven, morning star, son of the dawn! You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations! You said in your heart, “I will ascend to the heavens; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of Mount Zaphon. I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.”’

Isaiah 14:12-14 (NIV)

On January 15th, 2018, I had a nightmare experience while on drugs. That lead me into going into a drug rehab five days later on the 20th. And for the next sixty days, I realized how horrible of a human being I really was.
Yet when I left rehab, I was ten times worse off. That’s when I got into witchcraft and magic. I still believed in my Gnostic views; however, I took them more seriously. It wasn’t a trendy, drug-fueled belief anymore. I was completely sober and felt like I had divine power. I had started contact with my dad in Early January before I went into rehab. When I got out, my grandmother had died (on my dad’s side) so my dad invited me to come to the funeral in DC where he lives. At the funeral, I witnessed a sermon my dad preached on. At that moment, all of my old feelings and experiences I had with Jesus Christ came flooding back. I realized how powerful he is. I remember his grace and mercy. Yet my heart was still so hardened, it had no lasting effect. I came back to Texas after the funeral and then I finished up high school. As soon as I graduated, I visited my dad in the summer and I ended up starting a business and staying in DC. I was still doing witchcraft. I started my drug use up again. And I now was sexual impure with my girlfriend. I went to church again, called myself a Christian, yet sinned like a pagan. I had no conviction to change my ways. I thought my ways were higher than his ways. I thought sin gave me power.

Over time I couldn’t handle the guilt of my sin. My absolute heresy and blasphemy against my own savior; my blatant disobedience killed me on the inside. I couldn’t handle my hypocrisy. The more I had fellowship with other brethren and read the word of God, the more my heart was pricked. I started to attend a contemporary, non-denominational church. Having broken up with my girlfriend and giving up my drug addiction, I felt like I was finally living in the will of God. Then I connected with someone else in the church who did drugs. I quickly went back to my own ways, rationalizing my sin. I was completely lost, with no accountability for my sin. I decided to initially get baptized because I thought that was an act of obedience and a sign of my salvation. After I was baptized, I realized I should become sold out. However, with no accountability, I didn’t know how to pursue God righteously. I started to simply read my bible more than once a week! The more I learned from God about his ways and judgment, the more I realized I need to repent! I began to have quarrels with other brethren in my church about fundamental doctrine. This troubled me greatly because I knew the church needs to be of one mind and judgment.

Riley’s ‘True’ Baptism on August 21st, 2019!
L to R: Noodles, Riley, Kevyn

An old work friend of mine (Noodles) reached out to me. I remember he was a Christian, so I wanted to catch up with him about my walk with the Lord! I confided in him about quarrels I was having with brethren at my old church, about the disagreements over the doctrine of Hell, Judgement, and the value of human life. This friend suggested I met with his pastor, LuJack Martinez, to see what his perspective would be over these issues. I met with LuJack and a few other brothers and we studied the bible together! What a revolutionary thing for me to do! I had never looked at the word of God like this before ever. After we were done with the bible study, I decided to drive the other brothers’ home. Ten minutes later we had a head-on collision. My car was totaled. At the moment I knew that this was the will of God. I wanted to learn more and more about the doctrines of the Bible. As I went through these bible studies, in the weeks henceforth, I realized how much of a wretched sinner I was and how I needed true biblical salvation. Three weeks later I was baptized on August 21st, 2019! Only by the grace and mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ was I saved from hell.

‘But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.’

Ephesians 2:4-5 (NIV)