My walk is not a normal one though, but like everyone else’s, it molded me and made me the Christian I am today.
I grew up in a cuban house that practiced santeria and palo mayombe. You can say it was the complete opposite spectrum of a Christian house. It was my normal though and the normal to many other cuban households as well in Miami. By the time I was 18 years old I was a high priest in palo mayombe, a “tata nganga.” I was an active practitioner and consulted daily with the spirits, did animal sacrifices, consulted people, and did black magic to others. I thought I was doing the right things in life because it was all I knew.
I then joined the Marine Corps and moved overseas to Okinawa, Japan. After some time I met my wife Amy. She was Christian and her entire family were missionaries. I thought to myself at first… They were going to want to stone me, but they did not. They accepted me for who I was and prayed for me. When leaving Okinawa for the first time, I went down to Florida and picked up my wife to be and we moved to North Carolina and were married in Jacksonville in 2006. Even though my wife was Christian, I continued to practice Palo Mayombe and at first I did not let her go to church. She did not like what I practiced, but loved me and stayed by my side.
A year later we received orders to Quantico, VA. We bought a house and I moved all my religious stuff into the house and my wife had enough and told me no. She wanted all of my pagan things out of the house and into the shed. I did just that because I did not want to have any more arguments. She then started to go to church and I started to go with her because I was scared she was going to leave me for a Christian man. I would not sit in the service though so I sat outside in the cafeteria and read my religious books. I could not stand still though because I felt so uncomfortable.
Then one Sunday morning I woke up and something told me to go to church. At that time I did not know what it was, but now I know it was the Holy Spirit guiding me. I told my wife we needed to go to church and she checked me for a fever. She told me service already started and we were all in pajamas. I didn’t care and we went to church that day. Well there was a guest speaker that day, a man from Africa that was a witch doctor like me. His scars from the ceremony were on his face, but mine were on my body. He was saved by a mission trip from that very church many years back and was now a pastor helping save the souls of many there. He was leaving and something told me to talk to him. He was running late to the airport, but when I told him who I was and I needed to talk, he stopped and got the preacher and they took me into a room. They anointed my head with oil and prayed over me. He then counseled me and told me his testimony and the years of spiritual warfare he had to go through to close all the doors he had opened by practicing black magic like I would have to. So that day I dedicated my life to the Lord and it was my first step.
I went home and burned all my old religious stuff and prayed for God to get us out of there. He answered and gave my family orders back to Okinawa, Japan.
In Japan, I found a small church and I was baptized. My wife and children were so happy for me and I was fully dedicate to the Lord. I started to usher for the church, but over time, I felt there was something wrong with the church. My wife kept telling me to study the bible and take what the pastor was saying with a grain of salt. It turns out he was teaching his version of the bible. I told her he was teaching from the old testament, new testament and bishops testament and it got so bad we left the church. I started to turn to alcohol instead of God after that when I was stressed. My marriage started to get rocky and I was never home and when I was, I was mean to everyone. I started to feel like the devil was winning again.
Two years later we received orders to Austin, Texas. When we did my family’s passports expired and my pay was not complete. I was not getting paid and I had to try and push my family’s passports to get the to come with me on time. So I went to the administrative section (IPAC) and spoke to the officer in charge. He told me it would take about 3-4 months for my family’s passports to come back and that I would have to leave Japan without them. I was severely stress and then went to another base to sell one of our vehicles. I was driving down an alley and I prayed to God humbly and sincerely. I asked for His help and I would do anything He wanted me to do. Clear as day I heard behind me “stop drinking.” I slammed on the breaks and I was mad getting ready to kill someone. I thought someone was behind of me inside the van messing with me. No one was there! So I prayed again and told the Lord I would never drink a sip of alcohol again in my life. Two hours later I get home and told my wife what happened and then I received a phone call from the officer in charge of IPAC. He told me that he didn’t know what happened, but my passports were getting expedited and we would have them in two weeks and my pay was getting fixed the following week. So, what was going to take months, got resolved in two hours after my conversation with God. This is only the beginning of my testimony tough!
We moved to Austin, Texas and bought our dream house. However, within the first couple of months I had to have my third shoulder surgery, and it was a bad one. I currently need a shoulder replacement because they could not fix me. When I got off of convalescent leave, I went to Houston to a logistics chief conference and I was sick. I kept throwing up and my urine was dark. I thought I was dehydrated so I kept drinking water. I had horrible back pains and my pain medications were not touching the pain. I spoke to my wife about it and she told me not to come home until I went to the ER, but I was stubborn and did not want to go. The next day I was in the restroom throwing up and a Navy Chief corpsman saw me and grabbed me and took me to the ER against my will. They checked my urine and what I thought was dehydration was really blood. They did a CAT scan and my right kidney was four times the size of my left. They originally told me I may have cancer. On the way home after the Marines picked me up, I was writing goodbye letters to my family because my grandmother died of kidney cancer shortly after being diagnosed. I had to see my urologist two days later and I just thought the worst.
When I saw my urologist, he told me that he had good news and bad news. The good news was that I did not have cancer and the bad news was that I had kidney failure. My right kidney stopped working and my left was shutting down. I had to have emergency surgery because my right kidney was about to rupture any day now. When reading over my questions, he told me I was very lucky I did not drink alcohol. Any amount of alcohol would have pushed my body over the threshold and my kidney would have ruptured and I would be died. So you see, if I didn’t obey God and stop drinking, I would not be writing this for everyone to see today four years later. I thanked God and we were back in church hard core because I knew He had plans for me.
Shortly after my surgery, I was medically separated and my wife fell ill. She was diagnosed with lupus and fibromyalgia. She was bedridden for three months and I had to do everything for her and my children. I went from running a Marine weapons company to being a full time dad. I was very stressed and I learned really quick that I did not know my family. I had to relearn how to be a husband and father. After some time we lost our house because we could no longer afford it and we started to live full time out of our RV. The Lord put it in my heart to go to seminary, but I knew we could not afford it and I never wanted to be a minister or preacher so I fought it tooth and nail. I would ask the Lord for a sign and He would give me one and then I would ask for another lol. I did this for about a year and then started to feel like I was going to be struck by lightning.
We were in Florida when I received my final sign of confirmation and when speaking to the pastor, he told me that there were accredited online seminaries I could apply to. That’s when I found Christian Leaders Institute (CLI). They were a 100% free seminary that is in 150 countries and they solely run off of donations. So I had no excuses anymore. The seminary was free and accredited, and I had the time in my hands.
When in school, I felt a new love for the word and for God. I found out I was not living the way I should have and started to shift all my priorities to my wife and children. I started to minister to them and sharing my love for God with them all. I then finished seminary, was set aside and ordained and started my blog to share the word of God with as many people as possible. As people say, the rest is history. I am now applying for associate pastoral positions and youth pastor positions all over the world. By my life story, I now walk by faith and not by sight. I am ministering to whoever the Lord puts in my path and I am waiting for the right door to open to either work in someone’s ministry or start a small one of my own. So we are traveling full time and we keep ending up where the Lord wants us.
This is my life and this is my testimony. I pray that by me sharing this with everyone, it will help someone in need of support and reaffirm that God is real and working in our lives.
Also, if anyone needs to talk and need any type of counseling, I am always here no matter what time of day it is. I have dedicated my life to serving God, my family, and everyone else in need of help and guidance in finding salvation. God bless you all and have a wonderful day.