Pastor's Adam Story
It was typical evening and my mom had put me down to sleep. I remember waking up to a loud noise. Following with a forceful thrust. My dad evidently threw my mom into the bathtub. I heard my mom crying with pain while my dad yelling from the top of his lungs. I jumped out of bed shaking, tears running down my cheeks and standing by my bedroom door. I heard my dad say …I’m out of here. I heard the front door slam open and my dad getting into his truck and peeling out. The house had become very quiet and I could hear my mom crying and cleaning up the bathroom. I remember I didn’t want my mom to know that I had heard anything so I went back to bed.
Tears were flowing down my cheeks. I couldn’t get the loud thrust and words out of my mind. I was fearful and scared and I did not know what to do or even think. My eyes were wide open and I was staring into the darkness. But then a vision had come to my mind…I saw myself older and I was playing with children at a park. As I was pushing them on a swing I realized that I was their daddy. With that picture in my mind I promised to myself that one-day I’m going to be a great dad and husband. And with that thought I was comforted.
My mom and dad separated and ultimately ended up in a divorce. Since my dad was the breadwinner it left all five of us without any means of support. My mom went on welfare. It was only to be temporary help but unfortunately we ended up on it until I was 17 years old. One of the hopes I had was that they would get back together. I remember each time I would hear a truck go by the house I would run out to the window and hope to see my dad. After some time passed my dad would come by to pick my brother and I to stay over night at his new apartment. That was always one my favorite times. My dad’s apartment happened to be a few blocks from my grandmother's home.
One Friday night my mom had dropped my brother and I off at our grandmother’s house to stay the night. She promised to take us to the store to buy candy. We walked to neighborhood market and I asked my grandmother if I get some chocolate cup cakes instead. She pointed to the isle and instructed me to pick one up and come right back to the candy isle. As I walking to te cup cake isle I saw my dad. I couldn’t believe it. I wanted to surprise him so I snuck around where he was and I came from behind a huge shelf and said “dad,” he turned around and looked into my eyes and turned toward a girl he was with and walked away. I stood there for a moment and waited to see if he would turn around. I did not call out to him because somehow even at seven years old I understood what had just happened. He didn’t want his girl friend to know who I was. I saw him turn down another isle. I walked back to my grandmother and brother and did not mentioned what had just happen. I couldn’t believe that my dad was not happy to see me. He was the joy of my life.That moment shot pain through my heart and made me feel worthless.
As we got back to my grandmothers, I remember lying down on the couch and thinking , “my dad does not love me.” I was feeling guilty for sneaking up on him. I began to blame myself for my dad’s action. If I had not sneaked up on my dad he wouldn’t ignored me. Maybe I’m a just a horrible son. Maybe I don’t deserve my father. Maybe I’m just a …. And all if a sudden the image of me being a dad and husband popped in my head. I remember keeping that image in my mind. And the more I kept it there I was comforted. I told myself that I would never do that to my son or daughter.
In retrospect that moment shattered my self-esteem. All through my childhood and teenage years I struggled with my sense of significance. I did not think anything good could come from my life. The only place I felt significant was with my mom. She would do here best to encourage me to do well in school and not to get into trouble in the streets. But when I turned twelve things changed. My mom was experiencing some personal turmoil and the day came where she broke down.
One night she came home and it was the house was a mess. She went bizzerk. She began yelling for us to step into the kitchen and pointed to the sink that was packed with dirty dishes. She began to throw them on the floor breaking each one. Glass was everywhere. She went into cupboards and continued throwing anything she got her hands on. She walked over and picked up a brick that was loose from the fireplace and broke the windows of the back door. She then screamed out ..."I can’t handle you anymore."
An uncle had come and picked me up to give my mom a break. In the week I stood with him, he tried to make sense of everything, but in reality that experience totally wiped out the little self-confidence I had. When I finally made it home I remember my mom had apologized for the outburst and the things she said but unfortunately for me the damage was done.
Ever since the divorce my dad would come in and out of our lives. Usually we would find out where he lived about every 3 to 5 years. His life pretty much resorted to living in and out of the streets playing his guitar for money.
I was now in my teens and was an emotional wreck. Most of the time I felt all alone and hopeless. I lost trust for people. I did not know where to go for help. One day my mom had come home and she had learned where my dad was living. He was back at one of his old apartments. My first thought was … “my dad could help me.” He will understand and navigate me out of this deep depression. I jumped on the bus and headed to his apartment. I really did not know what to expect but hope was beginning to stir. I reached his place knocked on his door and when he opened it, and I saw him standing at the door I was on cloud-nine. My heart was beating so fast. I could not believe it. This is my Father. For so long I wanted to talk to him and now I get the honor. After some small talk I began to pour out my heart. I was explaining to him how I was not happy, I was having a difficult time in school and I was depressed most of the time. I did not know what to do or think any more. I must went on and on…I had so much stored up I just needed to let it out. Once I finished I looked into his eyes and said “dad, I need help, please help me!!!”
I did know not exactly what he would say but I was looking forward to his advice. He got up from his chair and walked over to a kitchen cabinet pulled a jar, opened it up and pulled out a bag, and handed it to me. He said these words, “Adam…this is what I do when I feel like you, try it, it will help you...and Adam remember, school is not important because the truth is you are going to end up like me.” It was bag of marijuana. As I looked into his eyes I saw the same look he gave me at the grocery store. I was confused. I did not know what to say. Talk about a turn for the worse. I could not believe that he gave me weed. I was 14 years old ready to enter high school. As he was showing me how to roll up the weed like cigarettes, his words…you are going to end up like me…kept running through my mind. As I left his apartment and got back on the bus ...I gave up. I took my dad’s advice and began to smoke weed. I did not like it. But each time I would smoke a cigarette of weed, my problems would go away for a little while. I began to smoke it regularly because I did not want to cope with my pain.
I went to go purchase a bag of weed and the seller asked me if I was interested in a business opportunity. He told me that if I would help him sell he would give me some for free. I took him up on his request and began to sell it in my neighborhood. After a while I saw the money that I was making for him and decided to go into business for myself. I began to buy quantities on my own and recruited some of the guys in my neighborhood. I was 15 years old and unfortunately took the second part of my dad’s advice and dropped out of high school. About a year later I was introduced to cocaine and I began to buy and sell it.
The irony of my life was I did not like where I was headed. It seems just about every night I would hope for change. I would visualize that I was involved in school, sports and even preparing to go to college but then I would snap out of this dream world and come to grips that I was going nowhere and to make matters worse I felt empty inside.
Outwardly, it appeared everything was okay. I’d gained reputation among my neighborhood as a leader, ladies man, and most importantly respected in my hood. However the vision of being a good dad and husband was fading. I realized since my parents were divorced both of my grandparents on both sides were divorced most of my aunts and uncles were divorced… marriage will never work for me.
I'd just turned 17 years old and I was on my way to purchase my largest quantity, quarter-pound. The person I bought it from was a new guy and I didn’t trust him. A friend of mine advised me to protect myself from anything going bad. He handed me a loaded 22-caliper handgun. I looked at the gun, held it up, found a target to focus on and pulled the trigger. A few thoughts rushed my mind. What if I have to use it? What if I shoot somebody? There is no turning back. But this what hurt the most…I am a drug dealer. I drove up to the dealers’ house, checked my money, checked the gun and was ready for anything. Walked up to the door and put my hand on the trigger. During the transaction I remember thinking …this is my life…I use drugs, I sell drugs, I have a loaded gun in my pocket with my finger on the trigger…I hate my life.
Fortunately I did not have to use the gun. After the transaction I was eager to get the weed broken up in bags so I can give to guys to sell. One of my boys had the scale so I went to his house to pick it up and he asked me to meet him at the corner so that his parents would not see what we were doing. This happened to be eight houses from my home. As I was waiting for him, there was a fight going on about two houses away from where we parked. It was two groups. One was the youngsters from the neighborhood and the others were guys who were passing through. This was typical of my neighborhood. Somebody was either fighting or getting high.
My cousin was with me so we both got out and sat on the hood of my car to watch the fight. One of the guys from the neighborhood pulled out a rifle and was looking around to find the passers. They had scattered throught the houses. As is began to die down about six police cars had rushed in and the crowd dispersed. My cousin and I immediately jumped into my car and the cops surrounded the car thinking that I was the person with the rifle. The irony was that I did not have the rifle but I had a loaded gun and the large quantity of weed. The cops open up their doors pulled out their guns and yelled to put our hands up. Both of us raised our hands, and slowly got out of my car. They rushed at us, pulled us out of the car and kicked us to the ground and placed guns on the back of our heads and back. They yelled… “if we move, they will shoot.” They handcuffed us and kept us prostrated on the street. They searched my car and found the loaded gun and the weed.
“Its over”. This was the only thought I had. They placed us in the back seat. The police car pulled away and drove right past my home. I saw my younger brother standing on our curb. I was at my lowest. I remember thinking my life would be better dead than alive. As I was handcuffed in the back seat I remember closing my eyes and out of the blue came that vision…being a great dad and husband.
The birth date on my driver license was incorrect. I had modified my birth certificate when I was fifteen so that I can receive my driver's license without going through the process of getting a Learner's Permit. I revealed to the arresting officer that I was only seventeen but they proceeded to book me in county jail. I was placed in a holding cell with about thirty men. I was extremely nervous being locked up among men. I remembered what a cousin who unfortunately spent more than half of his life behind bars mentioned to me, "when your locked-up, the key to surviving ... act tough." Well…that’s what I did. One by one they let you make a phone call and I called my mom. She was already informed. She began to cry and tell me that she is going to do whatever it takes to get me out.
After the phone call they called my name and lined me up along with 20 guys to issue out orange county jumpsuits. They proceeded to march us to our cells. They opened the jail door and there was four bunk beds, toilet and a sink. There were 3 other guys on their beds and one of them introduced himself, welcomed me and pointed to an empty bed. The first question he asked me, how's the weather? He had not been outside in six months. I sat on my bed looking around at began to think about all the people who would share stories about being locked-up. When either a family member or friend would get out of prison or jail we would have a barbecue and we would sit around and listen to all the great stories. Often times I used to think ... "I can't wait until I get locked up." Well... here I am in a orange suit locked up for drugs and gun charges.
My mom contacted a bails bonds agent and bailed me out. She hired a lawyer and after a year of court appearances it came down to sentencing. Two years in Youth Authority (YA), which is prison designated for youth or probation including weekend community service. As the judge was about to pronounce the sentence I prayed a silent prayer… God, if you get me from doing any time I will give my life to you. By God’s grace it was the latter. Probation and weekends. Talk about relief. The judge did reiterate that if he sees me back in court for anything ...speeding ticket, petty crime I would automatically serve two years in youth prison. My mom and I were ecstatic. I drove her home and mentioned to her that I was going to a friend’s house to let them know the great news. But that far from the truth. I went straight to a dealer’s home and convinced him to front me about $1,000 worth of marijuana so that I can get busy making money.
I had just turned nineteen and I was tired of selling drugs. Two things played a role in my decision. The first , I was getting tired of looking out for cops. I was constantly looking over my shoulder and paranoid that they were going to raid my home. The second reason was that many of the young guys in my neighborhood were being influenced and were ready to begin their life on becoming a drug dealer. That never settled with me. Their parents warned them to stay away. Not a good feeling. In my decision to stop selling, I come to realize that I was addicted to smoking marijuana. I had to smoke it everyday to cope with my emotional issues and lack of esteem.
As far as my family there was a 180 degree change. My mom was invited to church called Cathedral of Faith where eventually both brothers and sister began to attend regularly. My brothers had joined a Gospel band and began performing in different cities. The band had received an invitation to perform at a youth convention in Denver, Colorado. The day before they were scheduled to leave to Denver, one of the members had to cancel out. Since they had this open space the band leader asked me if I would like to take his place. It was last minute so I decided to go with them.
I was very uncomfortable being around church people so I decided to bring some marijuana along with me. It was Thanksgiving. I remember we stood at the Downtown Marriott Hotel. I kept my distance from everyone and my duties were to unload and load the instruments as well to help them sell their merchandise. The manager of the group was name David Falcone. I had never met him but my brothers had informed that he was also a youth pastor. As we were getting everything ready for the evening concert David had come up to me and began to point out that were a lot of 10’s here. I looked at him and asked him what he meant. He said…there were a lot of pretty girls. He instantly became my friend.
The next day we went out for lunch and he began to say things to me that nobody would ever have known. He told me that God had told him that I was experiencing emotional pain. That I had been carrying around a lot of baggage from my past. And then he said something that I had never shared with anybody “I had dreams of becoming a great family man.” I was totally uncomfortable. I was confused. How does this man know? Would God really share this to somebody? One of the last things he mentioned to me was …“give God a try.”
That evening during the concert I began to look around and there must have been 700-800 young people. It was bit strange for me because I had not been to any venue like this. Everybody seemed to be having a good time and nobody was getting high or drinking. It was genuine and authentic.
Towards the end of the concert David Falcone was on stage inviting people to give God a try. I had no clue what it meant to give God a try. So I remember putting my head down and closing my eyes and saying these exact words. God…if you are real…than come in my life. BAM…I felt something hit me. The only way I can describe it was like I was high. But I knew it was not from weed because I had not smoked for a couple of days. The next thing I felt was warmth flooding my heart. And for the first time I felt love and hope in a very real way. This all happened in all about 3 minutes. The next thing I know my brothers both came down from the stage and gave me hugs. I told them that I feel different. David had come down and greeted me and told me that God will not let me down. I did not want the evening to end. When we got to our room my brothers immediately had called my mom to tell her about my decision to give my heart to God. When they passed me the phone the first thing she said “ Adam you are now on our team.” To be honest that did not sit well with me because I immediately thought about why I converted the garage to a room. I did not want to be considered to be a church or religious guy. You can’t be cool and be church going. I just responded to her by saying “I’m giving God a try.” The next morning we were on our way back to San Jose.
I had mixed feelings because I knew I had to face my friends, the girls, my job, and my reputation. In essence that was my world. But I was ready to change. That 3-minute experience gave me the strength to face my world. I remember when the plane landed in San Jose, I was so nervous. It was mid afternoon. My mom picked us up and drove us home. I knew my friends were going to come over so we can get high. I decided to go to each of my friends’ house and share with them what had happened. I asked my brothers for a verse in the bible. They gave me two of them. Matthew 6:33 “Seek Ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all things shall be added to you.” And Proverbs 3:5-6 “ Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.” My friends listened to me and I asked them if they were ready to give God a try. Every one of them told me that they were not ready.
David advised me to go to a small bi-lingual church called Templo Elim where he was once a member. He informed that they had a large youth group and they met at homes on Monday nights for Bible study. The following Monday night I walk into a house that had about sixty young people packed into a living and dining room. I walked straight into the back of the room and found a place to stand. I looked around and not one face looked familiar. I was very nervous because I felt out of place and did not know exactly what to expect. There was a young lady who was leading the study. At the end she asked if anyone would like to receive Christ into his or her life. Hands went up and she led them in prayer to receive Jesus Christ as their personal savior. She then asked if anybody would like prayer for stuff they may be facing. People began to share their needs…a job, strength for school studies, home issues, relational issues, among other needs. This was very new to me. I had never witnessed people be open about their personal situations. I was always taught that was a sign of weakness. I lived by a life motto that stated, “don’t let people in your life. ” I was moved by what I saw and decided to pray a silent prayer … God please help me with girls. I don’t want to use them anymore. I want to learn to treat them with respect. Please teach me how.
After my prayer I thanked God that I had a chance to be here among these people. As soon as I looked up the lady who was leading the bible study was pointing my way. I was wearing a jean jacket and she said out loud, “the gentleman with the blue coat, could you please come here.” I made eye contact with her and pointed to myself and said …me? Yes …you. Talk about feeling uncomfortable. Everybody’s eyes were on me. I looked over to her and she seemed about a mile away. I walked through the crowd and made my way right in front of her. I did not know what to say or do. She looked at me introduced her self …my name is Sandra Martinez and God had laid on my heart to pray for you. I was stunned. I did not know whether to believe her or not. Is it possible for God to speak? He has something to tell me? I was so desperate for change I decided to hear what she had to say. She asked me to bow my head and close my eyes. She leaned over to my ear and whispered these words that radically changed my perception of God and the power of prayer. Sandra communicated these exact words… “God put on my heart to let you know that he has heard your prayer and that He is going to help you with your problems with girls.” My eyes instantly filled with tears. My heart was flooded with emotion. I was in shock. It was the most beautiful feeling I’d ever experienced. I couldn’t believe that God heard my prayer. Little ol’ me.
It was the first time I felt significance. The God who created this big world heard my silent prayer. I was so moved. At that moment I was convinced that God was real. I prayed once again this simple prayer “God I promise to serve you with all my heart and whatever you want me to do I will do”
The bible says in Jeremiah 29:11 “ For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you plans to give you hope and a future.” You matter to God…despite your past…God can make it all good. He will take your mess and turn it into a message. I encourage you to give God a try. God has changed my life and I know He can change yours? How? Simply pray this prayer …
Dear Jesus, hear I am. I want to accept you into my heart. I believe you died on the cross for me and will cleanse me from my past and sins. In the precious name of Jesus…Amen
Three things…you need to do?
1. Find a bible believing church
2. Start reading the bible (begin with Matthew)
3. Begin talking to God ( talk to Him as he was a friend)