My dad’s name is Louis. He was raised in Ecuador. He had a violent past. In Ecuador there are people known as Macheteros. These Macheteros walk around with machetes and handle “stuff.” Dad was really “out there” before he was saved. He was almost killed one time. He has a scar from his chest to his abdomen from a slice by a machete.
We have a phrase in Spanish that translates in English as, “If you live by the sword, you will most likely die by the sword.”, or, it could be “...you will die by the gun,” whichever is your weapon of choice. Two of my uncles were killed. One by a gunshot to the head, over a botched robbery, and the other by a trade gone bad. Many of my bad choices were a result of hanging around these two uncles.
I eventually joined a gang. As kids we would go to Summer Youth Camp in Allentown, PA. Like any young males, we went for the girls that would be there. On Monday night of Youth Camp, after playing basketball, I didn’t want to go to Chapel. I remember a very charismatic camp counselor, a former gang member, who worked with at-risk youth. He approached me and said, “You need to go to church.” The manner he said it commanded my respect. He was a bold witness with a loving manner. He didn’t know that I had brought a gun and knife to the camp. I remember him saying, “God has something for you, Josh.” I was tired and upset, but when I walked into the back of the Chapel the presence of the Holy Spirit was so real. I began removing my two earrings on each ear, which was solely a personal thing between me and God. I knew it was, for me, an act of reverence before a Holy God. I put my shirt on and removed my bandana, and began to weep. Right there I made my peace with God in public confession. That was over twenty-one years ago. I’ve never been the same.