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From loving violence to loving God.

"The first time I heard my dad say he loved me, I was in jail.

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The first time I heard my dad say he loved me I was in jail. I was eighteen years old and we were looking at each other across the glass and he told me he loved me. I broke down. I cried. It was the first time I ever heard him and I still remember that date.

I was born in New York in the Bronx but I was raised until I was six in Manhattan in Washington Heights. My dad was a drunk. He drank a lot and partied a lot. There wasn’t a lot of love. He did love me. He loved us. He provided for us. He was there but then he had his imperfections which impacted my life. My mom was my life. She was everything to me. So, at about twelve years old my mom passed away. It just messed my whole life up. I remember going to school. Kids in school were making fun of me and making fun of my mom. I remember hate and anger entering into my heart for these kids that were making fun of me. They were making fun of my mom who had just passed away. So, my heart was darkened at that moment. It was hardened.

I sort of navigated toward violence. So I was this guy who was full of anger, hate, and violence because I had been hurt by people. All you had to do was to look at me wrong. I was just the mean guy full of hate, visceral and I wanted to cause damage. Some people love money. They love big houses and they will do anything for that or they love sex. They love women. For me, I was into the violence. I was into the fighting. I was into that stuff. In Junior High, I ended up joining a gang. At that time they were called the New York Reakings. At later times they were called Carol city of the Boys. They were at one point the most wanted gang in Miami’s police department. They really wanted to break us up because we were small but we were doing a lot of damage. Selling a lot of dope, breaking into a lot of homes, home invasions and things like that. I ended up getting shot twice. Once in the belly and once in the shoulder and that bullet hit my spine. I will tell you how good God is. It hit my spine. I dropped immediately and my cousin pulled out his gun and just started shooting into the vehicle. I look back and we ask ourselves; “how did he miss?” He missed everyone in the car. The car was riddled with bullets. They showed us pictures. The police showed us pictures and no one was hit. I look back and I ask God about a lot of things that happened in my past and I know that they weren’t hit because I’d probably still be in jail right now.

My leg was numb for two, I couldn’t feel my leg for two weeks. I had an operation. My intestines were ripped apart. They sewed them back together and I was shot right here. That one went in and out. It didn’t hit a bone but it was pretty close to my head.  I started to get close. I started to get close to God.

For the first time in my life, I was separated from things of the world, separated from my friends, my gang lifestyle and I started to draw near to God. I started to chase after Him. I started to go after Him. To my surprise one night I was in my bed and I started to pray. It was like this fire just came inside of me and empowered me and all I could do was cry. All I could do is cry; “Jesus, I love you!” All I could say was Jesus I love you. Jesus, I love you. Jesus, I love you. That’s all I could say. I had a bunkie and I asked him; “Man, was I loud last night? Did you hear what?” He said; “No, I didn’t hear anything.” He slept right through it. It’s just incredible. That night Jesus came to visit me. You know, God came to visit me in my jail cell. It was so unexpected and it blew my mind away. It blew the lid off of everything I could think of. It just took me into a different dimension. Heaven invaded me. I began to preach the word of God while I was in there. The only thing I preached was the love of Jesus, how real He was, how awesome He was, and how they could have it too. That’s where my journey with Him really began. He protected me through the craziness and the lifestyle that I was living. I had gone to jail. I sold drugs, home invasions, stealing, robbery and this. He protected me. I went from using these hands to hurt people and now I pray with people. I lay hands on them and God uses me to get them filled with the Holy Spirit. I went from shooting, beating, selling dope and hurting people to helping people. It’s an amazing thing. I think the only way we can properly love is when we experience the love of Jesus because He says He loved us first. We love because He first loved us. So now we know how to love. Now I can tell my son “I love you”. Those are things I never received from my dad. Only God can pull me out of that perversion and darkness and take me into a place like this.

Phil - From loving violence to loving God.

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