I was fifteen years old when this incident happened. There were two guys inside the YMCA who began to argue and fight. They were told to take the argument outside. The man behind the counter said, “Get outside. We don’t want that in here.” When they went outside, the YMCA staff locked the doors behind them. Once outside, they started shooting at one another. Two bullets came through the window. One bullet hit a wall, and the other bullet struck me in my head. The bullet entered the right side of my head and traveled to the back.
The shooters were gang members. The interesting and ironic part about that is that in 1992, a year before this, my father had started a program called *Stop the Madness because there were so many deaths happening among our young people from gang-related issues. He was concerned because no one was saying anything. Everyday someone was dying, and no one was saying anything. Schools didn’t say anything. The city didn’t say much. Most disheartening was that the church wasn’t saying anything. He started Stop the Madness to stop the gang violence and the madness in the lives of people in that city.
When I was shot, there was a lot of news coverage. A lot of news people came to the hospital to talk to my father. They wanted to get his thoughts on the incident because he was the advocate in the city to try to stop the violence. Everybody wanted to know, “What do you think about it now since it was your son who was shot?”
In the news conference he said, “I feel like Abraham when God wanted to see if he would sacrifice his son, Isaac, to see if Abraham loved him. I want God to know, and I want the city to know that if God wants to use our son as an example to reach others, then we are willing.” When he said that, it went through every television in the city. When people saw his faith, the church grew. Stop the Madness grew. Nationwide, people found out about the incident through magazines and television.
When the bullets were flying, I remember everything moving in slow motion, like a scene from the movie The Matrix. I thought maybe I was in shock because I’d never been in an environment where guns were shot. There was a loud ringing in my right ear. My head began to vibrate very badly. The pain was similar to the shock of hitting a metal baseball bat on something solid. My body got extremely hot.
I had an uncle who had died a few years earlier. After I was shot, a man was holding me. I told him, “I’m going to die. I’m going to die. I’m going to see my uncle.” He said, “No you’re not. Just keep praying; keep praying.” I prayed and prayed and prayed. I remember seeing a white light. I remembered hearing stories like this. You may say with sarcasm, “Yeah,” but I experienced that white light. In the white light there was a shorter gentleman and a taller gentleman. The taller man had his arms around the shorter man, walking toward the light. I believe that was Jesus with his arms around my uncle, saying, “He’s okay. You’re going to be okay.”
I died that day. The EMT team worked on resuscitating me. People prayed for me in the community. I woke up in the hospital completely blind. The doctor said I would never see again. They said if I lived I would be in a persistent vegetative state for the rest of my life. The community prayed for me, different people of different races, different sides of the fence, different denominations. Everyone came together and prayed for me. Within three weeks I woke up in the hospital with twenty-twenty vision.
The bullet is still lodged between my brain on my skull. Earlier this year I went to the doctor to see if the bullet had moved or if anything had changed. The doctor looked at me and said, “I really don’t understand how you still have your motor skills. When I look at your CAT scan, it’s saying that you shouldn’t, but looking at you says you do have all your motor skills. I don’t understand it.” I said, “I do. I know exactly what it was, and who it is. It’s Jesus.”
I’m a living witness that God is a healer. I can walk around with the bullet still in my head. That’s my story.