I moved to America at the age of about twelve back in 1979. I lived the early stages of the civil war in Beirut, Lebanon. So from 1979 to the mid 80’s life was very, very challenging. I was angry at God. I was angry at life. I couldn’t understand, from the civil war and being exposed to dead bodies, abuse, and suffering, from being in shelters and then coming to America thinking “finally”.
I remember watching Steve Austin on TV the six million dollar man and these big high riser's and thinking America was the place. We came here and it wasn’t anything like that, not at that point anyway.
So Dad left us and he was very physically abusive to us. I remember during the summer I would wear long sleeves because of all the bruises on my arms and I just didn’t want to discuss it with any of the kids. So, I got into drugs. I hated God. I was bullying kids. I did heavy drugs. I dropped out of school a couple of times. Eventually, I graduated. I got into the health club business. This is kind of the second part of the journey. I got into the health club business because I was an obese kid. I used to swim with my t-shirt on. I hated my body. So, you can imagine a terrible childhood with no Dad, having to work from the time I was twelve or thirteen years old under the table because I wasn’t legally allowed to work but people would pay us cash to help Mom, me and my brothers to pay the bills. We didn’t go to proms. We didn’t go to football games like most people do on a Friday night for example. We didn’t have that childhood, so I was just angry at life. I just couldn’t understand the point of living. I got into the health club business and the drugs got worse.
Now I am a young adult and was then womanizing married women, single women, I was just going crazy. What I was living for (I realized later in life) was that I was living for those daily endorphins. Because the things that you do in the sinful world like drugs and sex, all those things gives us that high, gives us that instant gratification but it’s only for thirty minutes or it’s only for two hours. It’s not lasting.
There was a preacher that kept coming to my gym and we would sit down and talk. I felt very open to him so I would share with him my struggles and my frustration. He would always end each conversation with; “Open the Bible and read one paragraph.” I would always follow up with the same question; “Where? What part of the Bible?” And he would leave. I thought; man, this dude is crazy. The Bible is this thick. I don’t know. It’s confusing especially if I get caught up in Genesis I can really fall asleep then.
One day I was at rock bottom, suicidal and I thought; I’m going to open the Bible. I opened it up to Matthew where Jesus the night before He was put on the cross. The part that got me, in this part I can’t remember which part of Matthew. I know it is toward the end of Matthew, where He said; “Let your will be done, not mine.” So, even though I’m sure He was questioning; “Why? What did I do? Did I not follow your commandments? Did I not walk on water? Did I not save? Did I not do? Did I not do? And yet at the end to go; “You know what Dad? Let’s do it. I love you.” It was like something hit me with a two by four. Here I am feeling sorry for myself. My Dad was this and that, the Civil War I’m working while everyone else is going to proms and football games but when I read “Let your will be done”. I felt this big. I felt that big. I got down on knees. It was that moment I remember opening the back door and I threw the pipe away. I walked into the bathroom, grabbed the bag of dope and flushed it. I remember it was like I just entered a zone I can’t explain. It was like that moment was the turnaround moment for me.