In September of 2010, our family moved to Charlotte, NC to volunteer with an inner city youth ministry called One7. It was founded in 2008 and now has kids from Africa, Vietnam, Burma, Mexico, El Salvador and the United States. The One7 vision: To reach and transform inner city communities and families by intentionally forming cross cultural youth ministry teams while focusing on holistic change and spiritual growth. We are a part of something so much bigger than ourselves, and we have never regretted the decision to move. One thing we have come to understand is that everyone has a story. All it takes is some time and active participation in someone’s life to develop a personal relationship. Just because a person is smiling on the outside, does not mean they are not ripped apart inside.
Meet Pablo. He is from Argentina and one of our most outspoken leaders at One7. On and off the soccer field, he demonstrates his passion not only for the game of soccer, but also his love for God. So many lives have been touched and changed by his words. He is an inspiration to all who meet him. He has a very bright future, and I can’t wait to see what God has in store for his life.
I asked Pablo to write out his testimony.
Growing up as a child, I had everything a kid might desire. My father was a successful manager of a steel company in New Jersey. Consequently, I become spoiled and selfish. I began to create this image that the universe revolved around me. Greed, lust, and idolatry were words that could describe the person I was becoming.
About six years ago, my life was completely turned around when my father lost his job. I lost everything I had. My friends, my home, even my self-value…all were gone. I was so enveloped by the little world I had created that money and material items had come to define who I was.
Watching my parents fight, having little to no food, wearing hand me downs to school, and not having any money humbled me to the bone. Life became a daily pain. Pushing through every day knowing that my family might not have even a piece of bread to eat for dinner was depressing. As I look back, I am reminded of the ways I would escape the pain of having a hole in my heart. Even until this day, I am embarrassed to speak about it. I was introduced to things that no child should ever go trough at such a young age.
Although I could temporarily escape my pains, nothing was permanent. While on a mission trip to Kingsport, TN, we attended a youth service at Higher Ground Baptist Church. The pastor preached about a man named Jesus. Growing up with a religious family, the story was not new to me. I had heard it many times, but for reasons I cannot explain, this time is was completely different.
I felt as if the pastor was speaking directly to me. He kept repeating the words, “He loves you!” The phrase echoed in my mind. Tears began to gently flow down my cheeks. For the first time in my life, I felt as if my heart had melted. I could not explain why, or how, but I felt as if the world was lifted off of my shoulders. The feeling of being cleaned and renewed engulfed every thought in my brain. Jesus had come to Earth to die for me! I considered myself garbage at that point, but God looked at me and said, “You are mine.”
I am still not a perfect human being, but I have come a long way. To me, every day that I wake up is a new day to glorify the God that forgave me and died for me. Greed, selfishness, and lust are all temptations that I still struggle with today, but Ephesians 6:10 encourages me to keep fighting for His glory. I now realize that no matter how much the world around me is falling apart, it is continuously in His hands and under His control. I have nothing to worry about.
If you have ever felt this way or maybe you feel like giving up, I strongly encourage you to seek Him. He is always knocking at the door of your heart. It’s just a matter of if you want to let Him in. He died for you, so why not live for Him?
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Have a blessed day,