To hear an excerpt of Matthew’s faith story, click https://youtu.be/0ytNVgiI5MU
I have to say that my faith story began in a juvenile detention center. I was always getting into trouble. I grew up in a violent home. My dad was violent, a lot of different violence was going on in my house and in my neighborhood.
I developed this thing inside of me that I just couldn’t control, like an uncontrollable rage or anger, which led me into a lot of trouble. So I ended up in the juvenile detention center and I got into a lot of fights, until eventually I was locked down in that institution. I was not allowed to interact with the population.
Then one night some guy on the 12 to 8 shift came in and unlocked my door and let me out. He would read the Word to me, but I didn’t want to listen. I was raised Catholic, but wasn’t into God or any of that stuff. I didn’t want to listen to it, but I did want to get out of the cell.
So he started to preach to me and he put Jesus in a way that I could understand. I was about 14 or 15 at this time and stuff started to happen to me. I stopped cursing, I stopped being violent, and ended up being the unit leader. Something special happened to me where I was content and happy and I never, ever, forgot that feeling.
As I got more involved with drugs, I got into more crime. I started committing violent crimes, selling drugs, abusing drugs, and ended up back in prison. I’m there for an extended period of time. I would feel like I didn’t have control over myself. When I got upset or angry, I lost all control.
As time went by, I was released and I remember telling them I wasn’t ready to be free. When I got home I tried to do the faith thing. Some an older gentlemen tried to put me under their wing and show me the way. I’m a street guy, so I thought that was for suckers and didn’t want to hang around them.
I got caught up in the worldly things again, which led to more trouble. I started using drugs and abusing drugs and I guess there wasn’t a shutoff switch, even though we had warnings in school when people told us don’t do this and this isn’t good. I just didn’t hear it and it was like my spirit was just asleep at this point in my life. I had turned my back on Jesus and whatever was going on because I had chalked it up to fake and phony.
My spirit just was asleep and I guess the best thing to do would be to tell you how I put my spirit to sleep. I had an intense hatred toward my father growing up. He had this gray metal box that he kept money in. I remember there was a mini bike being sold down the street that I wanted to buy. And I remember my dad had money.
But when I went to steal $20 from my dad’s box, something inside of me said, “Don’t do that.” It was loud, almost audible, and people back then called it your conscience. I didn’t listen and took the $20, but I felt guilty and ashamed and horrible. I took more money from my dad and I felt more horrible and guilty and shameful. Yet I just wanted to get the mini bike. I bought the bike and when I drove it, I felt so horrible that I had to get as far away from it as possible. So, I threw it in the weeds and ran home and ended up giving it to another man. I thought that would make me feel better, but it didn’t.
The fundamental idea of God that I had as a child was telling me what and what not to do. I didn’t listen, so eventually the voice just got a little quieter and I got better at pushing it to the side.
So when drugs and alcohol and things of that nature came around, it was easy for me to say “yes,” because I didn’t have anything in me saying “no” anymore. As I got more involved with drugs, I got into more crime. I started committing violent crimes, selling drugs, abusing drugs ended up back up in prison.
I’m there for an extended period of time. I would feel like I didn’t have control over myself. When I got upset or angry, I lost all control. It’s like I was on autopilot. I remember going to this guy who was a Christian and asking for help with the demons inside of me. He kind of pushed me to the side, so I ended up talking to a guy who was Muslim.
I was just open to the idea of God. I was desperate to change on the inside. I practiced Islam for years. I just didn’t feel that same thing that I felt with Jesus, and I’m just being honest when I say that.
I got out of prison. Same thing. Got into a lot of trouble and back into drugs. I ended up going back on the streets. Lots of drugs, and rehabs, and detoxes, and facilities. I’ve tried absolutely everything to change. I tried to change the outside. I tried to be successful. I tried money. I tried different women. I tried to move away. I tried therapy counseling, medicines. I even had a kid, hoping that would make me stop, and nothing was powerful enough. No human power could relieve me of addiction.
Moving on, I get out of prison again. I’m back into the streets. This is 15 years in and out of prison. Just multiple years getting out doing the same thing again over and over again. Back and forth, back and forth.
This particular time in April of 2015, I got out of prison and I was completely clean and sober. There had been nothing in my system for years. There’s been so many times that I’ve had the physical separation from drugs and alcohol, but the spiritual aspect wasn’t there, so I would always turn back to drugs and alcohol.
I went to Florida with my beautiful fiancée, Crystal, to seek help and get some treatment. Same thing happened; I got high and went to prison, After my release I got some treatment. I remember a short guy came in and started to break down the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, and started talking to me about God and stuff like that. And I was open, but I didn’t think it was going to work for me.
So he starts to read with me a specific chapter called A Doctor’s Opinion. It said that although the doctor gives all, it’s often not enough. It struck me because I remember ODing, waking up, and begging for help. “God please help me; doctor, help me please.” Human powers asking human powers, and he just shook his head. They get your vitals stable when you OD and they send you home. That’s the solution that they have. I’ve died more times and overdosed more times than I can count.
That chapter called A Doctor’s Opinion is how it started for me with God. While I was in this rehab and I’m doing this reading with this man, they took us to church. I didn’t want to do the church thing, but I did want to get out of the rehab.
So I went. Pastor Daniel gave his sermon on the topic of being counterfeit. At this time all of my friends were dead. My life was in shambles. I still I still remember it like it was yesterday. He started talking to me. There were thousands of people in this room, and Crystal was sitting next to me and I’m holding her hand. I knew he was talking to me. I knew it was God speaking through him to me.
I started to cry. Crystal asked what was going on. I just felt this grace and mercy. I remember thinking about my friends Eddie, and Aaron, and Chan; all the people that I had lost. How am I here, why am I here? I knew I didn’t deserve what He had given me. I was so grateful at that moment.
I looked around and saw all these people with their hands in the air praising God. They’re just happy. And I remember thinking to myself, “I don’t even care if they’re wrong because I wasn’t willing to admit that they were right yet. I just want to believe how they believed.” I started to pray, and I started to read the Word, and the word started to come to life to me. My spirit started to wake back up, and I can almost tell you the moment that it happened.
We went back to the rehab. They took us to Walmart (because they trusted me, a thief!) to get stuff for the barbecue that we were throwing at the rehab. So they took me there, and, of course, I stole everything. As I went to the car a guy at the car started talking to me about waking up. It’s the only way I can explain it.
I heard that sound in my head that said, “You know what? It ain’t right,” and it was loud again. I told John I had to go back into the store because I stole everything. That led me to feeling good. I had spent most of my life in prison, so I was just getting better and trying to do things for others.
I’ve read all these self-help books and who knew that a book on helping others was going to be the solution to my problems. I still had an issue with a firm foundation belief in God. I was still on the fence. I was like, is this happening to me? Is this really real? Am I faking it, right? And am I faking myself out here?
Then I got all my things snatched away from me and got into some legal issues for stuff that I’ve done nine months prior, when I was in my addiction. I went to prison, but I was happy again. I carried the message in prison, I spoke about God. I took people through the steps of recovery.
When I got out of there, I jumped into my van and started to drive and it just hit me all at once. I didn’t even think about getting high. I used to think about getting high over everything.
A couple of weeks went by and I remember waking up and not feeling God. I got scared and thought I had lost it forever. I was in gridlock traffic that day, going nowhere. So I prayed, “God, please, I need to hear you.” There was a little guy across from me in a Honda and I’m in my big beat up van, and I got my window cracked. He starts yelling at me. He goes, “Hey man, my man.”
I’m sitting there trying to ignore this guy. This dude is like pushing me right now. I’m already not feeling God, and he’s very adamant. He keeps going, “Yo, my man, I know you hear me.” So I finally put my window all the way down and said, “What man, what’s up?”
And he goes, “I’ve got a message for you,” just like that with this angry tone. So now I’m getting angry and I’m like, “What’s your message, man?” And he says, “Jesus loves you man.” I couldn’t believe that happened to me. I had undeniable evidence that God was answering my prayers so specifically that I can’t deny the truth of what happened, just an unbelievable experience.
I started to do service work, and in the beginning my prayers and reading the Word were sporadic. So, I don’t want you to think something happened to me immediately, where I was praying every day. At first I just prayed and talked to God. Then I would get on my knees and pray, and then in time I could pray out loud. I was scared to pray for people, or pray out loud, or pray with people. Then I got better with that.
Nine months after my release from prison my significant other, Crystal, passed away from drugs. As I was moving down this direction of service, and the12-Step Fellowship, and God, she moved into the worldly stuff. I remember telling her that I had tried all that stuff; just come with me.
When she passed away, it was the worst thing that ever happened to me, and yet one of the best things that ever happened to me. Still miss her all the time, you know. I remember feeling her spirit. I felt like she was in my head and we were talking. At that moment I hit my knees and prayed, sincere, powerful. I said, “You take her, God, and I’ll do whatever you want for the rest of my life.”
I have undeniable evidence that he did that for me. I got this feeling to check my messages. The last text messages we sent were on our way back home from Hurricane Irma. Crystal sent me a photo of the sun beaming through the clouds. I replied, “Awesome, where are you at?” She replied, “Over the rainbow, silly.” And I said, “Are there bright blue skies?” Then she said “Yup, and the grass is way greener too.”
This conversation meant nothing when we had it, but the hour after the prayer I’d made I checked my response to her picture. God showed me that He took her. So it’s like now I wake up saying, “Reporting for duty, Sir. Where do you want me? What do you want me to do?” And I’m honored to do that, you know.
God has granted me the gift of sharing the message. I wish I could say that it’s my gift, right? But it’s not my gift, it’s a gift by Him for Him, you know.
I always deal with a lot of people, especially in their recovery. A world that just isn’t open to God yet. People go to church and they’re looking for God. They help you build that relationship with God, like we help people find God in recovery. People that aren’t even looking for him, you know.
And as time went by I built this relationship with God. God told me that, “My thinking and your thinking is not alike. Nor are my ways and your ways.”
I have an exact experience with that. I was in a recovery meeting setting up the chairs every Monday night. I grabbed my coffee and set it on the floor. This particular night, there was one single ant walking by himself. I get a piece of paper and get the ant onto the paper and take him outside.
On my way outside I’m thinking, “I wonder what the ant is thinking?” The ant is probably a little upset. He thinks, “I’m just trying to search for some food to feed the family, and this big dumb thing comes and scoops me up and takes me outside in the grass. I don’t know where I am. I’m lost and hopeless, right?”
Kind of like I was. But the ant’s thinking and my thinking were not alike. He has no clue that I took him outside because 100 people were about to walk into that room and someone was about to trample him.
And I started to think about that. When we go through all these hardships and tough things that happen, like people passing away, or losing jobs, we wonder, “Why God? Why would you do this to me?”
I know today that His ways are much better than my ways. I might never know why He did this, or why He’s doing that. It might not even be for me to know. I know that God’s thinking is infinitely greater than my thinking. So His ways are much better than my ways, especially when it doesn’t look like it.
Today my walk is just walking, walking with Jesus, man. Jesus is my superhero. Now I spend my life in service to other people. I just want to carry God’s message into the world. There’s no financial gain attached to it. I always thought that I needed to make money, and I needed to be successful, and I attributed success to the outside world.
I had nothing. I had this little car with 230,000 miles on it. The tires were messed up. The windows didn’t go down. I live in Florida, so it’s hot. I had no AC in there, no radio, and my car sucked. But my life is absolutely incredible today through what Jesus has done for me.
So that’s what I do today. I try to bring other people into my ministry, a 12-Step process that also introduces them to God. The Jesus teachings were about forgiveness and that’s what the 12 steps are based on. All that stuff was extracted from Matthew, the Sermon on the Mount. It all came from biblical stuff: the whole step process.
And it worked for me, you know, so I’ll do whatever God wants me to do for the rest of my life.
More Faith Stories
There are people who sometimes have a stomachache and think it's cancer, they think it is a terminal illness. Sometimes people think there is no solution, but it is only a stomach discomfort. It's something bad that you ate that upset your stomach. It is that people that are losing their faith. They get concerned about so many things. They wake up and see the car with a flat tire, and it is a bad day.
There are more important things we need to learn. We need to seek the Lord, because time is short, time goes by quickly. I've got three children: my first daughter is 25 years old. My son is 21 and my other daughter is 16. I mean, time goes by fast.
This means this is an opportunity for you to devote your heart to Jesus Christ, so that He can save you, so that He can be your guide, so that He can be your path, so that He can be everything in your life. Listen to this message, share it with your family. If you do not have a family do not think you are alone. God is with you wherever you are. God will be with you come what may.
Now, what happened with COVID two years ago was unbelievable. God put us to the test. Many people died, and that's something that's coming ahead. There will be more illnesses, there will be more regulations. But if we keep our faith in God, if we continue to trust in God, He will give us the peace we need, the peace the world needs.
Sometimes in the community, there are a lot of people who are watching their backs. For their own protection they hire bodyguards that watch over them night and day because they feel insecure. But we have God to protect us. Day after day, God protects us. God takes care of us. God gives us strength.
I strongly encourage you, I dare you to seek the Lord. This Why I Love Jesus ministry goes across the globe spreading the word of God, telling the world Jesus Christ is real, He is not dead.
There have been many stories in this world which were looking forward to changing history, but we have this story of faith that we believe, come what may, the Lord will be with us.
So if you have relatives, share this experience with them: brothers, sisters, parents. If your family has never been in contact with Jesus, now is the time for you to tell them to embrace Him, to embrace God. Tell them about the story in the Bible that says there is a man in hell, being burned there, and he would like to have a chance of getting out of there. But unfortunately, he has already lost the opportunity. In other words, there is no way he could leave hell.
And you who are there watching this testimony, this word of the Lord, this is the opportunity that you get. Maybe we don't wake up tomorrow; we don't know what will happen tomorrow.
This is the moment for you to say, "Lord, forgive me. I have failed a lot; I've failed in several things, but I want You to be my Savior, I want You to be my shield, I want You to be my strength, I want You to be everything in my life."
Make your decision. Sometimes in day-to-day life, we make decisions, many of them, but this is the most important decision you should make in your life. That is to devote your life to Jesus Christ, commend your life to Jesus Christ, so that He can be everything in your life. May He be your peace, your strength.
At times, people have enough money in the bank and think with that they will change the world, think that will be their protection. But money is only an ordinary piece of paper. In the end, the paper will run out, the money will run out, but treasures we did will remain when we're in heaven.
So let's make this an invitation. Let's hope this message will reach someone in need of it. So you who are out there, this message is meant for you.
My stepfather was an alcoholic, and we had a difficult life. But God changed us. When I began going to this church in 2000, God changed me. God changes you, and God wants to do great things with your life.
So, I mean, maybe you are also having a hard time with an alcoholic father, an alcoholic mother. Let me tell you, I had bad thoughts in my head about finishing him, killing him, destroying him, so that it all would end. But when I got to the feet of Jesus, when I started going to church, God made changes in me. God makes changes in you. God changes your mind.
When God entered into my life, and I looked at my stepfather again, I saw him in a different way. I held a grudge inside my heart, but nevertheless, God was working on me. God worked on me and gave me peace. I was smart enough not to commit a crime. God showed me the way I should live.
In addition to being at peace with God, He gives you intelligence. God gives you wisdom to be on the side of right every day in our lives.
So, this is an invitation, whether you're a woman, or man, or youth. Young people sometimes make decisions which scar their lives forever. To put it another way, if you are young, make your decision to accept Jesus: don't wait until tomorrow and say, "No, I'd better wait before accepting Jesus Christ, before accepting God in my heart. I've still got a long way to go. I want to live my life, and I want to do things. When I'm older, I'll see whether I change." But we don't know what happens tomorrow, so you should make up your mind today.
I've had some friends who made their decisions too late. I had a friend who said he was going to drink his life away. He was going to drink, that's what he was going to do. He was going to do drugs, to live a totally careless life. He thought he was being cleverer than God. But he wasn't, nobody is smarter than God. At the end of his life he was going to seek God's forgiveness.
Had God been given the opportunity, He would have forgiven him, He would have indeed. But my friend didn't take the trouble to get to that point. He was doing his drugs, drinking and whatnot. Then he grabbed a gun and shot himself in the head.
I mean, we don't know what was the last moment in his life, whether he asked forgiveness or not. We only had the word he killed himself by putting a bullet in his head. Odds are he didn't have the opportunity of begging God's forgiveness, and he lost his life. Or better expressed, do not let the enemy fool you. The enemy hampers your life.
That means to move on and accept Jesus Christ. He is going to give the answers. He is going to give you the peace you need. That's my testimony, and I know this is on behalf of God, so people would turn to Him.
People get lost, people haven't wanted to recognize their faults. God has a plan for your life. That means if He gave you this plan, accept it, accept it. We have free will, people make their own decisions. God has already chosen some individuals. God has predestined people. Whether you are predestined or exercising your free will, make your decision and follow Jesus Christ.
Your life will change, He is going to transform it, and He is going to help you in every way, be it economic, social, psychological, whatever you need, God is going to help you.
Thank you for your time, thank you for this opportunity that God gave me to share my faith. I come from Houston, Texas, but I've been working here in Delaware, and this is an opportunity God has granted me to share good news and continue to spread good news. We're the ambassadors of the word of God. So thank you for this opportunity, and let's move forward with this testimony which is for the benefit of society.
I remember an incident when the Lord rescued me from a person who intended to do me harm. God’s protection was a miracle in my life!
I wasn’t raised in a church; so I knew nothing about Jesus or God. I did go to Vacation Bible School in the summers and heard and loved the song, “This Little Light of Mine.”
I went into the ocean and was immediately swept off my feet by a riptide. There was nothing in the water for me to float on, and I was running out of energy. I asked God if this was how I was going to die.
My faith grew to have a focus on trusting in God’s word as assurance. To believe his promises are true. We experienced the faithfulness of the God who called us in many, many ways. In addition to joyous times, we faced grief and pain.
A child evangelist came to my church and, while performing some magic trick, made it very clear that Jesus loved us so much that He could take away the guilt I felt from my stubborn, rebellious ways.
In my job as a Maryland State Trooper, I asked God to guide me to those abusing alcohol and drugs. I prayed for guidance and protection for all of them.