I ended up at the Union Rescue Mission. I was seeking legal aid, but it was a different kind of aid I received. I enrolled in their New Life program. I don’t even remember signing the papers to be in a Christian-based recovery and life skills program. I never even wanted to hear about Jesus. It must have been divinely inspired- A God thing.
If truth be told, I really didn’t want to hear about this Jesus character. I stayed 90 days. I had to fight the beast everyday to accomplish that. Finally I wanted to leave. I packed up ready to leave with the beast in me, but my NLF coordinator said to me, “Miguel, for the love of God, give yourself a chance. Go downstairs and check out Pacific Coast Church in the chapel. These people came down from San Clemente to lead the Iron Man conference. Iron sharpens iron. After the checking them out if you want to leave, by all means, pick your things up and go.”
God really used Pastor Dan and the guys from PCC. Dan and his people were truly inspired by the Holy Spirit because out of nowhere I felt an abundance of love. Suddenly I felt a sense of peace I never felt before. It’s hard to explain- I felt the love and acceptance of Jesus. I felt the beast weaken. For most of my life I was a non-believer. I allowed my past to dictate my choices. I met Jesus at the Union Gospel Mission, but I still carried a lot of guilt.
Ultimately I finished the NLP program. The day has dual significance for me. July 28th– a day to remember! A very significant day for me, it is the day I finished the program, and my daughter, Malisa (22 years old) was murdered. On that day I fell to my knees and asked God to accept my daughter in His caring hands. I said, “God, I know you are real. Please accept my daughter in your hands and please tell me what to do.” God has been so good to me. Life has not been easy. I learned a trade and found a great job with a progressive company.
Unfortunately, or fortunately (because I don’t think God makes mistakes), I relapsed. Maybe the beast within stirred a little. On August 5th, 1 year after burying my daughter, I lost my job and I wanted to check out of this world. God never left my side. Because of my mustard seed of faith, God led me to Long Beach Rescue Mission where I joined the Up and Running Again program, lead the janitorial crew and mentor many of the newcomers to the program. I pray every day for God to help me kill that old beast in me and let the new creation through Jesus come alive.
So now that I am running with Up and Running Again, it has been my place and comfort to talk, pray and cry out to God. It is through Christ that I am able to run. Without Him it would not be possible. It is still a journey. I am learning obedience. I am learning to accept correction.
My favorite verse, inspired in part by Up and Running Again, is, “For I can do everything through Christ who gives me strength. “ Phil. 4:13.
I continue to pray for all of my children that their hearts would be softened. I am so, so sorry Angel, Elena, Malisa, Marion, and Blanca. I miss you all and love you all so, so much!