The Day I First Found Love

Roger O.'s Testimony - Email this to a friend Email this to a friend

I would like to share my story with you hoping that it will be a blessing to your life. As a child, I went through life searching for love because I was empty inside. I experienced many things that left me empty and influenced my direction in life. Being born in Los Angeles, California, into a poor and broken family, I witnessed my father’s alcoholism, constant fighting with my mother, and serious abuse. One time I remember as a child, around 4 years old, my father had many guys over at our house. He got his .22 rifle, pointed it at my mother and told her, “I’m going to kill you.” That caused our family to split up. I ended up going to drugs at an early age. I had so much hurt and pain locked up inside me, and no way to get it out, except through fighting and doing drugs. When my parents got divorced, it broke my heart. My mother just left. When she left, I felt my whole person died inside me. I really needed her love and affirmation but she was now gone.

Roger O. Before Jesus Christ
Roger O. Before Jesus Christ
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I went to a life of gang banging and a life of crimes. So full of hurt…so full of anger…so empty…searching for love. That road got tougher and tougher by the minute. I was arrested at the age of 12 for vagrancy and gang activity. I spent three whole months in Sylmar Juvenile Hall. I thought I was never going to get out. Finally, I was released, but in less than a week, I was back in. I became a prisoner in and out of jail until I was 18 years old.

Roger O. (left) with fellow gang bangers before coming to Jesus
Roger (left) with
fellow gang bangers
before coming to Jesus
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Central Juvenile Hall, Los Padrinos Juvenile Hall, Camp Gonzales in Calabasas, Camp Smith in Lancaster, Camp Resnick, Camp Onasuka, Camp Jarvis, Camp so and so, Camp so and so… I did so much violence in the times that I was out of jail. I did so many drugs, had so much anger, so much pain and hurt, and my mother, was nowhere to be seen. I ended up running the streets living a sad and empty life full of mistakes not understanding “why me”. I did not have much to look forward to in life and I was not even a grown up yet, just a boy that needed love. I tried taking my life (Suicide) and putting an end to all of my problems, no more being hurt, no more bring sad, no more crying myself to sleep because of feeling unwanted and unloved. My brother and I took serious a life of gangbanging and we were willing to die for it. When I was in jail, the court system ended up re-filing my case due to me getting into too many fights………..I just felt numb…I WAS A CRIMINAL… I WAS A PRISONER…

Roger O. at the Arizona Boys Ranch
Roger at the
Arizona Boys Ranch
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I just needed love. I was sent to a military style boot camp that they called Arizona Boys Ranch. The very first day there, three Army staff beat me up and proceeded to teach me discipline, but they did it the wrong way. For two long years, I was restructured (so-called); disciplined by the military men in ways that you cannot imagine. I could not even go to the restroom without asking for permission and I had only 25 seconds in there that I had to be counting aloud the entire time. One Sir! Two Sir! Three Sir! It was freezing cold in those out-houses. If I counted too slowly, they would drag me out no matter what I was doing. I was dragged out and thrown across the dirt ground twice for stealing toilet paper because they would only give you 4 to 6 squares and it was not enough. We would march, work and exercise all day long. When it was time to eat, we could not stuff our mouths. We took one bite and put our arms down and finished it, then took another bite. We had to finish everything even if we didn’t like it. I would always dream of a beautiful life with a beautiful family; it didn’t have to be perfect, just a family who loved me for who I was, that would have been enough for me. I had tattooed my body and face to the point that I was singled out by the Army staff. I was yelled at and spit at regularly. I felt so trapped and hurt. One day something drastic happened. The army staff ended up killing a friend of mine. When he was new to the jail system, I would often show him all the do’s and don’ts. He was a good kid who just made some poor choices growing up. The end of his life ended up in a dead end. He had a severe case of asthma and was pushed to the limit by the army staff and that resulted in his death. The newspapers and media came then. The camp ended up closing down. I felt so alone, but I had become accustomed to that.

I was transferred to another camp until I was 18 years old. I wanted to stay there because I had a chance and an opportunity to do something with my life “so I thought”, but God had a bigger plan for my life. “For his thoughts and plans are higher than we can think or imagine” (Isaiah 55:8-9). I was picked up from Los Angeles County to be presented before the judge. The judge said that I could finally be released on one condition: “A family member would have to pick me up”. At this point, I hit a dead end; no one came to pick me up. I was taken back to Central Juvenile Hall. A month later I went before the judge for the second time; still no one came for me. Again, I was taken back to Juvenile hall. On the third time before the judge, no one came. Back to Juvenile Hall I went. I was told that at one of my hearings, my father did come for me but he was so drunk and out of his mind that he could hardly walk. I couldn’t believe my father had come for me. It broke my heart when I started to imagine my father dying from his broken marriage and being destroyed from alcohol. I hit a dark place in my life. I started crying wondering if there was anyone who would ever love me. We all want to be loved and love in return. I don’t blame my family for not wanting to pick me up because I knew how I was. I was just a child who wanted a loving family. The public defender told me that it did not look good and that the court would issue me one more chance to be picked up. If no one showed up this time, I would be sent to the California Youth Authority for seven years. I didn’t know what to do or what to say. I started to remember all the crazy things that had happened to me in my life. One time I was walking with my friends, a car pulled over and stopped. Five guys got out and started beating me with a crow bar. I was half-conscious when I heard a small voice saying, “Get the gun, get the gun!” I was left half-dead. I remembered all of the lonely times when I was by myself and empty.

Roger O. after being released from his last prison term
Roger after being released
from his last jail term
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Before my last court day, everything that comforted me was gone. Then I did something I thought I would never do. I cried out to someone I never believed in: JESUS. When everything I held onto in life was stripped from me, I was able to see that I needed Him. I started praying telling God that whether I stayed in or got out of jail, I needed Him. I had tried so many times to be different, to be good, to change, but I just couldn’t. I spent that night weeping. When my very last court date finally came, I waited for someone to show up for me, and all of a sudden an uncle of mine came. I really couldn’t believe it. I knew without a shadow of a doubt that God had answered my prayers. He allowed me to stay with him in Burbank, California under very strict conditions. I was soon enrolled in adult school. While I was there, I was invited to church. I didn’t know what to expect. When I was a child, my parents would take me to a Catholic church occasionally, but all I remember is falling asleep. When I went to visit the church, the services had not started yet, but when I walked through the front doors, I felt Love for the first time in my life. I couldn’t believe it!

Roger O. when he first came to the truth
Roger when he first
came to the truth
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I went back to church because all I could think about was what I felt there. I couldn’t escape it and didn’t want to. I realized what I felt was God’s presence. God made a special place in our hearts that only He can fill and satisfy. I had been wasting my life trying to fill my heart with the wrong things and looking in all the wrong places. I was filling the void with the wrong ingredients. Only God can make us complete. His love will overshadow our storms in life. I will never be able to find the right words to express how beautiful it is living for God; you just have to taste it for yourself. Our world with its shallow and selfish view of love has turned these words around and contaminated our understanding of love. The world thinks love is what makes a person feel good, that it is all right to sacrifice moral principles and other’s rights in order to obtain love. That is not love; it is the exact opposite. After attending service for a while, I decided to go down to the altar to pray. God almost filled me with His presence, but I stopped praying because I had never experienced anything like it before. The next time I went down to the altar, I surrendered to Him, and He filled me with His presence (the Holy Ghost) (Acts 1:8, Acts 2:38, Acts 10:44-48). I had come to a church that really cared and I discovered the difference of a Pentecostal church filled with the Holy Ghost; a church that preaches the full gospel, holiness (separation) from the filthiness of the world. After I received the Holy Ghost, I was baptized in Jesus Name and my life was completely transformed. He said in His word that He came to seek and to save them which were lost, and that included me. If I could say anything to you that you would always remember, I would simply say, “True love is in Jesus for He did it all through love for us.” (Matt 18:11)

Roger O. 2010
Roger O. 2010, Burbank, CA
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If you’re interested in having me speak in person about my testimony at your church or venue, contact me by email at rogeroscal77 [at] yahoo [dot] com

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