STORY OF TWO DEFECTORS
(The Richard & Evelyn Sierra Stories)
Jesus Did It!
If you're a hero back from the war, many will want to hear your story. When a person turns his or her life over to Jesus Christ and wants to share their joy and excitement with others, many won't want to hear your story, but that's okay, because scripture says that all of heaven rejoices for this act of bravery (read Luke 15:7&10).
My wife and I are not heroes. We were lost sinners who defected. We once were in Satan's army and we defected to the army of Jesus Christ. Here are the brief details of our defection.
Evelyn and I are from New York City. As I grew up in the south Bronx, I was exposed early to drugs. At age 15, on my first date, I came home to my father being arrested by the police. He had beaten my mother to a pulp-something he had done more than once. I also started using heroin at age 15, and I used it regularly along with alcohol and marijuana until Evelyn and I married.
By our mid-twenties, we had our first child. Evelyn and I were what you would call "weekend party warriors." We worked hard during the week at our jobs, and partied hard on the weekends. Alcohol was our source to get high, as was all our friends, "to make the going great."
In time, I began to long for hard drugs again, and I started secretly shooting heroin on weekends while Evelyn drank alcohol. My craving increased. I started losing weight. I secretly started selling our possessions to support my habit. I would short-change Evelyn on the family budget to get extra money for heroin.
There was a part of me that knew I was out of control and the addiction had control of me. So to bury that conflict, I'd do the only thing I knew to escape from reality: get high again. The world could fall apart around me-who cared?
But when I would come down off my highs, I knew I couldn't live forever like this. Neither could my family. I began to search for answers. From 1982 through 1987 I went away at least twice a year to dry-out centers to get cleaned up. My hope was in drug centers for my deliverance.
On the home front, Evelyn began to put more pressure on me. "If you don't get off drugs and stay off, you're going out the door and staying out!" In Evelyn's struggle to cope with the hell I was putting her through, temptation began to tug on her heartstrings. "Why not go to the bar and get picked up? You need someone to appreciate you more than what Rich does," were her inner thoughts. Little did she know that on the very same night she was being tempted with adultery at the bar, I too was being tempted with adultery by a woman named "Lady Cocaine." As it turned out, Evelyn didn't score, but I did. After that I became hooked not only on heroin, but also cocaine.
Meanwhile Evelyn began locking herself in her room days at a time. All our friends thought we had a good marriage. Little did anyone know Evelyn's heart was being torn apart.
In desperation, after all the drug rehabilitation programs had not given me the necessary desire to stay off drugs, my wife began to cry out to God for help. "If there's a God up there, help me!" Evelyn's first marriage had crumbled, and now her second marriage was also in shambles.
A few hours later a girl knocked on the door and told Evelyn that the Lord had impressed her to come. And upon the girl's invitation, Evelyn went to church that night, and invited Jesus Christ into her heart at the end of the service. Although my situation grew worse after that, the power of Jesus Christ working in Evelyn's life began to take hold.
The day came when Evelyn didn't care anymore if the whole world knew our problems. She began asking anyone and everyone to pray for me. The power of concentrated prayer began to drive back the enemy. One person praying, the enemy can withstand more easily. Several people praying about the same issue-look out! (Read Matthew 18:19-20).
One day a stranger called our house. This man told Evelyn and I about a drug and alcohol treatment center called Teen Challenge. Up until that moment, we had never heard about Teen Challenge. He told us that the power of God through the application of God's Word, and the power of the Holy Spirit, would be the means to not only give me the desire to get off drugs and alcohol, but the power to get off and stay off. However, it would have to be my choice to accept it, and it would mean that I would have to let God have control of my life.
I wanted free from addictions. Other drug rehab programs gave me no hope any longer. I was desperate. So were Evelyn and my mother. An opening was available at Western Michigan Teen Challenge and they were insistent I fly to Michigan. The three of us drove to the airport. I had three coats on and was still freezing cold. We missed the flight. The next flight out was 41 hours later. We had no choice but to wait. I needed a fix bad. I couldn't handle this torment any longer. Suddenly a thought came to mind! "We need to call Teen Challenge and let them know I missed the flight, and I'll be arriving later. I left the phone number at home. Let's go back home and got the number and call them."
Evelyn was afraid that if we went back home, I'd never make it to Michigan. She knew the devil was using everything he could to keep me from going. First, the delay in our getting to the airport now the phone number left at home. What could she do to keep me at the airport for only 4 1/2 more hours? Her mind raced!
At that moment I pulled my hands out of my pockets and a piece of paper fell on the ground. Both of our eyes got big. There was the phone number! How did it get there?! Both of us knew we had left it at home. It had to be a miracle!
At the center, I went through agonizing withdrawals for the next few days. But the people at the center were loving and patient with me, lifting me up in prayer and support. But there in the depths of hell inside my being, Jesus Christ was healing this drug addict. When I finally got up with nothing but skin and bones, that Sunday I gave my heart to Jesus Christ. I wanted to know who that Man was I saw on the poster at age three in a Sunday school class my mother had taken me to-the Man with a beard and a tranquil look on his face; with the little lamb on His shoulder-the One who had died for me
A year later, my family settled in Western Michigan. Today my family stands tall by the grace of God as we follow Jesus Christ daily, moment by moment. Sure, problems still come as they do with all people, Christian or non, but we've got the "equalizer" now helping us get through them. Some people call that a crutch. A soldier in the heat of the battle needs a weapon to help with the fight. My weapon is called JESUS CHRIST, and I see it as opportunity to give God glory when He helps win battles for us. It's all in how one views it, I guess.
For those of you who do not have Jesus Christ as your Commander-In-Chief, we encourage you to step over the line. Your friends and family may or may not applaud you, but millions upon millions in heaven will!
PLEASE HELP SHARE THE BEST NEWS GOD HAS FOR EVERY PERSON!
"And this gospel of the
died for sinners] shall be preached in all the world for a witness
unto all nations; and then shall the end come."
(Quote from Jesus Himself: Matthew 24:14).
Consider how many children in "all the nations" have never heard YET what Jesus accomplished for THEM at the cross? PLEASE HELP SPREAD THE GOOD NEWS TO THE LITTLE CHILDREN!
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Dear Reader - are you at peace with God? If not, you can be. Do you know what awaits you when you die? You can have the assurance from God that heaven will be your home, if you would like to be certain. Either Jesus Christ died for your sins, or He didn't (He did!). Are you prepared to stand before God on the Judgment Day and tell Him that you didn't need the shed blood of Jesus Christ on the Cross to have your sins forgiven and get in right-standing with God? We plead with you ... please don't make such a tragic mistake.
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