This is how I came to understand what real salvation was for myself. My name is Jonathan. I grew up in a church background all my life. As soon as I hit around 11 or 12 I started changing a lot. I had a lot of animosity towards people in general and especially my parents. 

I started using marijuana when I was 14 then I ended up smoking cigarettes as well. In high school I really kept myself out of my families life - I only cared about myself. I hung around a lot of gangster's but I always told myself I never would join a gang. Well I was going out with this girl that I liked a lot and we were going out for a month or so and then one day she stopped talking to me. I went to see her to find out whats going on at some guys house where they were having a party (I wasn't friends with him and didn't know the people). I found out she was pregnant before we were going out and she was really confused with her situation so she wanted to end it. I didn't since I liked her a lot.   She got out of the car and then some guys asked me for a cigarette I told them no I don't have one and they were drunk and they jumped me. So I left bruised but not beaten. 

I called up some of my friends who were in a gang. They said yeah, they would help me out. I wanted them to be a mediator in letting me get even with the people who jumped me. It didn't happen that way, it ended up being a big time war. I was very heartbroken still and confused. I ended up joining the gang. We would get into a lot of clashes with the other gang. One time, my friends and I saw them and went after them.  They ended up going to their house.  I had a gun on me and I was driving with some friends so we decided, lets do them in. What happened was weird we were ready to go just drive by and blast.  My friend had the gun cocked and everything.  We saw them run at our car with crowbars so my friend ended up double cocking it and it jammed so I had to skirt out. If he would have fired I'm pretty sure 2 or 3 of those guys would have been seriously hurt or died since they were a matter of 10 feet away. 

We ended up going back to where we always hung out at an apartment complex. I hid the gun - there is very good hiding spot compartment in the Toyota Camry I had. So we hid and just chilled like nothing happened. All of a sudden a rush of police cars came - at least 8 of them. They knew we did it. We ended up all getting cuffed (there were 5 of us). The interrogation lasted for about 30 minutes until the witnesses came. Nobody said anything throughout the whole thing. I was very scared even though I acted very arrogant like nothing happened and it was a joke in front of the police. I knew I was going down - when your cuffed and your rights are read to you it means your going in. Even if they didn't find the gun.  About 4 months earlier, my friend got arrested for a drive-by and they didn't even find the gun. He's still serving 4yrs. 

I prayed to God earnestly promising him if I get out of this I will change. The weirdest thing happened - we were let go. They still impounded my car though. The police were very mad. Up until I got a new car I have been stopped repeatedly for no apparent reason.  I was well known throughout the police department because whenever I got pulled over they would talk about how lucky I was to get off. I didn't change or anything after the whole ordeal we just bragged about it and laughed it off like we were all hard.

Well, after this happened I ended up moving out my house.  I had a job so I thought it would work out and I was living with my homies. It was the most horrible experience of my life. I ended up getting a new girlfriend when I moved out. I was pressured into going out with her since she was very rich so I said I might as well. Even before this I was living a very sinful life with the drugs, sex, hating my parents, etc., but it got worst when I moved out.  I was heavily into gambling, shooting craps and things like that. I used the girl for her money since I lost my job because of no sleep.  My apartment ended up being the meeting place for my gang.  We would have at least 30 people run in and out at any given day in a small two bedroom, one bathroom apartment. 

Then I got probably the most shocking news of my life at that time and probably at anytime. My house was shot up. I called my sister asking her, "whats going on?". She said my house got shot and she was crying.  She told me how the couch and the doors and even she got hit. The reason I mention the couch is because that is my dads favorite spot - he watches movies like every day He usually ends up falling asleep there too. The couch was hit EXACTLY where my dad slept. I was very shocked and confused all over again.  I had to get them back - that's all I could think about.  I'm not exactly sure right before or after, my friends shot one of our enemies and put him in the hospital, so they told me not to do anything since it was really at a "hot" level where police were on the look out for us because of this. 

It's strange - you would think your friends, especially your friends in your gang, would want to do some dirt, but I thought to myself that I didn't want to risk anything, plus they convinced me they did the retaliation. 

So things went back to normal.  I lived at this apartment for three months without calling my parents. They were pretty worried.  Just by talking to my sister about the whole thing that happened at my house I was too ashamed and scared  to talk to them though. My life started to start turning for the worst. 

Things cooled down with the beef against the other gang so we ended up fighting each other over the dumbest things.  I ended up getting into a confrontation with one of my best friends in the gang over ten dollars. He's G (a G is someone who's been in the gang for awhile.  They can have underlings with their name it goes Lil, Baby, Tiny, Young this is just a little FYI). His name was Lil Lonely and my best friend was Young Lonely. Well that made me think a little about what situation I was in and just seeing how everyone was living.  There were people in the gang that were in their late 20's to 30's - I saw there was no future or anything. 

Well it got so bad with the apartment environment we ended up getting evicted so I had a month to leave. I decided to call my parents, not wanting to go home, but I just really needed someone to talk to within my family. My mom picked up and I talked to her, she convinced me to come home, so I did. I ended the relationship with my girlfriend even though my flesh didn't want to since I was having sex with her and she basically took care of me. But something told me just to end it and I ended it. 

I went home and things felt really awkward at first but it got better.  When I was at home I started to smoke marijuana very heavily. I would just think about everything I did and how I wish could change it. Throughout this whole ordeal I thought I was saved around when I was 14 when my life got bad but I realized it was a false salvation of knowledge. 

Its weird - throughout my life with my homeboys I would try to talk to them about God.  It would come up occasionally but I had false salvation and I was very hypocritical to what I was trying to say so they laughed it off. When I came back home I started reading my bible and just wondering why I was still doing what I was doing because my family was very hurt even though they welcomed me with open arms.   I still kept them at a very long distance and I didn't come home till the early morning most days. 

One day It got to the point where I decided to join the Air Force after struggling within myself.  With my family bothering me, this was my escape to actual security in life. I just started thinking like, "yah I'm gonna start over and buy a nice car and everything". So I took the test and I got a 77.  They said that was pretty good but they bugged me to get clean since I still had marijuana in my system.   I had to wait but I bought this drug that can clean out your system in three hours. 

Well I decided to visit some of my friends from when I was little, they were in the church I go too. So we hung out for what I thought would be the last time in a while. We were going to watch some videos and just talk.  There were five of us, me, my sister, my friend James, his brother Sam, and his sister Joyce and my mom was upstairs talking to their parents.  Sam and I were pretty much the same - we liked smoking weed and things like that. He had a little piece of marijuana and showed it to me. I asked him if we could smoke it before I left for the military he said yah. He rolled up a little joint. We smoked it and went back inside the house. Nobody knew we smoked it except my sister.  

James and Joyce were getting ready to watch a movie, so they got popcorn and were drinking coffee. We started watching this movie - it was called Run, Lola, Run. Its a German Film (if you actually see what I'm talking about you probably can better understand what happens next). Well, the movie starts with this hand carved clock with the picture of the Sun - it looked very demonic, it goes back and forth.   I was just stuck watching it then it stopped and the main clock (its hand carved as well) is a carving of a demon of some sort, and it opens its mouth.  I was so zoned out I could literally not move. I started getting scared.  

There's an opening scene that really has nothing to do with the movie - it talks about the choices in life and what you make can change everything, how the littlest thing or one decision can change the whole outcome of your life.   I started to think about my life and what I went through and how bad I was.  I was very scared.   I saw my sin, my conscience was prosecuting me through this.  I basically saw my whole life in a matter of 10 seconds. It felt like FOREVER though - I just wanted it to stop. I literally thought I was in some kind of hell because everyone was totally blocked out except the friend I smoked weed with and he was smiling the whole time just enjoying the high but when I looked at him it was like I was looking into the eyes of satan. 

I was really paranoid by this time.  I had to shut off the TV  and my friends were like, " whats wrong with you why did you do that?"  I told them what was going on, how I felt that I was in hell, like I was like trapped in some kind of paradox or dimension and it was hell.  They all laughed it off like "oh he is just high or something". But the strange thing was I was the only one who was distraught. My friend who smoked with me was perfectly fine besides the fact he was high. 

The brothers ended up fighting as soon as that happened.  I felt my heart just drop it started to skip beats by this time I was in hysteria.  I told them to stop since it was causing my heart to just stop and go.  The more they argued the more it made my heart do this. I ran out the room.  My mind was totally confused - things were running through my head. Why this was happening??  That I made choices in life and it has brought me here to where I'm at now and why I'm going through this. 

I laid down on a couch and just curled up.  James came out to console me and I told him what was going on, about how I know I'm going to hell and that I'm going to die right now. He ran and got out his bible and started reading me verses and then I repeated what he said but I couldn't remember very frankly.   I'm pretty sure it was John 3:16 something similar where it mentions the death of Jesus and why he died for us.  After this, he asked me if I believed this and I said yes. I totally felt so much thankfulness and gratitude that now I was ready to die.  It was on June 4, 2000 around about 12 A.M.  My friend kept my awake though since I thought I was going to die. 

I could literally see something raise up off of me. When the panicking stage happened, their whole family including their parents and my mom saw it. My mom was very worried and we ended up going home after it. Through out the whole thing I kept saying I'm gonna die I'm gonna die not in a way that I was scared but I really thought I was going to die when I went to sleep. I went home and when I woke up the next morning I was very shaken up wondering again how this happened.   I questioned it, so I picked up my bible and started reading from James since that's the person who helped me by just picking up the bible and reading it to me. 

I read all the way through 1 Peter 4:12-13 Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. This verse totally hit my heart - I was struck with the stamp of God with this verse now. 

God answered my Question and I was totally happy when I read it. I told everyone I knew about what happened to me - my family, friends, even my gangster friends. Some people were praising God but as you know gentiles are dumbfounded by what you say and if you do a total 360 in your life they think your crazy. That Day I stopped my cigarette smoking (I smoked for 5 yrs and I thought I could never quit especially with all the stress I had), marijuana, gang friends, cussing, EVERYTHING CHANGED. 

I'm so thankful for what grace is and now I understand why Jesus died for me, for my SIN. I hope this wasn't too long but this is the only way I can tell my testimony, the only way I know how.   If that night never happened, I would have probably be in the military right now just trying to attain the so called "american dream" and probably wouldn't be saved.   I always think, what if I just did what my flesh wanted?  That's when I realized God does have a plan for us all. I now can say I'm truly thankful for the Grace God has imparted on me for my SIN.

I hope that the parents who are going through a similar situation with their son/daughter  just to hold onto their faith like my family and church did and like what 1 Corinthians Chapter 5:5 says: To Deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. 

Well this is my testimony and I hope this brings more glory and joy to the name of the one and only Jesus Christ.

Email Jonathan