HECTOR | ‘If You’re real, I want to know You’

“I think I was maybe one of the most cynical people about church, and church people, and maybe even God. I had a stepfather who required us to go to church. And we’d go to mass and do the whole thing.

I say this person was my stepfather but I really just saw him as my father. He was the only father figure that I knew. So that just added to the confusion because that person was the most abusive person in my life.

You know, physical, emotional, mental. The person who is supposed to be your greatest advocate, your protector — when that person turns out to be the one that’s hurting you the most it creates all kinds of confusion.

I got in a lot of fights. I got kicked out of a lot of places because I just couldn’t behave or couldn’t conform to whatever the structure was. And I cussed like a sailor, chased the girls try to prove my manhood and my toughness in the street.

I felt like I had a lot of anger in my heart, a lot of chaos, maybe inside. I managed to get myself kicked out of the LA Unified School District so I contacted my biological father and I begged him to let me come live with him.

He was attending a church and he was, I think, trying to get some stuff figured out for himself. And so, because he was attending a church I had to be attending the church. But I didn’t go easily.

There was a youth leader there. He would call me at every event and he would offer to come pick me up. I gotta say, if he hadn’t called, I wouldn’t have gone. I started to form a bond with the kids that were in this youth group.

And what I started to see from them was that there was something genuine about the relationship that these kids had with God. And they behaved as if God wanted to be involved in their lives. They would go out and tell people about God. I didn’t understand it but I was sure that I wanted to know God.

So my prayer was, ‘if You’re real, I want to know You.’ If I could establish that in my life then I felt like maybe I can deal with the rest of it.

It’d been about three or four months that I was praying this and all of a sudden, I felt this strange… this warmth.

The most notable thing about it was that for the first time in as long as I could remember there was a quiet peace. A peace that I’d never known. In that God was saying, ‘here I am.’

Even though I grew up hearing about Jesus and I grew up hearing about Christmas and about Easter — and ‘on the third day He rose’ — all of a sudden it made sense to me: the reality of that.

One of the most cynical people all suddenly became a fanatical believer.

I think that you could invite God to show Himself how you need Him in your life. I didn’t even know what that was when I asked. I would have never thought to ask for peace: I didn’t know I needed it. I didn’t know I craved it.

Now I’m a pastor I spend my life creating environments and opportunities for people to encounter God and to ultimately find their purpose in life.

You know, sometimes I’m sitting in my living room and reflecting about how my life is right now today. I have the best job in the world. I have an amazing wife. I’ve got a 20 year-old son and a 16 year-old son and they both have their own relationship with God.

If you’re missing something and you can’t quite put your finger on what it is, I’d say you need to look to God talk to Him in spite of what you see in the church, because maybe you’ve experienced some of that craziness.

If I hadn’t invited God into the process, I think I’d just be like everybody else in my family. They married whoever came along. There’s this kind of pattern of brokenness and broken relationships.

In crying out to God and inviting Him to reveal Himself to me I was confessing with my mouth and I was believing with my heart that Christ gave himself for me.

There was a price paid for me and that was in Jesus. He paid His life and because He conquered death, I get to live.”

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