In Christ, the crooked made straight
Posted on May 15, 2012 by VMMissions Staff
“If you aren’t promoted at school this year, I’ll kill you!”
As a child, I believed my father would actually carry out this threat since he punished me severely when I didn’t do my homework well or for other childish misdeeds! My Dad grew up in a family greatly influenced by the mafia mentality where violence was the means to gain respect and control. He attempted to instill this lifestyle in all of us, creating an atmosphere of fear, confusion, and distrust. He often humiliated me, saying that I was a “good-for nothing” who would never amount to anything. Abuse in various forms were common occurrences. Consequently, I grew up having low self-esteem and recall longing to die to escape my painful, miserable life. I thought, why do I exist anyway?
When my aunts were converted, I observed the dramatic changes in their lives. At age 12, I accepted Jesus into my life and intermittently attended the Mennonite church near us, but was spiritually confused. When I was 16, my father was incarcerated and our family broke apart. This was a time of great turmoil.
I began keeping bad company and taking drugs. My job pressured me into fraud and cheating so was on probation with the law. My life went downhill rapidly as my addictions intensified. I began living and begging on the street, throwing all self-respect, dignity, and values to the wind as I sought after freedom and love, only to discover that my heart grew increasingly empty. One day when a street companion spit contemptuously in my face, I vowed to murder him. But thankfully, God restrained me from this violent crime. Today I feel only compassion for him!
After eight years, I finally reached bottom and started thinking about God. His Word, planted in my soul, still spoke to me. A tremendous inner battle raged. Although drawn back to church with a deep sense of guilt, I was still shackled to worldly friends and vices.
During those years, the church prayed fervently for me and my pastor loved me like a father, doing everything possible to help me. One night while drunk, I rang my pastor’s doorbell. After he welcomed me inside, I vomited all over the house. As his wife quietly cleaned up, he said, “Mario,* you can’t continue to live like this; you must make a decision!”
Soon thereafter, I had a dream in which God spoke to me very clearly that I needed a new birth. Kneeling beside my bed, I wept tears of true repentance and cried out to God as never before, to remove my sin, “From now on, I don’t care what others think. Help me look straight ahead and keep praising You because You alone can save and free me!” The Lord gave me a lovely Christian wife who helped me break free from my “crooked” lifestyle and together we are rebuilding a new life of fellowship with Him and others. A theme verse of my life, “In all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:6)
Mario* (name changed) and his wife are active in the Mennonite church in Sicily. He eagerly participates in the Discipleship School, personal evangelism, and assists in various ministries of the church.
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