I used to fill my mind with the lyrics of rap music. “Kill, Kill, Kill. Murder, Murder, Murder.” Those were actual lines. I memorized countless songs about violence, murder, drive-by’s, etc.
Fighting was a passion of mine, even in elementary school. It was one of the few things I felt really good at, something that made me stand out amongst the crowd. I wasn’t good at traditional sports. Fighting was my sport. I lost a few, I won a lot.
I had been in 24 separate street fights by the age of 16. Once when I was 15, I fought 5 guys all at once, who were all ages 18-21. I whooped them good too. Even had my neck slit in a knife fight but that fight too, with the help of some friends, we won.
I was very proud of my fighting skills and relished retelling the war stories to my friends. I boasted in my violence.
Fighting became routine. Every two weeks I would somehow get into a fist fight. My knuckles were always broken because I never gave them the time to heal in-between fights.
As a freshmen in high school I started getting into fights with some of the seniors. There was a particular group of them that I had a beef with. I threatened the life of one of them in the school, in front of a Police Officer. Attacked one of them in the hallway. Fought one of them after school, a fight I forfeited after taking maybe 25 punches in the nose.
I wanted to kill the whole bunch of them. I had homicidal fantasies of taking them out, one by one. I thought I was smart enough to get away with it too. I wanted everyone to know it was me doing it, but not have anyone be able to prove it. I even inquired with some friends of mine about getting a gun.
My head was filled with thoughts like, “I want him DEAD! I want his family DEAD! I want his house burned to the GROUND!” as the quote goes.
The world I knew was a hostile and violent one. But then new thoughts started to enter my mind. I had been locked up in jail, for a fight I had been in, when I heard a preacher. I wasn’t allowed out of my cell because I beat up an inmate a few days prior, but I could hear him from my cell. He preached about sin, hell, and the new birth. It was then that my eyes were opened to how sinful I had become, how hell deserving I was, and I saw myself condemned in the darkness.
A short time afterwards I began to read the Bible. Never before had I read or heard the sermons of Jesus. They were revolutionary to my mind. When I read Jesus say, “Love your enemies” I was dumbfounded. Never before had I heard anyone talk like that. It was so foreign, so out of this world, that I knew this was the teaching of God.
It was a completely new idea to my mind. It wasn’t just “fight or flight.” There was a third option I never ever thought of. I could love my enemies. This was a new neurological idea, a completely new thought in my brain.
I was born again a short time afterwards, dedicating my life to follow the teachings of Jesus. I repented of all my sins and didn’t want to hurt anyone anymore.
Just like I used to memorize and recite rap lyrics, now I was filling my mind with the Word of God, memorizing and quoting scripture. The Bible was rewiring my brain, literally.
My life was truly changed. I went from being a violent 15 year old, who was going in and out of jail with homicidal fantasies, to being a loving and caring 16 year old, going on mission trips to bring supplies to orphans in Mexico.
I saw those older boys I used to fight with. They tried to hit me with their car. My anger inside started to rise up and I wanted to jump on the car, bash the window, and pull them through it. But I swallowed my pride, calmed my anger, told myself that was the old me, and let it go.
A short time afterwards I saw them outside of a donut store. They all had motorcycles now and had been cruising around before taking a break in this parking lot. They saw me. I walked to my car, opened the trunk, and started to get something out.
They must have thought I was getting out a baseball bat or something because they put their helmets back on. But I walked over to them, handed them some gospel tracts, and told them that Jesus Christ had changed my life. I apologized for “rubbing them the wrong way” when we were in High School (I was a drop out by this time). I told them the gospel had done so much good in my life that I wanted to share it with them.
They were surprised. One of them in particular still had a very bad attitude towards me. But one of them said, “Thank you so much. That’s really big of you.” It clearly was making a big impression upon him. I knew that he came from a muslim background, his parentings immigrated from the middle east.
Ironically, in that same parking lot a few months later, I was visiting some old friends who started saying things to some girls that were hanging out there. The girls rejected their advances, they started cussing at each other, and their boyfriends from the big city were called. My friends ran when the guys arrived but I didn’t. They came at me to attack me but I told them it wasn’t me. The girls said, “He was with them.” He was a big guy, very angry, but I thought I could still take him if I wanted. But I didn’t want to. I didn’t have any of the anger or hatred that used to motivate my fights. I just wanted to share the gospel with them, the gospel that changed my heart and life. He hit me and gave me a black eye or bloody nose (I don’t remember which one) and I let him pick me up and literally put me in a trash can, without any resistance, as humiliating as it was, because I didn’t want to hurt the guy. I told them, “I’m a Christian and I don’t fight anymore.”
As a street preacher, I’ve taken numerous punches and blows from punks that clearly didn’t even know how to fight. I knew if I wanted to I could severely hurt them. Many times I see the clear shot to their Adam’s apple, as they are attacking me. But I don’t want to hurt anyone. I want to help everyone. Because I no longer idolize those low-life gangsters that I used to. I worship Jesus Christ and want to be like Him.
I tell this to show that Jesus Christ is good for the world. He took a man like me, who relished in violence and had homicidal fantasies, and completely transformed me in heart and mind. I can literally say that since being born again, I am truly a new creature in Christ, with a completely different brain than the dark one I had before. He is the light of the world and the only hope for humanity.