From a Black Habit to a Bright Hope
I was born in Antigua, Guatemala. Although almost everyone there was Catholic, I was raised in a Christian home, attending a Gospel Hall. My parents taught me well and they gave me a great example. But one night, I went to a restaurant and ordered a beer. When I arrived home, my father smelled alcohol on my breath. He let me choose: no drinking or leave home. I chose to leave. I wanted freedom to drink as much as I wished – and I did.
It wasn’t long, though, until I felt desperate. So I decided to join the army, thinking military discipline would help. Unfortunately, I saw many people die and my drinking became worse. Finally, after two and a half years of fighting the guerillas in the mountains, I was discharged, and celebrated by getting drunk. At the time, I did not recognize God’s kindness, as less than half of the men in my company came home alive.
I returned home, but felt uncomfortable hiding my drinking. Soon, I left for Vera Cruz, Mexico, where it only got worse. One day I felt pain on the right side of my head. A doctor diagnosed it as a blood clot. It scared me, but only stopped me from drinking for a little while.
Finally, in November 1990, eight years later, I returned home. I vowed I would never drink again, but I could not keep the promise. Rather than be thrown out again, and because I wanted to escape the guerillas who were threatening my life, I decided to leave.
On the first of January 1991, my brother and I left for the United States with no money and the whole length of Mexico before us. We strapped ourselves to train cars with our belts and headed north. Fifteen days later, we arrived in Phoenix, AZ, where we found work. Soon, I was celebrating each paycheck with cartons of beer.
One night, I stumbled out of a bar and went to cross the street. I thought I was in the turning lane, but there was none. The next thing I knew, I woke up four days later in the hospital. The doctors thought I would die, but God spared my life again. But even this did not stop me.
Then, one morning at the bus stop, I met Virginia, who later became my wife. We struggled in our marriage due to dancing and drinking nearly every night. After four years, we separated. I was horribly sad and deeply sunken in alcohol and drugs.
I tried everything to break my drinking habit. Finally, one morning, I found a John 3:16 text and an invitation to meetings hanging on my door. The invitation said, “If you died today, where would you go?” It made me think, and I went to the gospel meeting. It was just like the ones I had attended as a boy with the same Two Roads chart on the wall.
In the sixth week of meetings, the preachers came to visit. They read 1 Corinthians 6:9, 10: “Neither fornicators, nor idolaters …nor drunkards…shall inherit the kingdom of God.” When they read “nor drunkards,” a shiver went through me. They also read, “All liars shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire” (Revelation 21:8). Right then, I saw that as an alcoholic, I was a master liar. I knew I was going to hell.
I was very troubled and wondered how a drunk could ever be saved. The preachers continued reading. Finally, they came to the words of the Lord Jesus on the cross, “It is finished” (John 19:30). Right then, I understood that my biggest problem was not my alcoholism, but my sin. I also understood that my sins were taken away because the Lord Jesus had paid for them on the cross. February 28, 2001, was the happiest day of my life. Soon my wife and I got back together and she was saved on October 4, 2001.