It was 4 p.m., January 4, 1972. I was in the Northern part of Camden, New Jersey, accompanied by two friends who also had drug habits; namely, heroin. It was a cold and rainy day, mixed with snow. I felt very sick and needed a fix as soon as possible. While we waited for our connection to buy drugs, my friends and I talked and exercised in an effort to warm ourselves up a little. As for myself, I was very sick. Tears rolled down my face, mucus ran down my nose, I had cramps in my stomach and felt cold chills running up and down my body. Those were the symptoms that accompanied me for almost 8 years while I was addicted to drugs.
Those cursed drugs were destroying me little by little, and left me bankrupt materially, physically, and spiritually.
All of a sudden my friends said to me, “Jr. Mata, let’s go. Here comes the Hallelujahs.” They were talking about the three youths who preached the word of God in the streets and were about two blocks from us. I told them, “I won’t move from here. Let God come, let the devil come…but I won’t move from here until my connection(drug supplier) shows up.”
My friends took off, leaving me alone. I felt someone touch my shoulder and when I looked sideways, I recognized one of the youths. “God bless you Jr. Mata.”
His name was Ray and there were times when I had shared drugs with him. He was addicted to heroin , but on this occasion he seemed transformed. His clothes were clean, his face was shiny, his hair was cut real nice, and his greeting left me amazed.
I couldn’t believe it. Dozens of questions ran through my mind. I was really surprised at the change in this guy. It was a reality that I couldn’t ignore since he was standing right there in front of me.
He preached to me, telling me the love that God had shown us through His Son, Jesus Christ, Who died on the cross at Calvary, because of love and for the salvation of all men. Ray continued “ You know that I know you very well, Jr. Mata. You’re a drug addict, as I was, but now I’m another person. I gave my life to Jesus and He’s changed me. I’m here to invite you, not to get high, not to steal… but to give your life to Jesus, so that your life can be changed as mine was.
Understand this. Jesus died, but on the third day he arose from the dead and said, ‘Because I live, ye shall live also’ (John 14:19). If you give yourself to Jesus He will make you free; free from sin and drugs (John 8:3). Jesus will fill you with the Holy Ghost, and He will give you the power to keep yourself clean and to live in peace with God. If you want to receive Jesus, we will pray for you.”
I told him, “ Look Ray, everything you are saying sounds beautiful, but neither religion or church are for me. But, if this Christ that you’re talking about is as powerful as you say, then pray for me and ask Him to change my life. If He takes away my habits, I’ll go to church with you.”
I remember walking and reaching the pastor’s house. When we arrived, the pastor came running out to greet me. I was really very impressed with the love in which he did it with. I thought about my past and how miserable my life has always been. No one cared about me. It didn’t seem to matter to anyone if I was dead or alive. During this time, I walked the streets and lived alone in old abandoned houses. I always felt sad and could care less about my personal appearance. Nobody was ever glad to see me or interested in how I was doing. Because of this I was very impressed by the way the pastor greeted me.
This man of God wasted no time. As soon as he met me, he began preaching to me. After speaking to me about 10 or 15 minutes, he asked me if I wanted to accept Christ as my personal Savior. I answered him: “ Look Pastor, don’t get any ideas about me, I’m not going to church. I told Ray that the only reason I came was so that you can pray for me. If God miraculously changes my life, then I promise to go to church. But first He has to take away my habit.
This Pastor had faith and confidence in the Lord. He told me, “Get on your knees right here because I’m going to pray for you.”
I got on my knees and the pastor, his family, and the three youths started praying for me. I noticed right away that some of them began crying and pleading to God for me. This really moved me and gave me the strength to pray for myself. I promised God saying, “Lord, if what Ray told me is true and if you can honestly change my life, or if there is anything you can do for me… I ask You, Please, help me. I promise to serve You and visit church if You take away my habit.
I started feeling a sensation of health and life; it was something unexplainable. I don’t believe that I’ll ever have words to explain that I lived through that day. It was like the beginning of a new day. I could feel how all my pain and vice symptoms, including smoking regular cigarettes, completely disappeared. I felt as though my lungs had expanded and I could breathe freely for the first time in my life. What I was living in that instant to me that it’s true, Christ lives and will give life to all those who receive Him.
God performed a miracle that day and freed me from sin and all my vices. Praise His Holy Name! I stopped being a slave of the devil and was converted into a servant and son of God(John 1:12).
Sin and drugs are the beginning of the end, but Jesus Christ is the way, the truth and the life( John 14:6). Come back to life; give yourself to Christ. Pray and ask Jesus to forgive, deliver, and to save you now.
By: Pilgrim Tract Society, INC