I was a hopeless suicidal drug addict...
I am an import, a foreigner to some. I was born in a seaside city in Chile. Viña del Mar/Valparaiso was home up until I was 5 years old. Due to political unrest and persecution of freedoms my father left for the USA. Growing up an immigrant was difficult. I struggled with the culture as well as the English language. We moved quite a bit. First Miami then Los Angeles and ended up in Houston all by the time I was 14 years old.
It was during my time in Los Angeles that I had my first experience with alcohol. I was 13 years old and the way it made me feel when it hit my bloodstream was utopia. Once in Houston I took to the street life and enjoyed running the streets. Fighting, drinking, using drugs, stealing along with other unimaginable evil was all in a day’s life. Contrary to what I was taught at home this is what I chose to do.
I had to grow up quick. At 19 years old I got my girlfriend pregnant. I was married to her by the time I was 20. At this ripe age I was holding a full time job, being a full time dad but only a part time husband. This would always get me in trouble. I worked hard, kept a nice home and appearance but that was never enough. I was always hustling to have the finer things in life.
It was during this time I had pretty much walked away from any notion of a faith in God. I grew up in a catholic home attending catholic schools but never had any interest in God. By the time I was 19 years old, I declared myself an atheist but was more of a God hater. I was done with God but God wasn’t done with me. I was re-introduced to God through a good friend of mine named Joey. I remember mocking Joey one day for reading the Bible. He didn’t take offense, he instead extended unconditional love to me and took the time to share Christ with me. Joey not only shared Christ with words and the bible, but with his actions.
It was during this time that I accepted Jesus as my savior and began to take my faith more serious. My relationship with Jesus exposed me to a sad truth; I had to deal with my addictions. As a matter of fact, I had no clue that I was an addict headed down a path of destruction. As I became a successful business owner my addiction to alcohol, drugs, money, and wild living started to unravel. When you live like this it is only a matter of time before it catches up to you. Legal problems, lawsuits, marital strife and a horrible case of manic depression was just some of the consequences I had accumulated. I was a hopeless suicidal addict. The very task of breathing had become too difficult to bare.
Through a series of troubles and consequences, I went broke in 2008 and ended up in a rehab facility. Three days in the program on a park bench during a beautiful Houston afternoon I looked up to the sky and told Jesus the following, “Lord I will stop running from you, whatever it is you want me to do, I will do!”
The Lord took my words at face value and my life has never been the same. That was the turning point, the moment I surrendered my life completely to Jesus. This is the moment I dropped my nets!
I completed a 45 day treatment and began to rebuild my relationship with God, my wife, my kids, family and anyone I had known. I had hurt many people along my 20 year path of destruction. I had to file bankruptcy and God delivered me of all my legal issues.
Looking to take my faith serious, I walked into a church plant a few months later looking for community and what I found was a life-giving church that helped shape the foundation of my ministry and passion for sharing the Gospel.
I led several teams strictly as a volunteer. Then 18 months later the lead pastor named me youth pastor and I successfully led a wonderful team of youth leaders that helped me grow the youth ministry and accomplish great things.
That is when I found my calling as a pastor and knew the Lord wanted more from me.
One night during a conversation with the lead pastor it became clear that I was to plant a church. Not just any church, a church that would be in the city. A church that was to reach a generation and a demographic that most don’t even think about.
That was the night my vision for UNION Houston started to form.