Enrique grew up in an abusive home and started using drugs when he was only seven years old. His mother tried to keep the family together, but also suffered from abuse at the hands of Enrique’s dad, who one day took the children and disappeared.
Enrique’s mom searched for her children until she finally found them in Texas. With the sheriff’s help, she brought them back to California, but life had already taken a toll on little Enrique.
Anger, abandonment, insecurity, and fear consumed the boy and he lashed out. Constantly in trouble, he fought in school, joined a gang, sold and used drugs.
“Most people say I started hanging around with the wrong crowd. But I was the wrong crowd. I was one of those guys always doing evil.”
At one point, Enrique reached out to a local pastor to ask if God even had a purpose for his life. And a group of Christian ladies at the church began to pray for him. They told Enrique he was called by God to do great things. But he felt trapped in his destructive lifestyle and didn’t see how that could possibly be true.
One day, he stopped to pick up drugs from a house that happened to be next door to where one of the prayer warriors lived. Within minutes, she ran out of her house and up to his car.
“Enrique, why are you running from God?” she asked. “No matter what you do, God’s got a hold of you.”
But Enrique continued using and selling drugs, which led him in and out of jail multiple times.
Until one day in 2008. Sitting in a jail cell, he heard a loud, audible voice telling him to decide if he was going to serve God or the world.
“And I broke,” Enrique shared. “That encounter with God changed me forever.”
Facing six to eight years in prison, he asked the judge for help. “I don’t know how to change,” he said. “But I heard about this program called Teen Challenge. If you give me a shot at it, you won’t see me back in this courtroom again.” After a stern warning, the judge released him to the pastor, who drove him to Los Angeles County Teen Challenge. He graduated from the one-year program in 2009 and then from the Ministry Institute in 2010.
A few years later, he had an opportunity to share the gospel with one of his brothers, who was sick with a rare form of bone cancer. There in the hospital, he led his brother and sister-in-law to the Lord. “I remember the presence of God, the joy of the Holy Spirit in that hospital room,” he said. That’s when Enrique began to realize his passion for telling the Good News. Today he is the Outreach Coordinator for Central Valley Teen Challenge.
“It’s all for God’s glory,” Enrique says. “I know God wants to use me to bring people out of that deception that I was in for all those years. I love being a part of advancing his kingdom and helping others.”
“I found my identity in Him and not in anything else. It’s a privilege to be God’s son.”
Thank you for supporting Enrique and others like him through your donations. It’s because of you that these men and women have the opportunity to experience new life through the power of Jesus Christ.