Out of Darkness and Into the Light

*Names have been changed for security purposes

Chucho was born and raised in a household with an absent, alcoholic father. From a young age, Chucho wanted to experience it all. Looking for a sense of belonging, when he was twelve years old he joined the most notorious gang in town. As in most gangs, initiation required each member to be smacked in (beaten up) for eighteen seconds before becoming a part of the click. That didn’t have to happen with Chucho. He had already done some terrible things to prove himself a warrior who demanded respect from the members. He now belonged to an elite group that stole cars to help fund the high life of the gang.

One night at a wedding, Chucho was ambushed by a rival gang. Although he was only one against more than ten people, he still fought them off, but not before being stabbed multiple times in the stomach and back. Half dead, Chucho somehow managed to walk to the nearest hospital, where he collapsed at the entrance. As Chucho lay on what seemed to be his death bed, his Christian mother begged him to surrender his life to Jesus. Chucho did not like his mother’s preaching; the only thing he had on his mind was vengeance to both sides — his enemies for what they had done to him, and his click for not coming to his aid when he needed them most.

The doctors had given very slim hopes of Chucho’s  survival and warned that even if he did live, he would most likely be severely impaired and in a wheelchair the rest of his life. Despite the odds, Chucho was able to walk within a few weeks. With wounds still fresh and bandaged, he went to seek revenge. While deep in the throes of yet another fight, he was arrested. It suddenly dawned on Chucho that this was his last chance – there was no way he was going to escape long-term prison. However, he was miraculously released from jail the very next day. It was during this time that he felt God speak to him, “This is your last chance to come to Me.”

Chucho surrendered his life to Jesus that very day.

For months afterward, he lived dodging his former gang members and several gun confrontations with them as they sought to pull him back into the clutches of the click. Four years have come and gone since those days, and Chucho is now one of the most dedicated, efficient, and effective witnesses of the gospel on the Vida team.

He says: “Before, I gave all my life ready to die for the gang members. Now I live my life surrendered to Jesus and ready to die for the cause of the gospel.“

Recently, Chucho had opportunity to use his story of redemption to impact the life of another young man caught in the grip of gang life:

Roberto’s mother asked Chucho to visit her son in hopes that Chucho’s former gang lifestyle and his subsequent transformation in Christ would speak into Roberto’s life. Although only 21, Roberto had lived his young life deeply involved in a drug cartel and all that came along with it. But God infiltrated Roberto’s life in an amazing way. After encountering Jesus, Roberto decided to leave the drug cartel.

However, leaving a cartel isn’t as easy as just walking away without a backward glance. A few weeks after Roberto quit the gang, they came looking for him, demanding he pay 5000 Mexican pesos (about $260) per week as a fine for leaving the cartel. To make matters worse, they threatened to kill his mother if he refused to pay. The length of this ongoing “fine” would be indefinite, and the only way to avoid paying it would be if those who were charging him were removed from his life. The very night that Roberto paid the first week’s money, the man threatening him was shot and killed.

Unfortunately, his struggles did not end there. A few nights later, two men from the Zetas (a rival drug cartel) arrived at his door. The men pulled their pistols and held the guns to Roberto’s head and in his mouth, then asked him to work for them. But Roberto stood firm, telling them how God was changing his life and that he wasn’t interested in working for them. After this explanation, they simply left.

Thank God for saving Roberto’s life! Presently, Roberto is attending a Bible study and working with Vida missionaries. He is passionate about reading the Bible and also desires to share his newfound faith with his family.

Both Chucho and Roberto have been delivered from darkness, lovingly drawn into the light of God’s love through the saving power of Jesus Christ. May their stories of redemption shine as beacons of hope to others who are in need of deliverance.

For He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son He loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.  – Colossians 1:13-14

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