Many of us have been in a courtroom for a trial and most of us who had that experience didn’t want to be there. That being said when there is a trial before a jury any information or evidence that is considered “hearsay” is not admissible. In other words, if what you have to say or testify to is something that you heard from someone else that you did not personally see or hear, it can’t be retold or testified to in a court in front of a jury. The jury must only hear testimonies from witnesses who have first-hand knowledge of what they heard, saw and experienced.
Every SOTC member is an eye witness with a first-hand account of what Jesus has done for them and the hope is that this evidence will convince you (the reader) that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and that He alone has the power to forgive sins and to give eternal life to those who become born again by the Spirit of God. Our current member occupations include; carpenter, farmer, truck drivers,building inspectors, concrete mason, policemen, corporate CEO, corporation president, professional fighter, consultant, welders, fabricators, steel worker, real estate, retired, mechanic, business owners, Pastors, financial advisor, tow truck driver, stock broker, administrators and entrepreneurs.
Not all of the SOTC members have posted a testimony but we all have one thing in common, we have all put our faith and hope in Jesus Christ for a better life here and eternal life there.
"There will be a courtroom in Heaven someday (Rev. 20:12) and what a person decides to believe here on earth will have to be defended then. Jesus will either be on your side of the courtroom as your defender for believing in Him or He will be on the other side of the courtroom as your prosecutor for putting your faith in someone or something other than Him. If you are born only once you will die twice but if you are born twice you will only die once". John 3:3-6
Fernando Sam-Sin, Treasurer
Scotty Monticelli, Secretary
Josh Hachick, Road Captain
Billy Vaughn, Sargent at Arms
Albert Cruz, Chaplain
Happy Johnny (Johnny Wing)
My Name is Ben Hardister, and I am the current President of the Soldiers of the Cross Motorcycle Ministry.
I was raised in a Christian home and can’t remember when I didn’t love Jesus. I accepted Him as my Savior at an early age but unfortunately for me I didn’t continue to follow Him when I got into my teens. Pretty girls, a classic corvette and cold beer had captured my attention and sitting in a church pew wasn’t something that attracted me. I never stopped loving Jesus and I always gave a portion of my income towards His work but my life was lived for my pleasure and not His.
I graduated from High School and went into real estate and construction and quickly became very successful. I was able to purchase more of everything including airplanes and real estate but there was a growing emptiness inside my heart. The people and the parties were growing old and I didn’t like how everybody used everybody else for their own pleasure. I was just as bad or worse than the rest of them and I wasn’t who I wanted to be but there didn’t seem to be an escape or a way out of how I was living, at least not an easy way out. I knew it would take a commitment from me to turn back to God and I knew it would be hard to abandon my way of life and I couldn’t seem to take that first step. There was always a person, place or thing coming at me from the outside that seemed to keep me away from the change I really wanted on the inside. When there was lots of people, noise and commotion it was easy to pretend that God didn’t care what I was doing but in the quiet of the night and alone I knew that He did care about what I did and I had a horrible feeling that I was missing my purpose and my destiny for this life. I had no peace.
One day I was driving a new Porsche along the river on my way to an appointment and went past an old Full Gospel Church building that I remember going to as a boy with my parents. I eased off the gas and started down shifting gears and the next thing I knew I was parked in front of the church. Something had drawn me there, I had no plans to go to church that day but there I was. I went inside and to this day I don’t remember much except for the feeling of the orange shag carpet brushing the tears on my face as I bowed at that church alter and asked God to forgive me of my sins and for walking away from Him. I asked God to let me make a difference in the world for Him and I asked Him to keep me away from a life of sitting in a pew doing nothing for Him.
I think it was the fear of sitting in a church pew and doing nothing that pushed me in the wrong direction to begin with. Over the years God has honored my prayer to be used by Him to make a difference for His Kingdom. I’ll never be able to finish what He’s given me to do and I keep pressing forward looking to do more while shedding the weight that holds me back. I love this feeling of being a servant of the Most High God and I never want to be anything else. I wrote a book called “Faith Without Honor, and dogs that can’t hunt” to encourage others to have faith in Him. I have traveled the world to build up people and ministries in the name of Jesus and being in SOTC is one way that God has answered my prayer to be used by Him.
I’ve made the mistake of thinking that I could take a break from serving God and found out each time that life is empty and cold when you don’t feel the hand of Jesus on your shoulder. I’m thankful to Him for never leaving me or forsaking me regardless of how many mistakes I’ve made by going my own way. The Word says “Like sheep we have all gone astray” and it’s true, we have. Turn your eyes to Jesus because His eyes have never left you. God doesn’t care who you were only who you are and if you open your heart when He knocks He will show you how much He loves you and give you a future and a hope.
If you need a change in how you’re living and want to know Jesus come talk to us, we’ll help you find your way to the light and the Cross. If you’re a Christian that is following Gods Word and want more faith and a closer relationship with God come talk to us and join in with other Brothers looking to do the same thing. If you have always wanted to use your scooter to glorify God, SOTC is the place. I thank God for a Mother and Father and family that never stopped praying for me and I thank God for my wife and thank God for my SOTC Brothers who pray for me every day.
My name is Dirk Nieuwenhuis and I am the Vice President of SOTC Modesto
I grew up in the church, attending church in the Bay area. I became a Christian at chapel in 6th grade, attending Walnut Creek Christian Academy. I continued school in Walnut Creek, then went to Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan. It was a Dutch Reformed College, where I met my first wife. I got married, moved back to Walnut Creek and found drugs.
Eight years later, realizing an addiction to crank, I went to St. Helena Drug Rehabilitation. Did my 28 days and never did crank again. Few years went by and I started drinking and smoking weed, all while being married with 2 children and attending church. My lifestyle ended my marriage.
I focused on God in my crisis. Met my second wife. Moved out to Modesto and went back into my same routine of attending church and tithing 10%, but living a Luke-warm Christian life. The Bible refers to Luke-warm Christianity in Hebrews “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were cold or hot.
So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spit you out of My mouth" (Rev. 3:15-16). Desiring more in my life, I started reaching out to God through various Bible Studies. Every one of them had something for me. In November 2015, in a very dark place in my life, I recommitted my life to Jesus @ The House Modesto.
I wanted more, because the only peace I got was from serving others. I am now involved in numerous Bible Studies. Additionally, I am a member of SOTC Modesto. It is a motorcycle ministry that desires to serve less fortunate men, women and children throughout Northern California. We have members from all walks of life desiring to serve The Lord and our fellow brothers and sisters needing love that comes from The Father, Son and Holy Ghost. God says, in 1 Corinthians 13:2-3 “If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing.
If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it, but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing. In closing, I would challenge men to come see what we are all about. Give your life meaning through Jesus Christ our Savior. God can work with the good and the bad, but don’t be Luke-warm because He’ll spit you out. God prepares a path for each and every one of us. We would love your path to lead to SOTC Modesto.
In His service
My name is Dennis Allison,
My birth mother had me when she was 15 years old and I was adopted at birth by another couple. I grew up very angry and getting into fights became a way of life and getting into trouble with the law soon followed.
I started doing drugs at 13 and my friends were also my enemies. They stole from me and others while committing crimes and when they got busted to escape punishment they put the blame on me. My extended family were thieves and criminals, men without honor that I willfully kept company with who sold me drugs and were always eager to drag me down to a new low. .
In my heart I longed for true friends and a fatherly mentor to teach me about life. I became involved in a certain “Outlaw” motorcycle club at the age of 21. I had grown up around this outlaw club my whole life and at every turn in my life they were there. My children would be bouncing on a friend’s knee one week and that person would be in prison for murder the next. This was my “Normal” everyday life. As I got deeper into the club my health was deteriorating rapidly (looking back God was trying to get my attention) to the point I was in the hospital dying, I overheard the doctor tell my family “We’ve done all we can do, if he makes it thru the night, there’s hope.” Early in the morning I woke abruptly and felt a presence enter the room, I felt a cold, empty, hopeless feeling that scared me to my core. I KNEW my time had come and I started to cry out to God telling him I didn’t want to die! My wife had just given me a son and I needed to be there for him. “Please have mercy on me I cried out to God!” and in an instant another presence filled the room and drove out the other presence. Suddenly I began to feel warmth starting at my toes that went up and filled my whole body. I started smiling and saying YES! YES! I wanted more of what I was feeling and as I looked up from the hospital bed a small twinkling white light began to shine down into the room towards the door and slowly started to get bigger and bigger until it engulfed the whole room and then suddenly it just disappeared.
I went to church one week after being discharged from the hospital and gave my life to the Lord Jesus and I have never looked back! God poured out his love, healing and wisdom on me for three years as he pulled me out of the darkness and deep despair that was my way of life. I was a new believer for three years being ministered to and then I decided to start ministering to others and to give back some of what I had been given. I started a motorcycle ministry and set out to reach other Men like myself, those looking for REAL brotherhood and those wanting to change their world. I have met those men and the ministry I started has merged and become part of the Soldiers Of The Cross!
Today I have true brothers that have my back and who hold me up in prayer and co labor with me to further the Gospel. By the power of JESUS CHRIST we have built orphanages and Church’s in Mexico, supported homeless missions in Modesto and San Francisco, supported many missionary’s around the world and built a women and children center in Cambodia to combat sex trafficking and the list goes on. I am truly blessed!
Real manhood must be taught. Iron sharpens iron and there is no greater teacher than JESUS CHRIST!!
My name is Tim Purvis.
I'm 46 years old & was born in Long Beach, CA. From a young age my parents divorced & I opted to live with my Dad. We then moved to San Jose,CA. From there I started getting involved with the wrong crowd, skipping school, & got my first taste of drugs & alcohol. I become defiant & lashed out at authority all the while taking physical abuse from my Dad.
I was in & out of group homes where my drug & alcohol abused continued. By the time I was 23 I was a full blow addict. Marijuana, Coke, PCP, Alcohol, & my favorite Meth. Soon into my 23rd birthday I found out that I had a heart condition known as Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy & had my first pacemaker installed.
Now I'm on my 4th. In order to sustain my addiction, I began to deal drugs. When the word spread & as other addicts found out the quality of my product, I become invincible & slumped harder into my addiction. By this time I had found myself moving to the small town of Susanville, where I continued to deal & gain a huge clientele. Through the years I got clean & sober on & off but it never stuck. In 2013 I finally became exhausted with my 28-year addiction & entered myself into a Christian Rehabilitation Facility for life controlling issues called Teen Challenge.
There is where I re-dedicated my life to Christ. I successfully graduated & I also met my wife. Both my wife & I were diagnosed with Infertility. Two month into our marriage we found out we were pregnant with our son Tobias Matthew Roman! One month after he was born we had to move to Modesto so I could be closer to heart specialists.
During our move I was seeking God asking for a brotherhood of Christian brothers. Shortly after moving to Modesto God directed me to “Soldiers Of The Cross” I immediately got involved as this Ministry helps its community, holds weekly Bible Studies, prays & encourages not only us brothers but those they come in contact with.
Since being a part of SOTC I celebrated my 3rd year of sobriety. I give all honor & glory to God for my family, my SOTC family, & my sobriety. SOTC is an amazing ministry to be a part of if your looking for Godly brothers who will love on you, pray for you, hold you accountable, & most of all encourage you in the Word then SOTC is the Ministry for you. After all who doesn't love bikers that love Jesus.
Hello and welcome to the second best story ever told. My name is Gary Villalobos and I’m a sinner saved by grace. My story starts with me chasing women and enjoying a life style a lot of men hope for. I had the fast car, fast women, the drugs and the sex that went along with it. I thought I had everything figured out and was on a fast road to a dead end. I was eager to get the women that every man wanted even when she was another man’s better half. I didn’t care, and when she was mine I treated her like dirt. That was my motto; treat the women like dirt and they would come back for more. Well, to my disbelief I found out how being treated like dirt truly felt. You see my womanizing days landed me first in the city jail then the honor farm for several months. I had to do 2 years of an anger management class and was on probation for another 3 years for domestic violence. The honor farm felt like a vacation get away, being that I could go play baseball, watch TV, or do nothing if I wanted to.Once I got out I couldn’t go home because the woman I was with was still there and she was Satan in a woman’s body. She had every curve and very seductive, but the anger of the relationship was still there. I was trapped and anything I did or said could potentially wind me back at the honor farm. So I slept in the alleyway behind my house, unable to find my way out of the hole I dug for myself. I finally figured a way to reach the light at the end of the tunnel and started my search to change my outlook on my life. But the amount of damage I inflicted on others was not over for me. I didn’t want anything to do with a relationship but found myself back in the life I couldn’t get away from. I met a woman, which seemed innocent enough, and regrettably allowed her to come to my home. The next three days would change my life forever, the girl had been shot and killed on Hwy 99 by Turlock driving on the freeway taking a friend home by an unknown shooter. The only evidence the investigators had was my phone number in her purse and the eyewitness description of how I resembled the shooter. Luckily I had a solid alibi, but the experience for the next two years led me on a road to change my heart. For those two years I felt alone, feeling as though I was not worth being loved. I didn’t know how to change or what to do in order to find that love in my life. I longed for a deeper love and a relationship with someone that would not give up on me.
So my search began where I knew the only one that could provide such a love; God. I went to just about every church in Modesto, including the Jehovah witness church, Catholic Church, Baptist Church etc. I had prayed to God and asked him to send me someone to help guide me. Finally I met a godly woman that challenged me to go to her church with her to see if or not I would go. I accepted the challenge and found God waiting to speak volumes into my life. I heard God’s word through the pastor of the House church that took root into my heart. I enrolled myself into a men’s curriculum there and learned how wrong I was as to what God expects of men. I now have been baptized and serve my God as well as my church as an usher, serve my community as a member of a men’s motorcycle ministry and am constantly challenged by my brothers to stay on the straight and narrow. I married that godly woman approximately 2 years later and am living in God’s word and thankful that I chose to receive the word and be given a second chance.
Michael “Mayday” McDonald’s Testimony My name is Michael McDonald, and I am a follower of Christ. Though the first memories of my life were in church, this did not mean that my life would be any less sinful or painful. I learned about the Bible, and I felt something as a child that I would never forget no matter how far I ran away from God. Unfortunately I also had the heavy feeling that I would never be good enough to be like the other people I saw in church. I have many memories of being persecuted by my church going family members, and I thought that I could only be in the “Christian club” if I was able to be perfect. As a young man I would stumble upon many things that would change my life for the worse. When I was around 10 years old I would stumble upon large amounts pornographic magazines left abandoned in almond orchards around my childhood home. From the first moment I stumbled upon them, I was immediately addicted and my life would never be the same. The more I looked at pornography and the more I sold my morals to become respected in the eyes of my friends, the worse I felt about myself. I consistently felt the list of my sins growing bigger and it make me feel even more out of place at the church. Instead of the church being a hospital for the sick, as it should be, it seemed to be a stage for people to act as if they had it all together even though we all knew otherwise. As a young man I also asked God for a difficult life. I saw that nothing good was easy, and all the people in the world who I admired had taken a very difficult road to be somewhere of importance. I had no idea what God would use in my life to make this dream come true, but I meant it when I said it. Proverbs 16:9 says “In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord determines their steps. ” When I was 12 years old my older brother invited me to a kickboxing class. I was hesitant, but I took him up on his offer. I turned out to be very good- Better than anyone else close to my age. When I was 14 years old my coach told me that he was going to be hosting a kickboxing event and I was going to fight in it. As a 14 year old I fought a young man who was 21 years old, and to my surprise I did fantastic. I would continue my pursuit of martial arts to begin Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and I would also go on to have 9 more amateur fights, going undefeated in them all. When I was 16 years old I began my professional fighting career at Indian Casinos all around California. I continued to stack up 7 professional wins with 7 first round finishes by either knockout or submission. I had great success in combat sports, and my identity was completely defined by pornography, my relationships with women, and my success in the cage. I had stopped going to church all together because the pile of my sins had grown far too high. I truly wanted to be good, but I knew I could never do it. I was bad and I couldn’t stop being bad. I felt as though I would never be welcomed in another church if people knew who I really was. I covered all pain I felt by sex, pornography, and accomplishments so that I could try to convince myself that I was happy with my life. At the age of 18 years old my world started to fall apart when all 3 things I used to find my worth would fail me. I would suffer my first loss in my MMA career, which would end up in glorious defeat. I was drinking my food out of a straw for multiple days. The people that once praised my wins were now cheering for me to get my face pounded in as the referee had to step in to save me from further damage. I had a dislocated arm, a nearly knocked out tooth, a black eye, a busted lip, multiple cuts on my face, and the entire world seemed to thoroughly enjoy my suffering. I had also just ended a relationship with my girlfriend who I was living with at the time, as she had left me for another man. To top it off, all the pornography I could watch would make me feel better for only a moment… just to have all the pain rush back even stronger than before and leave me even more broken than before. I had seemed to lose everything- my fame, my fortune, my popularity, my girlfriend, my happiness, and my peace of mind. I was completely broken and worthless.
It was at the time when I had nothing to offer God, and I had all but given up that the Lord would rescue me from the pit of death. I had nothing to offer the Lord, but He looked down from His throne and saw me, and had mercy upon me. He had a plan for me and none of my so called “failures” could ever stop God’s glorious story of redemption for me. He called me “friend” and “son” when I was nothing more than an evil rebellious sinner. Romans 5:8- “But God demonstrated his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” God spoke to me on that day, and He told me that He loves me, and He will give me joy. He told me that it was just a taste of the joy that He can give me. I ran down the street jumping and shouting like a crazy man due to the joy that The Lord had spoken in my heart- It was something I haven’t felt since I was a young boy. It was the most pleasurable thing I had ever felt, greater than any drug.
It was given to me with no following guilt, no hangover, no crash, and no shame. It was a free gift of pure joy with no negative consequences to follow. On this day I recommitted my life to the Lord. Since this day I have learned that I will truly never be good, but the great news is that I do not have to be. Christ is good for me. He died for my sins, and because Christ lives in me, He is good for me. Any good that I do is Christ in me. I am a sinner saved by grace, and the Lord has captured my heart. Romans 7:18- “For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good but I can not carry it out.” God has thrown my sins as far as the East is from the West. The wrap sheet on my life’s sins has been destroyed and in the eyes of God, I am made clean for all of eternity. Christ took my punishment, and in turn, gave me the reward for His perfect life. The story of the Gospel of Jesus is a ransom for my life and for yours. To anyone who will accept Jesus, for anyone who truly believes that Jesus is who He says He says He is, we gain the right to become children of God.
Our dirty rags stained red as crimson will be washed white as snow forever. Jesus has already taken our punishment. We only need now to simply accept the free gift of Jesus’ reward of perfection. When we sell ourselves to God for the reward of Jesus’ righteousness we will never again be alone, worthless, or useless. God will unfold a destiny for you that will be a shining story of His glory and goodness. You will be a sign to the world that God’s redemptive power is beyond any power of sin and failure. My life since becoming a follower of Jesus is even harder than it used to be, but it is also much more joyous. Just as my life as an adult is harder and more satisfying than my life was as a child. Surrendering my life to Jesus and accepting the free gift of Jesus’ righteousness in exchange for the punishment I should have received was the single greatest moment of my life, and nothing will ever compare to it.
I have been an addict sinceI was eight years old and was locked up by the age of 13. I become homelessat the age of 16.
I have lived in ditches, park bathrooms and anywhere elseI could find shelter, I stole from everyone, and hurt everyone I have ever loved and was surrounded and associatred myself with people that did not have my best interest at heart. Thta was not what I imagined my life would be. I wanted to be a good son, good studen, good brother and become a great husband and father. I just did not have the tools to make it happen.
I can remember as a kid getting in trouble and it breaks my heart because once again I let my mom and my dad down. You see I just couldn't figure out how to be the person I was supposed to be. So down this path I go for 38 years not knowing where or how it was going to end. I was incarceration for over 30 years in every level four prison in the state, estranged from my family for 25 years and broken!
I sat in a cell in Pelican Bay SHU in the middle of a 17 year term wondering if this was all life had to offer and if there wasn't something more, something different, something better? I sat there for 10 years trying to figure out if this all my life is ever going to amount to! One day in that sell by myself I hid my face and asked this God that I have been reading about if he was real I could love someone like me and change someone like me, and asked him to show me.
I can tell you honestly from that moment on I have not been the same person that fell on his face. My life hasn't been perfect and is filled with happiness, struggles, ups and downs, but at every turn I have the power of Jesus Christ to guide me to do the right thing no matter what!!
I have been on parole or probation since 1974. But today I am a free man because of the love and the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Today I am a pastor I am a productive citizen in my community I reach out and speak to troubled youth I attack gangs and drugs through the power of Jesus Christ!! And I am an example of the unlovable being loved and what that can do. And let's not get it twisted this testimony is not about prison and drugs, I don't care where you been to prison or do drugs the story is about being lost in the world and being rescued by the power of Jesus Christ!!
Professional Driver 40-Years ! Retired ; No Longer Working For Mankind, I Work For The " LORD " Now ! ! !
My Mom was of Mexican Decent, So Naturally, I Was Raised in The Traditional Catholic Religion, Meaning, I Heard The Story"s About Adam & Eve, Moses, Pharaoh, Parting of The Red Sea, Wandering in The Desert for Over 40-Years, The Woman at The Well, All The Miracles That " JESUS " Did While He Gathered His Disciples, And Ministered All Over Israel. So I Knew of " JESUS " But Did Not Have a Relationship with Him Personally. But Through My Life From Very Young, I Had This Insight, This 6th Sense, But Now As I Have Come To Realize It Was " YESHUA " All A Long, Guiding Me, Protecting Me, Providing All My Need's, And He Was Letting Me Know It Too. Because Every Time I Would Think About How Did That Come About or How Did That Happen ? ? ? I Would Stop And Be Quite And Listen,Then The Feeling would come over Me of Peace And Everything is Ok and Will be just Fine, I Got This ! So After This would Happen Time and Time Again, Through My Life, I Found My Self Talking To Him, Not Really Praying Just Talking To Him, And I Just Knew He Was Hearing Me. So As This Became So Real to Me It Really Made Me Question Why and How This Catholic Religion Didn't Make Any Sense ! After My First Marriage of 30-Years Failed, I Was Wandering For A Couple Years, Then I Met My Coworker my Fishing Buddy's Wife's Sister, We Had a Lot in Common, And We Were Both Seeking The " LORD " We Got Married We Moved To San Diego Started a New Bussiness, And Sought Out A Good Bible Believing Church, And Boy Did I ! ! ! " JESUS " Was After Me, He Was Convicting Me Hard While in Service Several Times, It Was Taking All My Manhood To Not Totally Break Down Right There in The Middle of service, My Wife Would Be Holding My Hand and Arm She Could Feel Me Crying Inside, Breaking Down Convulsing, Ever Word That was coming out of the Preacher's mouth Was Straight From " JESUS " And He Was Hammering Me, He was Giving it straight to me, He was Letting it All out, My 48-Year's of My Worldly Sinful Life, So in April 2004 I Gave My Life To " JESUS " I Got Baptized ! We Helped Out at The Church, and I was Feeling That The Lord, was Pulling Me, He Wanted to Direct me Down another Path, And I Prayed Too Be Released From Mankind to not be a Slave, Anymore Especially to The Almighty Dollar ! ! ! And After Some Year's, When the Time was right for Him, I Was Set Free, August 13 2013 Since Then My Life Has Never Been Better, Never Been Happier, ! ! !
THANK YOU " JESUS " FOR YOUR GIFT. THANK YOU FOR YOUR SACRIFICE UPON THE CROSS THANK YOU FOR LOVING ' ME' THAT MUCH ! ! ! ! ! ! !
My name is Mark Christianson The first 17 years of my life were spent almost entirely inside the walls of the Christian Church and Christian schools. My parents forced me to be at church just about every time the doors where open. My father was a CHP officer and he was also a deacon, usher and treasurer of our church.
That was His world. One day, in my junior year of high
school, I came home from school to find my father had moved
out of our house and that he had left my mother for a woman
who sang in the church choir. My small, limited, shell of a
world came crumbling down in one second. I felt like every
single thing I had ever been told and taught had been
completely compromised and I found myself at a crossroad.
I was running out of patience with the whole situation that was thrust upon me and I had to make some choices. I could either hold on to my creators hand or I could give Him the finger. The knucklehead that I am ended up making the wrong choice and walking away from the only one who really loved me, God. What followed my decision to walk away from God was three decades of darkness that included drugs and alcohol and losing good jobs. I fractured my relationships with friends and family and went through two divorces and two bankruptcies.
I had two sons who wouldn’t even talk to me. When I was about to turn 50, I realized what a complete failure I had become. I was living out of my pickup truck with what little I owned locked up in the local storage facility. It seemed like the only thing I had going in my favor was my job. I was looking for a place to rent but at that moment I was in no rush. The one thing I wanted most to do was ride my bike to Sturgis before I turned 50.
My daughter lived in Rapid City at the time and wanted me to come out for the renewing of her wedding vows so I took four weeks of vacation time off work, loaded up my scooter and headed east. The ride alone did me good. I had plenty of time to think and reflect. While I was in Rapid City I enjoyed the beautiful time with my daughter and her family. I had also made a new friendship with one of the women bartenders at the Full Throttle Saloon. Long story short, she ended up moving out from Illinois to live with me in California. When she got to California and we moved into a house together she said she wanted to go to church so that is what we did.
On Sunday morning we headed down to the Church House and God miraculously met us there! In one service God touched my inner heart and cleared up the confusion of my childhood. He forgave me for the years I had wasted and gave me purpose for the few years I have left. God cleared the way for us to get married and He straightened out the crooked road I was on. It's not always easy and in fact it's quite a struggle but now I’m on the road walking towards God and not away from Him.
Being a member of SOTC gives me encouragement to keep throwing haymakers at the enemy and to swing for the fences because I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!
My name is Mike Pereira, as a child I was raised in the Roman Catholic Church and attended parochial school until 8th grade from there I went to public High School. I continued attending the Catholic Church until I was about 19 or 20 years old. When I was about 16 I began getting into trouble but never got caught, I always thought “if you are going get into trouble know how to get out of it faster than you got into it. It was mostly cowardly stuff, vandalism / miscellaneous mischief stuff like that. I continued this behavior into my early twenties.
I knew about God from my upbringing but at the time I did not have room for Him in my life. My girlfriend became pregnant; we married and had a son. When my son was about 5 years old I began feeling the need to return to God for my son and myself. About that same time I was reconnected with an old friend whom I had not seen for several years. Knowing our past he was the last person I expected to find out was on a church softball team let alone going to church.
Some time had passed after reconnecting with my friend, when one day he and I were having a conversation and I stated that I felt that I should teach my son about Jesus. Without hesitation and all seriousness he turn and looked at me and said “God holds you responsible for that!” I was stunned; the words he just spoke hit me like a punch in the face. He noticed my shock and said “hey I not trying to bum you out or anything but that’s just the way it is”. Soon I began getting up early on Sunday mornings and taking my young son to the early Catholic Mass, it was all I knew, but it just didn’t seem to be the right fit.
I soon began attending a Baptist Church that taught from the Bible. If you have been raised in a Roman Catholic Church leaving for a Protestant church can make you feel conflicted. The Baptist church was a good fit and raised both my sons there. The Lord has been able use me in that church as a Sunday school teacher, as a church Elder and on the Stewardship Board. I know He is far from being done with me and has more for me to do. God has blown me away by even the simple things I have seen Him do in my life.